Beginner’s Guide to a Low-Carb, High-Protein Diet | Atkins

Close Open

Scroll directly down to

Posted by Linda O'Byrne (Atkins Nutritionist)

Many protein-rich foods are also low in carbs, which makes it really easy to incorporate some essential nutrients into your Atkins eating plan.

There are many reasons to adopt a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs. For one, protein is great for muscle-building and muscle-repair, and it provides lasting energy for the body. Additionally, a high-protein, low-carb lifestyle like Atkins allows you to burn excess body fat for energy instead of burning carbs, whilst protein prevents muscle loss and helps to keep your metabolic rate ticking over nicely. Combining both of these factors means that you’re well on your way to achieving your weight wellness goals.

Atkins and Protein

Don’t be misled into thinking that Atkins is a high-protein diet. We know that high-protein diets can have some potentially damaging side effects to your health, so we actually recommend only moderate amounts of protein with each meal – specifically 115-175g of chicken, meat, or fish, or two eggs.

Whether you are just starting out in the Induction Phase or have already progressed on to the Maintenance Phase, consuming protein-rich foods is both satisfying and filling, and is a good way to keep the hunger pangs to the bare minimum and to stop you from reaching for high-carb snacks between meals.

Incorporate Protein into Your Diet

One of the biggest struggles for people who are new to a diet is the lack of variety in their meals, but the good news is that many high-protein, low-carb foods are already the staples in many people’s diets – so you can easily go Atkins without making big changes to your lifestyle. In fact, your Atkins meal plans can include moderate amounts of meat and fish, like the following:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Cod
  • Prawns
  • Crab

With Atkins, we recommend that you eat until you feel full, which is fairly easy to achieve with these protein-rich foods – all of which can be consumed in moderation throughout the entire period of your low-carb diet, from Induction to Maintenance.

What about vegetarians?

There are plenty of protein-rich foods that don’t contain meat or fish, such as these:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • (Unsweetened) Peanut Butter
  • Tofu

However, you should note that not all of these foods can be eaten during the Phase 1: Induction; nuts should generally be avoided until Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss. If you’re a vegetarian, you should start in Phase 2 so that you can consume these foods right from the beginning.

Once you’ve progressed into Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance, you can start to introduce an even wider variety of high-protein foods like beans and pulses, which are only suitable from Phase 3 onwards because they contain slightly more carbs. As such, you should lay off these foods until you get a hang of your carb tolerance (as in, how high your carb intake can be without you gaining weight).

(You can find a pescatarian and vegetarian meal plan here.)

Long-term, sustainable weight loss

Many fad diets like the low-fat and low-calorie lifestyles have only short-term results. In fact, evidence has shown time and time again that people attempting these diets constantly struggle with hunger and dissatisfaction with their meals – which in turn leads them to overeat in an effort to satisfy their cravings, and any weight they’ve lost soon piles back on. In many cases, these diets will backfire and dieters actually end up heavier.

High-protein foods are ideal for filling you up and preventing the cravings that stop other fad diets from producing the desired results – which is why we recommend the combination of higher fat, moderate protein, and low carbs (except vegetables) as the perfect path to weight wellness.