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Atkins diet plan: Four phases to improved health

The four phases of the Atkins diet plan:

The people who developed the Atkins diet plan state that it is an effective, safe, way to lose weight steadily and relatively easily. Also, they state that even more importantly, it allows you to achieve your weight loss goal permanently. Understanding the four phases of the diet plan is crucial to your success. Here is a quick summary of how the specific phases work.

Atkins diet plan phases:

Induction phase:

At the very beginning of your weight loss program, you will limit your carbohydrate intake to just 20 grams of "net carbohydrates" a day for a minimum of two weeks (net carbohydrates are the only ones that seem to impact upon your blood sugar, and will be discussed on later pages of this series on the Atkins diet plan). During this period of time you may eat fish, poultry, beef, eggs and other foods high in protein and what may be defined as "good fats" such as olive oil. Also, you may eat as much as 3 cups of salad greens (with low carbohydrate dressing) or 2 cups of salad and a cup of fresh, non-starchy vegetables such as zucchini and broccoli. After two weeks you may add an ounce of seeds or nuts to your daily intake of carbohydrates, as long as they do not interfere with your weight loss.


Ongoing weight loss phase:

During this phase you may continue to eat high quality protein and fat, along with your vegetables and salad greens. With each subsequent week, you may then add back more vegetables, seeds and nuts, berries, cheese and for some people even legumes. You may add up to 5 grams of net carbs per day in weekly increments until there is a cessation of weight loss. So, in effect, you go from 20 to 25 grams per day in one week to about 30 grams daily in the next week. Once you stop losing weight, you should then drop back 5 grams in carbohydrates until you discover the amount that you can now eat while still losing weight. Most people find that the amount of carbohydrates that they can eat is somewhere between 40 and 60 grams daily. You should continue this until you are within 5 to 10 pounds of your weight loss goal.

Maintenance phase of the Atkins diet plan:

As you get closer to your weight-loss goal, you should then slow it down to a level that it is almost imperceptible, so that your improved eating habits become well entrenched. With each subsequent week, you will be able at add another 10 grams of daily "net carbs" to your diet plan, or you may even treat yourself to an extra 20 to 30 grams of nutrient-dense foods twice a week, as long as you continue to lose weight. If quit losing weight, you should cut back 5 to 10 grams until you gradually begin to lose weight again. This will then become your revised level of carbohydrate consumption, the level you will try to maintain until you reach your weight loss goal.

Lifetime maintenance phase:

When you achieve your weight loss goal, you can then begin to enjoy a wider range of your favorite foods. You will always have to monitor your carbohydrate intake however. You should probably skip eating junk food, and save your carbohydrates for nutrient rich foods such as foods made out of whole, unrefined grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Most people find that they are able to maintain their weight loss goals by eating between 45 and 100 grams of "net carbohydrates" a day. If you exercise for an hour or more daily, you will probably be able to eat more carbohydrates than someone who does not. You will always be trying to determine what your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) is, which is the number of grams of "net carbs" you can eat without gaining or losing weight. This will be the amount of carbohydrates that you will be able to eat while effortlessly maintaining your weight and eating a healthy, satisfying diet.

Information from Atkins for Life by Robert C. Atkins M.D.

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health Psychology) 

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