FAMILY FEATURES    When it comes to losing weight, finding an eating plan that offers flexibility and food variety makes it easier to create a sustainable foundation for healthier lifestyle choices.

Two important aspects of weight loss are understanding how your body uses the food you consume and selecting a program you can live with long-term.

On average, a person following a balanced diet consistent with dietary guidelines eats 2,000 calories a day, which translates into approximately 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates a day. When you consume more carbohydrates than your body can handle, your body will store the carbs you are eating as fat which has a direct impact on weight gain.

This is why keeping track of the types and amount of carbohydrates in your diet will help you shed pounds. A scientifically-proven approach to maintaining weight loss is eating an optimal protein, high fiber, healthy fats, low-carb diet as it can keep you feeling full and satisfied and eliminates unnecessary snacking or overeating.

Atkins 40 is designed for people who have 40 pounds or less to lose. With a daily allowance of 40 grams net carbs, people can customize their diet with a wide variety of nutritious foods to lose weight and maintain it.

This approach focuses on the quality and quantity of carbs consumed, while avoiding or limiting added sugar and overly refined carbs such as white flour, which are low in nutritional value. Instead, you get your carbs from high-fiber vegetables and other good-for-you foods such as nuts and seeds, a variety of fruits, whole grains, legumes and dairy.

“Atkins 40 fits a variety of lifestyles and teaches people how to eat wholesome food for life,” said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education for Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. “It’s a simple approach that sets you up for long-term success by letting you eat more of the right foods without letting hunger take over your life.”

To understand how carbs can fit into a healthy meal plan, consider this typical day of meals for a person on Atkins 40:

Approximately 15 grams net carbs from high fiber vegetables

Remaining 25 grams net carbs from a list that includes foods such as Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole grains and legumes

Three 4-6 ounce servings of protein such as fish, poultry, meats, eggs or vegetarian sources of protein

2-4 servings of healthy fats throughout the day

6-8 glasses of water

A daily multi-vitamin 

For example, on an average day you might start with 1/2 cup oat bran with 1/4 cup strawberries and 1/4 cup pecans, followed by a mid-morning snack of 1/2 cup red peppers and half a dozen cherry tomatoes with a side of 2 tablespoons creamy dressing or hummus. Lunch could consist of a salad with romaine lettuce topped with 4-6 ounces salmon and 2 tablespoons Caesar dressing. For a late afternoon snack, you could have 1/2 cup cottage cheese with half a peach.

To conclude your day, you could eat 4-6 ounces grilled chicken with a side of asparagus for dinner, with a fresh mozzarella and tomato salad.

In addition to a well-rounded eating plan, your path to success can be smoother if you rely on resources such as a meal tracker to record what you eat, ready-made meal plans and shopping lists. You can find these and other free tools at