Thursday, July 12, 2007

Handing you the Keys to Success

All weight loss diets come with some sort of rules; how much to eat, what to eat, when to eat, how to control portions, etc. The weight loss diet that enabled me to finally lose the excess weight was Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (1992/1999), and like all other diets had its rules to follow - the Rules of Induction.

While Induction is heavily criticized by many, it is the period I call "back to basics" for the individual just starting out. While one is to carefully count carbohydrate, eating no more than 20g each day, they are also encouraged to view foods once subject to elimination or strict limitation differently; foods like whole eggs, red meat, full fat salad dressings, cream and real cheese are allowed, while "low-fat" products are strongly discouraged.

Within the books published by Dr. Atkins, the list of foods allowed during the first two weeks includes almost any red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, fowl or game; with caution to limit or avoid nitrates and processed meats. Real whole milk cheese, cream and half & half are allowed within the dairy group, with limits on intake each day if one is consuming them; a long list of non-starchy vegetables and fruits (that is fruits that are fruits that we often don't recognize as "fruit" but are fruits - olives, macadamia nuts, summer squash, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.); all herbs and spices, and finally what to drink and what types and quantity of artificial sweetener is allowed.

One reason I call this the "back to basics" period in the diet is because it is focused on whole foods and provides for the most important essential nutrients our metabolism needs each day - quality protein (essential amino acids), quality fats (essential fatty acids) and nutrient-dense carbohydrates (essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements). The plan also encourages one to supplement with a high quality multi-vitamin (with minerals including potassium, calcium and magnesium; without iron) and provides additional information about other supplements if necessary.

In addition to the basic foods allowed during the period of Induction, the diet focuses the individual to follow what are called the Rules of Induction as a way to help them follow the diet correctly.

The Rules of Induction, from the 1999 publication of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution are as follows: (they differ slightly from those published online by the company since his death in 2003; to read the updated version, published by Atkins Nutritionals, click here)

  1. Eat three regular-size meals a day or four or five smaller meals. Do not skip meals or go more than six waking hours without eating.
  2. Eat liberally of combinations of fat and protein in the form of poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and red meat, as well as pure, natural fat in the form of butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, safflower, sunflower and other vegetable oils (preferably expeller-pressed or cold-pressed).
  3. Eat no more than 20 grams a day of carbohydrate, most of which must come from in the form of salad greens and other vegetables. You can eat approximately three cups - loosely packed - of salad, or two cups of salad plus one cup of other vegetables.
  4. Eat absolutely no fruit, bread, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables or dairy products other than cheese, cream or butter. Do not eat nuts or seeds in the first two weeks. Foods that combine protein and carbohydrates, such as chickpeas, kidney beans and other legumes, are not permitted at this time.
  5. Eat nothing that isn't on the Acceptable Foods list. And that means absolutely nothing! Your "just this one taste won't hurt" rationalization is the kiss of failure during this phase of Atkins.
  6. Adjust the quantity you eat to suit your appetite, especially as it decreases. When you're hungry, eat the amount that makes you feel satisfied, but not stuffed. When you're not hungry, eat a small controlled carbohydrate snack to accompany your nutritional supplements.
  7. Don't assume any food is low in carbohydrate—instead, read labels! Check the carb count (it's on every package) or use a carbohydrate gram counter.
  8. Eat out as often as you wish but be on guard for hidden carbs in gravies, sauces and dressings. Gravy is often made with flour or cornstarch, and sugar is sometimes an ingredient in salad dressing.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day in addition to anything else you may drink, to hydrate your body, avoid constipation and flush out the by-products of burning fat.
  12. If you are constipated, mix a tablespoon or more of psyllium husks in a cup or more of water and drink daily. Or mix ground flaxseed into a shake or sprinkle wheat bran on a salad or vegetables.

You may be wondering why I'm posting this here, today, on my blog?

The reason is simple - over the years of following a diet that is controlled-carb, and maintaining my weight loss, I've realized that the above Rules of Induction contain the keys to long-term maintenance. The critical points needed to succeed in the long-term are right there if we look closely and examine why they are in place for the first two weeks, and why they are necessary throughout weight loss and maintenance.

Years ago I wrote an article for a publication that has since gone out of business, and my original copy is long gone. So, without that in hand to simply re-post here, I'm going to re-write it from my longer-term perspective today, some years later, continuing to follow a controlled-carb approach.

In the coming days and next week, I'll take one or two (if they are related) rules and explain why they are critical in the first two weeks, and the lesson I believe they are teaching us for the long-term. I'll begin tomorrow with the first rule, "Eat three regular-size meals a day or four or five smaller meals. Do not skip meals or go more than six waking hours without eating;" and provide data as to why it is important not only in the short-term, but also for long-term success.

As you'll learn in the upcoming posts, each of the rules looks to foster one or more things, including:

  1. Your responsibility in what you eat
  2. Breaking habits that contribute to weight gain
  3. Establishing a solid foundation for healthy eating in the future
  4. Providing the tools & strategies you'll need to maintain your weight loss
  5. Creating good habits that lead to better health
  6. Your health and well-being is in your hands and is your responsibility in the long-term

UPDATE: Thank you to a reader who sent me an archived copy of the original article, which i will link to at the end of the upcoming series, for my readers to compare my changes to with my additional years perspective to add to!


  1. I'm looking forward to reading more! I'm also looking forward to meeting you next Saturday at Ryans!

  2. Regina...thanks so much for posting 'The Rules of Induction'. I have them in my copy of DANDR and have read them recently, since I am nearing the end of my 2 week induction period. I know Atkins works because I lost weight on it several years ago, then ate a 'big bowl of stupid' and went back to my old carbivore habits. Yeah, you guessed it, I'm back to square one, with all those pounds to lose again.

    I look forward to your commentary on each Rule of Induction. I am currently reading some other low-carb books and trying to arm myself with as much helpful knowledge as possible. I know I must change my lifestyle and that is now what I'm working toward. I am telling myself it must become a way of life FOREVER.

    Again, thanks for all your useful articles and insight. Keep up the good work!

  3. I'm also looking forward to meeting you next Saturday at Ryans!

    Unfortunately I'm unable to attend Saturday's get together - I just emailed Jimmy earlier this morning so he also knows. Perhaps next time I'm in the St. Louis area? Have fun with Jimmy and those who are there!