The Program: Objectives of Pre-Maintenance (Fine-Tuning)


Once you’re in Phase 3, Pre-Maintenance, you’ll follow pretty much the same drill you did in Induction and Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) so as to stay in a primarily fat-burning mode. You must know it by heart by now:
  • Count your grams of Net Carbs.

  • Be sure that at least 12 to 15 grams of your total daily Net Carb intake is made up of foundation vegetables. They’ll continue to be the platform upon which you build as you add back new carbohydrate foods.

  • Add new foods one by one, following the Carb Ladder, starting with legumes, unless you’ve been able to reintroduce them in OWL—as vegetarians and vegans almost certainly have.

  • Keep eating the recommended amounts of protein and sufficient natural fats to feel satisfied at the end of each meal.

  • Continue to drink plenty of water and other acceptable beverages.

  • Consume enough salt, broth or soy sauce (unless you take diuretics) to avoid symptoms that may accompany the switch to fat-burning as long as your Net Carb intake is 50 grams or less.

  • Take your multivitamin/multimineral and omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

What’s Different from OWL?

  • Five instead of 10. Instead of increasing your daily Net Carb intake in 5-gram increments as you did in OWL, you can now move up in 10-gram increments, as long as weight loss continues and you don’t experience undue hunger, carb cravings or any other symptoms you have left behind.

  • Higher but slower. In effect, by upping your carb intake, you’re deliberately swapping the pace of your weight loss for a slightly higher Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CLL) than the one you found in OWL. A loss of just a half-pound a week is fine at this point.

  • More carb options. You may wind up remaining at the same CLL that you found in OWL, even as you reintroduce foods such as fruit, starchy vegetables and whole grains on the acceptable foods for Phase 3. In addition to these foods, you can also have a half-cup of whole milk or buttermilk, but not skim, nonfat or low-fat types. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can have lactose-free dairy products or buttermilk, also in 4-ounce portions.

  • No need for extra sodium. Once you exceed 50 grams of Net Carbs, you need not continue to consume salty broth, soy sauce or a half-teaspoon of salt each day.

Approaching Your Goal Weight

Phase 3 marks the end of the process of weight loss and the beginning of holding your weight constant. In this respect, it’s a training ground for Phase 4, Lifetime Maintenance. To succeed in this aspect of Pre-Maintenance:

  • Proceed carefully. If moving to a higher carb intake brings your weight loss to a grinding halt or you gain back a pound or so that remains longer than a week, simply drop back 10 (or even 20) grams. Stay there for a couple of weeks, and if slight weight loss resumes, try increasing your carb intake by 5 grams to see if you get the same reaction you did with a 10-gram increase.

  • Find your ACE. Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you want to remain right there. To do so, you need to find your tolerance for carbs while neither gaining nor losing weight. This is called your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE).

  • Continue to be vigilant. Eat nothing that isn’t on the lists of acceptable foods unless you know the carb count and the ingredients (including added sugars). 
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Disclaimer: Nothing contained on this Site is intended to provide health care advice. Should you have any health care-related questions, please call or see your physician or other health care provider. Consult your physician or health care provider before beginning the Atkins Diet as you would any other weight loss or weight maintenance program. The weight loss phases of the Atkins Diet should not be used by persons on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women.