We’ve put together a very simple, but complete guide for starting a low carb diet. You’ll find all the in-demand low carb freebies here – minus the sugary internet madness.
- Simple start guide
- Your new low carb plate
- Grocery plan and list, Carb counter
- Atkins meal plans for 20 or 40 net carbs/day
- Low carb eBooks and food lists
Our easy-to-understand plan outlines the basics, and includes lots of free eBooks, low carb food lists and Atkins recipes. Low carb foods are rich, savory and unbelievably satisfying.
Starting Atkins (or any low carb diet) means limiting starches and sugars. Most low carbers eat 20-60 net carbs per day.
Low carb replaces those starchy and sugary foods with healthy fats, veggies, fruits and nuts. Did I mention the part about eating butter and bacon?
The Low Carb Plate
Your plate on a low carb diet will have a moderate amount of protein, lots of healthy fat sources and some carbs from dairy, vegetables and fruit.
To lose the most stored body fat, a typical range for the Atkins Induction phase is 65-75% fat, 20-30% protein and 5% carbs. Yes – you will eat high amounts of healthy fats.
Why This Ratio Works
Getting 65%-75% of your calories from healthy fat gives the body enough fuel to operate.
Making sure at least 20-30% of your calories are coming from protein means the muscles will have enough to become stronger, helping you lose more weight.
The carbs are for fiber and fun.
6 Steps to Start a Low Carb Diet
Basically, we’re going to find the carbs and choose the right foods.
We’ll prepare your kitchen for a fast and cheap grocery trip.
We’ll create a meal plan and gather resources to make sure you succeed.
1. Find the Carbs
A successful low carb diet depends on knowing how many carbs are in everything you eat. You must learn how to count carbs.
Don’t worry. We wouldn’t leave you unprepared. Click the image to download or print a free copy of the official Atkins carb counter.
Read Food Labels Like a Pro
When you start a low carb diet, it’s surprising to find out where all the sugar is hiding.
Reading food labels like a pro means finding the hidden carbs and determining the number of carbs that some from sugar.
Find the Hidden Sugar
- Pay attention to the sugar carbs listed on the nutritional label, and the added sugars/starches in the ingredients list.
- Subtract the carb grams that come from fiber, and you are left with “net carbs” per serving. This is the number you will go by for your totals. That’s total carbs minus the fiber = the carbs you count towards your daily limit.
It’s a Trap
You may notice food labels list “sugar” separately under the carbohydrate section. When you do the math, the numbers don’t add up. This is because food companies are only required to list certain types of sugar grams there.
Do your own math. Do not trust the tiny (deceptive) sugar gram numbers on the labels.
Eat the Right Type of Sugar
A low carb diet does allow natural sugars, especially those found in fruits and veggies packed with fiber.
However, starting a low carb diet always means avoiding products that have refined sugars, like corn syrup solids or high-fructose corn syrup.
There are hundreds of low carb alternatives and replacements for all the higher carb or processed foods you used to eat.
2. Know the Foods
There are four phases to the Atkins Diet. The first phase (called Atkins Induction) is the most restrictive and generally lasts 14 days.
Fortunately, there’s more than 120 Induction foods that fit perfectly into those first two weeks, so starting a low carb diet is easy.
Low Carb Fruits and Veggies
- For a quick start, here’s a printable list of low carb fruits and veggies. Click the image to view or save.
High Fat Low Carb Foods
Imagine starting low carb and eating butter, bacon, cheese and heavy cream… on everything!
There are plenty of healthy high fat low carb foods you could never dream of eating on other “conventional calorie restricted” diets.
3. Prep Your Kitchen
Before you shop, you must carb-proof your pantry to make room for all the wonderfully fresh, low carb foods you’ll be buying.
It’s time to clean house.
Clear Out the Dangerous Food
If your house is full of candy bars, potato chips, cookies, bread, pasta and rice, it will be hard for you to eat healthy.
Starting a low carb diet is a big decision. Don’t sabotage yourself before you get started.
- Check your cabinets and fridge, read those labels and banish those dangerous foods.
- Grab our 14 page Quick Start Low Carb Kitchen Strategy eBook. Click the image to view, print or save.
- Learn how to stock your fabulous new low carb kitchen like a pro.
4. Master the Grocery
The Low Carb Grocery List
If you’re just starting a low carb diet, don’t even think about entering that grocery store unarmed.
Trust me, those middle aisles can be a savage place.
Start by printing a low carb grocery list to take to the store.
The Low Carb Grocery Strategy
You have new low carb info, resources and low carb food lists. It’s time to build a solid strategy for going low carb at the grocery.
- Learn exactly which aisles to hit, and which ones to avoid like a voluntary tax audit.
- Shop for one or two weeks of meals. Have plenty of low carb snacks on hand for the first few days.
Here are 40 unique low carb snack recipes in an eBook to help you start your diet. Click the image to view, print or save.
- When you get home, put your new low carb foods in the front of your cabinets and shelves – be proud of your decision to start a low carb diet.
5. Plan Your Meals
Prior to starting a low carb diet and after a close review of allowable foods, you should create a meal plan for your first few weeks.
The first few weeks of a new diet is a time when many people want to give up due to lack of inspiration. No problem – get some fresh low carb recipe ideas from our index.
Why are meal plans so important?
Having a structured meal plan before you start a low carb diet removes any stress from deciding what to eat.
Don’t be caught floundering around, vexing over what to eat. Start with an Atkins low carb meal plan.
Using the official Induction meal plans are not a requirement for great results, but they do have easy, inexpensive ideas.
Click the image to view, print or save.
20 Carbs per Day Meal Plan
40 Carbs per Day Meal Plan
6. Prepare Yourself
Check with Your Doctor
Starting a low carb diet is safe for most people, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can recommend any changes – especially if there are existing health issues or concerns.
If you are starting a very low carb diet, your doctor can also discuss dealing with any physical symptoms that may happen during the first few weeks.
Tell Your Family and Friends
Support from family and friends is important. They may not completely understand how a low carb diet works, but they do know you’re trying to make a positive, healthy change in your life.
Simply explain you’ll be avoiding sugar and junk food while eating lots of healthy fats and veggies.
If that doesn’t work?
Tell them about all the butter, bacon, whipped cream and cheese sauces you’re eating. Then check out the look on their face as you smile with satisfaction, waistline shrinking as you speak.
They don’t have to eat your diet – but they should respect your wishes, boundaries and decision to avoid sugar. Here are some excellent tips for dealing with friends and family while on a low carb diet.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
All change involves a little stress or even second-guessing. Take care of yourself and avoid stressful situations if possible.
Give your low carb diet a fair chance in the beginning, as early as possible.
- Put off dinners, social events or any other situation where the dangerous foods are hanging out.
- Indulge: Grab a few new books or movies to enjoy. Try a bubble bath, hot sauna or massage.
Starting a low carb diet takes planning, but it’s well worth it. Just keep it fresh, challenging and enjoyable.
There are rough spots, especially during the first few weeks as your metabolism changes over to using fat for energy. The bumps will pass and your new body will emerge.
Gather Support and Legit Resources
Having support from family and friends (in real life or online) is a big part of success on a low carb diet, but it’s also important to understand the reasons for the food choices you’re making.
Finding free Atkins resources here and other places online is helpful. But for more details and the science behind the diet, there’s nothing better than reading the original books by Robert Atkins or The New Atkins for a New You. (Tip: Visit your library and borrow one.)
Get a Free Atkins Start Kit
Atkins has a free low carb starter kit with coupons for Atkins food/shakes and three full-size samples of the Atkins bars.
(It’s seriously free – shipping is free too, just tell them where to send it.)
Almost Zero Carb Meal Plan
The Almost Zero meal plan is three easy days, one aggressive technique, and major fat loss.
The plan is designed to break even the worst stall, and burn off large amounts of stored fat – in 3 days.
- The Technique
- 75 Recipes (60 under 1 net carb)
- Sample Menus
If what you’re doing isn’t working, get the meal plan now.
Keep Calm and Low Carb
Category: First Month