The Program: Phase 2
Trouble Shooting in OWL
Here you’ll find some of the most commonly asked questions about Phase 2, Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), of the Atkins Diet such as slow weight loss or weight plateauing. You’ll also find links to articles that will help you complete this phase successfully, as you move toward your goal weight and enhanced health.
How many grams of Net Carbs can I consume in OWL?
In Induction, you consumed 20 grams of Net Carbs
a day. When you transition to OWL, you move up to 25 grams. After that, like many aspects of the Atkins Diet, you can customize it to meet your needs and preferences. This means that you can move at your own pace, increasing in 5-gram increments, until you find your personal Carbohydrate Level for Losing
. As you gradually increase your carb intake, you’ll explore just how many grams of Net Carbs you can continue to have while you remain in this phase. For most people, when their weight loss slows to less than 2 pounds a week, they’re getting close to their threshold. The actual number of Net Carbs can range anywhere from 25 or 30 grams to 60 or even more.
In Induction, I lost weight fast, but now that I’m in OWL, I’m only losing 2 or 3 pounds a week. What gives?
It’s natural that the rate at which you lost weight in Phase 1 slows in Phase 2. This is deliberate and important to make your weight loss permanent. Remember the real goal is not to lose weight fast but to keep excess weight off for good. If you’re losing 2 or more pounds a week in OWL, you’re doing just fine. If you have reasonable expectations in OWL
, you’re more likely to succeed.
Also, don’t obsess over your weight by weighing yourself daily. Instead, weigh and measure yourself once a week or try weight averaging
, which gives you a more realistic gauge of your progress.
What is “carb creep” and how can I avoid it?
When you start adding back carbs as you move from Induction into the progressively less restrictive phases of Atkins, you could begin to lose track of how many grams of Net Carbs you’re actually consuming. If that happens, you’re likely to regain the pounds you've lost. That’s why it is very important to increase your daily carb intake by only 5 grams each week or every few weeks and to introduce only one new food at a time. That way, you'll also immediately notice if a new food is causing you to experience cravings that lead to overeating. Of course, you also need to continue to count carbs instead of just estimating them. Another way to stay in control is to keep a food diary so you can spot troublesome foods before they set up a pattern of cravings and gorging. For example, if you find that after eating nuts, you’re hungry again in a few hours, cut out the nuts and see if extreme hunger disappears. For more information, see Carb Creep and Pushing the Limits
Can I drink alcohol now that I am in OWL?
Yes, but do understand that your body burns alcohol for fuel before fat, so when you have a glass of wine or spirits, your body stops burning fat. This doesn’t stop weight loss; it simply postpones it. Since the alcohol doesn’t get stored the way excess carbs are, you immediately get back into fat burning after the alcohol is used up. Also, it’s a good idea to wait to add alcohol until you’ve added nuts and seeds and berries. If it doesn’t slow your weight loss, an occasional glass of wine is acceptable once you’re out of Induction so long as you count the carbs in your daily tally. Spirits such as Scotch, rye, vodka and gin are acceptable, but don’t mix with them with juice, tonic water or non-diet soda, all of which contain sugar. Seltzer, diet tonic and diet soda mixers are permitted. If you have added alcohol to your regimen and suddenly stop losing weight, discontinue your alcohol intake. For more on alcohol and Atkins, see To Your Health—in Moderation.
Why has my weight loss “plateaued”?
Different people respond to Atkins differently. You may lose weight consistently or in fits and starts. Or you may lose consistently and then weight loss plateaus or stalls. Review the guidelines for OWL to ensure you're doing everything right, including not consuming more carbs than you think you are. If you’re estimating instead of counting grams of Net Carbs
, it’s all too easy to exceed your tolerance. Or if you're still in the first few weeks or months with lots of weight to lose, you may have increased your daily carb intake too quickly. Drop back by 5 grams; if that doesn’t do the trick, after a week, drop down another five. Another possibility is that you've exceeded your Carbohydrate Level for Losing
(CLL), and prematurely stumbled upon your personal carb balance or Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium
(ACE), where weight stabilizes. In this case, you'll need to reduce your carb intake by 10 daily grams (or possibly more) of Net Carbs to reignite weight loss. Finally, you may be holding excessive fluid or have built more muscle mass even as you’ve lost fat—which is a good thing. For more, see Four Reasons for Stalled Weight Loss
If none of the above applies, remember that a true weight plateau is the loss of no pounds and no inches for at least four weeks, despite following Atkins to the letter. This may be frustrating but it is perfectly natural for your body to “decide” to take a break from weight loss. To determine if you’re truly on a plateau or need to make some adjustments to kick-start weight loss again, see How to Handle a Plateau
. If it is indeed a plateau, just continue to follow Atkins—and stay patient, hard as it may be—and weight loss will resume.
I was doing fine in OWL for a while, but now I crave certain foods and if I have even a tiny portion, I find myself bingeing. How can I get back in control of my appetite?
A trigger food
is anything you can’t eat in moderation. If you’re subject to such urges, you’re probably overshooting your Carbohydrate Level for Losing
(CLL). Even if you’re continuing to lose weight regularly, experiencing cravings and means that you need to dial back your carb intake to regain the Atkins Edge
, which will help eliminate such urges. For practical tips on how to regain control, see Blocking the Urge to Binge
What low-carb products can I eat in OWL?
In addition to the Atkins Frozen Meals, Atkins Advantage shakes
, Atkins Advantage bars
, Atkins Day Break bars
and Atkins Endulge Bars
you can eat in Induction, you can now have some other Atkins products. They include Atkins Caramel Double Chocolate Crunch Bar,
and Atkins Cuisine All Purpose Baking Mix
, which can be used to make baked goods, pancakes and waffles.
There are many other low-carb products suitable for OWL. We can only vouch for the quality of Atkins products. Different sweeteners and other ingredients may produce gastric distress, tempt you to overeat or reawaken cravings you thought you'd put to rest.
The following product categories include the maximum acceptable carb count per serving:
7-inch low-carb tortilla: 4 g Net Carbs
1 slice low-carb bread: 6 g Net Carbs
6-inch low-carb pita: 4 g Net Carbs
1 low-carb bagel: 5 g Net Carbs
1 low-carb roll: 4 g Net Carbs
8 oz low-carb dairy drink: 4 g Net Carbs
6 oz low-carb yogurt: 4 g Net Carbs
1 oz low-carb soy chips: 5 g Net Carbs
1/2 cup no-added sugar ice cream: 4 g Net Carbs
Always read the Nutrition Facts Panel and list of ingredients before purchasing any product. Don't delude yourself that you can eat large quantities of a certain food just because it's low in carbs. Try products one at a time to make sure they agree with you and don't cause cravings.