Phase 3 of the Atkins Diet plan is called the pre-maintenance phase. Typically, when you are ready to move into this stage, you are only about 10 pounds from your goal weight. You can now increase your net carb intake to between 50 and 75 grams per day and continue to expand your menu options, including a variety of fruits and legumes. It is reasonable to expect that your weight loss in Phase 3 might begin to progress more slowly. For many people, Phase 3 weight loss proceeds at an average of half a pound per week.
The length of time spent in Phase 3 is highly individual; it will depend on how quickly you can identify the ideal carb level and foods for you to maintain your chosen weight. Typically, it takes a few weeks to reach your goal weight and experiment with your carb range. Then, you will need to maintain the goal weight for at least one month before moving to Phase 4. Some people like to consider Phase 3 as a rehearsal for maintaining their goal weight on a long-term basis.
In Phase 3, you can continue to enjoy all of the foods that were allowed in Phases 1 and 2. These include a variety of proteins, such as meats, eggs, cheeses, yogurt, and nuts, in addition to specific types of legumes and fruits. Additionally, you can now add some grains, including half a cup of brown rice or one-third of a cup of rolled oatmeal. A greater variety of legumes are now available to you: black beans, lentils, chickpeas, great northern beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and lima beans. The portion sizes for legumes range from one quarter of a cup to half a cup.
Acceptable fruit portions for this phase include half of a red grapefruit, half an apple, one quarter-cup of cherries, one small banana, one small plum, a small peach, half a cup of watermelon, or half a cup of red grapes. Half a cup of guava fruit or mango, or one kiwi, are also on the list of allowed fruits in Phase 3. You can also add several starchy vegetables now, such as baked potatoes, yams, and acorn squash. Remember to keep an eye on your net carb range for each day, staying within the range of 50-75 that works best for you. A gradual increase of about 5 additional grams per day is the best way to up your carb intake in Phase 3.
There are several goals in Phase 3. First, continued weight loss at a slow but steady pace will lead you to your goal weight. Once you reach that weight, the Phase 3 menu will allow you to stay there comfortably. Second, in Phase 3 you will experiment with finding your carb threshold. Some people can go to the high end of the net carb range while still losing weight, and others find that they need to stay on the lower end of that range. In some cases, individuals could discover that the carb level they enjoyed in Phase 2 is the best place to stay until Phase 4. Third, you will find out which of the new foods work best for you; there could be one or two food items that you should continue to avoid until the last phase if they prove problematic for you. Watch out for trigger foods—anything that you find it difficult to eat only in small portions. Finally, one objective of Phase 3 is to be able to maintain your ideal weight for one month before moving on to the last phase of the Atkins Diet.