Atkins Diet Phase Two and Ongoing Weight Loss

Raspberries and blueberries
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The Atkins Diet has four phases with different levels of carbohydrate restriction. The second phase is Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL). It begins after two weeks on the strictly low-carbohydrate Induction phase that is geared to jump-start your weight loss. 

In the OWL phase, carbohydrates are slowly and carefully added to the diet. Your weight loss slows to a recommended one to two pounds per week. Dieters in this phase experiment to figure out how much carbohydrate they can eat and still lose weight. This point is called their Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL).

Starting Atkins in Phase Two

You do not have to begin the Atkins Diet in the strict Induction phase. For some people, it is more appropriate to start in the OWL phase. These include those who have a weight loss goal of 14 pounds or less, vegetarians, those who want more food variety, and those who don't mind losing weight more slowly in the first two weeks.

Length of Phase

The OWL phase is continued until you are five to 10 pounds from your goal weight. At that point, you will enter the third phase, Pre-maintenance.

Goals of the OWL Phase

  • To determine the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL).
  • To expand food choices, and learn to make wise ones.
  • To continue weight loss at a safe rate.
  • To continue to eat at a carb level low enough to limit cravings and appetite.

What You Eat

Each week during OWL, you raise your daily carb allowance by 5 grams until the appropriate level is reached, no more than 40 grams per day. Since more carbohydrate will be progressively added to the diet during this phase, Atkins recommends it be done in a priority order he calls the “Carbohydrate Ladder” where more vegetables are the first foods to be added, and whole grains are the last.

Atkins provides lists of foods in 5 grams increments to help dieters figure out their daily menus. You can now begin to add nuts, seeds, berries, and some cheeses to your diet and you will be eating natural fats. You can also buy the commercially-prepared Atkins food products to use as convenience foods in your diet.

To support good nutrition, you'll continue to take a multivitamin, mineral, and omega-3 supplement. It's also important to stay well-hydrated with eight glasses of water or other allowed drinks per day.


Your menus will depend on your carb level. At first, you would just add 5 carb grams of vegetables to your day. Then, you might have some berries with breakfast or as a dessert. As your diet broadens, you add foods from the ladder. The book "Atkins for Life" has examples of menus at various carb levels.

During this phase, it is important to track your carbs carefully. Atkins provides an online carb counter, diet tracker, and journal as well as a mobile app for counting carbs and tracking your diet.

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