Atkins Diet Food List: What to Eat and Avoid

The Atkins Diet food list is a comprehensive guide that outlines the types of foods you can eat while following the Atkins diet, including meats, low-carb veggies, and healthy fats. The purpose of the Atkins Diet food list, along with the Atkins shopping list, is to make it easier for individuals to plan and prepare meals that align with the Atkins diet’s low-carb, high-protein guidelines.

The food list varies by phases and specific Atkins plans like Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100, with each phase or plan allowing different types of foods and varying carb limits; for example, Atkins 20 is more restrictive in the initial phase, while Atkins 100 offers more flexibility with a higher daily carb intake. This article covers a list of foods you can eat on the Atkins diet, which includes a variety of foods. It also discusses foods that should be avoided, based on their macronutrient content, to help individuals meet their daily protein, fat, and carb goals.

  1. Meats
  2. Fatty Fish and Seafood
  3. Eggs
  4. Low-carb vegetables
  5. Low-Carb Fruits
  6. Full-fat Dairy
  7. Nuts and Seeds
  8. Healthy Fats and Oils
  9. Beverages is a reader-supported platform. Purchases made through our links may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Meats

Meats are a core component of the Atkins diet food list, featuring a variety of options like bacon, pork, lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, and venison. According to the Atkins Phase 1 guidelines, you can have about half a chicken breast for lunch and five or six beef or lamb meatballs for dinner. The calorie count for meats varies, but for example, a 3.5-ounce serving of chicken breast has approximately 165 calories. Nutrients in meats generally include essential amino acids, vitamins like B12, and minerals such as iron and zinc.

Examples of meats you can enjoy are listed below.

  1. Bacon
  2. Pork chops
  3. Lamb chops
  4. Chicken thighs
  5. Beef steaks
  6. Turkey slices
  7. Venison steaks

Low-carb veggies like spinach, broccoli, and kale are excellent accompaniments to meats on the Atkins diet. The best ways to prepare meats include grilling, baking, or frying in healthy fats like coconut oil or butter. If you’re looking to diversify your protein sources, fatty fish like salmon or mackerel are great alternatives to meats on the Atkins diet.

2. Fatty Fish and Seafood

Fatty fish and seafood are a big yes on the Atkins diet phase 1 food list, offering a rich source of protein and healthy fats. According to the Atkins guidelines, you can have as much fatty fish intake as you desire, especially during the induction phase. The examples of fatty fish and seafood you can enjoy are listed below.

  1. Sardines
  2. Mackerel
  3. Salmon
  4. Trout
  5. Tuna
  6. Herring
  7. Whitebait

These fish pair excellently with low-carb veggies like green beans, asparagus, and bell peppers. Grilling or baking are the best ways to prepare these fish, keeping in line with the Atkins diet’s focus on healthy cooking methods. If you’re looking for an alternative, meats like chicken or beef can easily take the place of fatty fish in your Atkins diet shopping list.

3. Eggs

Eggs are another go-to option on the Atkins diet induction phase food list, especially omega-3 enriched or pastured ones. According to the diet’s guidelines, you can have two to three eggs in an omelet for breakfast. Examples of eggs you can have include the following:

  1. Omega-3 enriched eggs
  2. Pastured eggs
  3. Hard-boiled eggs
  4. Scrambled eggs
  5. Poached eggs
  6. Sunny-side-up eggs

On average, one large egg contains about 72 calories. Nutrient-wise, eggs are packed with protein, essential amino acids, and vitamins like B12 and D. Low-carb veggies like asparagus or zucchini go well with eggs, making for a nutritious and Atkins-friendly meal.

The best ways to prepare eggs include frying them in healthy fats like coconut oil or butter or making an omelet with low-carb veggies. If you’re looking for an alternative, full-fat dairy products like cheese or yogurt can be a good substitute for eggs on the breakfast Atkins diet food list.

4. Low-carb vegetables

Low-carb vegetables are a go-to option on the modified Atkins diet food list, especially during the induction phase where carb intake is highly restricted. According to the Atkins guidelines, you can have about 2 to 3 cups of these veggies per meal, depending on the phase you’re in.

The following low-carb veggies are approved for the Atkins menu:

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Kale
  4. Asparagus
  5. Bell peppers
  6. Mushrooms
  7. Zucchini

These veggies pair well with high-protein foods like meats and fatty fish, aligning perfectly with the Atkins meal plan. The best ways to prepare these veggies include steaming, grilling, or sautéing them in healthy fats like olive oil or butter. If you’re looking for an alternative, you can opt for other low-carb veggies like cauliflower, green beans, or cucumbers.

5. Low-Carb Fruits

Low-carb fruits like berries are allowed in moderation on the Dr. Atkins diet food list, especially in the Atkins 40 or Atkins 100 meal plan. Some examples of low-carb fruits you can enjoy are listed below:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Raspberries
  3. Blackberries
  4. Blueberries
  5. Cranberries
  6. Cherries
  7. Kiwi

Fruits on the Atkins diet food list, such as berries, pair well with full-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt or heavy cream. According to Atkins diet guidelines, a serving size is about a half-cup of berries.

The best way to enjoy these fruits is to eat them fresh or blend them into a smoothie with other Atkins-friendly ingredients. If you’re seeking an alternative, the original Atkins diet food list includes low-GI vegetables like lettuce or kale, which can be used in smoothies or desserts as substitutes for low-carb fruits.

6. Full-fat Dairy

Full-fat dairy is part of the Atkins diet approved food list, featuring options like heavy cream, whole milk, cheese, butter, and full-fat yogurt. According to the Atkins guidelines, there’s no strict serving size, but moderation is key; for instance, you can have a dollop of full-fat yogurt with your breakfast or a slice of cheese as a snack. Some examples of full-fat dairy you can enjoy are the following:

  1. Heavy cream
  2. Whole milk
  3. Cheddar cheese
  4. Gouda, butter
  5. Full-fat Greek yogurt
  6. Sour cream

Foods that pair well with full-fat dairy on the Atkins diet include low-GI vegetables like celery and meats like chicken or beef. The best ways to incorporate full-fat dairy into your meals are by using butter for cooking, adding a splash of heavy cream to your coffee, or enjoying a cheese platter with some nuts. If you’re looking for an alternative, you can opt for plant-based high-fat options like avocado or coconut milk.

7. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are popular snacks on the Atkins-style diet food list, especially during phase 1. You can have up to four ounces of nuts and seeds in one sitting, which equates to about a small handful. Examples of nuts and seeds you can enjoy include the following:

  1. Almonds
  2. Macadamia nuts
  3. Walnuts
  4. Sunflower seeds
  5. Hazelnuts
  6. Pecans
  7. Cashews

A four-ounce serving of mixed nuts can have around 600 to 700 calories. These little powerhouses are rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber, along with essential nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E.

These crunchy delights go great with low-carb veggies and can also add some extra crunch to your salads. Roasting them or eating them raw are the best ways to enjoy nuts and seeds on the Atkins diet menu. If you’re searching for alternative snacks that fit into the Atkins diet Phase 1 food list, full-fat dairy products like cheese cubes or slices are excellent substitutes for nuts and seeds.

8. Healthy Fats and Oils

Healthy Fats and oils are definitely on the Atkins diet food list. In terms of serving size, you can add about three servings of one tablespoon of fats to your daily food intake. While the calorie count can vary, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, for example, has around 119 calories. These fats are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and some even offer omega-3 fatty acids.

Some examples of healthy fats and oils you can enjoy are listed below.

  1. Avocados
  2. Avocado oil
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Extra virgin olive oil
  5. Flaxseed oil
  6. Walnut oil
  7. MCT oil

Foods that pair well with these fats according to the Atkins diet include low-carb vegetables like tomatoes and meats like chicken or beef. The best ways to prepare foods with these fats are sautéing, roasting, or using them in salad dressings. If you’re looking for an alternative, full-fat dairy products like butter or ghee can be used in place of these oils and fats.

9. Beverages

Beverages like water and green tea are all on the induction Atkins diet food list, so you can sip away without worry. According to Atkins guidelines, you can have these beverages in any quantity, as they contain zero to minimal calories. Speaking of calories, an 8 oz cup of black coffee has about 2-5 calories, while green tea has around 2 calories per 8 oz cup. Nutrient-wise, both coffee and green tea are rich in antioxidants, which are great for your health.

For variety, you can choose from several types of beverages:

  • Water
  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • Herbal tea
  • Coffee
  • Decaffeinated coffee
  • Flavored water (sugar-free)

These beverages pair well with any food on the Atkins diet list, making them versatile choices. The best way to prepare these beverages is by brewing them fresh, avoiding added sugars or high-fat creamers. If you’re looking for an alternative, you could opt for sugar-free flavored seltzer water or herbal infusions to keep things interesting.

atkins diet alternative

What foods shouldn’t be on the Atkins diet food list?

Foods high in carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, and sugary snacks, should be avoided on the Atkins diet plan food list.

foods to avoid atkins diet
Atkins Diet Plan
  1. Grains
  2. Sugary Foods
  3. High-Sugar Fruits
  4. Starchy Vegetables
  5. Legumes
  6. High-Sugar Dairy

1. Grains

Grains are on the do-not-eat list for the Atkins diet, particularly during the initial phases when carb intake is highly restricted. Examples of grains you’ll need to avoid include the following:

  1. Rice
  2. Wheat
  3. Barley
  4. Oats
  5. Corn
  6. Quinoa

Most grains are processed to some extent, especially items like white rice and white bread. Consuming grains can potentially spike your blood sugar levels, which is counterproductive to the Atkins diet’s goal of keeping carbs low. A typical serving of grains, like a cup of cooked rice, can have around 200 calories. A better choice within the Atkins diet grocery list would be cauliflower rice, which is low in carbs and calories but can mimic the texture of traditional grains.

2. Sugary Foods

Sugary foods are a big no-no on the Atkins diet food list, so you’ll have to say goodbye to:

  1. Candies
  2. Cookies
  3. Cakes
  4. Ice cream
  5. Sugary cereals
  6. Soda

These foods are generally highly processed and packed with artificial ingredients. Consuming sugary foods can lead to weight gain, increased blood sugar levels, and other health issues like heart disease. A typical serving, let’s say a can of soda, can contain around 150 calories, mostly from sugar. A better choice within the Atkins guidelines would be to opt for water, herbal teas, or even a low-carb smoothie made with approved fruits and full-fat yogurt.

3. High-Sugar Fruits

High-sugar fruits are not allowed on the new Atkins diet food list, especially during the initial phases. Examples include:

  1. Bananas
  2. Mangoes
  3. Grapes
  4. Cherries
  5. Apples
  6. Peaches
  7. Pears

These fruits are not highly processed but are naturally high in sugar. The potential health downside is that they can spike your blood glucose levels, which is counterproductive when you’re trying to achieve ketosis on the Atkins diet. A typical serving of fruit can vary from 60 to 100 calories, depending on the type and portion size. For better compliance with the approved Atkins diet food list, opt for low-carb fruits like berries, which are permitted in moderation during the later phases of the diet.

4. Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables shouldn’t be on the food list for the Atkins diet plan, especially for the Atkins 20 where net carbs intake is highly restricted. Examples of these off-limits veggies include:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Corn
  3. Peas
  4. Sweet potatoes
  5. Butternut squash

Most starchy vegetables are not highly processed, as they can be consumed in their natural form. However, they can be high in carbohydrates, which is a potential downside if you’re trying to follow a low-carb diet like Atkins.

A typical serving of starchy vegetables can range from 80 to 130 calories, depending on the type and preparation method. If you’re craving something similar but want to stick to the Atkins diet 20 food list guidelines, opt for low-carb vegetables like cauliflower or zucchini, which can often be prepared to mimic the texture and flavor of their starchy counterparts.

5. Legumes

Legumes are not allowed on the Atkins diet food list, especially during the initial phases, as they are higher in carbohydrates. Examples of legumes you can’t have include:

  1. Lentils
  2. Chickpeas
  3. Black beans
  4. Kidney beans
  5. Pinto beans
  6. Navy beans
  7. Green peas

Most legumes are not highly processed, especially if you buy them in their whole form. While legumes are generally considered healthy due to their fiber and protein content, they can be problematic on a low-carb diet like Atkins because they can contribute to carb intake.

A typical serving of cooked lentils, for example, contains around 230 calories along with 40 grams of carbohydrates. A better choice within the Atkins guidelines would be low-carb vegetables like spinach or kale, which offer fiber and nutrients without the high-carb content.

6. High-Sugar Dairy

High-sugar dairy products are a no-go on the Atkins diet food list, as they’re high in carbs and sugars. Examples of these off-limits foods include:

  1. Flavored yogurts
  2. Chocolate milk
  3. Sweetened condensed milk
  4. Ice cream, custard
  5. Pudding
  6. Frappuccinos

These items are often highly processed, containing added sugars and artificial flavors. The potential health downsides include spikes in blood sugar levels, weight gain, and increased risk of diabetes. A typical serving of flavored yogurt, for instance, can pack around 150 to 200 calories, mostly from sugar. A better choice within the Atkins diet plan would be full-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt, which is low in carbs and high in protein.

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How to plan meals using the Atkins diet food list?

Planning meals using the Atkins diet food list can be a straightforward process if you consider various factors like budget, time, and dietary restrictions. Here are 9 steps to help you plan effectively:

  1. Opt for bulk-buying meats and low-carb veggies; frozen options are often cheaper and last longer.
  2. Prepare Atkins-friendly salads and grilled meats in advance for quick lunches and dinners during busy weekdays.
  3. Pack low-carb snacks like almonds or cheese cubes to avoid the office vending machine temptations.
  4. Make adaptable meals like lettuce wraps where kids can add their own non-Atkins fillings like rice or beans.
  5. Choose gluten-free or dairy-free Atkins-approved options like almond milk or coconut flour.
  6. Incorporate low-carb veggies and meats into your favorite cultural dishes, substituting rice or noodles with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.
  7. Opt for plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh, which are Atkins-friendly.
  8. If muscle gain is your aim, focus on higher protein meats like chicken breast or turkey, and pair them with low-carb veggies rich in fiber.
  9. Pack portable Atkins snacks like protein bars or shakes, and research Atkins-friendly restaurant options at your destination.
atkins diet alternative

How many carbs are allowed per day on the Atkins diet?

On the Atkins diet, the daily carb intake varies by phase, starting as low as 20-25 grams of net carbs per day in Phase 1 (Induction). In the later phases, you can gradually increase your carb intake, but it generally stays under 100 grams per day. The focus is on low-carb, high-fiber vegetables to meet this quota.

How many proteins are allowed per day on the Atkins diet?

The Atkins diet doesn’t set a strict daily protein limit, but it’s generally moderate in protein. A typical day might include two 4-6 ounce servings of protein-rich foods like meat, fish, or tofu. The idea is to consume enough protein to maintain muscle mass while losing weight.

How many fats are allowed per day on the Atkins diet?

Fats are encouraged on the Atkins diet, especially in the form of healthy oils, nuts, and seeds. While there’s no specific daily fat limit, the diet advises focusing on healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish, making up about 60-70% of your daily caloric intake.

Are there any gluten-free options on the Atkins diet food list?

Yes, there are gluten-free options on the Atkins diet food list. Many naturally gluten-free foods like meats, fish, eggs, and low-carb vegetables are part of the Atkins plan. Just make sure to read labels if you’re opting for packaged Atkins products.

Can you have alcohol while on the Atkins diet?

No, alcohol is generally discouraged, especially in the initial phases of the Atkins diet. If you do choose to consume alcohol later on, opt for low-carb options like dry wine or spirits, and be mindful of the extra calories.

What are some Atkins diet recipes to incorporate into a 7-day meal plan?

You can incorporate a variety of Atkins diet recipes into your 7-day meal plan, including options like grilled chicken with low-carb vegetables, avocado and bacon salad, cauliflower rice stir-fry with shrimp, and creamy broccoli and cheddar soup, ensuring a delicious and low-carb week of meals. Explore these recipes to stay on track with your Atkins diet goals while enjoying diverse and satisfying dishes.

How does the Atkins diet food list change in different phases?

The Atkins diet food list evolves through its four phases. In Phase 1, it’s mostly meats, fats, and certain vegetables. As you progress, you can reintroduce more carbs in the form of nuts, seeds, and eventually, small portions of fruits and whole grains. Each phase allows for a greater variety of foods while still focusing on low-carb options.