Intro to Low Carb Diets for Beginners
The first time I tried a low carb diet, I couldn’t believe what happened – I got sick of bacon. I thought that a low carb diet was a free pass to indulge in greasy, fatty goodness. I hadn’t stopped to think what giving in to my every whim would do to my stomach and my overall well being. While you can stay low carb while eating wings, fried cheese sticks, beef jerky, and other high sodium, low nutrition foods, I don’t recommend it.
A low carb diet can work – but you have to do it right. That means eating high quality foods, including fruits and vegetables in addition to your low carb staples.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to a low carb diet. You’ll need to figure out how many carbs your body needs to thrive while losing fat. You’ll have to pay close attention to what types of low carb foods make you feel best. For many people, finding the right low carb plan for can take a little bit of trial and error. Don’t give up. It’s normal to go through an adjustment period as your body learns to burn fat and protein for fuel instead of relying on carbohydrates.
Before you get started with a low carb diet, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of why you’re committing to a new lifestyle. There are many reasons why you might be interested in changing up your nutrition. Perhaps you want to lose weight to feel great before a big event. May you’d like to get more energy so that you can keep up with your kids. Many people simply want to feel confident at the pool in the summer. No matter what your reason for wanting to go low carb, keep your eye on the prize. It’s key to getting through the tough moments that can come with adjusting to a low carb lifestyle.
Why Try a Low Carb Diet?
You know that going low carb has health benefits – but what are they? Let’s take a look at the different ways living a low carb lifestyle can benefit your health. Before making any drastic dietary change, be sure to check in with your doctor.
Health benefits of a low carb diet may include:
Reduced appetite, making it easier to stick to the diet long-term
Faster initial weight loss, which may increase motivation and make it easier to get through the first few weeks of a new lifestyle
Localized fat loss in the abdominal area, lowering the risk of many potential health issues
Blood sugar and insulin levels tend to be lower and more stabilized
While there are many ways a low carb diet can benefit someone who is simply working to get healthy, the benefits don’t stop there. People who suffer from neurological disorders – such as epilepsy – can benefit greatly from a low carb diet.
Low Carb Convenience
Eating a low carb diet is easier than ever. There are many convenience foods on the market that allow you to continue to eat the foods you love, without all the carbs. In addition to packaged low carb food, many restaurants now offer low carb options for diners. Eateries have begun to realize that in order to stay in business, they need to meet the health needs of their patrons. As low carb diets continue to grow in popularity, many restaurants are catering to the low carb market.
Find yourself in a restaurant that doesn’t offer low carb options? No problem. You can always create a low carb meal yourself. Whether you choose to get a burger and throw away the bun or order a salad, low carb options are simple. You can also keep beef jerky, nuts, and other low carb items on hand in case of emergency. Eating low carb can take some forward thinking and advance preparation, but it’s a simple diet to follow. When you keep yourself safeguarded against situations where you won’t have your normal low carb options available, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to stick to your plan.
Meal planning at home can be simple for low carb diets as well. Many low carb options lend themselves to large batches of advance prep. Egg muffins, large batches of chicken or turkey, and tuna or tilapia can all be prepared in advance. One of the keys of beating carb cravings is having on plan snacks available when the mood strikes. Be sure that you’re prepared no matter what the day throws your way.
There’s no doubt about it – many people thrive on a low carb diet. That being said, eating low carb isn’t for everyone. There are some downsides to eating low carb that may make you decide it’s not a good plan for you.
Check out these not-so-great parts of eating a low carb diet:
Muscle loss is possible with a low carb diet, especially in the beginning stages
High amounts of saturated fat in a low carb diet can cause heart problems
Nutrient deficiencies due to limiting fruits and vegetables
Digestive issues due to a lack of fiber in the diet
There’s always an adjustment period when trying a new nutrition plan. Try not to get discouraged if it takes some time for you to get used to eating low carb. After you make it through the first few weeks, you’ll find that it’s easier to stick to the plan. If you have concerns about the effects of your low carb diet, reach out to your doctor or a nutritionist.
How Many Grams of Carbs Can I Eat?
Your body is unique. This means that there’s not a set amount of carbs that will be perfect for you. The amount of carbs that your body needs to thrive on a low carb diet will depend on several factors. Most low carb diets allow for 20-60 grams of carbs per day. Your specific plan, as well as how your body responds to carbs, will determine your number.
You’ll want to pay attention to several factors as you work to decide what amount of carbs work best for you. First, you’ll want to pay attention to how you feel. Lowering your carbs can cause changes in your energy. You’ll want to be sure that you’re able to make it through the day without feeling too much fatigue. Brain fog can also be common as you adjust to a lower amount of carbs.
It’s ok if you need to take it slow when you’re lowering your carbs. It’s better to take it slowly and be able to stick with it than to cut carbs drastically and give up after a few days. Cutting your carbs by 50% every week or two can be a great way to work down to your carb goal.
Popular Low Carb Diet Options: Here’s The Deal
Searching for the best low carb option for you? The choices can feel overwhelming. Deciphering whether paleo vs keto, keto vs Atkins, low carb vs keto, and other choices can have your head spinning before you even get started. Let’s take a look at the different low carb diet options.
The Atkins Diet
One of the most well known low carb diets, the Atkins diet has four phases. Each phase becomes less restrictive. The Atkins diet focuses on net carbs, rather than total carbs. This means that fiber can offset some of the carbs eaten throughout the day. Some people find that this makes the Atkins diet feel more sustainable than other low carb options. At the end of the Atkins diet, up to 100g of carbs per day is permitted.
The Paleo Diet
Short for the paleolithic diet, this nutrition plan is also known as the caveman diet. Paleo nutrition plans focus on foods found in nature – meat, fruit, and vegetables. This high-protein diet doesn’t set out to be low carb, but ends up that way for most people. The elimination of sugar, grains, and junk food makes it easier to stay low carb. The paleo diet does have a few restrictions when it comes to fats. It’s recommended that people who eat paleo stay away from legumes, such as peanuts.
The Ketogenic Diet
Dismissed by some as a fad, the keto diet was created for epileptic children. Many people who do not suffer from epilepsy have found that keto works well for their health. Keto involves going into ketosis. When in ketosis, the body uses fat for energy instead of carbs. Getting into ketosis can be tough, and depends on a person’s individual body chemistry. For most people, staying under 50g of carbs per day for a few days allows them to enter ketosis. The ketogenic diet is low carb, high fat, moderate protein. Some people on the ketogenic diet struggle with nutritional deficiencies due to a lack of fruit and vegetables.
Do You Need To Stay Low Carb Forever?
Like so many dietary issues, whether you’ll be able to stay happy and healthy on a low carb diet depends on your personal body chemistry. If you’re continuing to make progress on a low carb diet, there may be no reason to stray. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about how long it’s healthy for you to stay low carb.
If you want to occasionally indulge in dessert or other high carb treats, you may be able to do so without ruining your progress. Enjoying carbs on occasion may make it easier to stay on a low carb diet the vast majority of the time while still enjoying your life, treats and all.