Welcome ! Whatever you may have heard about the Atkins Nutritional Approach, this article will give you the straight information so you can decide for yourself about the program. In fact, as you'll see as we work through the lessons, there are a lot of things you'll be able to decide for yourself, and you'll have the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.
By the time you've finished this article, you'll have all the tools you need and know where to go for as much more information as you want, both from books and the Web.
This article summarizes and explains the essentials of "doing Atkins," both for weight loss and weight maintenance, so you can understand what's happening every step of the way. The ANA discussion board is a key aspect of your learning experience. The more you participate on the ANA discussion board -- sharing questions, concerns, ideas and your own personal experiences -- the more both you and your classmates will benefit.
Now let's get started.
To begin, Atkins is not a diet, and that's not just marketing hype. It's called the Atkins Nutritional Approach (we'll be calling it the ANA for short), not the Atkins Diet. That's because there's more than weight loss at stake here: what really matters is your overall health and well-being. In fact, many people who don't need to lose weight choose to follow the ANA because of all the health benefits it provides.
The ANA is a four-phase lifetime eating plan in which people need to:
Achieve a carbohydrate awareness regarding quality and quantity of carbohydrates consumed
Learn their individual threshold for carbohydrate consumption
Incorporate vitamin and mineral supplementation and regular exercise
Though certain guidelines must be followed, the ANA is flexible, with a wide variety of choices to suit a variety of eating preferences and lifestyles. ANA is not a one-size-fits-all approach -- it is a customized eating plan that you will match to your unique metabolism. By learning your individual threshold for carbohydrate consumption, you can reach your ideal goal weight and stay there -- without hunger pangs or feelings of deprivation.
The ANA is an organized program for achieving permanent weight control through intelligent consumption of carbohydrates.
The ANA is based on four core principles, all backed by solid scientific research:
Good health and well-being
And there are four phases of the ANA:
Phase 1: Induction
Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)
Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance
Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
The Real Goal of Atkins
As we go through this course, it's important to remember the ultimate goal of the Atkins Nutritional Approach:
To advance from the Induction phase through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should become your permanent way of eating.
Moving from one phase to another will help you achieve and maintain a healthful weight, develop good eating habits, feel good and decrease risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
People who don't need to lose weight don't need to do induction they can start with Ongoing Weight Loss or Pre-Maintenance and move into Lifetime Maintenance.
The ANA is more than a weight loss program. Let's take a closer look at the four principles of Atkins.
There are four core principles in the ANA -- four good reasons to follow the plan and make it a lifetime way of eating. Reading the four principles below should give you an idea of the results you can expect.
The Four Principles
View the Four Principles as the answer to "Why should I do Atkins?" and the Four Phases (which we'll cover next) as the answer to "How do I do Atkins?" In Lesson 2 we'll go into more detail about the science behind the four principles.
Both men and women who follow the Atkins approach to weight loss readily take off pounds and inches. If you're one of the very few who has a truly hard-core metabolic resistance to weight loss, there are ways to overcome the barriers that prevent a successful outcome.
Most low-fat, low-calorie diets may fail for one reason: hunger. Although many people can tolerate hunger for a while, very few can tolerate it for a lifetime. People who do Atkins feel satisfied by the foods they eat; they gradually find their effective individual level of carbohydrate intake, which is the tool that allows them to maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.
Good Health and Well-Being
With Atkins, you'll meet your nutritional needs by eating healthy, wholesome foods and omitting junk food. You'll find that this results in less fatigue -- not just because you're losing pounds, but because you will stabilize your blood sugar. People who do Atkins start feeling good long before they reach their goal weight.
By following an individualized controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach that results in lower insulin production, people at high risk for chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes will see a marked improvement in their health.
On to an overview of the four phases of Atkins: Induction, OWL, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance.
We'll go into the four phases -- or stages -- of the ANA in greater detail in the last four lessons of this course (Lessons 5 through 8). Each phase gets its own lesson, so you'll get plenty of details about each phase.
But for now, let's work through brief descriptions of the four phases and learn a few key terms.
Phase One: Induction
This first phase of the Atkins focuses on dramatic reduction of carbohydrate intake. It's the most restrictive phase of the program; it also results in the fastest weight loss, since your body will begin burning primarily fat for energy when sufficient calories from carbohydrates are not available. This occurs through a process called ketosis, which we'll cover in more depth later in the course.
Doing Induction successfully requires that you stay on it for at least two weeks, although you can safely do it for months if you have a lot of weight to lose.
If you do not need to lose weight and you want to use this phase to break addictions to junk food and sugar, you will need to make sure your calorie intake is very high to avoid weight loss. (Women should consume a minimum of 2000 calories daily; men, 2800 to 3000 calories daily)
Briefly, when you go into Induction you will:
Limit carbohydrate consumption to 20 grams of Net Carbs (defined below) per day coming primarily from carbohydrates for a minimum of two weeks
Satisfy your appetite with foods that combine protein and fat, such as fish, poultry, eggs, lamb, pork and beef; eat limited amounts of hard cheeses (cheeses do contain some carbohydrates)
Consume a balance of healthy natural fats such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats, but avoid manufactured trans fats (e.g. hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils)
Consume carbohydrates in the form of nutrient-dense foods such as leafy green vegetables
Drink at least eight glasses of water daily
Exercise regularly and take nutritional supplements
Disclaimer: The instructions and advice presented on this site are in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical counseling. The information should be used in conjunction with the guidance and care of your physician. Consult your physician before beginning this program as you would any weight loss or weight maintenance program. Your physician should be aware of all medical conditions that you may have, as well as any medication and supplements you are taking. Those of you on diuretics or diabetes medication should proceed only under a doctor's supervision. As with any plan, the weight-loss phases of this nutritional plan should not be used by patients on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women. As with any weight loss plan, we recommend that anyone under the age of 18 follows the program under the guidance of their physician.
Where Have All the Calories Gone?
You might be wondering just about now when we'll tell you how many calories you can have a day to lose weight, and where you can find the calorie counter.
Well, here's the first of a many pieces of good news you're going to get as we move through this course: You don't need to count calories at this point. You will naturally take in fewer calories because your appetite will be under control with sufficient amounts of protein and fat.
When you give your body too many carbohydrates to metabolize, it burns them for energy. But if you carefully control your carb intake, your body burns fat instead. And that, in a nutshell, is the secret -- if there is one -- of the ANA.
As we move through this course, you'll see why that's true and how to determine what your net carb intake should be.
What's a Net Carb?
The ANA works by restricting carbohydrates, which come from grains, legumes and other plant sources. But most carbohydrates contain fiber, which is not completely digested by the body. Since fiber has a neglible effect on blood sugar, these substances don't count as carbs on the ANA. So Net Carbs represent the total grams of carbohydrates minus grams of fiber. Net Carbs are the only carbs that count when you do Atkins.
Successful completion of Induction means transitioning to the next phase: Ongoing Weight Loss.
We'll cover the remaining three phases of the ANA in this next section.
As good as Induction is for quick, dramatic weight loss, it's important for you to understand that it's only the first phase. Staying in the Induction phase too long can become boring. Also, it can lead to a crash-diet mentality where you might assume it's okay to go back to eating anything, because you can always go back and lose the weight all over again by repeating Induction.
That attitude wipes out the lifetime advantages of the ANA, and it's one reason we never call the Atkins Nutritional Approach a diet.
Those who don’t have a lot of weight to lose, don’t mind losing weight at a slower pace, or who find the Induction phase too restrictive can start the program with Phase Two.
Phase Two: Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)
When you switch to Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), your rate of weight loss will naturally slow down. The first week on OWL, you will increase your daily carb intake from 20 to 25 grams; the following week you move to 30 grams of Net Carbs per day, and so on. You should increase intake on a weekly basis until your weight loss slows to one to two pounds each week.
During OWL you'll find out how many grams of carbs you can eat and still lose weight. Everybody has a tightly regulated carbohydrate threshold. It's called the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL).
When you go into OWL you can start adding back nutrient-dense foods like more non-starchy veggies (e.g., asparagus, broccoli); berries like raspberries and strawberries; nuts and seeds like hazelnuts and almonds; and soft cheeses (e.g., cottage cheese). Lesson 6 of this course is devoted to OWL.
Phase Two lasts until you're within 5-10 pounds of your weight goal. Successful completion of OWL includes transitioning to the third phase of the program: Pre-Maintenance.
Phase Three: Pre-Maintenance
When you're within 5 or 10 pounds of your target weight, it's time to move to Pre-Maintenance (the subject of Lesson 7 of this course).
Now that the weight goal is in sight, the best strategy is to lose the last few pounds very slowly to ease into a permanently changed way of eating. This phase lasts until you hit your target weight and maintain it for a month.
Each week in Pre-Maintenance you can add 10 more grams of Net Carbs to your daily allotment. As long as weight loss continues, you can gradually introduce foods such as lentils and other legumes, fruits other than berries, starchy vegetables and whole grains.
When you hit your goal weight and maintain it for at least a month, you've found your ACE, or Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium. Your ACE is the level of carbohydrate intake at which you will neither gain nor lose weight. ACE is the key to the final phase, Lifetime Maintenance.
Phase Four: Lifetime Maintenance
Once you've maintained your goal weight for a month, you've reached Lifetime Maintenance (covered in the final lesson of this course, Lesson 8). Lifetime Maintenance is key to the Atkins Nutritional Approach. In this phase, the average number of daily grams of Net Carbs ranges from 40 to 120 per day, depending on your metabolism, age, gender, activity level and other factors. If you exercise regularly, you'll probably have a higher ACE.
In this stage, you will look great and feel great about your progress. But it's important for you to understand that losing weight is only a piece of the puzzle. Atkins isn't just about losing weight; it's also about maintaining health for life. Lifetime Maintenance is designed to help you stay healthy throughout your life.
Summing Up and Moving On
We've covered a lot! To recap, the ANA is not a diet. It's a four-phase lifetime eating plan in which you need to:
Control the amount of carbohydrates you eat
Learn which carbs are the most nutrient-dense
Learn your individual threshold for carbohydrate consumption
Incorporate vitamin and mineral supplementation and regular exercise
The ANA has four basic principles: weight loss, weight maintenance, good health and disease prevention. And it has four phases: Induction, OWL, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance.
This lesson gave you an overview of what lies ahead. Be sure to take the quiz and do the assignment. Then come to the Message Board to meet your fellow students and discuss what you've learned, because talking with others on the program reinforces what you've learned and what you're doing. This course is instructor-led, so fire away with any questions you may have about Atkins and feel free to share your own experiences.
The next section will explore the health crises facing us today and show the role of the Standard American Diet in epidemic levels of obesity, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. By applying what you've learned today, you'll get a better understanding of how the ANA addresses these issues.
It's sad but true that America is the unhealthiest industrialized nation in the world.
In this section, we're going to explore why that is, how we got that way and the diseases we suffer from. Then we'll get an overview of how the Atkins Nutritional Approach addresses these issues and how it can help prevent or control many health problems.
Obesity and Its Consequences
For starters, 64.5 percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese. Even without charts and statistics, all you have to do is look around to see that we are an overweight nation.
Try this: Find a good people-watching place, and just observe for 30 minutes. What percentage of those you see are overweight? Come share your observations on the Message Board.
Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat (known as adipose tissue) in relation to lean body mass. The degree of obesity is influenced by both the distribution of fat throughout the body and the size of the adipose tissue deposits.
Being overweight is bad enough, but obesity seriously increases the risk of illness and death due to diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease and kidney and gallbladder disorders. The more overweight an individual is, the higher the risk becomes. Obesity has also been implicated in increased incidence of certain types of cancer.
These are not just diseases-of-the-week. They are serious and life-threatening:
Diabetes: A disorder characterized by high fasting blood sugar levels and the inability of the body to transport glucose to cells, Type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions, and the link between diabetes and obesity is well-documented. More than 80 percent of Type 2 diabetics are obese.
Stroke: The term includes a group of brain disorders that occur when the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted. Symptoms vary with the area of the brain affected and commonly include such problems as changes in vision or speech, decreased movement or sensation in a part of the body, or changes in the level of consciousness.
Coronary artery disease: Includes the abnormal conditions that may clog the heart's arteries with a buildup of plaque from cholesterol, calcium, or mechanical trauma. The buildup produces various effects, especially reduced flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. Coronary atherosclerosis, one type of coronary artery disease, is the leading cause of death in the Western world.
Kidney and gallbladder disorders: Probably the more serious of these are kidney diseases, which interfere with kidney function. Diabetes and high blood pressure contribute to kidney disease. Gall bladder diseases include gallstones, which can be extraordinarily painful.
Obesity, which contributes to this whole list of malfunctions, is showing steady growth among both men and women. It's not a pretty picture, and weight problems are actually overtaking smoking as the leading avoidable cause of death in America.
How did we get into this mess?
How did we get to this sad condition? It was easy. We eat too much, plus we eat too much of the wrong stuff.
As a nation, we've become hooked on fast foods. We tell ourselves we don't have time to prepare and eat decent meals. When we do cook, it's all too tempting to just open a box and nuke something in the microwave. Or we're tired after work and just don't feel like cooking. And hey -- we deserve a break today, don't we?
"We are at the Pavlovian mercy of the food industry, which spends nearly $10 billion a year advertising unwholesome junk food and fast food." by Gary Taubes, "What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" in The New York Times Magazine
Actually, it's our bodies that deserve a break, and not just today. Our bodies need a permanent break from what we're really putting in them when we eat fast food, convenience food and junk food. These are the things we're dumping into our bodies without a second thought:
highly processed fats, including trans fats
foods low in nutrients
To make things even worse, the dietary information we've believed for so many years is -- like so much conventional "wisdom" -- just plain wrong. Let's find out why.
For years we've been hearing that the best way to cut down body fat was to cut down on the fats we eat.
On the face of it, that seems totally reasonable; but only if you don't fully understand your body's metabolism -- how your body turns what you eat into fuel.
In recent years, research has indicated that we may have been going about it all wrong, and to verify that, just ask yourself: If low-fat diets work, why are we so fat?
Sure, you could blame some of it on people with weak willpower, or metabolic problems, or whatever. But when nearly two-thirds of the nation is overweight, those excuses just don't hold water.
There is now an enormous body of research that proves that the conventional wisdom about the role fats play in the human diet is, quite simply, off the mark , and in fact, it's a high- carb, high-fat diet that results in weight problems and all the diseases that go along with being overweight. Some of the culprits are many foods that are thought of as healthy -- such as bran muffins, fruit juices and most brands of shakes and nutrition bars -- are loaded with empty calories such as added sugars and high carbohydrate counts. In fact Americans are consuming 156 pounds of added sugar per person per year, and most of that is in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
"The low-fat high-carbohydrate diet, promulgated by the National Cholesterol Education Program, the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association...and the Department of Agriculture food pyramid...may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, lipid abnormalities, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndromes. This diet can no longer be defended by appeal to the authority of prestigious medical organizations or by rejecting a growing medical literature that the much-maligned low-carbohydrate high-protein diet may have a salutary effect on the epidemics in question. -- From the abstract of "The Diet-Health Hypothesis: A Critique" by Sylvan Lee Weinberg, MD, MACC in The Journal of the American College of Cardiologists, Vol, 33, pp. 731-33, 2004.
Now that you have a better idea of how we got in this fix, how can the Atkins Nutritional Approach help get us out of it?
For an in-depth understanding of the science behind the ANA, it's a good idea to read pertinent chapters in Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution or spend some time in the Research Section of the Atkins Web site. But for now, let's address the overall mechanism of how the ANA reverses the carbohydrate-induced conditions brought on by the Standard American Diet.
Here's how Dr. Atkins explains it in Chapter 1 of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution:
Atkins works because it targets our stored body fat. The fat is not just there to make us overweight but is the body's backup system for fuel to generate energy. Take it out of the back-up role and convert your body to using fat as the primary fuel source, and the result is an extremely efficient weight loss and weight maintenance program. This metabolic switch occurs when only an insignificant amount of carbohydrates is available. And it's an easy switch to control, because very little glycogen (made from carbohydrate) is stored in our bodies: When you eat fewer carbs, you almost immediately trip the switch.
Low-fat diets can work, but the problem is that people often feel too deprived on them, and quit because of hunger and food cravings. The ANA abandons the concept of the low-fat diet and moves toward addressing the root of the problem -- which is too many of the wrong kind of carbs in the diet. Rather than a short-term weight loss solution, the ANA is, as we've already discussed, a life-long program for health that is based on the four Atkins Nutritional Principles we introduced in Lesson 1. In light of what we've learned in this lesson, let's revisit the four principles and take a closer look at how they work.
Both carbohydrate and fat provide fuel for the body's energy needs. Carbohydrate is the first fuel to be metabolized. However, when the intake of digestible carbohydrate is sufficiently restricted (without caloric restriction), the body converts from the metabolic pathway of burning carbohydrate to primarily burning fat as its main energy source. This results in weight loss.
Ketosis is a shortening of the term lipolysis/ketosis, and it's the process you'll be jump-starting during Induction. Lipolysis simply means that you're burning your fat stores and using them as the source of fuel they were meant to be. When you restrict the amount of carbohydrates you eat, your body turns to fat as its alternative source of energy. In effect, lipolysis/ketosis replaces the alternative of burning glucose for energy. Both are perfectly normal processes. Some people confuse ketosis, which is a perfectly normal metabolic process, with ketoacidosis -- a life-threatening condition that only affects extremely insulin-deficient people with out-of-control blood sugar levels. Lessons 4 and 5 cover ketosis in more detail.
Each person has a tightly regulated carbohydrate threshold below which fat burning and weight loss occurs. However, if the person's carbohydrate intake exceeds this threshold, carbohydrate burning predominates, allowing fat to accumulate, resulting in weight gain. So each individual has a level of carbohydrate intake at which weight is maintained.
Good Health and Well-Being
By following a controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach, people who choose to eat nutrient-dense foods (including adequate fiber and healthy fats) are more likely to meet their nutritional needs and promote good health than they would by following a calorie-restricted, fat-deficient diet. Exercise is also essential for controlling weight, enhancing energy and maintaining a sense of well-being. We'll cover the short-term and long-term health benefits of the ANA in Lesson Three.
By following an individualized controlled carbohydrate nutritional approach that lowers carbohydrate intake, resulting in lower blood sugar and lower insulin production, people at high risk for, or diagnosed with, certain chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension, can see improvement in these conditions.
We've studied the consequences and causes of obesity, and taken a quick look at how the myth of low-fat is not making us any thinner or any healthier. In the next lesson we'll move on to a more detailed look at the short-term and long-term benefits of the ANA.
People today want instant gratification. As the old clichés go, people want to know:
"What are you going to do for me now?"
"What are you going to do for me tomorrow?"
"What have you done for me lately?"
The ANA is not a diet, a gimmick or a fad, and people need to know that when it works, it's a lifetime plan. But at the same time, the ANA answers all three questions above, and proves, within the very first week of Induction, that the ANA is more than just talk.
What Are You Going to Do for Me Now?
The short-term benefits of the ANA are clear. Just ask anyone who's spent at least two weeks in the Induction phase.
In addition to sometimes-dramatic weight loss once lipolysis/ketosis kicks in and the body starts running on a fat-based metabolism instead of a carb-based one, when you do Induction you'll find that you can:
Lose weight without counting calories. Calorie counting is a holdover from old-fashioned low-fat diets. Not only was it a nuisance, but it left you hungry all the time. (That is not to say that a low-fat /low-calorie diet doesn’t work when a person sticks to it, but most people find it hard to maintain.) With the ANA, all people have to worry about is controlling carbs, and that's surprisingly simple.
Control food cravings and curb appetite. With adequate protein, fiber and fat consumption, appetite is under control and food cravings generally disappear. Lower carb consumption stabilizes blood sugar and the body shifts to burning primarily fat for energy. You are in control, instead of being a slave to your appetite as you are with low-calorie programs.
Enjoy wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that satisfy the appetite. The body's hunger response is generally a result of having eaten empty carbs, which are rapidly converted to glucose, burned, or turned into body fat. The nutrient-dense foods, such as protein, fat and vegetables full of fiber, that are a part of the ANA are more filling, and keep you satisfied for a longer period of time.
Improve mood and energy levels as blood sugar evens out. As mentioned previously, blood sugar has a lot to do with cravings. And in many people, it can also have a profound effect on mood, mental acuity and energy level. By stabilizing the blood sugar level, the ANA can quickly even out and improve many bodily functions.
Now that we've looked at what the ANA can do for a person now, let's look at the long-term benefits.
The long-term benefits are the most important ones, and here again, it's critical to emphasize that the ANA is not a diet; it's a lifelong plan for better, healthier, living.
Some of the things that make it that way are:
A decreased risk of heart disease. This is more than just the decreased risk due to weight loss. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also improved and stabilized when the body is burning fat for energy.
Prevention or control of diabetes and blood sugar imbalances and irregularities like hypoglycemia. Once a person gets off the blood sugar roller coaster, the immediate advantages are so striking that they tend not to think of the long-term benefits like this, but they are profound.
Lowered blood pressure. This is primarily a result of weight loss, but there are enormous additional benefits in terms of reduced risk for diseases that can result from or be aggravated by high blood pressure: stroke, kidney disease and coronary disease, for example.
Prevention or alleviation of other health concerns, including, but not limited to, digestive problems, polycystic ovary disease, food allergies and more.
An ongoing greater sense of well-being. This is more than just looking good and feeling good. The ANA empowers people to take back control of what they eat and how their food intake affects their bodies. Being in control always feels good.
Now that we've answered, "What are you going to do for me tomorrow?" the answer to "What have you done for me lately?" is easy. If you've worked through the phases of the ANA, or even have just gotten started, all you have to do is reflect on how good you feel -- or stand in front of a mirror!
For people who want to lose weight, what are the advantages of going with Atkins instead of a more conventional low-fat plan? Six great reasons are coming right up.
Over the last 30 years, more than 400 peer-reviewed and published studies have support the concepts of the Atkins Nutritional Principles. In the last three years, there have been 49 studies focusing on the ANA, all supporting the safety and effectiveness of controlled carbohydrate eating. The Research tab on the Atkins site is full of research summaries of studies demonstrating the soundness of controlling carbs.
Six Good Reasons
In spite of all the studies that prove the benefits and long-term value of the ANA, many people still want to know why it's better than all those low-fat diets that are out there. For starters, here are six good reasons:
More Effective Without Uncontrolled Hunger
Atkins is more effective, in large part, because people do not have to suffer hunger pangs while losing weight. A number of studies positively demonstrate that the ANA is as effective or more effective than low-fat diets, and that the ANA doesn't leave a person feeling hungry. The ANA offers other benefits that plain old low-fat diets don't.
Easier to Follow
Nearly all people agree once they've tried it, that the ANA is easier to follow than conventional low-fat approaches. There're no little books in tiny print listing the calorie count of assorted foods because there's no calorie counting involved. There are no "points" to add up. You do count carbs, but this is very easy. All that's involved is controlling the amount of carbohydrates you eat, and identifying what you can and can't eat is quite simple.
Easier to Maintain
The ANA is not some fad or diet plan people do for a while and then stop, which usually results in gaining the weight back again. The ANA is a lifestyle, and people work into it gradually and naturally through the four phases of the program.
There's no denying that foods available on the ANA are more satisfying. Nutrient-rich foods make people feel full, and controlling carbs stabilizes blood sugar. And when carbs are controlled and the body burns fats for energy, it's possible to eat more fat-containing foods without gaining weight or suffering negative health consequences.
The ANA can be highly individualized. Each person has a different metabolism and lifestyle, and the ANA is the only program that fully recognizes that. People doing Atkins learn to find their own tolerance for carbs, and they are free -- once they've reached the Lifetime Maintenance phase -- to determine their own eating plans, try new additions and back off if they don't work. The ANA truly puts people in charge of their own lives, and gives them the tools and understanding to manage them wisely.
There are all kinds of support for people doing Atkins. Three books -- Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, The Atkins Essentials and Atkins For Life -- form the foundation of take-home support for the ANA. The Atkins Web site at www.atkins.com is a user-friendly resource where you can find an online carb counter and helpful articles on nutrition as well as message boards (like this one) that offer advice and encouragement.
In this article we've looked at the short-term and long-term benefits of the ANA, and then provided six solid answers to the question: "Why Atkins?" Depending on your health issues, lifestyle and preferences, some will be more appealing to you than others, but all are important to keep in mind.
In the next lesson, we'll take a look at the top ten myths about Atkins, and give you some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the ANA.
It's hard to say why there are so many myths and misconceptions about Atkins. Perhaps it's because it's so different from the weight-loss plans that came before and have followed it, and because it runs counter to outdated but still conventional wisdom.
The Top Ten
Whatever the reasons, here are the top ten myths, along with the facts that counter them.
Myth 1: The ANA is unbalanced and deficient in basic nutrition.
Fact: If "balanced" means containing large amounts of refined carbohydrates, Atkins is, in fact, deliberately "unbalanced," because it is a corrective diet. Too much insulin in the blood is the reason most people are overweight, and the best way to fix an insulin disorder is to avoid foods that stimulate insulin -- in other words, carbohydrates. Doing so corrects the imbalance that exists in the typical American diet, which typically includes between 200 and 300 grams of carbohydrates a day.
The Atkins approach, however, is not lacking in basic nutrition if done correctly. A computer analysis of a sample menu appropriate for the Induction phase shows that it far exceeds the reference daily intake (RDI) requirements set for adults for most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Myth 2: You lose mostly water weight on Atkins.
Fact: It is typical of any weight loss plan, including the Induction phase of Atkins, that during the first few days, or even the first week, some of the weight loss will be water loss. However, when you follow a controlled-carbohydrate eating plan, your body switches from burning carbohydrate to burning primarily fat for energy, resulting in the loss of stored fat. In fact, research shows that even when water is lost during the first few days on a controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach, the water balance soon returns to normal and the weight loss comes from fat. The most dramatic sign of this loss is seeing the inches drop off your measurements.
Myth 3: The ANA is only effective because calories are restricted.
Fact: While some of those who do Atkins may eat fewer calories than before, it is not because the program is restrictive or unduly limits food intake. They may be eating fewer calories because they are generally less hungry and less obsessed with food. On the other hand, studies show that someone doing Atkins can eat more calories than does a low-fat dieter -- and still lose more weight. For example, a study of overweight and obese teens at Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York, found that over a 12-week period, those on a high-protein, high-fat diet of 1,800 calories a day lost 10.5 more pounds, on average, than those in a group eating a typical low-fat, 1,100-calorie diet. And in the high-protein group, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped while HDL "good" cholesterol increased.
Myth 4: The high-protein content of the ANA causes kidney problems.
Fact: People believe this untruth simply because it has been repeated so often that even intelligent health professionals assume it must have been reported somewhere.
But the fact is that it has never been reported anywhere. No one has as yet produced a study for review, or can even cite a specific case in which a diet with the level of protein that is in the Atkins plan (30 to 35 percent of calories) causes any form of kidney disorder. The only remotely related phenomenon is the fact that when someone is already suffering from far-advanced kidney disease, it is difficult for that person's body to handle protein. But protein has nothing to do with the cause of the kidney problem.
Myth 5: Fat intake is detrimental and will lead to heart disease.
Fact: While you may have heard that a diet high in saturated fat causes heart disease or atherosclerosis (arteries clogged with cholesterol-laden plaque), the real villain is actually a diet high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates combined with fat. Once you eliminate the bleached flour, sugar and other nutrient-empty carbohydrates from your diet, the fat you consume in meat or from other sources is burned for fuel (through lipolysis/ketosis) and is not converted into cholesterol or other harmful blood fats. Independent clinical studies indicate that cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop significantly on Atkins and levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, rise, often dramatically.
Myth 6: Ketosis is dangerous and causes a variety of medical problems.
Fact: Our bodies have only two fuel delivery systems to provide us with energy. Our primary fuel is based on carbohydrate and is delivered as glucose. People who eat three so-called balanced meals -- all with a high carb content -- every day get virtually all their energy from glucose. But the alternate backup fuel is stored fat, and this fuel system delivers energy by way of ketones whenever our small supply of glycogen or stored glucose is used up (in a maximum of two days).
When a person doing Atkins releases ketones, he or she is in ketosis, a short term for benign dietary ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you are taking in a very low level of carbohydrate from the food you eat, as you will during much of the weight-loss phases of Atkins. Ketones are secreted in the urine (and at times in one's breath) -- a perfectly normal and natural function of the body. Studies have shown that even low-calorie/low-fat participants show ketones in the urine if they are losing weight. An overnight fast will also produce ketones, a natural benign dietary process. People often confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition. Benign dietary ketosis is safe and allows the breakdown of body fat for fuel, resulting in weight loss. Most people can achieve benign dietary ketosis by consuming fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates daily.
Myth 7: The ANA causes constipation because it lacks fiber.
Fact: Atkins includes fiber-rich foods such as spinach, eggplant, broccoli, asparagus, leafy greens and avocados. It also includes low-glycemic fruits such as berries. In addition, if more fiber is needed during the Induction phase, a fiber supplement is recommended. This is unnecessary in the Ongoing Weight Loss phase and beyond because more vegetables and fruits are introduced into the eating plan.
Myth 8: The ANA increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Fact: Critics of the Atkins Nutritional Approach have perpetuated the myth that controlling carbohydrate intake contributes to osteoporosis. They usually cite a series of short-term studies of people consuming a protein powder that showed increased calcium excretion in the urine. But when the study was repeated using whole foods sources of protein as the source of protein, researchers found that the increased calcium excretion lasted only two weeks when excess water retention was being released and the increase loss of calcium in the urine did not mean bone was being lost. Apparently, the body adjusts to an increase in protein consumption before returning to a regular state of homeostasis.
Myth 9: Atkins will cause weakness, fatigue and a lack of energy.
Fact: Fatigue may occur during the first few days of doing Atkins while the body adapts to the switch in metabolic pathways. It typically takes about three to four days for the body to convert from a sugar metabolism to a primarily fat metabolism. Your body can store carbohydrates for only up to 48 hours, so you can be confident that your metabolic switch will take place as long as you are doing Atkins properly.
After the transition, people who felt tired at first usually report high energy and clear thinking throughout the day. The explanation is simple: They have rebalanced their nutrition so that their blood sugar is stabilized.
Myth 10: There's no real science supporting the Atkins approach.
Fact: There are more than 400 peer-reviewed and published studies supporting the concepts upon which the Atkins Nutritional Principles are based. In the last three years, there have been 49 studies focusing on the ANA, all supporting the safety and efficacy of controlled-carbohydrate eating. Information on some of these studies and more supporting scientific information is available for review at www.atkins.com.
So there they are-- the top ten myths debunked! You will probably run into other misconceptions we haven't addressed here, so feel free to bring up on the Message Board any others that you've heard.
Now, that we've debunked a few myths, let's move on to some frequently asked questions about the ANA.
As you've already seen, there are a lot of misconceptions about Atkins. Here's a short list of what the ANA is not:
Atkins is not about eating "zero carbs." Even during Induction, 20 grams of Net Carbs a day are allowed.
Atkins does not mean eating only steak, bacon and eggs. While those foods are allowed, the ANA works for a balanced diet in all phases.
Atkins does not require cutting out all vegetables and fruit. All phases of the ANA include plenty of vegetables, with more fruit permitted as you move through the phases. Vegetarians can enjoy the ANA, too.
Induction is not the same as the complete ANA. It is only the first, and most tightly controlled, phase, and it can be as short as two weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section walks you through the most common questions that people ask about the ANA.
Beverages and the ANA
Q: Can I consume alcohol on Atkins?
A: You should not drink alcohol during Induction, but you can drink moderate amounts of alcohol (meaning one drink a day) during the Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance phases of the ANA.
Q: Can I drink milk? What about soymilk?
A: Milk is not permitted in Induction because it contains too many carbohydrates, including lactose, a natural sugar. If you're craving milk, try diluting heavy cream or half-and-half with water as a substitute, or find one of the low-carb dairy beverage alternatives now available. Although cream is almost 100 percent fat, it does contain some lactose, so most people need to limit their intake to a maximum of 4 ounces daily to lose weight. (Be sure to count the carbs.) If you're not losing weight as quickly as you'd like, limit cream intake to no more than 2 ounces daily.
Soymilk, almond milk and oat milk are usually high in carbohydrates, and many brand of soy milk contain added sugar very high in the ingredients list. However, some manufacturers now make soymilk without added sugars; it has a lower carb count. This is another example of why it is important to read labels.
Q: Can I drink diet colas?
A: Spring, mineral or filtered tap water and herbal teas are your best fluid options. If you must have soda, avoid caffeinated colas and look for brands, such as Diet-Rite, that are sweetened with sucralose. Be sure to add any carbohydrates in these drinks to your daily carb count.
Q: Why is caffeine not recommended?
A: Excess caffeine can cause symptoms of low blood sugar and leave you craving sweets. If you can limit caffeine intake to one or two cups daily (green tea is preferred), you should be okay. If you're seriously addicted to caffeine, you must wean off excessive consumption. The best way to do this is to segue from the high-octane stuff to decaf by gradually adding decaf to your full-force brew, which you can enjoy with cream.
Exercise and Atkins
Q: If I exercise more, can I eat more?
A: Yes. The more physically active you are, the more carbohydrates you can consume without gaining weight.
Q: Shouldn't athletes be following a high-carb diet?
A: It is a misconception that carb-loading is the best way to prepare yourself for endurance exercise. Although an overabundance of carbs might give you an initial burst of energy, that surge can then lead to a sharp drop in your blood sugar -- resulting in fatigue -- later in your workout. This isn't to say that you should eliminate carbs from your diet, but endurance athletes will do better by consuming moderate amounts of nutrient-dense, unrefined, low-glycemic carbohydrates (found in foods such as fruit, vegetables and nuts) to ensure stable blood sugar throughout a workout.
Questions About Various Foods
Q: Why do I have to avoid margarine?
A: Although natural fats are encouraged on the Atkins Nutritional Approach, some fats contain compounds that do not melt at body temperature and therefore can contribute to plaque formation in the blood vessels, increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. These processed fats, called trans fats, are found in hydrogenated oil. Some margarines, as well as shortening and many processed baked goods and snack foods, contain hydrogenated oil, so always read the label.
Q: Aren't eggs dangerously high in cholesterol?
A: When you are on a controlled-carb lifestyle and beneath your threshold of carbohydrate tolerance, you are burning primarily fat for energy. The fat in food poses no threat as long as you are controlling carbohydrates. The cholesterol found in an egg will have no impact on your total blood cholesterol on a controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach.
Q: What fruits are lowest in carbs?
A: Berries are relatively low in carbohydrates. A quarter of a cup of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries contains approximately 5 grams of Net Carbs (check the Carbohydrate Gram Counter on the Atkins site for exact numbers). When they reach Pre-Maintenance, most people can also enjoy low-glycemic fruits such as plums, nectarines, green apples, cherries and kiwi in moderate amounts. Again, continue to count carbs and refer to the Carb Counter.
Q: Can vegetarians follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach?
A: if you are willing to eat eggs, cheese and tofu for protein, it is possible to do Atkins. Nonetheless, the limited options might make it a boring program to follow. You may want to start the program at the OWL phase, which incorporates controlled portions of nuts and legumes.
Q: Does the Atkins Nutritional Approach provide adequate fiber?
A: Fiber is found in plant-based foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and is primarily non-digestible. A tablespoon or two of wheat bran, psyllium husks or ground flaxseed will meet your fiber requirements during Induction when your carbohydrate intake is limited to three cups of vegetables daily. You don't have to count the carbs in fiber because it has minimal impact on blood sugar levels.
Q: Can diabetics safely do Atkins?
A: Controlling carbohydrate intake has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin production, therefore diminishing the need for medications. Of course, with any medical condition such as this, close medical supervision is essential, especially if you are already taking medications.
In the last four sections, we've given you a lot of information about what Atkins is, what Atkins isn't and how it can help people who want to experience weight loss, weight maintenance, good health and well-being, and disease prevention.
The rest of this article covers the four phases of the ANA. Each lesson offers an overview of each phase, along with answers to common questions you may have about that phase. At this point, what do you want to know about the ANA? Please bring it up on the ANA Discussion Group Message Board so others can learn from the response.
The rest of this article will cover the four phases of the ANA. Each lesson offers an overview of each phase, along with answers to common questions you may have about that phase. If you have a question that isn't answered, bring it up on the Message Board. That's one of the reasons it's there.
Especially with the next four sections, the Message Board is an important part of the learning experience. The more you participate on the Message Board -- sharing questions, concerns and mutual support for those of you entering the program -- the more you and your classmates will get out of the experience.
One of the key points of this article is that losing weight -- and maintaining a healthy weight -- isn't about cutting calories or even about controlling carbs. It's about managing your nutrition over the long haul.
The Real Goal of Atkins
As you go through the ANA, it's important to remember the ultimate goal of the Atkins Nutritional Approach:
To advance from the Induction phase through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should become a permanent way of eating.
Segueing from one phase to another will help you to achieve and maintain a healthful weight, develop good eating habits, feel good and decrease risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
The Four Phases
Now let's do a quick review of each of the four phases.
Phase One: Induction
This first phase of the Atkins focuses on significant reduction of carb intake, with an emphasis on eating only nutrient-rich carbs. It's the most restrictive phase of the program; it also results in the fastest weight loss, since the body will begin burning primarily fat for energy when carbohydrates are reduced to a certain level.
Phase Two: Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)
When you move to Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), your rate of weight loss will naturally slow down. The first week on OWL, you will increase your daily carb intake from 20 to 25 grams; the following week you move to 30 grams of Net Carbs per day and so on. You will increase carb intake on a weekly basis until your weight loss slows to one to two pounds each week. At that point, you have found your carb threshold, known as the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL).
Phase Three: Pre-Maintenance
When you're within 5 or 10 pounds of your target weight, it's time to move to Pre-Maintenance. Now that the weight goal is in sight, the best strategy is to lose the last few pounds very slowly to ease into a permanently changed way of eating. Each week in Pre-Maintenance you can add 10 more grams of Net Carbs to your daily allotment. This phase lasts until you hit your target weight and maintain it for a month. When you've done that, you've found your ACE, or Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium: the level of carbohydrate intake at which you will neither gain nor lose weight.
Phase Four: Lifetime Maintenance
You've entered Lifetime Maintenance when you hit your target weight and maintain it for a month. This is cause for celebration -- you now have the tools to maintain good health for life.
Getting ready for Induction.
Typically, people begin Atkins with a high degree of motivation. You will have a much easier transition if you make a few adjustments in advance. A little preparation can help avoid pitfalls and frustrations. Before you begin:
Dispose of or quarantine unacceptable foods that contain sugar and white flour, as well as processed and junk foods. Give unopened packages to the food bank.
Stock your refrigerator and pantry with recommended low-carb foods. A list of these can be found in The Atkins Essentials: A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low Carb Lifestyle. For a comprehensive list of acceptable Induction foods, read the Acceptable Foods list on the Atkins site.
Make sure you have the vitamins and mineral supplements you need to enhance your weight loss program. Atkins Basic 3 is a supplement designed for this purpose, or you can also can put together an equivalent selection of vitamins that will provide the same support.
Start a food diary to help track progress as you move toward your goals.
Plan your first few days of Induction meal plans. A two-week program that makes it easy to do Atkins with no missteps is available at on the Atkins site: read The Two-Week Induction Menu. Also, Atkins: The Complete Cookbook offers many good recipe ideas.
Have low-carb snacks available. The Atkins recipes section offers numerous suggestions for delicious low-carb fare, and you can search by type of food as well as cuisine. Alternately, Atkins offers a number of products such as Advantage Bars, Atkins Morning Start Breakfast Bars and Atkins Ready-to-Drink Shakes, all appropriate for Induction snacking. But remember that Atkins Endulge products are not appropriate for the Induction Phase.
Stop taking nonessential, over-the-counter medications with hidden carbs such as cough syrup and sleep aids that have added sugars.
See a doctor for a full blood workup and consultation about any risk factors. Having test results before beginning Atkins provides a benchmark against which to measure improvements.
Plan your schedule. Induction can be rigorous; some people feel bad for the first few days. Having a clear schedule allows you to commit fully to your new nutritional program.
Weigh yourself and take your measurements. Both are important. People on Atkins may go through periods when they lose inches, not pounds. Knowing baseline measurements will help you keep track of progress.
Purchase organic meats and dairy products whenever possible. Just before you start, make a list and go to the grocery store. Stick to the list, no matter how good all that other stuff looks. If it's not in the house, you can't eat it, so if it's not on your list, leave it on the store shelves.
Find out what to expect during Induction, how to address common Induction concerns and where to find support.
"I started Induction on Saturday. I have to admit that I felt terrible for the first 36 hours, but I woke up on Tuesday feeling like a whole new person. I literally leapt out of bed. The cravings during the first week were tough, but I followed [the program] to a tee. It said, 'If you're hungry, eat.' So that's what I did. I've never had more energy or felt more high on life. I realize now that this is what it's like to feel normal."
-- Bob Keown, lost 63 pounds
What to Expect
During Induction you will eat 20 grams of Net Carbs a day, primarily in the form of vegetables; the mainstays of your diet will be protein and fat. This change in food intake will jump-start weight loss by shifting the body's metabolism.
For some people, it will be the most difficult part of the program for a couple of reasons:
It involves what will be, for many people, a radical change in diet.
It allows the body to shift from burning sugar derived from carbohydrates, to burning fat--including stored body fat--which is exactly what's supposed to happen. But the actual shift, combined with not satisfying sugar and starch cravings, can cause some people to feel tired, irritable, or uneasy for a day or two as their metabolisms adjust.
The process of switching from sugar-burning to fat-burning is called lipolysis/ketosis, as we've discussed in previous lessons. Let's take another look at what those terms mean.
Lipolysis: The natural process of fat for energy. Fat can come from dietary sources or body fat.
Ketosis: The biological process that results when sufficient glucose as a source of energy is not available from dietary carbohydrate and the body switches to primarily using fat.
So all lipolysis/ketosis really means is allowing the body to shift gears and rely on fat as a fuel source instead of storing it.
In the first 48 hours of Induction, your body will use up its stored carbohydrates and then make the switch to primarily burning fat for energy. Typical results of this metabolic shift include decreased appetite, reduced sugar cravings and dramatic increases in energy.
Other benefits of the Induction phase may include:
A decrease in obsessive thoughts about food
Disappearance of hunger pangs
Typical weight loss of anywhere from 2 to 16 pounds, depending on metabolic rate (see the Understanding Metabolic Rate sidebar below)
Disappearance of heartburn
Better sleep patterns
A sense of well-being, alertness and calm
Addressing Some Common Concerns
However, as you saw in the quote at the top of this page, you may also experience some short-term negative effects. One temporary effect is a decrease in energy that will ease after your body transitions to its new nutritional program. Let's take a look at other common concerns.
A few people experience fatigue or light-headedness during their first week of Induction. Most often this means that the process is going too fast for their individual metabolism -- they're losing weight, water and certain minerals too fast and their body can't keep pace with these quick changes.
If you experience these symptoms:
Drink lots of water.
Be sure you're not going too long without eating.
Slow weight loss by adding another helping of vegetables or one or two ounces of nuts or seeds to your evening meal. After the symptoms abate, drop back to the lower level of carb intake.
Take necessary vitamins and mineral supplements.
A few people may experience leg cramps at night due to a temporary loss of water in the first few days of Induction. With this water loss, the excretion of calcium, magnesium or potassium can occur and may cause leg cramps. Take a multivitamin or a separate multi-mineral supplement. If you still get leg cramps, you may need to add more minerals. Because the Food and Drug Administration does not allow over-the-counter sales of the amount of potassium you may need, you may need a doctor to write a prescription.
Some people experience constipation during the first week of the Induction phase. This is due to the change in diet, especially the reduction of fruit and vegetable fiber. After the first few days, the body adjusts and constipation should not be a problem. You should eat at least three cups of salad vegetables daily plus one cup of category two vegetables instead of using your carb allotment on other foods. Also:
Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.
Eat smart carbs. Your first choice should be vegetables.
A daily tablespoon or two of wheat bran, psyllium husks or ground flaxseed will meet your fiber requirements during Induction.
And finally, exercise. Exercise is widely acknowledged to help constipation, you should be doing it anyway since it's also an essential part of doing Atkins.
Common offenders are caffeine, sugar, wheat and other foods capable of quickly changing blood-sugar levels. Withdrawal symptoms vary widely, ranging from fatigue and faintness to headache and cold sweats.
Don't get too worried, because experiencing withdrawal symptoms is really good news. The withdrawal process is usually completed within three days and afterward you will feel better than ever. If you cannot stay the course and progress through withdrawal, try doing it gradually by eating progressively smaller amounts of an addictive food until you get to zero consumption.
Important Warning: People Who Should Not Do Atkins
There are three categories of people who should not do the program:
None of the weight-loss phases of Atkins is appropriate for pregnant women or nursing mothers.
People with severe kidney disease should follow the advice of their physician.
Children under the age of 18 should not follow the weight-loss phases of Atkins except under the supervision of their physician.
Common Induction FAQs.
These are some of the most common questions people have about Induction. If you have a question that isn't answered here, please ask it on the Message Board.
FAQ #1: Why Is Induction So Strict?
If you try your own version of the Induction phase or "cheat" here and there, you will likely miss the full benefits of the phase and the program.
You won't kick-start your body into burning fat for energy, so:
You won't lose weight the way you ought to
You may not feel well
You may decide Atkins doesn't work
You may miss the opportunity to radically improve their health
Consider the first two weeks as a time of total commitment, during which you completely give yourself over to this new way of eating. Seek support wherever you can, including The Atkins Essentials: A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low Carb Lifestyle and the Message Board for this course.
By committing to Induction, you're committing to a new healthful way of life. Full commitment during these first two weeks is a critical part of success.
FAQ #2: What About Exercise?
Exercise is an integral part of every phase of Atkins. Exercising every day will help:
Increase fat burning and weight loss
Tone and strengthen muscles
Keep skin from sagging as weight comes off
Improve energy levels
Improve sleep patterns
Raise the carb threshold
Reduce risk of injury
Help maintain bone mass
Ward off a host of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke
So get moving, no matter how little, during Induction. As exercise becomes part of a routine, you really will feel better and find it increasingly enjoyable and empowering.
If you are very heavy or have not been physically active for some time, never start an exercise program without consulting with your physician. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should consult with their cardiologist.
Previous sections offered a comprehensive look at Induction. Lesson 6 will focus exclusively on phase two of the program: Ongoing Weight Loss, or OWL.
Once you finished at least two weeks of Induction, you should be feeling great and enjoying some visible weight loss. But you'll probably be asking yourself, "When should I move on to the next phase?"
OWL is the dietary phase following Induction. In OWL, you will start slowly adding carbs to your diet, increasing by 5 daily grams of Net Carbs each week as long as weight loss continues, even though it will slow down. During OWL you will:
Increase carb intake on a weekly basis until your weight loss slows to 1 to 2 pounds each week.
Begin crafting an individualized, controlled-carb regimen to suit your own taste and metabolism. Phase Two lasts until you're within 5-10 pounds of your weight goal.
If you're unsure when it's time to transition to OWL, consider these factors:
Your goal weight. You should not stay on Induction until you've reached your goal weight. Maintaining weight loss depends on a gradual adjustment to what will become your new way of eating. Moving on to OWL helps you begin to discover your individualized level of carbohydrate consumption. It also allows you to add more fiber from seeds/nuts and berries.
You're bored with Induction. Boredom can lead to cheating, which can lead to failure. Moving to OWL allows you to slowly begin adding carbs back into your diet, expanding the acceptable range of foods in a controlled, weight-conscious manner.
You want more dietary freedom. OWL offers more food choices, while still promoting weight loss. If you're willing to trade slower weight loss for more dietary freedom, it's time to move on.
You are developing a "quick fix" mentality. Success on the Atkins Nutritional Approach depends on a long-term change, not crash dieting, which can lead to yo-yo dieting and increased metabolic resistance to weight loss. If you're serious about maintaining your weight loss, it's critical that you move to OWL rather than getting used to the quick weight loss typically experienced with Induction.
Leveraging the Power of the ANA
The beauty of the four-phase ANA is that it offers a road map for establishing lifelong, healthy eating habits that keep the pounds off. Transitioning out of Induction and into OWL is the first step toward that lifelong plan.
In fact, staying on Induction too long can be a problem. It's fine to stay on Induction longer if you're doing okay with it and have more weight to lose, but if you remain on Induction until you reach your goal weight you may have trouble transitioning to Lifetime Maintenance. Plan to use the ANA roadmap to help you learn which foods you can handle and which you need to moderate or eliminate, rather than relying on the strict Induction eating plan. You lose weight on Induction, but staying there keeps you from moving into the freedom offered by a controlled-carb program that's tailor-made for your individual metabolism. That's what you starting doing when you start OWL.
During OWL, you will deliberately slow weight loss as you begin adding carbs back into your meals. In this phase, daily Net Carb intake increases by 5 grams a week. As you scale up, you'll begin discovering what foods you can eat while still continuing to lose, and what foods are a problem.
Here are key points to remember as you move into OWL:
In the first week on OWL, you eat 25 grams of Net Carbs a day. As long as you continue to lose weight, the next week you can move to 30 grams of Net Carbs each day, and so on.
As with any weight-loss program, your rate of loss will also slow down after the initial weeks. As your level of carbohydrate intake increases, the rate at which weight is lost will decrease. This is normal and deliberate.
When weight loss stalls, you should drop back to the level of carb intake at which you were still losing, which is usually 5 grams less.
If you leave Induction with 30 or more pounds still to lose, you may not be happy with a major slowdown, so add carbohydrates very slowly, staying for two or more weeks at each 5-gram incremental level.
You should leave OWL when you're within five to 10 pounds of your goal weight, and move to Pre-Maintenance.
To a large degree, your weight-loss rate is up to you, but if you become frustrated about the slow rate of weight loss, remember that as long as the pounds are disappearing, you're heading toward their goal. You're also doing the all-important work of establishing healthy eating habits that will allow you to maintain weight loss over a lifetime.
The Carbohydrate Ladder
Adding five daily carbs a week is important. You also need to understand that the order in which you add carbs matters. Adhering to a specific order -- known as the carbohydrate ladder -- tends to minimize blood-sugar surges that can reactivate cravings.
The order to add carbs is:
More salad and other vegetables on the Acceptable Foods list
Fresh cheeses (as well as more aged cheese if desired)
Seeds and nuts
Beans an legumes
Fruits other than berries and melons
Your ability to reintegrate all the food groups will depend upon your individual degree of metabolic resistance. For example, an older, sedentary person with high metabolic resistance would probably not be able to add legumes back during Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), while someone who is young and works out regularly might well be able to do so. Few people can add back all the food groups on the carb ladder during OWL.
As you add foods, you might want to review Atkins Essentials: A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low Carb Lifestyle or read How to Follow Phase Two to discover "The Power of Five" -- a comprehensive list of foods that have approximately 5 grams of Net Carbs.
Experimenting with adding new groups of foods in a controlled manner will help you discover your individual Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL). Knowing your CCLL gives you a powerful, custom-made weapon in the battle to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.
The Rules of OWL
Here are few simple rules make it easier for to succeed during OWL:
Count daily grams of Net Carbs. Try using the online carb gram counter to calculate Net Carbs (you can even download the file to your PDA!).
Read food labels.
Keep protein and fat as the mainstays of your menus.
Increase daily Net Carb intake by no more than 5 grams a week.
Drop back by 5 daily grams of Net Carbs a week if you gain weight or stop losing. Stay at that level for a week. If weight loss does not resume, drop back another 5 daily grams, and so forth, until weight loss resumes.
Add only one food group at a time, following the carbohydrate ladder and the Power of Five.
Eat foods in a new food group no more than three times per week to start, then daily.
Stop eating new foods immediately if they lead to weight gain or cause the return of cravings suppressed during Induction.
Keep drinking 64 ounces of water a day.
Keep taking a good multivitamin/mineral and an essential fatty acids supplement.
Identify your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL).
Keep doing OWL until you are within 5 to 10 pounds of your goal weight.
Common questions about OWL.
This section addresses questions that people frequently ask about this phase of Atkins.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question about OWL, chances are that someone else has asked the same question!
FAQ #1: What if I slip up?
Falling off the wagon is normal, especially for people who have been on the program for a few weeks. This applies to people in long-term Induction as well as those who have transitioned into the OWL phase.
Slipping up isn't a reason to feel guilty or discouraged. The most important thing to remember is that a misstep is not failure -- it's an opportunity to recommit to the program, so take some time to analyze why you slipped up.
Were you hungry? If you're hungry, eat. Just be sure you are controlling your carbs and not overeating.
Did you just assume certain foods were low carb? Always use the carb counter or check the packaging to determine the Net Carb count.
Did you slip up while eating out? Read the "Eating Out" chapter in Atkins Essentials: A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low Carb Lifestyle for general tips on eating out on Atkins. The Atkins Learning Center also offers a course on staying healthy while dining out, so be sure to check the course listings.
Did you ignore portion control? Some people will ignore hunger cues and gorge. Pay attention to what your body's telling you.
FAQ #2: My husband is losing weight faster than me. Why?
It's a fact of life that men typically lose weight faster than women because they generally have faster metabolisms. Always remember that different people -- even those of the same sex and same age -- respond to Atkins differently; some consistently lose weight while others do so in stages. Certain medications, activity level, hormonal status, genetics and age can cause differences in weight loss.
Don't compare progress with others or become overly concerned with short-term results. Also, make sure your expectations of weight loss are realistic. The ANA is designed to lead you to your natural weight. For many people, that may still be more than they wish to weigh. Remember that success doing Atkins is measured by more than just the scale. Ask yourself:
Are you experiencing more energy and vitality throughout the day?
Are your clothes fitting better?
Have you lost inches?
Have between-meal cravings and hunger receded?
Most of all, stick with the program and focus on your own goals, rather than comparing themselves to your spouse or anyone else. Atkins is about weight loss and health: it's not a race and it’s not just about weight loss. Got that?
A critical issue in any phase: Plateaus.
A crucial question at any stage is: "How do I know when I've hit a plateau, and what do I do about it?"
A plateau is defined as a month or longer without any weight loss and any lost inches. But not everyone who thinks they're experiencing a plateau is really hitting the wall. Even if you don't lose much weight, you may still be losing inches, so check your measurements.
Plateauing at least once is normal and predictable. It's especially common for people who start doing Atkins after years of yo-yo dieting. Repeated cycles of weight loss and gain may have desensitized your metabolism. There's also a small percentage of the population resistant to shedding weight or inches for other reasons.
A Few Reasons Plateaus Happen
Here's a quick look at a few reasons you may have trouble shedding pounds:
High levels of insulin. People with high insulin levels may lose little or no weight for a longer period of time than people with more normal insulin levels, until they have controlled carbohydrates and lowered their insulin levels.
Menstrual periods. During the week before her period, a woman may lose more slowly than at other times.
An underactive thyroid. A doctor can make this diagnosis and help someone with an underactive thyroid develop appropriate weight-loss options.
Medications. Some medications, such as antidepressants and hormones, can interfere with weight loss. However, you should never stop taking medication without consulting a physician.
Exercise. You may need to increase the amount of exercise you're doing.
Getting Past the Plateau
No matter what the reason for the plateau, there are multiple strategies for dealing with it:
Review your carb intake to make sure you're not accidentally consuming more carbs than you think.
Cut out higher carb foods. These can be found in Atkins Essentials: A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low Carb Lifestyle.
Cut back on protein serving sizes and avoid coffee. Excess protein can convert to blood sugar, while caffeine may increase your cravings,
Drink plenty of water .
Eat small frequent meals on a regular schedule instead of three larger meals to avoid over-eating and keep blood sugar on an even keel.
Eating too few calories can slow down your metabolism, causing you to lose weight more slowly.
Exercise. As always, exercise is a critical part of Atkins. It helps burn calories and tone muscles, so you lose weight and inches.
This section focused on Phase Two of the program: Ongoing Weight Loss, where you get to add back more foods and start slowly increasing your carb intake. Lesson 7 will look at Phase Three: Pre-Maintenance. We'll cover common concerns people have as they continue their journey toward the fourth and final phase of the ANA: Lifetime Maintenance.
Before you move on, be sure to reinforce what you've learned by doing assignment and the quiz. And take time to visit the Message Board to ask your questions and share your ideas.
In previous sections we discussed Induction and OWL. Now we'll look at what happens in Pre-Maintenance, and address common concerns people doing Atkins experience as they move toward the fourth and final phase of ANA: Lifetime Maintenance.
Let's get started!
You're ready to move into Pre-Maintenance when you are within 5 to 10 pounds of your goal weight. At this stage, you will begin ramping up your carb intake even more. As you do, your weight loss will become almost imperceptible, slowing to a half pound or less a week.
It's an unavoidable fact of life that the slow pace of weight loss in Pre-Maintenance may be frustrating to you, because you'll be eager to reach your goal. Some people might be tempted to skip this phase and jump right from losing weight on Induction or OWL to trying to maintain that weight loss on Lifetime Maintenance. Almost without exception, they're headed for trouble. Long-term success means having the discipline and patience -- which means taking the time -- to do things right.
If you decide to follow Atkins as a weight loss strategy, plan to follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach as it's designed: with four phases, each of which is critical to success. The third phase, Pre-Maintenance, is just as important as any other. In fact, when it comes to learning how to maintain your weight loss over time, Pre-Maintenance may be the most critical part of the program.
For people who are interested in maintaining their healthy weight while enjoying the enhanced health and energy that accompanies the ANA, Phase Three is the perfect place to start. If you fall into that category, your goal during this phase is to discover your ACE, or Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium: your individual level of carb consumption at which you neither gain nor lose weight.
Guidelines for succeeding at Pre-Maintenance.
To ensure success during the third phase of Atkins, follow these guidelines:
Commit to the slow pace of Pre-Maintenance, rather than going for the short-term gratification of losing the last few pounds quickly.
Increase daily Net Carb increase by no more than 10 grams a week, as long as you continue to lose weight at a very slow pace.
Eat adequate amounts of fat and protein, while diminishing the overall proportion of each as additional carbohydrate foods are added.
Continue to count daily grams of Net Carbs.
Read food labels.
Add only one new food group at a time.
Eat new food groups no more than three times per week to start, then daily.
Eliminate a new food if it provokes weight gain.
Eliminate a new food if it stimulates cravings or hunger.
Drop back in increments of 5 daily grams of Net Carbs a week if you gain weight or fail to lose at a pace of no more than a half-pound a week.
Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
Keep taking a good multivitamin/mineral and an essential fatty acids supplement.
Continue exercising regularly.
Identify your ACE (more on that in the next lesson page)
Stay on Pre-Maintenance until you've maintained your goal weight for one month.
Some Variations on the 10-Gram Rule
Rather than adding carbohydrate foods in increments of 10 daily grams each week, you can continue eating as you did at the end of OWL and have a 20-gram carb treat two or three times a week. You can:
Add a piece of fruit or a starchy vegetable -- a serving of brown rice or sweet potatoes, for example.
Try some more of the excellent controlled-carbohydrate convenience foods that are now available.
Still another way to do Pre-Maintenance is to average out your daily carb intake for the week. This is how it works: If, for example, your CCLL is 80 grams, you might drop back to 60 grams on Tuesday, then deviate with a beef, potato and carrot stew the following night, pushing your daily total to 100 grams.
Up until now, when weight loss was essential, it was important to spread carbs out through the day. If you do have a heavy dose at one meal, make sure there is enough fat, protein and fiber to slow the glucose load on your digestive system.
Some people find these deviations create cravings. If you do, it's probably best to stick to a steady number of carbs spread evenly throughout the day.
Dealing with Third-Phase Frustrations
People in Pre-Maintenance nearing their goal weight may be eager to use aggressive Induction techniques to shed those last few pounds. That's a bad idea. In fact, the closer you get to your goal, the more slowly you should proceed.
Taking this phase of Atkins very slowly is more likely to lead to permanent weight loss. A measured pace allows you to take full advantage of the training it offers in terms of further refining the tailor-made controlled-carb program that will stand the test of time.
Still, you may be very anxious to hurry up and reach your goals. If you are, consider this:
Obviously, you can hit your goal -- you're so close! But the real challenge now is keeping it off. That's what Pre-Maintenance is designed to help you do.
Reaching your goal weight is not your ultimate objective…your ultimate objective is maintaining your new weight indefinitely.
The more time you take to get used to your new eating habits, the more deeply ingrained they'll become -- and the easier they'll be to maintain.
Pre-Maintenance helps you discover new eating habits you really enjoy -- and that increases your chances of eating that way and staying thin for the rest of your life.
Setting your Phase Three expectations.
In Pre-Maintenance, weight loss is almost imperceptible. You will increase your daily Net Carb intake by 10 grams a week until weight loss stops. Then you'll back down 5 or 10 grams of Net Carbs and weight loss should resume. This is the adjusted CCLL at which you should stay until you achieve your goal weight. Adding new foods will:
Provide increased variety and more choices
Add to eating enjoyment
Slow weight loss to no more than a half-pound a week.
Provide a training program so you can learn how to eat enjoyably and still maintain weight loss over a lifetime
While it may take as long as three months to drop the last few pounds, this leisurely pace is critical to your ultimate success. Continue to add new foods slowly and carefully so you learn good eating habits at the same time. You'll discover whether your metabolism can handle whole-grain bread, legumes, starchy vegetables and other higher carb foods that some people find to be a problem.
If you have extremely low carb tolerance -- meaning high metabolic resistance -- you won't be able to add many new foods and will find Pre-Maintenance similar to Ongoing Weight Loss or even Induction.
ACE: Crossing the Line Between Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
Slowing weight loss while still preserving the forward momentum of Pre-Maintenance may take some experimentation. If, after an incremental increase in Net Carbs, you find you are gaining or not losing and are not yet at your goal weight, it may be necessary to back down 5 or 10 grams to the previous week's Net Carb intake.
After losing your last few pounds very slowly and reaching your goal weight, it's advisable to stay on Pre-Maintenance for at least another month to identify your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) -- the number of daily grams of Net Carbs at which you neither gain nor lose weight. Discovering this number and learning to use it as an eating guide form an invaluable part of successful lifetime weight management.
It may take you a while to fine-tune your Critical Carbohydrate Levels for Losing (CCLL) and your ACE. The line between gaining, maintaining and losing is a thin one. You may have to experiment with your CCLL and your ACE for a while to understand what your body can handle.
Frequently asked questions about Pre-Maintenance.
Do you have questions about Pre-Maintenance? You've come to the right place.
Frequently Asked Questions
These FAQs address the most commonly asked questions about Phase Three. If you don't find the answer you're looking for, please come to the Message Board and ask.
FAQ #1: What's my ACE?
Each person has an individual tolerance for carbohydrates. Your ACE -- or Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium -- is the amount of carbohydrates you can eat each day while neither losing nor gaining weight. Like the CCLL, your ACE is a valuable weight management tool.
You may have heard about the Critical Carbohydrate Levels for Maintaining or CCLM. CCLM is the same as ACE. The terminology has changed to be more specific; however, you may still run into the term CCLM.
FAQ # 2: My food choices are too restricted and I've lost enough weight. Can't I quit?
People in Pre-Maintenance have reached a critical phase of the ANA -- they're in training for the way they'll eat for the rest of their lives. The benefits of this phase are huge if you navigate it successfully. If you don't, you could easily fall into the yo-yo dieting trap that catches so many people who try to lose weight. Instead, Pre-Maintenance allows you to expand the list of tasty foods you'll able to eat knowledgeably and comfortably. Pre-Maintenance helps you transition from the stricter earlier ANA periods to a more liberal, but still healthful way of eating for lifetime.
By sticking with this phase of the ANA, you will:
Discover how flexible Atkins can be.
Develop a style of eating that will keep you slim and vigorous for a lifetime.
Learn which foods are problematic by adding foods individually and monitoring weight fluctuations. This will help you learn which foods they can safely eat, which you can eat regularly, and which need to eaten in small portions or only occasionally.
As a practical matter, however, you may well get bored. In that case, regularly try new foods and new recipes to alleviate boredom. All of the excellent books about the ANA offer recipe sections, and several new cookbooks are in the works. Customers who like eating out should review the "Eating Out" chapter of The Atkins Essentials: A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low Carb Lifestyle or read the pertinent sections in Atkins for Life: The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health.
Another great resource is the Recipes section of this Web site.
FAQ # 3: I had a bad day and I want some comfort food.
A lot of people reach for sugar or starchy foods for comfort -- ice cream and potatoes are A-number-one candidates. If you're struggling with temptation, consider:
Develop alternate strategies for dealing with stress. Consider treating yourself with a movie or massage instead of food.
Try controlled-carb products such as Endulge bars and Endulge ice cream from Atkins.
Find a low-carb alternative to a high-carb indulgence.
As you move through the ANA, you should continue supplementing your diet with appropriate vitamins and minerals. These can include a Multivitamin Formula and a Fish Oils Omega 3 Formula .
In previous sections we took a look at tips and strategies for Pre-Maintenance. In Lesson 8, our final lesson, we explore what people doing Atkins encounter as they move toward the fourth and final phase of the ANA: Lifetime Maintenance.
Before you move on, be sure to reinforce what you've learned by doing the quiz and assignment. Also, please take the time to visit the ANA Disscussion Group Message Board (http://learningcenter.atkins.com/) to check in with your instructor and fellow community members.
During the last month of Pre-Maintenance, when you've hit and maintained your goal weight for a month, you'll make the transition to what will become your Lifetime Maintenance eating plan. You will:
Discover the foods that you can safely eat, those you need to consume in moderation, and those that you need to stay away from.
Learn what your lifetime eating plan will be like.
If you do not have a substantial amount of weight to lose and are looking for the ideal healthy eating plan, you can start on this phase of Atkins.
However, it's important to remember that Lifetime Maintenance is not the same as Pre-Maintenance. Let's take a look at the differences:
Pre-Maintenance can be compared to a learner's permit. You're out there doing it, but you still need some guidance. Lifetime Maintenance is comparable to a driver's license -- by then you've learned the rules and know your limitations so that eating according to the controlled carb lifestyle has become as much second nature as driving a car.
Pre-Maintenance is a period of experimentation, when you're still learning how to control your carbs. Lifetime Maintenance is a time of knowledge, when you know how to eat to maintain a lifetime of healthy weight management for life.
In Pre-Maintenance, you discovered your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE): the number of grams of Net Carbs you can eat without gaining or losing weight. Staying at or around that number is the key to success in Lifetime Maintenance. As long as you don't deviate much you should stay within 2 to 5 pounds of your goal weight. Two to 5 pounds is within the normal range for weight fluctuation from day to day.
If you are at that age where you have not changed your eating habits but each year you find the scale five pounds heavier, then this is where you can reverse that process.
What's Off Limits
The key to Lifetime Maintenance is moderation. This phase is far less limiting than Induction -- however, some foods will remain off limits as much as possible. These include:
Sugar, along with honey, molasses and all the other forms of sugar
Beverages full of corn syrup
Food made primarily from bleached flour
Junk foods in all its variations
Added trans fats in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
Of course, over the course of a lifetime, you'll occasionally want to indulge in a good old-fashioned piece of cake or other sweets. But if you want to permanently transform your eating habits, you must understand that such treats are rare exceptions, rather than a return to old eating habits -- which will lead to weight gain and blood sugar imbalances that make it hard to control appetite.
A list of guidelines to follow during Lifetime Maintenance.
Here are the rules to ensure success during the Lifetime Maintenance phase of Atkins:
Prioritize your healthy eating habits and weight control on a daily basis.
Eat natural, unprocessed, nutrient-dense carbohydrates.
Avoid sugar, corn syrup, honey, bleached flour and other refined grains.
Read labels and avoid problem ingredients.
Regularly try new foods and new recipes to alleviate boredom.
Use low-carb alternatives to high-carb foods.
Learn your ACE and stick to it.
Keep taking a good multivitamin/mineral and an essential fatty acids supplement.
Drink 64 ounces of water a day.
Drink caffeine and alcohol only in moderation.
Never allow yourself to gain more than 5 pounds over your goal weight.
Develop strategies for dealing with common challenges like eating out or going on vacation.
Make exercise a daily habit.
Get rid of your "fat" clothes.
Weigh yourself at least once a week.
Lifetime Maintenance strategies and FAQs.
By the time you reach lifetime maintenance, you should know your strengths and weaknesses -- what you handle well and where you get sidelined by temptation. But everyone is human, so don't be unduly hard on yourself for slipping. The important thing is to stay on the program and over time, learn to cope with the various situations you encounter.
For Times When You Lose Focus
Above all, don't give up. Maintaining a healthy weight is a process. Everyone slips up sometimes. It's okay. You just need to get your eating back under control. Here are some strategies for getting back on a healthy eating program:
When you slip off the ANA, you may destabilize your blood sugar and stimulate carbohydrate cravings. To control those cravings, the best strategy is to drop back to a lower level of carb intake for about a week to get blood sugar levels under control. When you're no longer craving carbs and have stabilized your energy levels, go back into maintenance mode.
If you gain weight when you slip, promptly drop back 5 or 10 grams of daily Net Carbs until you start lose the weight you have gained and reach your goal weight again. Once there, be careful to stick to your ACE.
Over time, you should try to learn what foods kick you into sugar and carb cravings, so you can avoid them in the future. However, don't be too strict with yourself, because feelings of deprivation can lead to more slippage. Feel free to have the occasional treat -- within your ACE -- as part of the ANA.
Dealing With Holidays and Vacations
On vacations and holidays, you may find it hard to stick with Atkins. A pre-planned eating strategy can help manage these situations:
Stick to healthy fats, high fiber and protein-rich foods. They are far more satiating than carbohydrates, and can help avoid overeating. Sugary foods and other refined carbs are more apt to spikes and crashes in blood sugar which can lead to overeating. For example, you can have half an avocado as an appetizer and a satisfying portion of turkey, but you would be better off limiting the serving of stuffing. As always, your carbs should come primarily from vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and other nutrient-dense whole foods.
Eat a small meal before going out. All too often, people skip lunch because they know they will be sitting down to a big dinner. But it is much better to have a meal or a filling snack so you can keep your blood sugar and appetite under control before you face an array of tempting carbohydrate foods.
Drink plenty of water. Not only will drinking water help you feel full, it also flushes toxins from your body.
Understanding How Metabolism Affects Lifetime Maintenance
Over time, your metabolism can change. This means you may not always have the same ACE. For instance, an active 30-year-old might have an ACE of 80 to 120, but by the time you're 40, it may have dropped to 70 -- and it is likely that it will be even lower when you reach your fifties and sixties, as your metabolism continues slowing down. If you actively exercised as a young person and became more sedentary as you've aged, your ACE might drop even more.
On the other hand, increasing activity level as you age can allow you to maintain your ACE or not allow it to drop as much as it might otherwise. Other factors that can change metabolism include:
Bottom line: If you're sticking firmly to your ACE but still gaining, it may be time to drop down to a lower ACE.
A quick recap of the four phases, plus some sources for further study.
Congratulations! You're almost done with the course. We'll do a quick rundown of the four phases to make sure you understand what they are. Then, after completing the final assignment and quiz, you'll be done with the course.
Review of The Four Phases
It's important to remember the ultimate goal of the program.
If your personal health and fitness goals include weight loss, your goal is:
To advance from Induction through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should become a permanent way of eating. Segueing from one phase to another will help you achieve and maintain a healthful weight, develop good eating habits, feel good and decrease risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
And for the increasing number of health-minded individuals who simply want to enjoy the good health and lasting energy, the two weight maintenance phases of Akins Nutritional Approach , Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance are a great way to achieve lasting levels of health, balance and energy.
Let's review the four phases one last time.
Phase One: Induction
This first phase of the Atkins focuses on significant reduction in carb intake. It's the most restrictive phase of the program, allowing 20 grams of Net Carbs; it also results in the fastest weight loss, since the body, deprived of carbs, will begin burning primarily fat for energy.
Doing Induction successfully requires that you stay on it for at least two weeks, although you can safely do it for months if you have a lot of weight to lose.
If you are doing this phase to break food addictions to processed foods and sugar and do not have weight to lose, you need to make sure you are taking in enough calories to avoid weight loss. Women need to take in at least 2000 calories and men 2800 to 3000 calories
Phase Two: Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)
When you switch to Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), your rate of loss will naturally diminish. The first week on OWL, you will increase your carb intake from 20 to 25 grams per day; the following week you will move to 30 grams per day, and so on. You should increase intake on a weekly basis until weight loss slows to one to two pounds each week.
Phase Three: Pre-Maintenance
When you're within five or 10 pounds of your target weight, it is time to move to Pre-Maintenance. In Pre-Maintenance, weight loss will slow down significantly. This phase lasts until you hit your target weight and maintain it for a month.
Phase Four: Lifetime Maintenance
Atkins isn't just about losing weight; it's also about maintaining health for life. Once you reach Lifetime Maintenance, you have the knowledge and good health habits you need to stay vigorous and active as you get older. Your lifetime eating plan is in place!
Goodbye and Good Luck
Congratulations! Now you have all the knowledge, resources and tools to actually start the ANA if you haven't already, and start your journey toward a healthier, happier life. Hopefully, you've learned a lot about what Atkins is, what it isn't, how it works and what's involved with each of the four phases.
Before you go, to reinforce what you've learned, please drop by the Message Board to check in with your instructors and fellow community members with any remaining questions and comments. The Message Board stays open 24/7, so feel free to continue participating on the discussion board .This article course may be over, but the benefits of Atkins will last a lifetime. Good luck, and good health!
By popular request, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about following the Atkins Nutritional Approach.
This section offers answers to frequently asked questions about Induction. The following pages deal with questions about exercise, specific heath and lifestyle concerns, Atkins products and more.
Questions about Induction
Got questions about Induction? You've come to the right place.
How many carbs can I eat during Induction?
During Induction, you should eat as close as you can get to 20 net carbs a day. 12 to 15 of them should come from vegetables on the Acceptable Foods List.
How do you figure net carbs?
In general, in whole foods you take the total carb number and subtract fiber grams to arrive at net carb count. Concerning products, you look at the Nutrition Facts label. Subtract any fiber carbs that are listed. Then subtract any sugar alcohol carbs that are listed. Please note that sugar alcohols are NOT sugar. Sugar may be listed on the Nutrition Facts label, but you do not subtract it.
If, after you've done the math and the numbers don't add up, check the ingredients list. If glycerin is listed there, the chances are that that's where the missing carbs are.
It should be noted that with Atkins products, the number on the front of the package is not net carbs, it's the Net Atkins Count. That figure is derived from actual clinical tests, and is generally more reliable than the net carb figure that's arrived at by simple subtraction.
I need my coffee. Why can't I have caffeine during Induction?
Excess caffeine can drop blood sugar levels and leave you craving sweets. If you're addicted to caffeine, you must give it up. The best way to do this is to segue from the high-octane stuff to decaf by gradually adding decaf to your full-force brew until you are drinking straight decaf, which you can enjoy with cream. Water-processed decaf is preferable because it does not use chemicals, as other decaffeinating processes do.
Once you have weaned off your habit of excessive caffeine intake, some people find they can tolerate the equivalent of 1 cup of tea or coffee daily without the side effects.
Can medications slow down my weight loss?
A number of medications will inhibit weight loss. The most incompatible medications are:
Diuretics (water pills)
Psychotropic drugs, including Prozac, Zoloft, lithium, etc.
Hormones and steroids, including estrogen (Premarin), birth control pills and prednisone
Arthritic drugs, especially NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
All anti-diabetic medications, including insulin (with the exception of glucophage)
However, do not stop taking any prescription medication without the advice and consent of the physician who prescribed them for you.
Can I drink alcohol while I'm in Induction?
No. For two reasons, you should avoid alcoholic beverages while you're doing Induction:
First, although alcohol has zero carbs, it is the first thing your body processes after you ingest it. That means that ketosis stops until the alcohol is all gone from your system.
Second, alcohol tends to hit people harder and faster when they're in ketosis. That can materially affect your judgment. It's all to easy to decide that just one handful of popcorn or chips won't hurt; and before you know it, you've eaten enough empty carbs to set you back, perhaps for days.
Once you approach your weight loss goals, a moderate amount of wine or alcohol with meals can be an acceptable addition.
Why can't I have nuts during Induction?
Even nuts that are low in net carbs are generally prohibited during Induction. That's because first, most people have trouble controlling portions of nuts, and that can easily lead to overeating them. Until you gain control of your appetite it is best to steer clear of nuts. They are on the carb ladder -- when you move to OWL, they can be introduced in controlled portions.
Why can't I get my ketosticks to go deep purple?
For the purposes of the ANA, any color change in the sticks is enough to indicate whether you're in lipolysis/ketosis. Since you either are or are not in ketosis, and since any change indicates that you are, the color of the change is irrelevant.
The sticks only measure the amount of ketones you're eliminating through your urine. They have no way to tell either how many ketones you're producing or how many you're using. And the number of ketones you're eliminating at any given moment can be affected by how much water you've been drinking, how much exercise you've been getting and a number of other factors, none of which are related to how many ketones you're producing.
So, in short, any color change is good. Quit worrying about it.
Can I eat Advantage bars during the Induction phase?
An Advantage Bar can serve as either a snack or an occasional meal replacement. Feel free to eat them during Induction as long as you continue to lose weight. (We generally recommend no more than one bar a day during Induction.) But keep in mind that neither the Atkins shakes nor the bars were formulated to be total meal replacements. The Atkins program does not recommend the use of meal replacements; instead, it is important to eat whole, unprocessed foods to learn wholesome eating habits.
Could eating Advantage bars be impeding my weight loss?
This varies by individual. If you have reached a plateau and are not losing weight, try omitting the bars until weight loss resumes. Alternatively, you could exercise more to burn the extra calories or try eating only half of a bar. Remember, the bars have approximately 220 calories each and these added calories could be affecting your overall weight loss. There is an advantage to the controlled carb way of eating over low-fat diets in that you are able to take in more calories and lose more weight, but don't regard it as a license to overeat.
I'm used to counting calories. How many am I allowed during Induction?
There is no need to count calories. The Atkins Nutritional Approach counts grams of carbohydrates instead of calories. At the beginning of Induction, you are allowed 20 grams of carbohydrates, gradually adding them in 5-gram increments as you progress from Ongoing Weight Loss to Pre-Maintenance, and finally to the Lifetime Maintenance phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach. Although there is no need to count calories, they do count. Gaining weight results from taking in more calories than you expend through exercise, thermogenesis (the body's own heat production) and other metabolic functions. Research has shown that on a controlled carbohydrate program, more calories are burned than in a mixed diet, so there is a certain metabolic advantage to the controlled carb approach. But understand that this does not give you a license to gorge.
I know I'm allowed up to 20 grams of carbohydrates a day during the two weeks of Induction. But if I stay under 20 grams of carbs a day, why can't I have some in the form of a slice of whole grain bread or even a peanut butter cup, which has 20 grams of carbs?
There are two reasons this approach won't work. For one, all carbohydrates are not created equal. The Atkins Nutritional Approach is designed to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking and causing the overproduction of insulin--a hormone that helps convert carbohydrates to body fat. The first carbohydrates you need to add back to your eating plan are more vegetables, then seeds and nuts, then berries and then--if you are still losing--grains. Even bread made from 100 percent whole-wheat flour contains enough refined carbs to produce the insulin-raising, fat-storing effect in many people. Later, if your weight loss is progressing well and you have increased your daily carb intake, you may eat an occasional slice of whole grain bread. As for the 20-gram peanut butter cup, it contains a lot of sugar--not to mention artery-clogging hydrogenated fat -- and sugar is the worst kind of carbohydrate.
Second, the Atkins approach is not just about rapid weight loss--it's about learning to eat only nutrient-dense carbohydrates for the rest of your life. These are foods that are packed with the most antioxidant vitamins and healthful phytochemicals relative to the amount of carbohydrates--so you're getting the most bang for your carbohydrate buck. Once you've reached your goal weight and established your personal carbohydrate level for maintenance, you can enjoy whole-grain bread, fruit and even the occasional plate of french fries. Unfortunately, that peanut butter cup just doesn't make the grade!
The last page covered questions specific to Induction. This section answers questions about the ANA and various health and lifestyle concerns, as well as suggestions for dealing with any temporary side effects you may be experiencing while following the ANA.
Specific Health and Lifestyle Concerns
If you don't find an answer to your question here, please come to the Message Board and ask away!
Can I do Atkins during pregnancy?
Weight loss is not appropriate during pregnancy. You will need to control your carbohydrate consumption to the point where your blood sugar levels are normal, and you are not sacrificing the intake of healthy vegetables and some low-glycemic fruits or seeds and nuts. If your blood sugar levels are normal, whole grains can also be included to provide a balanced nutritious food intake. The key to success is staying within your ACE, or your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium: enough healthy carbs to prevent weight loss and not so much as to cause excessive weight gain. Work with your OB/GYN, who can watch your weight and tell you if you're within the normal weight gain expectancy.
The Atkins program is helpful to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy and it can decrease the risk of gestational diabetes. Your goal should be to allow for the proper weight gain by eating the foods that have the most nutrient content and controlling cravings for the unhealthy carbs that will stress your blood sugar.
Protein is an important nutrient during pregnancy. The body needs 150 grams daily. Low-glycemic carbs such as veggies and fruits such as berries, natural fats from nuts and seeds, avocado, olives or olive oil or are also important nutrients during for pregnancy and should be included in your food choices.
Can I do Atkins while I'm nursing?
While there is no evidence that ketones in breast milk are harmful to your baby, there is no clinical evidence that they're not harmful, either. So we recommend that you play it safe and do NOT do any of the weight-loss phases of the ANA while you're nursing.
It is, however, appropriate to avoid refined products like added sugar or starches, and to increase your intake of nutrient-dense, fiber-rich vegetables.
My 18-year-old son or daughter wants to follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach. Is that safe?
Yes, controlling carbohydrate intake is appropriate for adolescents and children over the age of 12. (Younger children should follow the program only under the advice and supervision of a physician.) There are, however, certain things parents should be aware of when a teenager controls carb intake without expert supervision:
Although appetite might be decreased, adolescents should be encouraged not to skip meals.
Like adults, adolescents should consume at least eight glasses of water per day. If your child becomes constipated, add fiber (for example, 2 tablespoons of wheat bran) to his or her diet.
Adolescents should take a multivitamin and mineral supplement while restricting carbohydrates.
Research at Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., confirms the effectiveness of a controlled carbohydrate program for teens. Marc S. Jacobson, M.D., lead researcher and director of the Center for Atherosclerosis Prevention at New York Hospital, reported that 22 adolescents consuming a high-protein, high-fat carbohydrate-restricted diet were more successful at losing weight than those consuming a low-fat, high-carbohydrate one. The teens who restricted their carb intake also had improved cardiovascular risk factors and other clinical health markers.
Participants were 12- to 18-years-old and 20 to 100 pounds overweight. Those eating a high-protein diet lost 19 pounds in 12 weeks, while the low-fat group lost less than half that amount, 8.5 pounds. The research showed that the high-protein group also showed a greater decrease in overall cholesterol levels, with triglycerides dropping 33 percent as compared to a 17 percent drop for the low-fat group. Kidney and liver functions were unaffected by the high-protein, high-fat diet. The high-protein group ate 66 percent more calories than the low-fat group (1,830 calories vs. 1,100 calories per day). After three months on a weight-loss regimen, the participants followed a dietary maintenance program that included additional carbohydrates. Nutritionist Nancy Copperman, M.S., R.D., who designed both diets, says that six to 12 months later, most of the high-protein, controlled-carbohydrate dieters had maintained their weight loss.
My weight has suddenly gone up overnight! What's going on?
Many women retain water when their time of the month draws near. If your period is approaching, that probably accounts for your sudden weight gain or a stall in your weight loss. Don't worry about it. Stick with the plan -- when your period ends, the weight will come back off.
I get tired in the middle of the day. What's going on?
If you're not taking a multivitamin and mineral, essential oils and Atkins Dieters Advantage, sometimes taking vitanutrients is all you need to address the fatigue.
It's important to understand that your body has been running on a glucose (sugar) metabolism all your life. Glucose is the body's preferred source of fuel because it burns fast. Atkins sets up an alternative metabolic pathway for producing energy: You switch from a primarily glucose metabolism to a fat metabolism. Withdrawal occurs during the adaptation period in which that switch takes place. Until you adapt to this new fuel source, you may feel tired. You may not have felt it the first two weeks because you were working off your glycogen stores which at this point may be depleted.
When your body becomes accustomed to burning fat for fuel, these symptoms should go away. In the meantime, you may alleviate them by increasing your carb intake slightly. Do this by eating more vegetables such as salad greens, spinach, broccoli and string beans. Once your body adjusts and symptoms have abated, reduce your carb intake to 20 grams a day again.
One way to keep your energy up is to eat snacks rich in protein and fat throughout the day. At home, try a slice of turkey or cream cheese on celery. On the go, pack some cheese cubes, hard-boiled eggs or an Atkins Advantage Bar.
I think I'm doing Atkins correctly, yet I'm not losing weight or my weight loss has plateaued. What are some of the factors that could make that happen?
First, recognize that there may not be a problem at all. Different people will respond to Atkins differently; some consistently lose weight while others do so in stages. Don't watch the scale and become overly concerned with short-term results. Also, make sure your expectations of weight loss are realistic. Atkins is designed to lead you to your natural ideal weight. For many people, that may still be more than they wish to weigh. We strongly recommend that you manage your expectations in a real and healthy way.
Second, remember that success on Atkins should always be measured by more than just the scale. Consider the following questions and think about how they apply to your experience on Atkins:
Are you experiencing more energy and vitality throughout the day?
Are your clothes fitting you better? Are you experiencing less between meal cravings and hunger?
Have your blood tests improved?
Are you still losing weight, but just at a much slower pace?
Have you lost inches in your body measurements?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, then you have the right plan for the rest of your life. Continue to stick with it, modifying it as you go along to make it work for you, and you will continue to see suitable health enhancing results.
Since starting the Atkins program, I have bad breath. Will breath mints help?
Lipolysis (the process during which your body primarily burns fat as fuel rather than glucose), causes ketosis, which generates ketones, the by-products of fat breakdown. During lipolysis, ketones are released in your breath and your urine. While this can be annoying, the good news is that ketone breath is chemical proof that you're burning stored body fat. The more ketones you release, the more fat you've burned. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the concentration of ketones. Parsley, too, is a natural breath freshener, as is oil of peppermint (drops are available at natural food stores. (Read the label to ensure that it contains no sugar.) Chewing fresh parsley or taking capsules such as Breath-a-Sure, which can be found in any health food or drug store, will also help. As long as you drink enough water, the bad breath caused by ketones usually lasts only a few weeks.
We discourage the use of breath mints while doing Atkins because they may contain either sugar or artificial sweeteners. Even so-called "sugar-free" products are often full of carbs. Check the number of grams of carbohydrates on the label of any product before using it.
Since beginning Atkins I am often constipated. How can I avoid this?
Some constipation is common during the first week of the Induction phase. This is due to the change in overall diet and especially the reduced amount of fruit and vegetable fiber. Be sure you are taking in at least 3 cups of salad vegetables and not using your carb allotment on other foods. After the first few days, your body should adjust and constipation shouldn't be a problem. And when you begin to add carbohydrates, your first choices should be more vegetables, followed by berries.
If constipation continues, there are several remedies. First, make sure you are drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Inadequate hydration is the main reason for constipation. Most people, especially women, don't drink enough water and are slightly dehydrated almost always. Second, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of wheat or oat bran fiber on salads or mix in protein drinks. The amount needed to stay regular varies from person to person. It may take a few days to find the amount that works for you.
Finally, increasing physical activity often helps.
I have been experiencing diarrhea since beginning Atkins. Why is this happening and how can I control it?
It is not normal to experience diarrhea while doing Atkins. Several things should be considered: Are you eating more dairy than you did before ? Are you allergic to any foods you are eating? Are you gorging yourself? Try adding 1 tablespoon of unsweetened Metamucil or psyllium daily. It acts as a sponge and forms a healthy stool. If you have been on a very low-fat diet prior to starting Atkins, it could be an adjustment period. Try cutting back on the amount of fat for a little while if that is the case. If the diarrhea continues for any length of time you should see your doctor.
I have been experiencing dizziness since beginning Atkins. Why is this happening and how can I control it?
First, check with your physician to make sure you don't have a medical condition. Once your doctor has ruled out any conditions that require medical intervention, the possibility exists that you may be going through carbohydrate withdrawal. When your body becomes accustomed to burning fat for fuel, these symptoms should dissipate, usually within a week. You might alleviate them by adding more vegetables that are low in carbohydrates, such as leafy green vegetables. Then bring the quantities back down once your body adjusts to the controlled carb routine. You may find it helpful to eat protein snacks throughout the day, such as a slice of turkey or cream cheese in celery. Try a few days of eating every 3-4 hours and make sure you drink plenty of water.
Since I have been on Atkins, my cholesterol has gone up. Why? What can I do about it?
First, look at what you've been eating. Have you been following Atkins correctly? If you are just starting the Induction phase, be sure you stay below 20 grams of carbohydrates a day as recommended. You may also want to consider a couple of other things that could be happening.
First, the increase might be temporary. When a person loses weight, cholesterol usually rises because the body must break down stored fat for energy. Your total cholesterol should drop within two months. Look at your HDL (known as "good" cholesterol) levels. A rise in total cholesterol levels could even be a good thing, if it's all attributed to HDL cholesterol. Total cholesterol may temporarily go up due to the rise in HDL. If you've been following The Atkins Nutritional Approach for some time and your cholesterol levels have not come down, something else is going on.
You may also need to look at a third component of your blood tests: triglycerides. Cholesterol rises in some people when triglycerides drop significantly. If that drop is greater than the LDL increase, your lipid profile may, again, be improved.
High cholesterol that has a genetic component usually responds to changes in diet, but may be difficult to address with diet alone. You may still need to take supplements such as pantethine, essential oils, garlic and fiber. For a detailed discussion of cholesterol-lowering nutrients, see Dr. Atkins Vita-Nutrient Solutions. Exercise is also an important component, as is cutting back on processed meats, such as bacon, sausage and cold cuts and limiting intake of hard cheese.
When I donate blood, what can I drink and eat after giving blood instead of the usual OJ and cookies?
After donating blood, your fluid volume is reduced, which can make you lightheaded or dizzy. You will be offered something to drink to replace the fluid, which also decreases the volume of blood sugar available. Instead of sugary fruit drinks, consume water or other non-carbohydrate beverages and instead of a cookie, have a piece of cheese or a slice of turkey. If you are beyond Induction, you can combine whole fruit with nuts. It's a good idea to plan ahead and bring with you some of your allowable foods and beverages.
In this section, you'll learn the answers to questions about metabolism, exercise and the nutritional and scientific principles behind the Atkins Nutritional Approach.
Questions About Metabolism, Nutrition and Exercise
If you don't find the answer you seek, come to the Message Board and let us know what's on your mind!
Do I need to exercise to lose weight on Atkins?
Exercise will not only speed up your weight loss (or help you maintain your weight) and enhance muscle tone, but also offer cardiovascular conditioning that is essential for continued good health.
Many studies have shown that inactivity is the greatest risk factor leading to heart disease, more so than the usual indicators such as high cholesterol. Regular aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle and widens the arteries called collaterals that supply extra oxygen-rich blood to weaker areas of the heart. Patients treated in the cardiology division of our clinical practice receive a prescription that includes a lifestyle change in nutrition, supplementation and exercise. Select a form of exercise that you enjoy, whether walking, running, swimming or bicycling. You actually need to engage regularly in two kinds of exercise. Isometric, or dynamic, exercise is aerobic, meaning it increases the heart rate and the blood pressure; swimming or brisk walking are good examples. Isotonic, or static, exercise, such as weight lifting, involves the muscles, but does not significantly increase the heart rate.
As a runner, I'm used to carb loading before competitive events. Will following the Atkins Nutritional Approach impact my endurance?
It's a misconception that carb-loading is the best way to prepare yourself for endurance exercise. Although an overabundance of carbs might give you an initial burst of energy, that surge can then lead to a sharp drop in your blood sugar--and, therefore, fatigue--later in your workout. This isn't to say that you should eliminate carbs from your diet, but endurance athletes will do better by consuming moderate amounts of healthy, unrefined carbohydrates, found in foods such as kale, spinach and broccoli, to ensure stable blood sugar throughout a workout.
A 1994 study of well-trained cyclists demonstrated the principle that a low-carb diet contributes to improved endurance. Subjects on a 7 percent carbohydrate diet were able to pedal nearly twice as long as those whose diet consisted of 74 percent carbs.
If you are contemplating switching to a lower-carb eating plan, do so during training, never right before a race. It should take your body about two weeks to adjust, so don't worry if you don't experience extra energy immediately. The amount of carbohydrates you should consume also relates to your percentage of body fat. If you are an overweight runner, stay on the lowest level of carb consumption that suits your needs while still allowing you to lose weight. On the other hand, if your weight is normal, simply stick to vegetables, whole grains, berries and other fruits low in sugar and other healthful complex carbs, avoiding junk foods and sugar.
I'm trying to do a "low-fat" version of the Atkins Nutritional Approach. Is this a good idea?
Some people with very fast metabolisms can get away with this and experience success on Atkins. However, for most, it will inhibit your weight loss and keep you hungrier throughout the day and thus more susceptible to sugar/carb cravings.
Which burns first, dietary or body fat?
Dietary fat, in combination with controlled carbohydrate consumption, accelerates the burning of stored body fat. When your body uses fat, rather than glucose for fuel, the metabolic process is called lipolysis. If you cut down too low on dietary fat, it will slow down the burning of body fat. Dietary fat is the fuel for burning body fat.
Our bodies usually need glucose for fuel; ketones provide the exception. They are derived from fat (when lipolysis occurs) and are the other source of fuel that energizes our cells and powers our brain and other vital organs, just as glucose does when we subsist on a high-carbohydrate diet. These are the only two fuels that come from food (alcohol is a third fuel and the body will burn that before fat). The good news is that alcohol will burn fast especially in a fat metabolism. That is why someone in ketosis will have a lower tolerance for alcohol.
People seem to understand the concept better when it is described this way: If you're not in ketosis, you're in glucosis, a term Dr. Atkins uses to remind you that the two fuel sources are your body's alternative, completely parallel options for energy metabolism. (Remember that ketosis is a secondary process of lipolysis.)
This terminology has helped many people convince their doctors or dieticians that the Atkins Nutritional Approach is the right path for them. If you have a doctor who tells you lipolysis (and ketosis) is bad, counter with this question, "If I'm not in ketosis than I will be in glucosis, right? So, why is it so bad for an overweight person like me, with hyperinsulinism, to be living off my own stored fat and so beneficial to continue not to do so?"
It's clear why such a dual system exists. Before the invention of agriculture, in the first few hundred thousand years of human life, periods of severe food shortage must have been uncomfortably common. Human beings had to be able to burn their own body fat for fuel on those recurrent occasions when the larder was bare. Naturally, our bodies devised a highly efficient system for doing just that.
Just as bears and other hibernating animals sustain themselves during their long winter sleep by utilizing their fat stores, when you dial down the volume of insulin production (as you do in lipolysis) your body is equipped to burn your own body fat in a similar way. This process makes losing weight as painless as eating naturally was when you were piling on pounds.
Insulin converts all your excess carbohydrates into stores of body fat. In a normally functioning body, fatty acids and ketones are readily converted from fat tissue to fuel. But in overweight people, high insulin levels slow this process down.
But remember the ANA difference from fasting. A prolonged fast in humans without food can be dangerous and has one severe metabolic disadvantage: The body not only burns fat for energy, it also burns protein. This means that it burns off some of the body's lean muscle tissue, which is clearly not desirable. Research has shown that on an eating plan where you are in lipolysis, and the carbohydrate intake is low enough to result in ketosis, virtually no lean tissue is lost, only fatty tissue. And that's why for extremely overweight individuals it is possible to be in lipolysis and at the carbohydrate level that creates ketosis for six months to a year, and confidently know that there will be no ill effects of any kind.
Most obese people become so adept at releasing insulin that their blood is never really free of it and they're never able to use up their fat stores. By primarily burning fat instead of carbohydrates, lipolysis breaks the cycle of excess insulin and resultant stored fat. So by following a fat-containing, controlled carbohydrate regimen, you bypass the process of converting large amounts of carbohydrate into glucose. When your carbohydrate intake drops low enough to induce fat burning, abnormal insulin levels return to normal perhaps for the first time in years or decades.
Phase 1: Induction
Two-Week Induction Meal Plan
The Rules of Induction
What Induction Can Do For You