Published: 09/16/2015

Finding One’s Ace in Phase 3

Once your patients have achieved their goal weight in Pre-Maintenance, but before they move to Phase 4, Lifetime Maintenance, they’ll need to find their Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE). In contrast to the Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CLL), which relates to weight loss, the ACE is the number of grams of Net Carbs an individual can consume each day, while neither losing nor gaining weight. Many people wind up with an ACE of 65 to 100 grams of Net Carbs, but others have a considerably lower ACE and a very few people an even higher one.

It’s Not Just About Weight

Merely looking at weight loss can oversimplify the issue of carb tolerance. Even if one is maintaining his weight with an ACE of say, 65 grams of Net Carbs, he might still be reawakening food cravings or blood sugar swings or experiencing lack of energy, which could make it difficult to maintain that level of carb intake long term. The ability to concentrate and any tendency to retain fluid must also be considered. The objective is not to push carb intake to the absolute limit but to advance to a point that is comfortable to maintain and doesn’t stimulate the return of any of the old symptoms of extreme hunger, carb cravings, afternoon energy crashes and the like. Impress upon your patients that finding their ACE is not just a matter of staying at the right weight; it’s also about being able to do so comfortably. 

Keep the Atkins Edge

What’s unique about the low-carb way of eating compared to other diets is that adhering to first one’s CLL and later one’s ACE results in profound metabolic changes, enabling better control of calorie intake. Conversely, if a person exceeds his ACE, he is forcing his body to burn more glucose while blocking fat burning. This makes it harder to control appetite and feel satiated, with the result that lost pounds are almost certainly regained. As long as one stays at or just below his ACE he’ll be able to stay in control of his appetite—and therefore his weight.