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When my husband and I started this journey, we used Atkins for our foods and our online free tracker because at the time we just weren’t that familiar with Keto yet. We learned that Atkins is basically the grandfather of Keto and it was easy to use both as references, still is. So I am linking both food lists / meal plans for the first two weeks of Atkins, which is considered the “induction” phase. Some think it is the hardest, but we didn’t find it hard at all. You may experience some withdrawal from sugar / carbs, though. If you want to use some of the Atkins frozen dinners when you don’t have time to cook, they aren’t too bad! We just got a little tired of them but they’re still good. I used the “Standard” list, took it with me to the grocery store, and bought EVERY frozen meal, every bar, every shake, everything on that list because I didn’t want to take a chance of messing us up because of something I didn’t understand. The other list is the “Foodie” plan, which I felt more comfortable using after that two-week induction phase because I knew by that time how to cook all the recipes, read labels, track carbs, etc. But I wanted the first two weeks to be easy for me so I wouldn’t get discouraged or sabotage us because of my ignorance. Now it’s a breeze cooking, and I don’t have to use any kind of lists at all! It’s all just FOOD cooked in the Keto / Atkins healthy way.
The very first thing I did was climb up onto my kitchen counters and take every food out of my cabinets and read all the labels. Carb-loaded foods were either thrown away or given away. Then I did the same thing in my fridge. That included getting rid of the very unhealthy cooking oils like canola, corn, sunflower, vegetable oils of all kinds. Those were replaced with olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and (gasp!) old-fashioned lard! I also cook with butter now. Real butter, and use my bacon drippings sometimes for seasonings. That’s a whole other story-within-a-story. Later. The Atkins bars and shakes are great. Just keep an eye on the carb count (see below for more info about the ingredients in some of those). We started out tracking “Net” carbs, then graduated to tracking “Total carbs.”
If you want to use the Atkins free online tracker, that REALLY helps with keeping track of your carbs, proteins, fats, fiber, weight, and all of that. It was invaluable to use the first several months, and I actually used it the whole time I was working towards my goal. I only quit entering and tracking once I reached my goal…and went even below that point as a “buffer” because by that time, I knew what I could and could not eat and remain in ketosis.
Here are links to how to register then start using it:
You just follow the steps to fill in your current weight, how much weight you want to lose, and you would choose “Phase 1” which is the first two weeks (Induction). After that, if you want, go to Phase 2 which adds more foods to your diet. My hubby, Harold, stayed on Phase 1 for longer than me, went to Phase 2 for awhile, and hit a “stall” because of his insulin resistance, so went back to Phase 1 and has remained there. Before I started, I also set up folders on my Pinterest board with the recipes I found on Atkins for both Phases which made it really easy to locate my favorites. You will also learn how to create your own “groupings” (recipes) so all it takes is one click to include that in your tracker after that.
Here are links to both the food lists for the Atkins 20 program:
Here are some of the foods I always have lots of on hand. Some of them are foods you should wait until Phase 2 (after Induction) to start eating.
- Cheeses of ALL kinds (sliced, brick, the individual sticks, LOTS of cream cheese) but pre-shredded does contain carbs, so I prefer to buy brick and shred my own if at all possible.
- Sausages (bite-sized slices, sticks, canned Vienna sausages, pepperoni), watch carbs in some of those. This includes the very thin-sliced hard salamis. You may want to start reading ingredients listed for hidden sugars as corn syrup, dextrose, etc. There are sugar-free meats, you just have to search for them.
- Canned fish – Tuna in olive oil, sardines in oil or mustard, anchovies, lots of other little canned fishies, almost NO carbs!
- Cherry tomatoes – Careful, carby, but good to add a few to a meal or a salad.
- Cucumbers (I love the seedless English ones because you can eat the peel).
- Celery (great to fill with cream cheese for snacks).
- The “Simply JIF” peanut butter is okay in moderation after the Induction phase.
- Pork rinds!!! We go through a ton of them because in addition to eating them as snacks and substitutes for things popcorn and chips, I grind them in the food processor to use for breading, binders in meatloaf and other recipes that call for that sort of thing, and coating when cooking fish, chicken, mozzarella cheese sticks, etc.
- Cauliflower, broccoli, avocados, cabbage, sweet peppers (after induction), onions (after induction).
- Berries (blue, black, straw) after Induction, in moderation.
- The Atkins snack and “meal” bars are AWESOME! So are the shakes. Great filling snacks…BUT the ones with chocolate do have Malitol, a sweetener that is not good for you if you are insulin resistant because it causes your insulin to spike. Use those in moderation or for a “treat” like when you go to a birthday party or an ice cream social where everyone else is having cake and ice cream…just open up your yummy Atkins bar and you won’t feel at all deprived or left out. A word to the wise: if you are “insulin resistant” these can cause your insulin to spike simply because of the sweet taste.
- Walnuts, Pecans, and whole raw almonds AFTER induction, in moderation.
- Olives, dill pickles, capers.
- Eggs! Use them for snacks, deviled eggs, meals, whatever. However you fix them.
- Radishes, I use the really large ones, whole, as a substitute for baby red potatoes in pot roasts, roasting, etc. You can slice and fry them in lieu of fried potatoes. There are tips on how to get the moisture drained out before you roast or fry them to make the texture more like potatoes.
- Precooked shrimp! Warm up in butter with garlic & herbs….yum!!!
- Bacon and breakfast sausage and ham. I keep both uncooked and pre-cooked on hand in case I don’t have time to cook to go with my eggs or on salads or in recipes.
- Brats! Johnsonville are the lowest carb, we like the original and spicy ones, and we like them with sauerkraut (do you like sauerkraut?). However, Johnsonville does contain “hidden sugars” so if you are insulin resistant or are seriously trying to restrict your carbs, go for the Boar’s Head sugar-free knockwurst sausages and frankfurters. Walmart now also carries a sugar-free hot dog.
- SWEETENERS: Splenda is acceptable, but the powdered has carbs. They now make a Liquid Splenda that has ZERO carbs! I used that until I fell in love with Better Stevia which I absolutely LOVE for cooking with or putting in my tea (I don’t sweeten my coffee). No aftertaste! The 8 oz. size bottle will last forever, so not expensive when you consider that. I carry a small bottle of Liquid Splenda in my purse to sweeten my iced tea in restaurants.
When we eat out, some of our favorite meals are omelets with ham, bacon, sausage, & cheese (ask if they use some kind of “mix” in their scrambled or omelet eggs, and if they do, just ask for “cracked eggs”…(IHOP uses their pancake mix in their omelets!!!) I love ordering a Philly steak & cheese without the bread and with extra cheese; we both order bacon cheeseburgers without the bun, Harold likes a fried egg on top of his, I like sliced avocado on top of mine. I also fix those at home about once a week, too.
Seafood!!! We eat lots of salmon! Also lots of shrimp, flounder, cod, scallops. Cook with butter! We LOVE eating at Red Lobster, we just skip the biscuits and rice / potatoes. There’s plenty to eat without the carbs! We also love eating at Colton’s or Longhorns. Some of the places that are probably not carb friendly are Chinese and pasta places (unless you can order a steak or meat dish without a carby sauce).
There’s a lot more, but you will start to get the hang of it really quickly. Truthfully, I felt pretty overwhelmed at first, but about a month in, it all started becoming natural to think Keto when shopping, cooking, or eating out. The key is….you have to stick to it. Don’t think “Can I have cheat days?” because if you eat this food AND carbs you are setting yourself back. Think of it like this: Would you advise an alcoholic that they can have “cheat days” and allow them to drink alcohol on those days? No. Well, carb addiction is also that…an addiction, it really is. Especially if you are insulin resistant. After getting free of those carbs that were wrecking your health, why would you want to even think about going the other way again?
One of the main things to remember is that if you feel you have “messed up” one day, think of the next day as a whole new, clean slate and get right back in the groove. It may take awhile for your mind to catch up to what your body is doing, but when they finally meet up, the “temptations” won’t even seem like temptations any more.