Summer is just around the corner, and if you’ve been working hard to shed some extra pounds, it can be extremely frustrating if it feels like your steady progress has suddenly come to a screeching halt. Usually, if you stick with the program, you’ll start losing weight again. A plateau is defined as a pause in weight loss that can’t be traced back to diet or lifestyle changes, and it can happen in later stages of your weight loss journey after you’ve lost the initial “easy” pounds. Fortunately, plateaus are not usually permanent, and respond well to some useful strategies:
1. Watch for carb creep. If you stopped counting carbs and “guesstimating” what your daily intake is or should be, it might be time to start being honest with yourself. Pull out your journal, and get back into the habit of writing everything down so you have a realistic idea of what you are actually eating. It might surprise you!
2. Drop 10. If you are beyond Phase 1 in Atkins 20 or you’re doing Atkins 40, decrease your daily intake of Net Carbs by 10 grams. You may have exceeded your tolerance for carbs while losing weight and may have stumbled upon your tolerance for maintaining your current weight. Once your weight loss resumes, add your carbs back in 5-gram increments.
3. Don’t get stuck. On the other hand, it’s very possible that you may have stayed in a Phase of Atkins for too long, and moving to the next Phase may be all your body needs to start shedding pounds again.
4. Fat is not your foe. Consider fat your friend, in careful amounts. Add a little more fat to your meals or snacks, or change the type of fat you are eating. Focus on filling, healthy fats—add slices of avocado to your salads or eggs, whip up a chicken or tuna salad with rotisserie chicken or canned tuna in olive oil with some mayo, salt and pepper and fresh herbs. Add a handful of olives or almonds to your snacks. Continue to add sources of fat to your meals and snacks to help control your hunger and cravings.
5. Stay hydrated. With the hot summer months upon us, water is essential. It helps ease your hunger, and is good for your skin and overall wellness. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. To liven up your H2O, add slices of lemons or limes to water or unsweetened sparkling water.
6. Watch out for hidden carbs. You could be unknowingly contributing to your carb intake with the starches and sugars lurking in sauces, beverages and processed foods.
7. Get moving. Exercise can help you work through a set point. Take advantage of the good weather to get outside for a walk or run, hit the gym or sign up for a yoga or bootcamp class. If you boost your exercise intensity, you may see the pounds start to drop again.
Most importantly, don’t give up. When you are losing weight at a steady pace, it’s easy to stick to the plan, but the true challenge is sticking with it when the going gets rough. This is where you really learn how to embrace Atkins as a lifestyle versus a quick-fix short-term solution. Be patient. Look at this phase in your journey as a time when your body is readjusting to the weight it has already lost!