Foods that can't be eaten on the Atkins diet

Updated April 17, 2017

A well-known low-carbohydrate diet created by Dr Robert Atkins, the Atkins diet became popular during the low-carb diet craze. Rejecting traditional nutritional diet programmes, the Atkins diet promotes eating large amounts of proteins and fats while restricting carbohydrate intake. The diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates because Dr Atkins believes the tremendous increase of refined carbohydrates in Western diets has led to an obesity epidemic.

Induction restrictions

During the induction phase of the Atkins diet -- the first two weeks -- all carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 grams per day. During this phase, all vegetables that are not considered low carbohydrate (basically any vegetable that isn't green), all fruits, all alcoholic beverages and all refined carbohydrates are prohibited. Caffeine is only allowed if it does not lower blood sugar levels or cause cravings.

Forbidden foods during induction

Throughout the first two weeks of the Atkins diet, grains and anything made from them are to be avoided. These include bread, cakes, biscuits and anything else made with flour. Foods that include added sugars, meaning most processed foods, which include hydrogenated corn syrup, are not allowed. Also prohibited are fruits and fruit juices, dairy products except cheeses, legumes and nuts.

Ongoing weight loss

During the second phase, a few more food items are permitted gradually. For the most part, alcohol, fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains are still not permitted or are still very restricted. Refined carbohydrates found in breads, pastas, biscuits and crisps are still prohibited from the diet. As you progress, some fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains are permitted in moderation.

Starchy vegetables

Starchy vegetables are to be avoided when reducing carbs on the Atkins diet. These starchy vegetables include beetroot, carrots, potatoes (all kinds), winter squashes, peas, parsnips and corn. During the ongoing weight loss phase, inclusion of these vegetables is permitted in strict moderation.


Any refined sugar is prohibited while on the Atkins diet. In addition, beverages with sugar such as fizzy drinks and sweet tea, are also not permitted. All food items which include sugar, mainly processed foods, are not allowed at any point on the diet.

Alcohol and caffeine

Any type of alcohol is also to be avoided while on the Atkins diet, because it is mostly comprised of empty calories, carbohydrates and sugar. While on the Atkins diet, also avoid caffeine because it can cause blood sugar levels to rise or create food cravings.

Processed meat

Highly processed meats, such as delicatessen meats, often contain hidden sugars that can sabotage weight loss and induce cravings for sugary foods, so avoid them.

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About the Author

Leslie Whittaker has been a published writer, graphic designer and communications consultant since 2002. Published works include articles in "Professional Car Wash & Detailing" and "Statis" magazine as well as copy writing for numerous web sites including,, and Whittaker holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications from the University of North Carolina.