What You Can Drink on the Atkins Diet

Beverages

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

When starting the Atkins diet, knowing which drinks are off-limits can be confusing. During the "induction" phase of the program, stricter standards are in place to produce initial results and get you started with this new way of eating. Here, we'll take away the guesswork by breaking down which beverages fit into the Atkins plan.

Atkins-Approved Drinks

The induction phase of Atkins is the most restrictive part of the plan. When you start the program, there is a list of suggested foods and beverages to avoid during the first few weeks. Luckily, there are plenty of drinks that won't hinder your success on Atkins. Many of the suggestions are good tips to improve your overall drinking habits whether you're on Atkins or not.

Water is essential and particularly important while following any type of low-carb eating plan. The creator of the diet, Robert Atkins, MD, advises those on the induction phase to consume eight 8-ounce glasses per day of any type of water, such as tap water, spring water, mineral water, or filtered water.

You can also choose other beverages in this phase, as long as they are free of carbohydrates and sugar. The following is an excerpt from the list of approved drinks from the Atkins book and website:

  • Black coffee
  • Black or green tea
  • Club soda
  • Herbal tea (with no added barley or fruit sugars)
  • No-calorie flavored seltzer

Drinks with caffeine aren't allowed for some on Atkins because Dr. Atkins suggests caffeine may affect blood sugar or appetite in those who are sensitive to it. If you experience carbohydrate cravings or symptoms of hypoglycemia after consuming beverages with caffeine, you should eliminate them, according to Atkins.

In addition, you may need to avoid diet sodas as certain artificial sweeteners are off-limits during the induction phase. According to Atkins, artificial sweeteners may slow down the weight loss process or halt results altogether. Atkins cautions followers to pay attention to artificial sweeteners throughout the entire Atkins diet and avoid them if weight loss stalls or stops.

Acceptable sweeteners include sucralose, saccharine, or stevia. According to Atkins, one packet equals one gram of net carbs.

Alcoholic Drinks on Atkins

Alcohol is not permitted during the induction phase of the Atkins diet. Atkins warns that consuming alcoholic drinks like beer, wine or cocktails might slow down your rate of weight loss. 

When the induction is over, you can start to enjoy a small amount of alcohol, but do so with caution.

Starting in phase 2, an occasional glass of wine can be counted towards the carbs in your daily total. But keep in mind that a serving of alcohol is just 5 ounces. Staying mindful of portion sizes (instead of just going for an entire glass) is a healthy habit, regardless of whether you stick to Atkins long term. 

The Atkins website mentions that spirits like gin, vodka, rye, and scotch are also acceptable options once you enter Phase 2. Watch out for hidden carbs in popular mixers, which may slow down your progress.

Mixers like tonic water and fruit juice are high in carbohydrates. But low- or zero-carb mixers like seltzer, diet tonic, and diet soda are permitted. Beginning in phase 2, tomato juice (4 ounces), lemon juice (2 tablespoons), and lime juice (2 tablespoons) are also acceptable. Adding club soda to alcoholic beverages is a good strategy to help dilute them.

Avoiding alcohol entirely while following Atkins or any weight loss plan can help support better results. It's easier to be intentional about your food choices when you aren't under the influence of alcohol. According to the Atkins website, "The body burns alcohol for fuel when alcohol is available. So when it is burning alcohol, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop weight loss; it simply postpones it."

New Atkins Programs

The Atkins diet has evolved over time. Today, Atkins offers three basic plans, the Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100. Each program is titled to represent the total grams of net carbohydrates recommended per day, with the Atkins 100 being the most liberal program. See the website for more details on the different plans.

A Word From Verywell

Sticking to the Atkins diet requires a strong commitment to specific rules around eating and drinking. While some people prefer a structured plan, others do better with small changes, like portion control and a greater emphasis on veggie intake. Reducing sweetened beverages and alcohol is a beneficial health goal for anyone, whether or not you adhere to the Atkins plan.

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  1. Cleveland Clinic. Does drinking alcohol prevent you from losing weight?. Updated October 22, 2019.

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