Many people make the mistake of thinking that it’s the amount of carbs in your diet that stops weight loss when you reach your goal. That’s partially true, but it’s not quite that simple. When you move from losing weight to maintaining weight, you need to eat slightly more healthy, natural fats to meet your maintenance energy needs. Remaining in a primarily fat-burning mode will also allow you to enjoy the hunger-suppressing benefits you’ve been enjoying.
How to Keep the Edge
When you were losing, say, an average of 1 pound a week, each day you were burning about 500 calories of body fat for energy. In Lifetime Maintenance, your body doesn’t really care where your favorite fuel comes from your body fat or dietary fat. Say that your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) is 75 grams of Net Carbs, which provides 300 calories, and you’re also eating 15 ounces of protein, which provides about another 400 calories. Together they add up to just 700 calories. If you’re a five-foot, four-inch-tall woman and your body is burning 1,800 calories a day, the other 1,100 calories have to come from fat.
By the way, with the exception of omega-3s (such as fish oil or flaxseed oil), it’s best to continue to stay away from high-polyunsaturated-fat corn, soybean, sunflower, cottonseed and peanut oils. Instead, focus on olive, canola and high-oleic safflower oils. Also feel free to continue to eat saturated fats.
Why Not Eat More Protein
The amount of protein you’ve been eating in the weight-loss phases of Atkins is close to the optimal amount, and more isn’t better. As for adding more carbs, once you’ve found your ACE, it’s likely to remain your upper limit for the foreseeable future. And if you continue to add carbs beyond your ACE, you’ll soon be revisited by the same old demons of hunger and carb cravings.
Your Metabolism Is Adapted to Fat-Burning
All along, you’ve been efficiently moving fat into your cells and using it for energy rather than storing it for later use. Perhaps you’ve noticed that once you’ve adapted to a low-carb diet and don’t push beyond your carb tolerance, you can be an hour or two late for a meal and not feel desperate. That’s because even when you’re at your goal weight, you still have a couple of months’ worth of energy reserve tucked away as body fat. Your muscles and organs are getting a continuous, uninterrupted flow of energy directly from fat. Even your brain, which requires more than 500 calories a day, gets much of its energy from fat. If you’ve banished 30 pounds of fat since you started Induction, your body has burned off an awesome 100,000 more calories than you ate. And there’s no reason your metabolism can’t continue that same burn rate for fat as you maintain your new weight.
To up your fat intake, simple add small portions of salad dressings, sauces and spreads to the healthy fats to those you’ve been eating while losing weight. There’s no need to count fat grams or calories. Just let your taste and appetite dictate and by all means, don’t let fat phobia get in your way. It may take a while to learn to trust your instincts. If you find yourself staring into the fridge and eyeing the butter, cheese or salad dressing, you’ve probably been skimping on fat. Learning to recognize and respond appropriately to fat hunger is important for success in Lifetime Maintenance.
The difference in energy intake between OWL and Lifetime Maintenance for most people is somewhere 300 and 500 calories. Each portion below provides 100 or so calories of healthy fat. So making this dietary transition is as simple as adding three to five of these portions to your existing daily intake.
- 1 tablespoon oil for dressing salads
- 1 tablespoon butter or herb butter/oil mix
- 1 ounce cream
- 2 ounces cheese
- 10 large ripe olives with a teaspoon of olive oil
- 1 Haas avocado (the dark, pebbly-surface kind)
- 1 ounce almonds, walnuts, pecans or macadamias
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (made with canola, high-oleic safflower or olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 2 tablespoons nut butter
Fat has an inherent ability to satisfy your appetite and to keep you feeling satisfied longer than the same amount of carbohydrate. You’ll probably get a chuckle out of the fact that you, who once had a weight problem, now can enjoy fat without guilt.