Recommended Carbohydrate Intake to Lose Weight on the Atkins Diet

Recommended Carbohydrate Intake to Lose Weight on the Atkins Diet

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If you reach a plateau, reduce your carb intake a bit.

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If you're following the Atkins diet, you probably know that you don't have to count fat or calories. But you do have to pay close attention to how many carbohydrates you get from your daily diet. To lose weight on the plan, you have to follow a strict carb intake, which varies depending on which phase you're in.

Calculating Net Carbs

The Atkins diet plan uses a system of calculating net carbs for weight loss. Net carbs are the amount of carbs in a food that actually convert into glucose and thus, raise your blood sugar. These types of carbs include starches and sugars. Fiber is a type of carb that doesn't turn into glucose, meaning it isn't likely to increase your blood sugar. To calculate net carbs, subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate count. For example, if a slice of rye bread contains 15 grams of total carbs and 2 grams of fiber, you'll get 13 net carbs from a slice.

Initial Phase

During Phase 1 of Atkins, known as “Induction,” you have to cut nearly all carbohydrates from your diet. Limit yourself to just 20 grams of net carbs per day for at least two weeks, reports. The majority of your carbohydrates should be coming from nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus and turnips, among others. But you can also get small amounts of carbs from cheddar cheese, bleu cheese and feta, among other types of cheese.

Continuous Weight Loss

You're supposed to stay in Phase 2 -- “Ongoing Weight Loss" -- until you are roughly 10 pounds shy of your ideal weight. You can add other carbohydrate-containing foods to your diet in this phase, including nuts like walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and almonds, as well as seeds and berries. However, you need to continue to keep your net carb intake as low as possible, consuming a minimum of 12 to 15 grams of net carbs daily.

Maintaining Your Weight

During Phase 3, known as “Pre-Maintenance,” you can add small amounts of fresh fruits, whole grains and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and peas to your diet. Slowly increase your net carb intake by around 10 grams a week. If you hit a weight plateau, decrease your net carb intake by roughly 10 grams, then slowly increase it by 5 grams the following week. It may take some patience to see exactly how many net carbs you can have each day to continue on your weight-loss path. You continue eating this way for a month after you achieve your optimal weight.

Lifetime Maintenance

After reaching your goal weight, you can move into Phase 4, or “Lifetime Maintenance.” You can continue to add dairy, more whole grains, a variety of fruits and more vegetables to your diet, as tolerated without making you gain weight. If the number on the scale starts to go up a bit, reduce your net carb intake by about 10 grams weekly, fluctuating as need be, until you get back on track.

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