The Atkins diet is broken into 9 “rungs” of steps back to eating carbohydrates. The rungs are added in one week at a time during the “Ongoing Weight Loss” stage or “OWL” stage. This stage is designed to allow each person to find their critical carbohydrate level for losing and to teach the dieter to eat these foods within reason, handle their glycemic levels and control cravings. This phase begins when a person is within 10 pounds of their target weight. The rungs have to be reached in order but rungs can be skipped if you do not intend to include that food into your diet permanently, like the alcohol rung. The overall goal is to add 5 net grams of carbs each week to your daily carbohydrate intake. Each rung incorporates 5 more net grams into your daily intake so by the end of the ladder you will have 45 additional net grams of carbs then you started with.
The first rung is adding more acceptable vegetables in higher quantities into your diet. This can be as simple as eating more salad or incorporating more cooked vegetables as side dishes to your regular Atkins meals. Keep in mind you are still limited to the introduction approved vegetables. The next rung is fresh cheese or fresh dairy. Adding in more milk, yogurt and other dairy items to your diet while still following a more regimented plan. Some of the dairy options include hard cheese, cream, half an half, sour cream and low carb ice-cream yogurt and milk. The third rung is nuts and seeds. Adding almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc into your meal brings in healthy fats and nutrients and are easy to incorporate into a low carb diet. Top cooked vegetables or salads with nuts or eat them as an easy snack. You can find lots of great Atkins recipes for the new stages of your diet, with options to include dairy, seeds, nuts and more vegetables.
Berries are the 4th rung and include all types of berries like blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. Some limited quantities of melons are also allowed. AGR melons are allowed including watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. The 5th rung is alcohol and includes low carbohydrate beer, white and red wine and spirits. Spirits do not have carbohydrate but low carb beer and wine do so choose wisely and keep portions limited. Also it is important to remember that your body burns alcohol before fat so you can stall your weight loss by drinking too much, if you notice this refrain from drinking until you are back on track.
After alcohol you get to the legume rung. The 6th rung allows you to add in lots of different beans, humus and chickpeas, tofu and other soy products. It is important at this point you make note of eating higher AGR foods and make sure not to eat them alone because of their affect on your blood sugar. Make sure to eat them with high fat and high fiber foods to minimize the affects on your blood sugar. Adding legumes into your diet is easy if you know the right Atkins diet recipes to follow, your new rungs allows you to incorporate a wider variety of tastes and flavors. The 7th rung allows you to add in more fruits, in addition to the berries and melons from rung 4. Kiwi, apples, citrus fruits and peaches are some of your fruit options. Continue to avoid dried fruit because they can be very sugar dense and in one small piece you may consume as many carbohydrate as an entire fruit.
Starchy vegetables are next and include carrots, squash and green peas. Corn and potatoes can be added as occasional treats. Remember to keep your starchy vegetables portions small. Finally the 9th rung of the ladder is the whole grains rung. Make sure you keep your grains whole and unprocessed with small portions. You can eat oatmeal, wheat bran, low-carb breads and muffins, cooked barley and a few other whole grain options.
The rungs of the Atkins diet are designed to bring you make to a more normal eating plan, slowly reintroducing more common foods with higher carbohydrate counts. It is important you continue to count your net carbs and keep them within your diet parameters to maintain your weight loss and keep you body at its new healthy weight.