By the time you move to Phase 3 of the New Atkins Diet, you’ve learned how to take control of your appetite and are probably enjoying a greater variety of carbs. Best of all, you’re just 10 pounds from your goal weight. Now, in addition to saying good-bye to those final pounds of excess fat, it’s time to identify your overall tolerance for carbohydrates—as well as which foods you can and cannot handle—in order to maintain your new weight.
Achieving these five objectives will get you to that great place—being permanently slim:
Objective 1: Lose the last 10 pounds (4.5 kg) — slowly
When it comes to shedding the last pounds, slower is definitely better. You’ll deliberately put the brakes on the pace of weight loss as you gradually move toward a permanent way of eating. It may take several months to reach your goal weight, losing perhaps just half a pound a week. And that's good, because this leisurely pace tells your body, ‘This is completely natural.’ If you rush to shed those last pounds, you may never learn what you need to know to keep them off for good.
Objective 2: Test your carb tolerance
In Ongoing weight loss, you found your carbohydrate threshold, known as your carbohydrate level and balance for losing weight. When you first move to Pre-Maintenance, you’ll explore whether you can push that number a bit higher as you slow the pace of your weight loss. Some people can raise that number significantly; others can’t budge it or can move it only slightly higher. To find out, increase your daily carb intake in increments of 10 grams of Net Carbs every week or every few weeks. If weight loss stalls and/or extreme hunger or cravings return, step back 10 grams. You may find that the carbohydrate level for losing weight you discovered in Ongoing weight loss is where you need to stay until you’ve lost all your excess weight.
Objective 3: Test your tolerance for additional foods
In Pre-Maintenance, you’ll have the opportunity to reintroduce the whole foods carbohydrates that have been off-limits until now. They appear on the top three rungs of the Carb Ladder: fruit higher in carbs, starchy vegetables and whole grains. Some people can eat all these foods; others can eat only some in small portions or eat them only rarely. Others find they do best when they simply stay away from higher-carb foods that might cause weight gain or make it difficult to stay in control. In Phase 3, you’ll learn what works for you.
Objective 4: Find your personal carbohydrate balance
Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you’ll say goodbye to your carbohydrate losing level as you seek to maintain balance—meaning neither losing nor gaining weight. This new number is your personal carb balance (the number of grams of Net Carbs you can consume daily without gaining or losing weight). It may be just 5 grams above your carbohydrate losing level or it may be 20 or 30 or more grams higher. Like your carbohydrate losing level, it is a highly personal number.
Objective 5: Maintain your control, and your weight
Once you’ve found your carbohydrate balance, your final objective before moving on to Phase 4 is to hold your weight steady for one month. To do so, stay at, or just below, your carbohydrate and your weight should stabilize. During this dress rehearsal for Maintenance, you can continue to climb the Carb Ladder and introduce new foods - as long as you don’t go above your carbohydrate balance, but pay careful attention both to your weight and your appetite. If a food revives old cravings or makes you ravenous for more carbs, back off immediately.
Keep in mind that your goal isn't just to lose weight, but to keep it off from now on. That's what Pre-Maintenance is all about. You fine-tune your eating habits during this third phase until they become automatic and you move on to the final phase of New Atkins i.e. the rest of your life.
Where to start?
Let’s say you ended Ongoing weight loss at 45 grams Net Carbs a day. Well, you get to start Pre-Maintenance at 55 grams Net Carbs. Then, next week, increase to 65 grams Net Carbs – as long as you’re still losing weight, that is. If you stall, drop back 10 grams of Net Carbs.
Finding your carbohydrate balance
You will find your carbohydrate balance as you add Net Carbs back into your diet. Ideally, you want to reach your carbohydrate level when you’re at your goal weight. So, adjust your carbs as needed to keep losing weight.
What you can eat in Phase 3
In Pre-Maintenance, you add 10 daily Net Carbs per week – The Power of 10 makes it easy. These low carb foods, in these portion sizes, all equal about 10 grams of Net Carbs – remember, total carbs minus fibre.
The Power of 10
* All figures reflect if the vegetable, legume, or grain is cooked.
Supporting you during this Phase
It can take some trial and error to settle on your natural carbohydrate balance, which is why Pre-Maintenance serves as a try out period. In addition to finding your carbohydrate balance, you’ll most likely be trying out some new foods too. You may be able to tolerate all of them, some of them or none of them. Or you may be able to eat some of them only occasionally or in very small amounts. These are the same foods you’ll be eating in the next Phase, although you may broaden your range of foods within each rung of the Carb Ladder. If any food creates problems for you, omit it for a while and then reintroduce it once or twice a week to see if you can tolerate it.
Once you’ve been at your goal weight for a month, you’ve made it. Congratulations. You’ve mastered a new way of eating that will last for life. So now you’re ready for Phase 4, Maintenance.