Atkins 20 Plan: Phase 3 - Fine-Tuning
You're probably now just 10 pounds from your goal weight, which you'll achieve in Phase 3. This phase is designed for fine-tuning your diet so you can eventually focus on maintaining your weight loss . In Phase 3, you will gradually see how much you can raise your daily Net Carb intake and maintain weight loss while exploring the final three rungs of the Carb Ladder.
Learn more about how to maintain weight loss with Atkins by following the links below.
Until you've reached your goal weight and maintained it for a month.
Trim your final excess pounds, continuing to explore your personal carb balance. Then find your tolerance for carb intake while maintaining your new weight. This phase is a dress rehearsal for Lifetime Maintenance.
Gradually increase your daily Net Carb intake in 10-gram (or 5-gram, if you prefer) increments, continuing to reintroduce new carb foods, as long as you continue to slowly lose weight and then to maintain that loss.
Even though you're almost at your goal, adding carbs and new foods can cause some frustrations. Here's how to handle them—or accept them.
- You may experience cravings and uncontrollable hunger as you add back foods you have not eaten in some time. Figuring out which food you can or cannot handle is important for long-term weight control. If you suspect that particular foods are sabotaging your progress, eliminate them for several days to see whether things improve before trying to introduce them again.
- You may wind up on a plateau. If you've already experienced one more plateaus in Phase 2 , you know about that exercise in delayed gratification. If you've been spared this frustrating experience to date, make sure that it's truly a plateau, meaning you're doing everything correctly. If so, reduce your daily Net Carb intake by 10 grams and wait it out as patiently as you can.
- You may stumble upon your Net Carb tolerance for weight maintenance in what initially appears to be a plateau. To see if this is the case, step down 10 grams of Net Carbs daily for at least a week. If weight loss resumes, go up another 5 grams, and so forth.
Serving SizeNet CarbsCarrots, sliced1 medium4.1Rutabaga, cubed1/2 cup5.9Beets, sliced1/2 cup6.8Peas1/2 cup7Acorn Squash (baked/mashed)1/2 cup7.6Butternut squash1/2 cup8.5Sweet potato, baked1/2 medium9.9Parsnips, sliced1/2 cup10.2Potato, baked1/2 small13.1Corn1/2 cup14.9
Serving SizeNet CarbsCoconut, fresh, shredded1/2 cup2.5Figs, fresh1 fruit4.5Cherries1/4 cup5.3Watermelon, cubes1/2 cup5.5Pomegranate seeds1/4 cup6.4Papaya, pieces1/2 cup6.6Plum, medium1 fruit6.6Raisins1 TBSP6.8Guava1/2 cup7.4Apple1/2 fruit7.9Clementine1 fruit7.6Kiwi1 fruit8.1Grapefruit (red)1/2 fruit8.9Apricot, medium3 fruit9.6Pineapple, fresh, chunks1/2 cup9.7Peach, small1 fruit10.5Mango1/2 cup11.1Grapes (red)1/2 cup13Orange, navel1 fruit14.5Dates, fresh3 fruit15.8Banana, small1 fruit20.4Pear, medium1 fruit21
Serving SizeNet CarbsWheat bran (raw)2 TBSP1.6Wheat germ2 TBSP4.9Oat bran (raw)2 TBSP6.0Quinoa (cooked)1/4 cup8.6Whole wheat bread1 slice10Oatmeal (dry, steel cut)1/4 cup11.5Polenta (dry)2 TBSP12.5Grits (cooked)1/2 cup15.2Whole wheat pasta (cooked)1/2 cup16.6Oatmeal (dry, rolled)1/3 cup19Barley (cooked)1/2 cup19.2Millet (cooked)1/2 cup19.5Rice (brown, cooked)1/2 cup21.2
* All figures reflect if the vegetable, legume, or grain is cooked.
How do I know when I've reached the right weight for me?
There is no single right or wrong weight. Your body type, age, hormonal status, activity level, and genetics all play a role. It's possible you may be able to achieve a lower weight, but if it's a struggle to maintain it, you may want to accept that being 5 or even 10 pounds heavier is where your body naturally wants to be. Again, inches count as much as pounds. As you tone your abdominals and other muscles with regular physical activity, your body will appear slimmer. When you come to a point where you're comfortable with your weight at this time in your life, that's the place to remain.
Can I eat any low-carb product when I'm in Phase 3?
In Phase 1, you can have low-carb foods with Net Carb counts of 3 grams per serving; that increases to 6 grams per serving in Phase 2, and to 9 grams in this phase. In Lifetime Maintenance, the number rises to 10 grams or more, assuming your carb tolerance allows.
Can I have more than one or two glasses of wine now that I have reached my goal weight?
Yes, if it doesn't cause weight gain or leave you vulnerable to overeating the snack foods that often accompany alcohol. A general recommendation is a single glass for women and up to two for men, but you know your own tolerance. If you regain weight or lose control, drop back to a single glass or none. Also continue to avoid high-carb beer and mixers made with added sugar.
Why am I experiencing cravings I haven’t had for months?
There are two possible explanations. Either you're simply eating too many carbs and not burning primarily fat for energy anymore (remember, fat burning suppresses your appetite) or you've reintroduced a food or food group that's spiking your blood sugar. Fruit may be the culprit, particularly if you're not accompanying it with fat or protein to moderate the impact on your blood sugar. Cut back by 10 grams of Net Carbs a day and eliminate the foods you're added recently. Then reintroduce them slowly, one by one, to find out which ones are creating cravings.
How can I tame my sweet tooth?
There are two approaches: satisfy it or eliminate it. Satisfy your sweet tooth with acceptable substitutes, such as an Atkins Endulge bar. If you're able to have such treats without overdoing them and without causing cravings, fine. If not, eliminate any foods that may be triggering cravings for sweets until you get the situation under control.
What desserts can I have in this phase?
In addition to Endulge bars, plus the berries, cherries, and melon you started to eat in Phase 2, you can have almost any other fruit, as well as other desserts with no added sugar and no more than 9 grams of Net Carbs.
The big question, of course, is how to know when to transition to Phase 4, Lifetime Maintenance. If you can answer all the following questions in the affirmative, go ahead. Otherwise, hold off until you have three yeses.
- Are you at your goal or adjusted goal weight?
- Has your weight remained constant for the last four weeks?
- Are cravings and undue hunger no longer a problem?