The Program: Objectives of OWL
STAYING IN OWL UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR GOAL
We generally recommend that you cycle through the phases to gradually find your carb tolerance and learn good eating habits that you can live with for good, but this approach doesn’t work for everyone. Some people find that they “stall out” somewhere south of 50 grams of Net Carbs
, in Phase 2, Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL). In that case, we recommend you consider hanging tight, rather than moving to Phase 3, Pre-Maintenance, where your carb intake would be higher and introducing new foods higher in carbs could prove a mine field. To figure out if you should stay in OWL until you reach your goal weight, ask yourself these questions:
Have you had a hard time getting much beyond the 20 grams of Net Carbs in Induction? You may have found that advancing every week or so by 5 daily grams of Net Carbs stalled your weight loss or actually made you regain a few pounds. Or perhaps you have managed to shed all but 10 of your excess pounds but your progress has been maddeningly slow. These are signs that your tolerance for carbs is very low.
Have you encountered foods in OWL that you cannot handle or must eat with caution? Like it or not, you may find there are some foods you simply must avoid or must eat rarely and in small amounts in order to not regain weight and stimulate cravings.
Are you once again experiencing cravings and out-of-control appetite? If you’ve become reacquainted with some of these old familiar demons or with midafternoon fatigue, you may be back on the blood sugar roller coaster because you've pushed your carb intake too high.
Has your blood sugar level become elevated after dropping when you started Atkins? Likewise, if metabolic syndrome has been an issue for you, it’s likely that you’ll need to be very careful about introducing higher-carb foods.
Have you achieved good results to date, but only with considerable effort? You may have lost pounds in Induction and OWL, only to gain some of them back. If you’ve followed the program to the letter, you may have moved beyond your Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CLL).
Stay Put for Now
If you answered yes to any of these questions and your CLL is 50 or less, it’s unlikely that moving to Pre-Maintenance, where you would introduce higher carb foods, is the right path for you at this time. Instead, bide your time and remain in OWL. You may be able to gradually increase your carb tolerance and take a step or two up the Carb Ladder—or not—but why frustrate yourself by trying to move up in 10-gram increments?
Instead, stay in OWL to lose the last 10 pounds, before transitioning to Lifetime Maintenance. Because your body is particularly sensitive to carbs, you’ll have to continue to keep your intake low to avoid regaining weight and experiencing other harmful metabolic effects. Anxious as you may be to reach your goal weight, achieving it in a way that’s close to the way that you’ll be eating to sustain that new weight makes it more likely you’ll succeed long term.