Colette's Blog

April 28, 2009

Finding Your Own Number

Life in the 21st century means lots of numbers to remember, what with cell-phone numbers, bank PIN numbers and the like, but I'm going to give you the tools to find out another number that is just as essential for your lifestyle. Remember these two basic principles:

1.When you do Atkins, your rate of weight loss is generally proportional to the amount of carbohydrate you consume.

2.The level of carbohydrate you consume can be measured. By attaching numerical quantities to the carbohydrate foods you're eating, you know how much you can safely eat.

Your daily threshold of carbohydrate consumption is your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL). Stay below this number and you will experience ongoing weight loss. Go above it and your weight loss stalls. Here's how you'll determine your CCLL: Each week, you'll incrementally increase the quantity of carbohydrate you eat beyond the 12 to 15 net carb level of vegetables allowed during Induction. These increments should measure roughly 5 grams of daily carbohydrates, representing one "level."

During the first week on OWL, increase your daily carb intake from the 20 grams a day on Induction to 25 grams a day—going up one level. I recommend you add either another salad, half an avocado, a cup of cauliflower or six to eight stalks of asparagus or another vegetable if you have not mastered getting 12 to 15 net carbs from vegetables yet. If you are a veggie lover, you may be happy continuing to add more salad greens and other vegetables. Or if you were getting 12 to 15 net carbs in Induction, and you don’t want more vegetables, you can add 5 net carbs of nuts. Challenge with one family of nut at a time. Or, if you've been feeling fruit deprived, now is the time to add berries, the fruits lowest on the glycemic index. (Thirteen average-size strawberries contain 5 grams of carbs.)

Continue to eat this way for the rest of the week. As long as your weight loss continues steadily, you can go up another level—to 30 grams daily—the following week. Note that few people will be able to add back all these food groups in OWL. Those on the second half of the list tend to rank higher on the glycemic index and are more commonly introduced in Pre-Maintenance.

Each week or every other week, depending on how slow your weight loss is, you’ll go up another level, adding another 5 gram increment until eventually you'll reach a number at which you stop losing. That's how you find your CCLL. Above it, you lose no more, or you begin to gain. Below it, you continue to lose. The lower your metabolic resistance to weight loss and the greater your level of physical activity, the higher that number will be.

Establishing your personal Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL) is critical for sustained weight loss and learning how to keep the weight off once you reach goal.

By incrementally increasing your carbohydrate intake you can personalize an eating program that suits your individual needs, tastes and lifestyle. Your individual CCLL may be as low as 25 or as high as 50, or even more if you are exceptionally active and healthy. To get an idea of the range that is possible, see the “Carbohydrate Gram Levels & Metabolic Resistance for Losing” table below. Metabolic resistance is influenced by age, gender, activity level, hormone issues, level of physical activity, prescription medications and other factors, so the range in CCLLs can be great. If you eat beyond your CCLL, your scale and measuring tape will herald that you’ve crossed a line and you’ll make adjustments accordingly. Most people simply drop back down to the prior level of carb consumption.

So long as you continue to lose pounds and inches and experience no recurrence of your pre-Atkins levels of hunger, cravings and other symptoms, rest assured that all is well. You are still functioning on a primarily fat-burning metabolism. . You should be aware that everybody hits plateaus—periods during which no weight comes off. Just don’t panic, you can afford to out wait the stall. Just don’t move up to the next level until the scale starts to move again.

Your CCLL is an even more precise way to determine your level of metabolic resistance than the amount of weight you lost during Induction. As you continue to adhere to the Atkins Nutritional Approach™ you will, by glancing at this table, have a more accurate idea of your degree of metabolic resistance.

The Wise OWL Mind-SetThe Ongoing Weight Loss phase is all about choice. The choices you make should focus on healthy and pleasurable additions, with a strong emphasis on foods that contribute to both. As you add carb foods in roughly 5 gram increments, you can probably move beyond vegetables to other foods, such as nuts, berries and or Greek yogurt. Further along, potentially whole grains. Although you will be eating primarily natural, unprocessed foods, you will find an increasing number of convenience foods created for people seeking to follow a controlled carbohydrate nutritional approach. Remember the mantra: Read the label! Avoid added sugars and sugar alcohols above 15 grams per serving.

Carbohydrate Gram Levels & Metabolic Resistance for Losing

Your CCLL is your own very personal carbohydrate threshold. It’s the number of Net Carbs you can eat each day and still lose weight.

Your CCLL is influenced by age, gender, physical activity, hormonal issues, medication and other factors – all of which can raise or lower your metabolic resistance (how resistant your body is to burning fat). For your reference, here’s a chart representing metabolic resistance and the resulting CCLL range:

If your CCLL range* is:Your Metabolic Resistance is:What it means:
Between 20-40 grams of Net Carbs per dayVery HighYour body is very resistant to losing weight
Between 40-60 grams of Net Carbs per dayHighYour body is fairly resistant to losing weight
Between 60-90 grams of Net Carbs per dayAverageYour body is slightly resistant to losing weight –
Between 90 - 120 grams of Net Carbs per dayLowYour body is efficient at losing weight

*Raising your activity/exercise increases your CCLL range.

The Power of FiveThese portions contain roughly 5 grams of Net Carbs. Food groups are arranged in the general order in which they should be added.

Vegetables1 cup cooked spinach
2/3 cup red bell peppers
1 medium tomato
1 cup cooked broccoli
12 medium asparagus
1 cup cauliflower
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 California avocado
2/3 cup summer squash

Dairy5 ounces farmer’s cheese or pot cheese
5 ounces mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream

Nuts and Seeds1 ounce of:
macadamias (approximately 10 to 12 nuts)
walnuts (approximately 14 halves)
almonds (approximately 14 nuts)
pecans (approximately 14 halves)
hulled sunflower seeds (3 tablespoons)
roasted shelled peanuts (approximately 26 nuts)
1/2 ounce of cashews (approximately 9 nuts)

Fruits1/3 cup blueberries (fresh)
3/4 cup raspberries (fresh)
3/4 cup strawberries (fresh)
1/4 cup cantaloupe or honeydew

Juices1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup tomato juice

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