Now that you've done it, lost weight and kept it off for a month in Pre-Maintenance, it's time to turn a ‘diet’ into a lifestyle. And it’s easy.
The secret is your carbohydrate balance
You found your personal carb balance in Pre-Maintenance. Now you'll learn to stick to that number as if it were second nature. Do that and you’ll find it easy to stay within 5 pounds (2.2kg) of your new weight.
All you need to do is continue to eat the way you’ve been eating in Pre-Maintenance, remaining at or just below your carbohydrate balance. If you have a high carbohydrate threshold and are physically active, in which case you probably have a relatively high carbohydrate balance, you’re probably already eating foods on the top three rungs of the Carbohydrate Ladder. Starchy vegetables, fruit other than berries and whole grains. If so, continue to do so, carefully adding new foods you may not have tried before. If any addition causes cravings, extreme hunger or weight gain, back away from it for a while before trying to reintroduce it. On the other hand, if your carbohydrate is below 50 grams of Net Carbs, you’ll probably have to stay away from starchy vegetables, most fruit and whole grains or eat them rarely or in very small amounts.
Enjoy good fats
While your carb intake remains essentially what it was in Pre-Maintenance, when you reach your goal weight and are no longer trying to lose weight, you actually need to slightly increase your fat intake. This allows you to compensate for the fact that you’re not burning body fat for energy any more. Simply add a little more butter or olive oil to your vegetables, some blue cheese to a salad or some whipped cream or whole milk yogurt to your berries. The golden rule is that if you feel hungry, don’t eat carbs beyond your threshold - rely on delicious fatty foods instead. As long as you’re burning mostly fat for energy, you can enjoy as many healthy natural fats as you wish.
As following New Atkins becomes a part of your life you barely think about, it all gets easier and easier. But ‘life happens’ and you may need to adjust your carbohydrate balance or accommodate changes in your activity level, work, health or simply the passage of time. You already have all the tools you need to make changes so you can stay in control. And even if you have an occasional lapse and fall off the wagon, those same tools will let you get right back on, quickly and easily.
What you can eat in this Phase
The name Maintenance says it all. This is not so much a Phase as a permanent lifestyle. Pre-Maintenance is designed to make the transition from Phase 3 to Phase 4 practically seamless, so you should have no fears about moving on once your goal weight is stable. First of all, the list of What you can eat in Phase 3 is the same as that for Phase 4. Of course, you may not have reintroduced all the foods you’ll try in the months and years to come, but as long as you’re alert to the potential of any individual food to cause weight regain, cravings, unreasonable hunger or any of the other symptoms of carb intolerance, you know what to do. As long as you comply with the program and stick to your carbohydrate balance (which may require some modifications as you get older or make some lifestyle changes) you’ll be able to maintain your healthy new weight and say goodbye to yo-yo diets once and for all.
Get support, give support
Don’t forget that AtkinsTalk is here for you to discuss the many topics posted by New Atkins followers. And now you’re in Phase 4 you’re well qualified to offer great advice. You can continue to make the most of all the free tools on this site, tracking your weight, calculating your carbs and BMI, keeping a journal of your progress and, of course, planning meals.
And feel good
The human body was meant to move - our ancestors used their bodies to find food, to hunt and to migrate. Today, many of us are far too sedentary which is bad for our health and our waistlines. Being active is, by far, one of the best things you can do for your health. It helps control weight, helps fight diabetes and decreases the risk of cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It also decreases stress, strengthens the heart, improves your mood and builds confidence and self-esteem.
Even twenty minutes’ exercise, three times a week will reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but most experts agree it’s best to get 30 minutes of moderate activity 5-6 times a week. You can certainly do more if you like.
For more advice and ideas on how to feel good for the rest of your life visit the New Atkins Community forums.