During the first phase of the Atkins diet, induction, a dieter can eat a reasonable amount of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and butter and vegetable oils. He should limit himself to 20 grams of net carbohydrates from vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, celery, asparagus and peppers.
During induction, a dieter cannot eat any foods containing refined sugar or flour, including bread and pasta. He also avoids starchy vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, legumes such as beans and peas, and caffeine and alcohol. The goal during this phase is to push the body to burn fat instead of the carbohydrates that it normally uses for fuel. This phase lasts a minimum of two weeks.
The next phase is balancing. In this stage, the dieter begins adding small amounts of nutrient-rich foods that contain carbohydrates such as berries, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The range of foods consumed continues to increase during the third phase, pre-maintenance, which begins when the dieter is 10 pounds away from his target weight. During pre-maintenance, the dieter can add up to 10 grams of net carbohydrates per week until he finds the point at which weight loss stops. If he is still short of the target weight at that point, he cuts back on carbohydrates until he reaches his goal. The final phase is maintenance, which is lifelong and aims at eating the amount of carbohydrates that allows the dieter to maintain a healthy weight.