Figuring out what you’re going to prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can already be a daunting task, and that’s likely exaggerated by a dramatic shift in your diet. In order to plan accordingly, first you need to ask yourself one quick question:
- What phase of the Atkins diet are you in?
If you’re just starting out, you should be in phase 1, and that means 20g of net carbs a day. By phase 3, you’ll have somewhere around 50-70g of net carbs and a greater variety of allowed foods through which to obtain those carbs. Over time, you will want to rethink your meal plans and adjust them to take advantage of both the new varieties of allowed foods and increased net carb intake.
Tip #1: Use a Carb Counter
Counting calories isn’t what you need to be concerned with on the Atkins diet, counting carbs is. Find whatever way is best for you to keep track of your daily intake of carbs and getting started. Personally, I like to use a food journal and record all of my meals. Not only does that process allow me to keep careful track of carbs, it also holds me accountable to my diet; I’m much less likely to cheat and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when I know I’ll have to own up to it on paper. There are plenty of resources to find out the carb content of foods, including Atkin’s own.
Tip #2: Budget Ahead
If you do the math ahead of time and know how many net carbs your favorite meals will cost you, then you can easily plan what meals will fit together in a day and what will send you over the edge while maintaining your low carb diet.
Tip #3: Prep Ahead of Time
We’re all busy people, and carving out the time to spend preparing food can be difficult. One of the easiest ways to fail on a diet is to be unprepared for the work week. If you don’t already, start taking your own food for lunch instead of eating out (bringing your own food will be easier to manage in terms of the Atkins Nutritional Approach and cheaper). You may not, however, have the time every morning to prepare lunch (or breakfast, or dinner, depending on what they involve). A good solution is to go grocery shopping over the weekend and upon returning back home, starting prep on all your foods. For example, if you know you’ll be making a few salads, go ahead and chop the vegetables then so they’re ready to go later. Slow-cooked meats also provide you with the opportunity to do the bulk of the work ahead of time and allow you a greater chance of staying on that low carb plan.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining the Atkins diet will be easier if you’re prepared. It can be tough if you wait until the last minute to decide what you’re going to eat for lunch. The other big things is, of course, keeping careful track of the net carbs.
There are plenty of Atkins-friendly low carb recipes to be found on the internet, one excellent place for desserts I recommend highly is the Low Carb Coach, also here are some basic meal ideas to help you get started:
- Anything eggs
o Scrambled eggs, steak n’ eggs, eggs and sausage, the possibilities are vast.
- Greek Yogurt
o Lower in carbs than other yogurts, this provides the option to grab and go.
o A good chance to get your daily serving of fruits, as well as vegetables if you’re willing to. Greek yogurt will help mask the vegetables if you’re wary of taste.
o Add in hard boiled eggs and/or meats or fish for a protein boost.
- Naked Burgers
o Burgers without the bun! When considering possible additions to your burger, just make sure you don’t opt for toppings high in net carbs.
- Variations on Grilled/Baked/Pan-Seared Meats and a Side
o There are plenty of options to be had here. Turkey one day, halibut another, and chicken the next. Pick your protein, pick your seasonings, pick your side (preferably vegetable-oriented) and you’re good to go.
Although it can seem difficult at first, if you keep the philosophy of the Atkins diet in mind, you can likely take your existing recipes and modify them to comply with your new lifestyle.
Good luck cooking!