Atkins Pre Maintenance Phase

After experiencing the Induction and OWL phases of the Atkins diet, your next step is to enter the pre-maintenance phase. This phase will set you up for a lifetime of healthy and balanced eating and living. You should begin this phase as you come within 5 to 10 pounds of your target weight goal. Your weight loss will be slowed down even further but it is for a purpose. You want to learn the practices and habits that will determine your long-term success.

In the OWL phase, you will be adding carbohydrate grams to your daily count in increment of 5 grams per week. During pre-maintenance you will increase that to 10 grams per week. As long as you are continuing to shed weight (no matter how slowly it is coming off) you will continue to add grams. Ideally, toward the end of the pre-maintenance phase you will be losing less than one pound per week.

According to the Atkins book, you should continue this phase until you get to your goal weight and can maintain it for a month. This process may take anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Your goal is to reach a state called “carbohydrate equilibrium.” This is your ideal carbohydrate intake and it will cause you to maintain your weight perfectly.

During pre-maintenance you’ll get to try a wider variety of foods. Make sure to introduce new foods slowly and increase your carbohydrate intake at a measured pace. Don’t add 20 or 30 carb grams a week. Measuring out the increases in increments of 10 will give you a better idea of your personal carbohydrate count. Knowing this number will help set you up for long term weight management.

The final phase of the Atkins diet plan is lifetime maintenance. This is the time to continue your new eating plan at a maintenance level and keep yourself at your goal weight. The habits you have created will now become a permanent way of life. During the third phase, pre-maintenance, you learned exactly how many carbohydrate grams your body can tolerate and still maintain your ideal weight. In this phase, you’ll put this approach into practice and learn to live with your ideal carb count on a daily basis.

To prepare yourself for lifetime maintenance, make a promise to yourself never to go back to your previous weight. Make the commitment by donating all of your “fat” clothes. This way, if you do start to gain more than five pounds, you’ll know that you have to buckle down and eat better. Also, write down in a journal or in a list format all of the benefits of being at your new, thinner size. Write about how much better you feel and how healthy you are. This will cement your new way of life into your mind and your heart.

If you aren’t able to add carbohydrates without stalling your weight loss, you may have a high metabolic resistance. You will benefit from increasing your exercise regimen to get your metabolism burning at a higher level. For you, the pre-maintenance phase will resemble OWL more closely.

Some people do a variation on pre-maintenance that allows them to have a treat once a week. Instead of adding 10 grams per day, they allow themselves a 20 to 30-carbohydrate gram treat a few times a week. Examples of the treat could be a piece of a fruit or a serving of sweet potatoes. A glass of white wine or beer also qualifies for this treat. This is a fun way to reward yourself and still be on the plan.

Yet another way to do pre-maintenance is to average out your carbohydrate intake for the week. Since life is sometimes unpredictable, it can be helpful to have a bit of flexibility in your eating plan. For example, if your current carbohydrate level is at 70 grams, you can limit yourself to 50 grams one day. Then the next day, you can splurge a bit on a meal and have 90 grams for that day. However, only follow this method if it doesn’t create carbohydrate cravings. Sometimes excess carb grams on one day can make you crave them even more the next day.

The pre-maintenance phase will give you the tools for long-term success. By learning to slowly increase your carbohydrate grams, you’ll have a better hold on the number of carbohydrates that is right for you. Make a commitment to weigh yourself at least once a week. This once-a-week weigh in will give you a good idea of how you are doing on your maintenance program. Use that weekly weight as a guideline for your approach in eating for the following week.

In addition to these guidelines, make sure to continue an exercise program. Your metabolism depends entirely upon the amount of exercise that you are getting. Making the commitment to exercise goes hand in hand with the commitment to keep eating correctly. By following these guidelines, you can make lifetime maintenance simple and easy.

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