Are Foods Like Corn Allowed in First Phase of Atkins Diet?

What to eat and what not to eat in the induction phase

Herb Crusted Leg of Lamb
James Baigrie/Photodisc/Getty Images

The first phase of the Atkins program, known as the induction phase, is to jumpstart your weight loss. It's the key to kickstarting your fat burning metabolism.

There are certain foods that considered allowable in the induction phase of the Atkins diet, which is a low carb diet. The foods allowed include most proteins, vegetables, cheese, and fats and oils. For foods with carbohydrates, limit total intake to 20 grams of net carbs.

Protein Foods

Most protein foods, such as meat, seafood, and eggs, have little or no carbohydrates. Bacon is allowed as long as it is not processed with sugar. Nitrate-free bacon is preferred. There are some shellfish to limit, like mussels or oysters, which are a little higher in carbs. Imitation crab or imitation shellfish are prohibited. Check out these tips about protein foods on a low-carb diet.


The bulk of the carbohydrates in the Atkins diet comes from vegetables. It is important to know the carbohydrate counts of the vegetables you are eating. Twelve to 15 grams per day (not counting fiber) should come from vegetables.  

Vegetables that are not allowed in the Atkins induction phase include corn, potatoes, green (English) peas, and other sweet or starchy vegetables. 

Dairy and Cheese

Most cheeses have less than a gram of carbohydrate per ounce, but check labels carefully, as some have more.

The Atkins diet allows 3-4 ounces of full-fat cheese per day during induction. Cream cheese is included in this, but specifically not cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, or other fresh cheeses. 

Milk is not allowed in the induction phase. However, heavy or light cream is permitted.

Fats and Oils

People starting the Atkins eating plan are cautioned not to attempt to do a low-fat version of the diet.

Adequate fat content is vital to the success of the diet. The Atkins plan advises eating a balance of natural fats, and no trans fats at all.

Fat & Oils Guidelines
Eat plenty of cold-water fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (but if you are pregnant be aware of FDA guidelines about fish consumption)
Olive oil, especially those that are labeled virgin or extra-virgin, should be emphasized in your meal planning
For stir-frying, canola, peanut, and grapeseed oil are recommended, especially if "cold-pressed" or "expeller-pressed"
Avoid corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower oil except in small amounts, and not heated (these have high amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat); cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils are recommended
When choosing mayonnaise, choose regular full-fat mayonnaise, preferably using the guidelines above for types of oils used
When choosing salad dressings, the same rules apply, remember added sugars are forbidden
Butter and other sources of saturated fat , such as coconut oil, are acceptable, but should be balanced by other fats
Do not use margarine unless it is trans-fat-free


Water is the preferred beverage. The Atkins plan advises you drink eight, 8-oz glasses per day.

If you are hungry and it is not a mealtime, try drinking water first, you might just be thirsty. Soda water or carbonated water with sugar-free flavorings are acceptable.

Do not drink any beverage with sugar in it including juice and cider. Herbal teas, or decaffeinated coffee or tea are good choices, although some people can get away with drinking caffeine (you have to experiment to see if it triggers cravings or slows weight loss). Diet sodas sweetened with sucralose (Splenda) are acceptable. Clear broths are usually very low in carbs (but, as always, read labels).

Special Foods

Some foods with some carbs are okay.

It is necessary to count the carbs and make sure that total carbs for the day remain under 20mg.

Special Foods to Consider
2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (only fruit exception)
2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or one ounce of sour cream
10 to 20 olives
Half a small avocado
Controlled-carb convenience foods, such as low carb snack bars

Extra Fiber

The Atkins plan recommends psyllium (the main ingredient in Metamucil and other fiber supplements) and flax seed meal for more fiber.

Sugar Substitutes

The preferred sugar substitute for the Atkins diet is (Splenda) sucralose. Small amounts of Sweet'N Low (saccharine) are acceptable. Note that the powdered forms of these sweeteners have added carbs, usually 1 gram per packet. Find out where to find liquid (no carb) sources of sucralose (Splenda).

Foods Forbidden in Induction Phase

There are several foods that are absolutely forbidden, these foods have hidden sugars and carbohydrates. 

Foods Forbidden in Atkins Plan First Phase (Induction)
Grains and anything made with them, including bread, cake, pastries, or anything else made of flour
Any food that includes added sugars (list of ingredients that mean "sugar"), which is most processed food
Fruits and fruit juices
Some dairy products, like milk, cottage cheese or fat-free or low-fat cheeses
Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, beets, and corn
Legumes, such as beans and peas
Deli salads, which often have added sugars
Alcoholic beverages

What Foods Can Be Added After Induction?

In phase 2, which is usually begun in the third week (or more, depending on your weight goals), you can move beyond vegetables to other foods, such as nuts, seeds, and berries. 

Food Reintroduced in Second Phase
Berries, Cantaloupe and Honeydew
Milk, yogurt, and fresh cheeses, like cottage cheese and ricotta
Seeds (such as sunflower seeds)
Foods listed on the Atkins Carbohydrate Ladder
Naturally low-carb foods, such as coconut milk, unsweetened soy or almond milk, shirataki noodles, some soy flours, and other specialty low carb foods
Tomato juice

Keep in mind that you might want to remove foods from your house that might be too high a temptation. If this is the case, then consider restocking your pantry and refrigerator with foods that you can eat on a low carb diet.

Continue Reading