Why Am I Not Losing Weight on Atkins 40?

Salmon with Sour Cream Dressing and Mixed Steamed Veggies
Not losing weight on Atkins 40?
Here are 7 potential pitfalls to look at:

Atkins 40 is the latest Atkins Diet specifically designed for those who are insulin sensitive, rather than insulin resistant. This makes the Atkins Nutritional Approach more adaptable to every metabolic type than it was before. 

From the very beginning of this low-carb diet, you can eat from all food groups on the acceptable foods list and even start at a higher carb count than those doing Atkins Induction.

Like the Protein Power Life Plan, there is no carbohydrate ladder that you need to adhere to. You are free to make your own choices within your personal carbohydrate tolerance. 

For that reason, Atkins 40 can be an easier way to implement the Atkins Nutritional Approach because it comes with less deprivation and more flexibility than Atkins 20.

Unlike previous diets that told you exactly what to do and when to do it, Atkins 40 seeks to place the control over what you eat in your own lap. 

This new freedom allows you to design a personalized weight-loss program, fine-tuned to match your likes, dislikes, and food intolerance, but if you're expecting Atkins 40 to work exactly like the old Atkins plans, you'll probably be disappointed.

Atkins 40 takes a totally different approach to weight loss. 

While it lowers insulin production, it also allows for a richer carbohydrate intake than prior plans. This can affect the way your body sheds excess pounds, so if you're not losing weight on Atkins 40, here's how to tweak the program to get better results.

Pinterest Image: Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Have You Given the Diet Time to Work?

I read a low-carb forum post yesterday morning by someone who has been on Atkins 40 for a week. She is calling the diet a fail because she has only lost 0.8 pounds. 

In her mind, she has circled back to the beginning, so she can no longer see that she has almost lost a full pound of body fat. 

Apparently, she is one of those dieters who likes to weigh herself every single day, and since she initially dropped a couple of pounds within the first two days, but put some of that water weight back on, she is feeling crushed.

For her, time is of the essence, so if she can't get the diet to work in the next week, or so, she is going to give up.

What is she missing?

Atkins 40 doesn't come with an Induction period. 

Your glycogen stores are not going to empty as fast as they would if you were eating fewer carbs. A week or two is not long enough to know if Atkins 40 is right for you. 

Where Atkins Induction can get you into the state of ketosis in less than 3 days, Atkins 40 is going to take a bit longer.

You have to use up the glucose made from those 40 carbs before the liver will start using its stored glycogen to keep your blood glucose level from dropping too low. It is going to take longer to get into the state of ketosis.

This middle-of-the-road lower carb plan is designed to side-step many of the obstacles found on traditional low-calorie diets since carbs are lower and fat is used as your primary source of fuel, but that isn't going to happen in a single week.

At 40 carbs, the initial weight loss will be slightly slower than it would be on a 20-net carb Induction, especially since this newer plan doesn't have you build up to those 40 carbs gradually.

Going into Atkins 40 with the expectation that you are going to lose drastic amounts of weight in only a week or two is setting yourself up for disappointment. Like any weight-loss program, the speed at which you can shed the pounds is driven by your:
  • current hormonal state
  • food intolerance
  • activity level
  • and overall volume of food intake
The idea behind Atkins 40 isn't fast weight loss. The focus is on learning how to make healthier food choices overall.

Are You Doing Atkins 40 Correctly?

Atkins 40 isn't a free-for-all with carbs. 

The first 25-net carbs you eat line up with the Atkins 20 plan, resembling the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet that most people are familiar with. The main difference that comes into play are the extra 15 carbs that you get to eat per day. 

However, there are very specific rules that the ANA expects you to follow on Atkins 40.

If you're aren't losing weight, take a close look at our prior post on the Atkins 40 diet and make sure that you are evenly spacing out your carbohydrates for the day in the exact way they recommend.

The program is designed to prevent blood glucose and insulin surges, but if you are not following the program as outlined, your hormonal levels could be out of whack.

Are You Retaining Water in Your Fat Cells?

I often talk about water retention because it is one of the weight-loss tendencies I experienced all the time. 

The body loves to stuff your fat cells with water instead of shrinking them down as fat is used up, and since a low-carb diet is dehydrating anyway, I used to see a lot of water fluctuations that masked fat loss, especially in the beginning.

Cheat meals are notorious for doing this, but:
  • hormonal fluctuations
  • salt intake
  • systemic inflammation
  • amount of exercise
  • and other factors
can affect the amount of water the body retains on any given day.

This can be problematic for those with just a few pounds to lose because if you are only processing 1/2 pound of body fat per week and you are retaining a 1/2 pound of water on the day you happen to weigh yourself, the scale won't reflect any fat loss. 

It will then look like the diet isn't working, even though it is.

In the above scenario, the woman was down almost a full pound by the end of the week, but she didn't want to accept that amount of weight loss, even though she'd only been doing Atkins 40 for 7 days, because the initial water loss she saw had become her ideal.

The scale is never a good indicator of how successful a diet is because scales don't just measure fat loss. They measure muscle, organ weight, blood, hair, bone, and water gains and losses as well.

If your clothes are fitting better, you are possibly losing inches instead of pounds, but keep in mind that water retention can also make it seem like you are not losing inches either. 

I learned this lesson when doing the HCG Diet. 

I had to learn how to be patient because neither the scale nor the tape measure was being honest with me. Plus, when I did that HCG Diet Round, I was losing fat from my back, which I couldn't see.

The good news is that if this is what's happening to you, it is only a temporary situation, but it can be extremely frustrating waiting for the Whoosh Fairy to show up, especially if you have set expectations about how quickly you think you ought to be losing the weight. 

Making the speed at which the pounds come off vitally important, however, can result in a tremendous amount of inner conflict and needless suffering. 

For me, I found that the best approach was to just step aside and let the body do the work. It is going to do that anyway, whether you stress over your current situation or not. Worrying never changes anything. 

Slow progress is still progress, and if you quit because the body fat isn't coming off quick enough, where will you be a year from now?

Become Aware of Your Food Triggers

Mixed Nuts: Cashews and Almonds
Salty Mixed Nuts are a Trigger Food for Me.
What's Yours?

Most of the people following Atkins 20 talk about cravings in terms of sweets, starches, and refined carbohydrates. For them, cravings equal falling off the wagon completely, but any food that increases your appetite or desire to eat more is a trigger that you can examine carefully.

For me, that's salty mixed nuts.

I can't control myself when they are in the house. 

I will eat and eat and eat until the entire can is empty. If they are not in the house, I'm fine. They might cross my mind now and then, especially since hubby eats cashews almost daily, but I don't have serious cravings for nuts until I've taken the first bite.

I cannot eat just one handful of nuts.

You might have problems with controlling your cheese intake. Someone else may eat foods like low-carb bars and find themselves going face down into the cake of cream cheese in the refrigerator. It might be dark chocolate, pork rinds, or even something more benign like olive oil.

Believe it or not, I have serious eating problems whenever I have olive oil or other fatty foods. Fat makes me ravenous. 


Because my body wants to refill it's empty fat cells. 

That's what happens when you've been seriously overweight for any amount of time and try to lose it. The body believes your prior weight is a normal weight for you, that you're currently starving, but it can also think that if you start out weighing less.

These binge-trigger foods are not specific to Atkins 40. 

They happen at all carbohydrate levels because the body is primed for survival. Sometimes, these are foods that tend to raise your blood glucose level, but that isn't always true. What you're looking for is anything that sparks your hunger, even if that hunger is for standard low-carb foods. 

Weight loss occurs when you eat fewer calories than what it takes to maintain your current weight, so look at everything that might be interfering with that. 

If you are not losing weight on Atkins 40, you might be already eating at your maintenance level of calories. If so, then you'll have to eat less.

Be Aware of Foods that Cause Inflammation

Some foods are well-known to cause body inflammation. 

Normally, foods that trigger inflammation fall high on the glycemic index like fruit juices and refined starches, but some standard low-carb foods can also trigger inflammation:
Harvest Bounty: Tomatoes, Green Beans, Peppers, and Bottles of Stewed Tomatoes
A low carb count is not the only thing you need to watch for.
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and other nightshades
cause serious inflammation in some people.

If you are doing Atkins 40, but not losing weight, you might also take a closer look at your diet and make sure that you're getting enough omega-3 fatty acids to off-set the abundance of omega-6 that is often found in a typical low-carb diet. 

That doesn't mean you have to go out and spend outrageous amounts of cash on grass-fed butter. You just need to figure out a way that works for you.

Also, pay attention to how individual foods make you feel. Food sensitivities are not always easy to pin down, but anything that causes body inflammation can interfere with weight loss. 

If you have:
  • IBS
  • gluten intolerance
  • or another intestinal disorder
you also might consider paying close attention to the ingredients in the low-carb foods you're eating. Many low-carb products contain high amounts of wheat, modified corn starch, and barley extract for flavoring. 
  • Flaxmeal
  • psyllium husks
  • coconut flour
  • raw bell peppers
  • and sugar alcohols
can also be very difficult to digest. The idea is to fine-tune your food choices to match your individual food sensitivities, health issues, and metabolic defects. 

Often, it's the very thing you love the most that's blocking your way.

Is 40 Carbs Too Much For You?

If you have honestly:
  1. Given the diet adequate time to start working;
  2. Made sure the foods you're eating aren't hanging you up;
  3. Verified that you are not eating too many calories;
and you are still not losing weight on Atkins 40, it is time to take a deeper look at your metabolism.

The Atkins Nutritional Approach selected 40 carbs per day because their research showed that the average person with less than 40 pounds to lose can lose weight on that carbohydrate level, but keep in mind that this low-glycemic plan works best for those who:
  • are not insulin resistant, or only mildly so
  • already have an active lifestyle
  • want to learn how to make healthier food choices
If you are pre-diabetic, diabetic, or have some degree of metabolic syndrome, Atkins 40 might not work very well because you'll be eating more carbs than your individual metabolism can deal with. 

This is especially true if you have elevated insulin levels that are contributing to high blood pressure, or if you have cholesterol issues that need to be dealt with in a timely manner. 

Atkins 40 starts you off at 40 net carbs, but not everyone with less than 40 pounds to lose will see success eating at that level of carbs.

Unfortunately, most people who are insulin resistant do not know that they are. 

Physicians rarely test insulin levels. Insulin tests are complex and highly expensive, so doctors are more likely to check your hbA1c for potential signs of diabetes instead.

An hbA1c test measures the damage done to your red blood cells when glucose molecules bind to them. While a count of at least 6% is a signal that you might have pre-diabetes or diabetes, you can still be insulin resistant at much lower numbers. 

I've never had a hbA1c test come back at 6%, or higher, even when I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes or my glucose level after meals was over 200 mmol/L.

In such cases, the body is able to keep up with the extra insulin demand, so damage to your red blood cells is prevented, but the high levels of insulin can interfere with the way the liver metabolizes body fat

Bringing down insulin quickly requires a dramatically reduced carbohydrate intake, so you might want to consider the possibility that you need to take a stronger corrective action – at least, initially. 

This doesn't mean that you have to go on Atkins Induction. Another possibility might be to lower your current carbohydrate intake by 5 or 10 grams per day, and see how you do. 

In comparison, the Protein Power Life Plan created by Dr. Eades starts you off at 30-net carbs per day, instead of 40. It is more generous than Atkins Induction, but less generous than Atkins 40, so the slightly lower intake might give you better results. 

In Dr. Eades' experience, 30-net carbs per day works well for those who are metabolically resistant to weight loss.

However, be careful that you don't use that idea as an excuse to let false expectations color how you perceive what's going on. If the diet truly isn't working, Dr. Atkins believed that the key to being able to eat at higher carb levels was to first start out very low, and then add carbohydrate back into your diet very slowly.

If all else fails, the best option might be to do Atkins 2002 by the book.

Truth About Higher Carb Levels and Dietary Fat

Small Bowl of Olive Oil
Low carb diets advertise that you
can eat tons of fat, but is that true?

If you are going to eat at a higher carb level, you might have problems losing weight if you insist on eating 80% fat, as well. 

The more carbs you add to your diet, the less fat you can eat because the body will use any carbs coming into the body first, and then, it will turn to its stored fats, as needed.

In the presence of insulin, all dietary fats that are not immediately used by your body's cells for energy are stored. The liver only dips into those fat stores once glycogen stores run low. 

At 40-net carbs per day, the process is the same. 

Fat flows into the body cells after eating and the liver pulls it back out of your fat cells, depending on the body's needs. Fat cells are not a storage depot.

On Atkins 40, it will take the liver a little bit longer to get around to using the triglycerides in the fat cells, but we're not talking about much. An extra 20 carbs a day only accounts for 80 calories, but those 80 calories on the back end can be 80 calories less fat that gets burned. 

Eighty calories of fat is about 2 teaspoons.

Looked at in terms of weight loss, 2 extra teaspoons of oil per day would account for 400 calories a week. That's enough extra calories to stop weight loss completely in someone with only a few pounds to lose.

To compensate for the extra carbs, you can either deduct 2 to 3 teaspoons of fat from your daily diet or you can pick up your activity to make sure you continue to use the same amount of fatty acids to fuel your body as you would at 20 net carbs. 

The choice is up to you, which is what makes Atkins 40 different.

Other Articles Related to Atkins 40 that You Might Want to Read:

How to Do Atkins 40 Correctly
31 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight on Atkins
The Truth About LCHF Weight Loss
How to Lose Weight Faster on Low Carb
Portion Control: Do Calories Really Matter?


  1. Aw, this was a very good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a really good article...
    but what can I say... I hesitate a whole lot and never manage
    to get nearly anything done.

    1. Thanks. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.


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