Published: 09/16/2015

Beginning in Phase 3, Pre-Maintenance

Just as it is possible to start Atkins in Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), some people can start in Phase 3, Pre-Maintenance. Some of them should start in this phase; others can opt to do so. We’ll look at the reasons and method for the former before moving on to the elective option. You can advise your patients to:

Begin in Pre-Maintenance if….

  • There is no weight issue, but there is a desire to improve certain health parameters or increase energy level.
  • A vegetarian or vegan has modest weight loss goals.

How to Start Losing Weight in Pre-Maintenance

1.    Begin at 40 grams (50 for vegans) of Net Carbs a day.

2.    Eat foods found on the Acceptable Phase 1 Foods list, including at least 12–15 grams of Net Carbs in the form of foundation vegetables, as well as those on the Acceptable Phase 2 Foods list.

3.    The first food for to reintroduce is fruits in addition to berries, cherries, melon and other low glycemic fruits; however, vegetarians and vegans should add back starchy vegetables or grains first.

4.    If weight loss occurs the first week and appetite and cravings are under control, move up to 50 grams of Net Carbs and experiment with adding starchy vegetables. If there has been no weight loss, minimal weight loss or hunger and cravings are still present, stay at 40 grams and add no new foods until weight loss picks up and any symptoms abate.

5.    As long as weight loss continues and cravings remain under control, increase carb intake by 10-gram increments every week or several weeks, simultaneously moving up the Carb Ladder. If weight loss ceases, stalls to less than a half-pound a week or weight regain occurs, back down by 10 grams (or even 20 grams, if necessary) of Net Carbs and stop adding new foods.

6.    After finding one’s individual Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CLL), maintain that level of carb intake and follow the general guidelines for Pre-Maintenance until reaching goal weight. At that point, it’s time to find one’s individualized Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE). Remain at that level until weight stabilizes before moving to Phase 4, Lifetime Maintenance.

Starting in Pre-Maintenance for Health and Well-Being

1.    Follow the steps above, but rather than using weight loss to track progress, the first indicator that Atkins is working is simply feeling better. If hypertension or high blood sugar is an issue, these markers should improve. These effects may happen after a week or it may take two weeks or longer. Once it happens, increase daily intake by 10 grams of Net Carbs to 50 grams and try introducing starchy vegetables.

2.    Continue slowly increasing carb intake and the variety of carb foods.

3.    An individual has exceeded his or her ACE if cravings or unreasonable hunger develop, energy level drops or health indicators stop improving or revert to previous levels. If so, reduce carb intake by 10 daily grams of Net Carbs. Once appetite and cravings are under control and/or health indicators improve, it may be possible to move up slightly.

Electing to Start in Pre-Maintenance

Regardless of their current weight, some people elect to trade off slower weight loss in order to consume more carbs and a wider array of foods. If so, they should follow the six steps above for weight loss, although it’s a good idea to slow the rate at which carb intake increases and new foods are introduced. This will encourage weight loss and minimize the likelihood of unreasonable hunger and cravings for high-carb foods. Also make sure any patients opting to start in Phase 3 understand that moving through the four phases maximizes fat burning, even if relatively little time is spent in the earlier phases. If an individual sees no (or unsatisfactory) results on Pre-Maintenance after two weeks, he or she should probably start over in OWL at 30 grams of Net Carbs.