The principles underlying the gradual reintroduction of foods in phase 3
Phase 3 plays a crucial part in sustainable weight loss and the long-term modification of eating habits. Made of 4 stages (A, B, C & D) that correspond to increasing levels of calorie and carbohydrate intakes, phase 3 is focused on foods with a low-glycaemic index and load that can either be used following a ketogenic management phase, or in first intent.
When should phase 3 be undertaken?
- To consolidate the results achieved by a ketogenic phase (1 or 2): the gradual reintroduction of carbohydrates is crucial here if weight regain is to be avoided. The four stages (A, B, C & D) should follow one another, ideally over a period of 4 months at least. This results in a diversification of authorised foods and paves the way for a gentle progression towards a balanced diet.
- As part of an "educational" programme: in case of metabolic disease (type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, raised cholesterol or triglyceride blood levels), each phase-3 stage will be an opportunity of learning about different food groups, thus enabling you to optimise your diet.
- As a break during a ketogenic phase: Phase 3 can prove helpful when a break is needed during a ketogenic programme (holidays or Christmas time, for instance), the aim being to resume a phase 1 or 2 afterwards.
- As a starting phase: Using phase 3 as a starting phase may suit persons who are only slightly overweight, or in whom phases 1 or 2 are contraindicated ... or who just do not wish to undertake a ketogenic phase. The starting stage (A, B, C or D) will be determined with the health professional, according to needs and goals.
What does "glycaemic load" mean?
The glycaemic load (GL) reflects the capacity a standard helping of any given food has of raising blood sugar levels (glycaemia). A glycaemic index is deemed "low" when it is below 10, "high" when equal to or above 20 and "average" when it is within this range.
With this concept, the demonization of certain foods such as watermelons or carrots for instance, becomes impossible. It reveals the equivalence of foods belonging to the same food group, all vegetables, for instance, have a low glycaemic load, even if and when their carbohydrate/sugar contents vary.
The Eurodiet Pyramid
The food pyramid is an effective tool to visualize food groups and classify foods according to:
- Their energy value, i.e. the amount of calories supplied by one helping of this food.
- Their glycaemic load (GL), which reflects the capacity of a given food to raise blood-sugar levels.
- Their nutritional density, which reflects how rich in fibres, vitamins and mineral elements a food is.
The nearer a food is to the pyramid base (low-GL and low-energy foods, with a high nutritional density), the more its consumption should be encouraged. The nearer to the summit it is, the more it should be avoided. A successful transition to a balanced diet involves knowing what each food provides and controlling intakes from high-risk food groups so as to avoid storage in the form of fat.
How to reintroduce various foods after a ketogenic phase
Intakes in protein, cooked and raw vegetables and vegetable oils during phases 1 and 2 are gradually completed by foods from other food groups that have a higher GL, progressing from the base to the summit:
- Fruit in phase 3 A
- Pulses in phase 3 B
- Wholegrain cereals in phase 3 C
- Dairy products in phase 3 D
Foods from the 3 topmost sections of the pyramid (rich foods, with a high content in fats, carbohydrates or refined cereals) should always be avoided in phase 3.
Which stage should I start my phase 3 by?
Which stage should i start my phase 3 by? Your health professional will calculate your basal metabolism and determine your individual baseline caloric needs. The starting stage will depend upon this, but your desires will also be taken into consideration as excessively restrictive diets are not desirable.
Physical activity during phase 3
During the gradual reintroduction of carbohydrates, your programme must include regular exercise.
Several studies have demonstrated the highly favourable impact of exercising on:
- The reduction of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risks
- The reduction of abdominal visceral fat (waist circumference)
- The long term sustainability of the weight loss
- Quality of life and self-esteem.
The idea is neither to slim faster, nor to achieve some extraordinary prowess. No, the aim is to learn how to achieve balance within one's body and diet. The most importantly your exercising should be regular. Keep active that are not too strenuous such as walking, indoor or outdoor cycling, swimming, gentle body-building, gardening, or even, DIY activities. The ideal programme is the one you establish with your health professional, according to you tastes, habits and possibilities.