These are the four phases of the Atkins diet plan. Dieters will consume three meals and two snacks daily, each containing protein. Breads, rice, pasta, desserts and fruit juice are to be strictly avoided. As you progress through the phases, the amount of carbohydrates permitted in the diet is gradually increased with an emphasis on low-glycemic index foods such as berries, vegetables and legumes.

If you want to lose weight rapidly, you can stay in the more restrictive induction phase for a longer period of time. These are the four phases of the Atkins Diet plan:

1. The Restrictive Induction Atkins Diet Phase

The first phase involves the most extreme restriction of carbohydrates and is generally followed for a minimum of two weeks. You only eat a minimal amount of carbohydrates during this phase – around 20g of ‘net carbs’ a day and will experience fairly rapid weight loss as your body switches from burning carbohydrates to fat. You either do this phase for two weeks, or you do it for up to a maximum of six months, depending on how much weight you would like to lose.

The Atkins Diet Plan

2. The Ongoing Weight Loss Atkins Diet Phase

You gradually add a greater variety of carbohydrate food by 5g a week and will discover exactly how much carbohydrate you can eat while still losing weight. You stay in the ongoing weight loss phase until you have only five to ten pounds left to lose before reaching your ideal weight.

3. Pre-Maintenance Atkins Diet Phase

In this phase of the Atkins Diet plan, you increase your carbohydrate intake by 10g a week, as long as you still keep losing pounds or inches. Your weight loss will slow to a crawl, but this is exactly what you want if your goal is permanent weight control.

During this phase, you will reach your goal weight. Once you have maintained it for a month, you are ready to move on to Lifetime Maintenance – not so much a phase as a permanent way of eating.

The Atkins Diet Plan

4. Lifetime Maintenance Atkins Diet Phase

This is not really a phase at all, but a permanent way of eating: a healthy eating lifestyle. We recommend that once you have reached your goal weight, you monitor it closely, being careful never to gain more than 5lb.

If you do gain more and haven’t altered your diet, you may need to start doing some more exercise, or cutting back slightly on your carbohydrate intake.

Also, remember that it’s not a good idea to start a new or more intense exercise program at the same time as starting the Atkins Diet. You should give yourself two or three weeks to adjust before increasing your level of physical activity.

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