Troubleshooting in Phase 4
Once I reach my goal weight, what can I eat?
To make your new weight permanent, all you need to do is continue to eat the way you’ve been eating in Pre-Maintenance, remaining at or just below your ACE. If you have a high carbohydrate threshold and are physically active—in which case you probably have a relatively high ACE—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 ACE is below 50 grams of Net Carbs, you’ll likely have to stay away from starchy vegetables, most fruit and whole grains or eat them rarely or in very small amounts.
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 veggies, some blue cheese to a salad or some whipped cream or whole milk yogurt to your berries. The point 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.
Bread, cake, crackers and chips are made from grains, so can I have them in Lifetime Maintenance?
Atkins distinguishes between whole grains and refined grains and products made with them. So if you can tolerate them, old-fashioned oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, barley, buckwheat groats (kasha) and wild rice, among other whole grains, are fine in moderation. Again, in moderation and if your ACE is high enough, bread and other baked goods made from whole grains are also acceptable. However, chips and most other snack foods made from white flour and other refined grains have no place in a healthy diet. The same is true for baked goods full of white flour and sugar. If you eat these foods as more than the occasional treat, chances are you’ll find yourself back on the blood sugar roller coaster and your weight trending upward again.
Why did I regain the weight I lost on Atkins?
The most common reason for weight regain is returning to your old way of eating as soon as you’ve reached your goal weight. If you lost weight on Atkins, you had all the tools to maintain that loss by following the guidelines for Lifetime Maintenance, which keeps you burning primarily fat for energy. This gives you the Atkins Edge, which eliminates excessive hunger and curbs carb cravings. That’s why Atkins is a diet for life, rather than simply a weight-loss diet. Now that you’ve learned the right way to eat for good health and weight control, why would you go back to eating the old way?
Another reason you may have not been able to maintain your new weight is if you lost all your excess pounds in Induction and didn’t transition through all four phases. Only by doing so can you discover your carb tolerance level, which enables you to craft a diet for life. If you did cycle through the phases to find your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) in Pre-Maintenance, you must have later exceeded it.
Finally, if you stop counting carbs as you did in earlier phases, you may actually be consuming far more of them than you think you are. Carb Creep may be unconscious, but it can be just as destructive to your new self as deliberately returning to your old way of eating. Some people find that they can eat pretty much the same thing every day and keep their weight constant. Others need to count carbs. You probably know which category you fall in.
I am trying to stick to my ACE but I’m craving carbs and am hungry all the time. What gives?
You may need to drop your ACE by 5 or 10 or possibly even more grams of Net Carbs. It’s important to understand that looking merely at weight can oversimplify the issue of carb tolerance. Your energy level, ability to concentrate, tendency to retain fluids and, of course, the old signals of unreasonable hunger and carb cravings must also be considered. Staying at or just below your ACE is not just a matter of maintaining your weight; it's also about being in control of your appetite, keeping your energy level up and not triggering other metabolic problems you’ve recently dealt with. If you’re pushing your ACE too high, you'll likely find it extremely difficult to maintain your new weight. You also may be making the mistake of skimping on fat. (See above.) Fat helps you feel full and satisfied.
I’ve keep weight off for years by sticking to my ACE, but now some pounds are sneaking back. How come?
As the old saying goes, nothing is constant but change. As you get older, your metabolism often slows, meaning you may have to adjust your ACE downward to maintain your weight. Or a lifestyle change like leaving a more physically demanding job for a desk job may mean that you’re expending less energy. Try dropping down 10 grams of Net Carbs a day and see if those extra pounds melt away.
If I exercise (more), can I eat more carbs?
Physical activity has been shown to help many people maintain weight loss. In fact, most people who successfully maintain a healthy new weight are physically active. We recommend that if you’ve reached Lifetime Maintenance without being physically active, you add exercise to complement your healthy new lifestyle. Some, but not all, people find that they can increase their carb intake somewhat by increasing their energy output. To a certain extent, your genes impact these results.
If being more physically active won’t necessarily help me eat more, why should I exercise?
Numerous other health benefits are associated with regular physical activity, making it a natural partner to a healthy diet. Exercise:
- Boosts your energy level.
- Enhances mood and helps temper stress, thanks to the release of endorphins.
- Improves sleep patterns.
- Maintains bone mass.
- Tones your muscles and skin after losing weight,
- Helps ward off health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Produces a sense of accomplishment.
How can doing Atkins improve my health?
Today, more than 65 percent of American adults are overweight and the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed. Both conditions and a host of others result—at least in part—from the greater intake of foods made with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, white flour and other refined grains. In contrast, when you follow a low-carb program such as Atkins, you'll see remarkable changes, not just in your weight but also in a host of other health indicators.