Since I began my writeup on the Atkins Diet there have been several requests for what I tend to eat during the course of the day. Sometimes it's a sad tale indeed, because I am a student (Who has begun school and is waiting for financial aid) so I am on a tight budget.
I should open by saying read the nutritional information on the product packaging. This is an absolute necessity. If you do not do this, you will only be successful on this diet if you are able to survive long periods of absolute dietary monotony. Also, some brands of certain products which really ought to contain little or no carbs unnecessarily load the foods up with sugar or various carbohydrate-based fillers. For example, Oscar Meyer hot dogs only have 1 gram of carbs per frank, while Bar S brand hot dogs have something to the effect of 5. It's cheaper to use a carb-based filler in place of some of the meat, but it results in a product which is inferior for our purposes. This is also extremely common in salami, but is also seen frequently in the case of various dairy products.
Breakfast nearly always consists of four large eggs (I am a very large individual even after losing over a hundred pounds) and either four sausage links, four strips of bacon, or a slice of boneless ham. You will note that this is a seriously low-carb breakfast, which makes it a fantastic way to begin your day, leaving the bulk of your carbohydrate allowance for later meals. The links or bacon also include plenty of fat which you will want for energy later on. My girlfriend usually has two eggs and two links/strips or half the slice of ham, and I eat the other half, so my share might be a little larger.
Another option is to make a strawberry smoothie as strawberries have a significant amount of dietary fiber and not so much sugar. It is important, however, to use heavy cream (see below in the dessert/snack section) and not milk for the dairy portion of your smoothie, as milk has plenty of carbs in the form of lactose. Cream is basically all fat, and as such is perfectly acceptable. The other component of the smoothie is ice, which will thin it out somewhat; if you want to thin it further, just add water. Sweeten your shake with sucralose (Splenda) and/or saccharin. The latter is significantly cheaper and the smoothie nicely covers up any negative taste aspects, but if you're afraid of the stuff, go for the (more expensive) sucralose.
Lunch usually consists of turkey or chicken frankfurters from foster farms. These contain only 1g of carbs per frank and a fair amount of fat, which again provides your energy. Also quite pleasant is a hamburger sans bun, either eaten with knife and fork on a plate, or wrapped in lettuce. Some burger joints (like In-N-Out) will sell you burgers this way, but in general it is necessary to make them oneself. Just don't forget to skip the ketchup, which is generally loaded with sugar. Mustand and Mayo are fine. We just got a George Foreman grill and so hamburgers just got a lot simpler; We put them in the grill with some spices (usually garlic powder, pepper, and salt) and heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit for the melting of cheese, which is done in a pan. Putting some barbeque sauce on the patty before the slice of cheese adds flavor.
If one is on the go, salads are the most likely meal. Get a salad without shredded carrot, as carrots contain a great deal of sugar. Picking out all those little strips is a pain in the butt. Also, you have to watch carefully the contents of the dressing. So-called Italian-style salad dressings are generally safe, as is bleu cheese, but big-name ranch dressings tend to have a lot of sugar as mentioned above. Read the labels on everything.
Another way to find a lunch when you're away from home is to visit the nearest supermarket and examine the hot case in the deli area. You can generally pick up a rotisserie chicken for about five or six dollars, and you'll end up eating half to all of it if you don't eat anything else. Be careful of foods with barbeque sauce, and scrape most of it off as nearly every barbeque sauce on the market has been loaded up with sugar. Just two tablespoons of most brands contain 13-16g of carbs from sugars. My recent discovery is Stubb's BBQ sauce, which has only (IIRC) 2g carbs per 2 tablespoons of sauce.
Dinner is by far the easiest meal to assemble without violating the terms of this diet. A salad is again an excellent choice, perhaps with slices of hardboiled egg or with diced ham. I usually go straight for meat, however. Ribs with low-carb BBQ sauce (My current favorite brand is Stubb's) or non-breaded fried chicken are also both quite tasty. Fried chicken (including my soy ginger garlic chicken) is fair play as the fat will not bother you, but instead provide you with fuel. Go ahead, fry it in anything you like.
There is also the possibility of steak; you can buy whole roasts for around a buck a pound if you find the right place to shop. They tend to carry some gristle but you don't have to eat every bite of the thing, either. Just carve steaks off as you like. The meat tends to be short on marbling, so cutting it up into strips or culotte steaks is a good way to get flavor into the meat. I cook my steaks in copious quantities of butter which further enhances the flavor.
Snacks and Desserts
One of the things that you can miss most on a diet -- any diet -- is sweets. They're tricky to replicate on a no- or low-carb diet because most of them use sugar for texture, not just for flavor. The sugar dramatically changes the way various foods hold together. If you don't believe me, make some corn bread (sometime you're not on this diet) both with and without sugar, but otherwise identically, and see which holds together better. This is a major problem when sweetening with saccharin. In fact, Sweet & Low packages suggest that you replace only half the sugar in your recipes, which won't help you on this diet, and in fact won't help most people much at all. Splenda brand sucralose sweetener claims to solve this problem by being assembled differently from the raw form, but the space appears to be taken up with air, and it collapses readily. This does make it dissolve almost instantly in any kind of liquid, which is a plus, but does little else to help you cook.
With that said...
Sugar-free Jell-O (which contains aspartame/nutrasweet) is completely free of carbs, but also contains no fat which makes it devoid of food value for you. It's a little smidgen of protein, and a whole bunch of water.
Of course, Jell-O is best when topped with whipped cream. You can have whipped cream as long as you make it with Heavy Cream. There is one thing to remember; you want the heaviest cream possible. Out of four different brands I've found in the supermarkets local to me, the only one which has no carbohydrates is the heavy cream from Berkeley Farms. You can find it (at least in Central California) at Food 4 Less. Many small markets also carry Berkeley Farms, so you might try those.
You can also use the heavy cream to make Ice Cream. Substitute sucralose for the sugar. This makes the ingredient list for no-cook ice cream 2c cream, 2/3c splenda, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp salt. A pint of heavy cream costs US$2.48 here, and it will make enough ice cream for two people. Using the heavy cream and sucralose, the vanilla has no carbohydrates whatsoever, though the high fat content can leave a film in your mouth. However, it seems to me that the ice cream has even more of a solidification problem than when you make it with sugar. I intend to explore guar gum as well as caragneenan to maintain the consistency, but I haven't gotten to that advanced a stage yet. Don't even waste your time looking at "no sugar added" ice creams; They are lying to you. If you read the ingredient list, several of the ingredients are in fact sugars, though none of them end in -ose. Also, only cream contains no lactose; Any other form of milk tends to have 13g carbs per cup.
Since I wrote this article originally a huge number of low-carb ice cream products have appeared on the market, seemingly all at once. Every one I have yet seen is sweetened with Splenda, which only makes sense since it tastes like sugar and is a small, predictable molecule. Dreyer's, Breyer's, and Atkins all have their own versions, and there is a "Skinny Carb Bar" made by Silhouette, makers of the low-fat Skinny Cow Bar. The atkins brand provides the broadest range of flavors and is priced comparably to "normal" ice cream in pints, at least at Walgreens.
Tapioca pudding is relatively low-carb if you make it with sucralose or saccharin as your sweetener. Put these together with the Jell-O and you've got a parfait.
In the pre-prepared dessert category, there's roughly two items available to you, the first of which is no sugar added popsicles. Various companies (including Popsicle, Dole, and Welch's) make these treats, which tend to have between 4 and 7g of carbs each. If you're in the first stage of the diet, that can chew up a good quarter of your allotment for the day, but you may feel they are worth it. Incidentally, no sugar added fudgesicles have only 7g carbs, which isn't bad at all.
Your other option is low-carb food bars, such as those provided by Carb Solutions. They contain a very small amount of carbohydrates as they are sweetened with sucralose, but they also contain various sugar alcohols which Atkins says do not count as carbohydrates. The only flavor I approve of is chocolate/peanut butter, which has only 2g of "net carbs" according to their packaging. These are best when refrigerated. If allowed to melt they will take on a somewhat gummy texture which is significantly unpleasant. The Atkins corporation also makes various bars which are quite expensive (US$2.25 to $3.25 each, approximately) and most of them are fairly bland while yet being too rich to consume easily. My favorite is the cookies and cream.
Another food I've tried out recently is crustless cheesecake. I used Philadelphia brand cream cheese as it contains the least carbohydrates (less than 1 gram of sugar per ounce; other brands have 1g or 2g per oz.) Follow the instructions, but substitute sucralose (in this case, splenda) for sugar and omit the crust. If you bake it until the top just begins to brown, it will have the proper texture to hold together. I covered my cheesecake with pureed strawberries with a little bit of splenda mixed in, and put it in the freezer for a little while to chill. Next time I intend to boil the resulting mixture down.
As for non-sweet snacks, look into cheeses (most contain some carbs but it's usually very little) and dill pickles, which usually have little to no carbohydrates. The smaller brands of beef jerky are better about not using a load of sugar in the jerk sauce, and other meat-related products may contain only a small amount.
Celery with peanut butter is also fair game, although it is necessary to watch how much peanut butter you eat, and what brand you get; Most brands, especially the major mainstream ones like Peter Pan, Skippy, and Jif unnecessarily add sugar to the mixture. The total ingredient list should be peanuts and salt. The benefit of the other peanut butters is that they do not require refrigeration.
My latest snack discovery is salami (watch the brand carefully, the filler could have lots of carbs) with cream cheese (again, philly) and black olives. This is one of those high-fat snacks you couldn't even consider eating any quantity of if you weren't in ketosis.
Bar none, my favorite beverage (outside of water, which one can get tired of in spite of it being one of the major bases for life on Earth) is Barq's diet root beer. The stuff is fantastic. In spite of being made with aspartame, it tastes basically like non-diet A&W root beer. My second-favorite is Diet Dr. Pepper, which really does taste "more like regular Dr. Pepper". Unlike the Barq's, it also contains caffeine, which is reputed to turn into glucose in the brain. It should turn into less than a gram of glucose, but it may be a consideration what affect that has on ketosis. Oddly enough, Shasta diet root beer isn't bad at all, though it's not as good as Barq's. Their cream soda is also decent.
Another beverage I have consumed quite a bit of is Sobe Lean, their diet product. It comes in a few flavors, and is available at most supermarkets. Unfortunately, it usually costs more than a dollar, so I don't drink much of it lately.
Ultimately, I drink more water than anything (as I should.) I find a Brita filter (There are near-identical products available from Pur) to be indispenible, but any kind of bottled spring water or filtered water will do. If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind drinking tap water, or you just have a really good water system and clean, modern pipes, more power to you. It really is much cheaper for me to buy a brita than to go out and get bottled water, even from a local purifier, but your mileage may vary.
Apparently there is a company which makes Italian-style syrups with sucralose, and when mixed with a carbonated water these make Italian sodas, which can be quite tasty. Also, Stewart's is reputed to make a diet root beer with sucralose, which I have neither taster nor, in fact, seen.