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What to Do When Weight Loss Stalls on Atkins?

author image Melodie Anne
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.
What to Do When Weight Loss Stalls on Atkins?
Cut back your net carbs a bit if you experience a standstill. Photo Credit Rick Gomez/Blend Images/Getty Images

If that number on the scale hasn’t budged in days -- or even if it goes up a few notches -- you’re experiencing a weight-loss plateau. This stall is completely normal while you’re on the Atkins diet, especially if you’ve been experiencing rapid weight loss in the prior weeks. While plateaus aren’t always avoidable, you can make a few changes to get your weight-loss progression back on track.

During Induction

During the initial phase of Atkins, known as “induction,” you can only have 20 net carbs per day. If you’re not continuously losing weight in this phase, you might not be calculating net carbs correctly. Subtract fiber grams from total grams in all of the foods you eat. For example, if a food has 5 grams of total carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber, you’re left with 3 grams of net carbs. These carbs, which are sugar and starch, are the ones you monitor closely on the Atkins plan.

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Surviving Phase 2

Throughout the second stage of Atkins, you can gradually start adding more net carbs into your eating plan. Upping your intake too much or too fast, though, could be the cause of your plateau. Start with just 25 grams of net carbs daily during Phase 2, then gradually increase your net carb intake by 5-gram increments. Make the change every week or two, depending on how you’re progressing. If you stall, cut out those extra 5 grams this week, then add them back in the following week.

Getting Through Later Stages

Your goal on Atkins is to find your own individual carb balance. The ideal number of net carbs you can have depends on your age, how much you exercise, gender and health status. If weight loss stalls for an extended period of time, you may have reached your maximum daily net carb tolerance. Just to be certain, however, cut 10 grams of net carbs out of your daily diet for about a week. If you start losing weight again by doing this, you know you’re still figuring out your net carb tolerance. The following week, add 5 more grams of net carbs to your diet each day, do the same thing the next week, and so on. Repeat this process, as needed, each time you experience a plateau.

Portion Considerations

You could be going over your daily net carb allotment if you’re not carefully measuring all of your carb-rich foods. If that food with 3 grams of net carbs lists a serving size as 1/2 cup, measure out that 1/2-cup portion. By guessing how much you’re measuring or not paying attention to the serving size, you might actually be getting two or more servings. You net carb intake can quickly double or triple, leaving you stuck in a weight-loss rut.

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