Learn how to add up those grams of carb intake and you’ll be rewarded with the ongoing subtraction of excess weight.
There are three key differences between Induction and Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL). The first is obvious: You will consume more carbohydrates. Second, whereas during Induction you ate your protein and fat foods—plus three cups of salad and other veggies (and the special foods such as avocado, olives and sour cream)—OWL allows you much more choice. That means you can now craft a weight-loss regimen that is uniquely yours. But it also means—and here’s the third key—that counting carbohydrate grams is truly your responsibility.
If you don’t count, you could get in trouble. Fortunately, counting is easy with the help of a carbohydrate gram counter, which will familiarize you with the number of grams of carbs in common foods. After you have been following the Atkins Nutritional Approach™ for a while, you will begin to have a natural feel for the carb counts of your favorite foods, but it is always a good idea to keep your carb counter handy so you can check out new or unfamiliar foods.
Your Own Private, Personal Number
Life in the 21st century means lots of numbers to remember, what with cell-phone numbers, bank PIN numbers and the like, but I’m going to give you the tools to find out another number that is just as essential for your lifestyle. Remember these two basic principles:
1. When you do Atkins, your rate of weight loss is generally proportional to the amount of carbohydrate you consume.
2. The level of carbohydrate you consume can be measured. By attaching numerical quantities to the carbohydrate foods you’re eating, you know how much you can safely eat.
Your daily threshold of carbohydrate consumption is your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL). Stay below this number and you will experience ongoing weight loss. Go above it and your weight loss stalls. Here’s how you’ll determine your CCLL: Each week, you’ll incrementally increase the quantity of carbohydrate you eat beyond the salad and one cup serving of vegetables allowed during Induction. These increments should measure roughly 5 grams of daily carbohydrates, representing one “level.”
During the first week on OWL, increase your daily carb intake from the 20 grams a day on Induction to 25 grams a day—going up one level. I recommend you add either another salad, half an avocado, a cup of cauliflower or six to eight stalks of asparagus or another vegetable. Continue to eat this way for the rest of the week. As long as your weight loss continues steadily, you can go up another level—to 30 grams daily—the following week. If you are a veggie lover, you may be happy continuing to add more salad greens and other vegetables. Or you may choose to add a half cup of cottage cheese, an ounce of sunflower seeds or a dozen macadamia nuts. If you’ve been feeling fruit deprived, now is the time to add berries, the fruits lowest on the glycemic index. (Thirteen average-size strawberries contain 5 grams of carbs.)
See How to Follow Phase Two, Part 2 for other suggestions of foods you can add to your daily menu. Most people find it best to add back foods in a certain order—what Dr. Atkins calls The Carbohydrate Ladder. Note that few people will be able to add back all these food groups in OWL. Those on the second half of the list tend to rank higher on the glycemic index and are more commonly introduced in Pre-Maintenance.
Each week you’ll go up another level, adding another 5 gram increment until eventually you’ll reach a number at which you stop losing. That’s how you find your CCLL. Above it, you lose no more, or you begin to gain. Below it, you continue to lose. The lower your metabolic resistance to weight loss and the greater your level of physical activity, the higher that number will be.