You got through the Induction phase of Atkins. Now you’re ready for your second step: Ongoing Weight Loss.
When you start Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), besides moving towards your goal weight, you will also find your individual tolerance for carbohydrates. This is the phase where you fine-tune your program, gradually adding small portions of appropriate carbohydrate foods. In doing so, you sustain the fat-burning success you’ve achieved in Induction as you begin to include a larger variety of nutrient-dense foods.
Each week, you can add new foods, including nuts, seeds and berries, and if you have a greater carb threshold, some other categories of food, such as controlled portions of starchy vegetables and/or legumes, as long as you continue to lose. Some people may find that having less choice is easier, but it’s important to learn how to incorporate a wider variety of foods into your meals. Keeping a food diary should help you monitor the impact of certain foods on your appetite. If a new food causes cravings, eliminate it from your meals.
In OWL, you will learn how many grams of Net Carbs you can eat daily while continuing to lose weight. The rate of weight loss is influenced by the amount of carbohydrates you add back, as well as your metabolism and exercise level. Everyone is different, and OWL will help you find your Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CLL).
By slowly increasing your daily carbohydrate intake in 5-gram increments each week, you will customize Atkins to your personal needs, preferences and lifestyle.
Your CLL dictates the level at which you continue to lose. If you find that you aren’t losing quickly enough, or at all, drop back 5 grams of Net Carbs to your previous carbohydrate level and continue toward your goal.
Keep it gradual. Don’t move forward too quickly. Continue to eat primarily whole foods in the form of fish, eggs, poultry, meats, healthy fats and vegetables.
Every week or every few weeks that you continue to lose, go up one level, meaning 5 additional grams of Net Carbs. It’s best to add carbohydrate foods in a specific order, which is known as “going up the carbohydrate ladder.”
The first week on OWL, you go from 20 to 25 grams per day; the following week ( or if you are moving up more slowly, the next few weeks) you move to 30 grams per day and so on. Change the increments on a weekly basis until your weight loss slows to one to two pounds each week. Slowly increasing your carb intake allows your body to continue to burn body fat for fuel so you keep losing weight.
Induction helped you jump-start weight loss by getting your body to utilize fat for fuel. You should have stayed on Induction for a minimum of two weeks, but it is perfectly safe to follow it for six months or longer. Your results during the first two weeks of Induction enable you to understand your individual resistance to weight loss. The greater your degree of metabolic resistance, the longer remaining on Induction may be necessary to achieve significant results.
But, you can certainly move into Ongoing Weight Loss after two weeks when:
You are bored with Induction.
You are willing to slow your rate of weight loss in exchange for more food choices.
You do not have a considerable amount of weight to lose (20 pounds), or you have lost enough weight to be within 20 pounds of your goal weight.
The most restrictive phase of Atkins, Induction, is also the simplest, which means that it almost always works. As you move into Ongoing Weight Loss, your newfound freedom can pose some risks.
You will continue to slim down but there will be a gradual decrease in the rate at which you drop pounds and inches. And if you add carb foods too quickly, you will stop your fat-burning engine and weight loss will cease or stall.
If this happens as soon as you move to OWL, return to Induction for a few days to kick-start your metabolism again. Once you start losing again, return to OWL, this time moving more cautiously.
Over the course of the next few weeks or months in this phase, you will explore a whole new way of healthy eating that will help form the parameters of your lifetime program. You’ll find out how much carbohydrate consumption you can tolerate while still losing weight.
Once you learn how your body reacts and how quickly you can add new foods without interfering with weight loss, you will have the tools with which to enjoy a lifetime of slimness.