The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet recommended for weight loss. The diet aims to “flip the body's metabolic switch from burning carbs to burning fat.” It was first promoted by Robert C. Atkins, a cardiologist who wrote a best-selling book on the diet in 1972.

The Atkins diet consists of four phases with a gradual increase in consumption of carbohydrates as the person goes through the phases.

Phase 1: Induction

This phase allows for less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day for two weeks. People are encouraged to eat foods that are high in fat, protein and low on carbohydrates. The longer people stick to this stage the more the body will burn fat. It is best to stick to this stage until you are about 15 pounds from your weight goal.

Phase 2: Balancing

This phase focuses on figuring on what works and doesn’t work for you in terms of weight loss. Intake of carbohydrates increases to 25 grams per day while reintroducing nuts and seeds. It is then gradually increased to 30 grams a day with the reintroduction of dairy products like Greek yogurt, cheese and milk after which legumes and vegetable juices are reintroduced. If the weight loss seems to have hit a plateau, you can always go back to a low-carb intake.

Phase 3: Fine-Tuning

Switch to this phase when you are very close to your weight goal. In this phase, you add more carbohydrates to your diet until the weight loss slows down.

Phase 4: Maintenance

This stage allows you to eat as much healthy carbohydrates as you want while maintaining your weight goal. A bit of trial and error may be required to find your personal carb balance. This stage depends on your personal carbohydrate threshold, which is determined based on your metabolism and activity level.

Here are some foods you should avoid while in the Induction phase:

  • Vegetables high in carbohydrates like carrots and turnips
  • Fruits high in carbohydrates like bananas and apples
  • Legumes like lentils, beans and chickpeas
  • Starches like potatoes and sweet potatoes

Here are some foods you should avoid in all four phases of the diet:

  • Sugar from soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes, candy and ice cream
  • Grains like wheat, barley and rice
  • Vegetable oils
  • Trans fats
  • Diet and low-fat foods that are usually very high in sugar

Here are the foods you should consume:

  • Meat
  • Fatty fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables low in carbohydrates like kale, spinach and broccoli
  • Full-fat dairy found in butter, cheese and cream
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats