How it Works

Atkins 20 Plan: Phase 4 - Lifetime Maintenance

You did it! You've reached your weight loss goal and you're finally in Phase 4, Lifetime Maintenance. This is not so much a phase as a permanent lifestyle. In general, the foods you eat in this phase are the same ones you've already been eating. There are some foods you tried to reintroduce earlier without success that you can now handle. You can experiment with these foods at any time as long as you remain near your goal weight.

Learn more about Phase 4 and Lifetime Maintenance by following the links below.

How long



Transition to a permanent way of eating that allows you to maintain your new weight.


Remain in control of your weight by adjusting your carb intake if your carb tolerance changes or you regain a few pounds.

If you can accept that Phase 4 is a lifestyle and act accordingly, most likely you will never have to “diet” again. Does that mean you won’t ever regain a few pounds? Of course not. But now you possess the tools and skills to turn around any situation. Here’s why:

  • You’ve transitioned from phase to phase, gradually increasing your carb intake, as you worked toward a permanent way of eating.
  • By reintroducing foods one by one, you know which, if any, could spell trouble for you.
  • You now know which foods you can do without and which you can love but must eat in moderation.
  • You’ve learned how to be alert to signals of cravings or undue hunger and how to respond before you lose control.
  • You’ve discovered how to substitute certain low-carb foods for high-carb ones, treat other foods as garnishes, and more.
  • More important, you’ve come to trust the Atkins program and experience the pleasure of feeling good, both physically and emotionally.

Have you gained a few pounds and want to deal with the situation before it gets any more serious? Maybe you over-indulged a little on vacation or an injury prevented you from exercising. Not to worry. Cut roughly 10 grams of Net Carbs a day from your intake until you return to your goal weight. Give or take a couple grams, here are some options you can eliminate:

  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup watermelon balls
  • ½ large grapefruit
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ baked potato
  • ¾ cup beets
  • ½ small sweet potato
  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal
  • ¼ cup brown rice
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • Scant ½ cup lentils
  • ¾ cup shelled edamame
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

The name Lifetime Maintenance says it all. This is not so much a phase as a permanent lifestyle. Pre-Maintenance is designed to make the transition from Phase 3 to [the so-called] Phase 4 practically seamless, so you should have no fears about moving on once your goal weight is stable. First of all, the Acceptable Foods for Phase 3 are the same as those for Phase 4. Of course, you may not have reintroduced all the foods you'll try in the months and years to come, but as long as you're alert to the potential of any individual food to cause weight regain, cravings, unreasonable hunger or any of the other symptoms of carb intolerance, you know what to do. As long as you comply with the program and stick to your ACE—which may require some modifications as you get older or make some lifestyle changes—you'll be able to maintain your healthy new weight and say goodbye to on-again, off-again diets once and for all.

The Power of 10

Starchy Vegetables
Serving Size
Net Carbs
Carrots, sliced
1 medium
Rutabaga, sliced
1/2 cup
Beets, sliced
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
Acorn squash (cubed/mashed)
1/2 cup
Butternut squash
1/2 cup
Sweet potato, baked
1/2 medium
Parsnips, sliced
1/2 cup
Potato, baked
1/2 small
1/2 cup
Serving Size
Net Carbs
Coconut, fresh, shredded
1/2 cup
Figs, fresh
1 fruit
1/4 cup
Watermelon, cubes
1/2 cup
Pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup
Papaya, pieces
1/2 cup
Plum, medium
1 fruit
1/2 cup
1 fruit
1/2 fruit
1 fruit
Grapefruit (red)
1/2 fruit
Apricot, medium
3 fruit
Pineapple, fresh, chunks
1/2 cup
Peach, small
1 fruit
1/2 cup
Grapes (red)
1/2 cup
Orange, navel
1 fruit
Dates, fresh
3 fruit
Banana, small
1 fruit
Pear, medium
1 fruit
Serving Size
Net Carbs
1/2 cup
Pasta (whole wheat)
1/4 cup
Rice (brown)
1/4 cup

To remain in control of your hard-won new weight:

  • Stay at your carb tolerance level, the number of daily grams of Net Carbs you can consume while maintaining your weight. This is the threshold you discovered when you maintained your weight for a month in Phase 3 (Fine-Tuning).
  • Continue to have a minimum of 12–15 grams of Net Carbs in the form of foundation vegetables.
  • Continue to have 4–6 ounces of (cooked) protein at each meal.
  • Aim for no more than two servings of fruit a day.
  • Continue to see fat as your friend and integral to weight management.
  • Combine carbohydrate foods with fat and/or protein to moderate your blood sugar response.
  • Continue to drink plenty of water and other noncaloric beverages.
  • Adjust your carb intake if you become less (or more) active.
  • Distinguish between hunger and habit.
  • Continue to weigh and measure yourself once a week.
  • Never let yourself gain more than 5 pounds (unless you become pregnant) without taking immediate action.
  • Add new foods one at a time to gauge their impact on cravings and appetite.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Portion out ahead of time any foods, such as nuts or cheese, that you might be tempted to overeat.
  • Keep reading labels, especially on any new foods.
  • Stay alert to the possibility of carb creep.
  • Plan ahead if you decide to take an occasional departure from your low-carb lifestyle.


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