- Avoid foods or drinks sweetened with aspartame. Instead, use sucralose or saccharin. Be sure to count each packet of any of these as 1 gram of carbs.
- Avoid coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine. Excessive caffeine has been shown to cause low blood sugar, which can make you crave sugar.
- Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day to hydrate your body, avoid constipation and flush out the by-products of burning fat.
Starting with the last one, drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water, provides direction to make sure we consume enough fluids each day.
It's universally accepted that water is important; with disagreement as to whether fluid intake must be water itself or any beverage that helps provide hydration. I tend toward the belief that all fluids count toward water intake - if someone wants to drink water, great!; if someone wants to consume iced tea with lemon or a diet beverage, great! It's all good as long as we also are mindful of the other rules which have important considerations when choosing what to drink.
Rule nine limits consumption of artificial sweeteners and specifically suggests that we avoid aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) because evidence suggests it stimulates insulin and may cause lowering of blood sugars. This in turn would trigger hunger and leave one open to eating more than desired. Else where in Atkins book he provides an allowance of three packets of articifical sweetener each day of the two he recommends. This limit isn't to say you can't have something sweet, but rather forces selection and limitation as you're starting a low-carb diet.
That one must count each packet of any artificial sweetener as 1g of carbs - this alone places a limit on how much you can have in a day, without stating it, if you're following rule three and getting the majority of your carbs from vegetables and salads. Long-term, into maintenance, this is an excellent rule - it limits your exposure to chemical sweeteners and lessens the chance you'll use them in excess if you continue to follow this rule for the rest of your life.
The potential of caffeine to affect insulin and blood sugars is also included in the rules. Each time you have caffeine, your body has an insulin response and the potential for cravings to be triggered. In addition to the potential for cravings being induced by caffeine, there is also the risk of feeling more hungry and eating more than you would had you not had the caffeine. While initially caffeine may supress the appetite, later after its effects are waning, you may actually feel more hungry than you would have had you not had the caffeine.
It is especially important in the first two weeks to do all you can to limit your cravings; as you can see from the above rules that are in place, many of them aid in limiting the cravings to keep you on track. It is also important to begin to fully understand "hunger" and how much sates your appetite rather than leaving you stuffed. By avoiding caffeine, limiting artificial sweeteners and keeping yourself hydrated you're accomplishing this goal.
Dehydration when following a low-carb diet, due to ketosis, is to be avoided. It will increase the concentration of ketones in your body and the result is less efficient buring of fat for energy. You'll also run a greater risk of getting constipated, as well as, a greater risk of painful headaches. Proper hydration while you're in ketosis will help to eliminate the ketones from your body in your sweat, urine and respiration - you need the water intake to accomplish this each day.
As an aside, I've found caffeine has little effect on me. Over the years I've noted that it's a "your mileage may vary" type thing and usually recommend an individual see how they feel with and without caffeine in their daily menu.