Low carb diets have been known to help improve a person’s health in a variety of ways. A few ways a high fat, low carb diet can help is by reducing cravings for bad food. Going on a ketogenic diet, as explained in the Body Reboot book, can also turn the body into a fat-burning body as opposed to burning and storing glucose. It may not always be easy, but staying on track is well worth it. While starting the ketogenic diet and as you continue on your weight loss and health journey, here are 5 foolproof ways to do a low carb diet the right way.
1. It’s best to commit long term
Going on a low carb diet, as Ben Greenfield Fitness explains, shouldn’t be seen as a quick and easy way to lose weight. Losing weight and getting healthy needs to be something you stick with long term. If you view your diet as a short term weight loss solution, you’ll be more likely to gain back all the weight. That’s just counterproductive and unhealthy if you gain back all the weight and revert to your old habits.
When you first start a low carbohydrate diet, your weight will plummet as your body sheds storage glycogen and all the water that the storage carbohydrate sucks up like a sponge. So if your goal is weight loss, life is good for the first couple weeks as you shed anywhere from 3-20 pounds, depending on your starting weight.
And then the weight loss stops. In most cases, this is the point where people throw up their hands in despair, convinced that the plan isn’t working, quit the low carbohydrate diet, and go in search of a pastry shop.
But if you stick with a low carbohydrate diet, the weight loss will gradually and consistently continue, especially if you include strategically implemented days where you allow your body’s storage carbohydrate levels to be re-filled.
2. Expect some discomfort
Low Carb Yum says that you should expect some discomfort when you go on the keto diet, as you’re doing something new and it’ll take a while for your body to adjust. Don’t be surprised if you experience less energy or get moody. After your body adjusts to being on a new diet, you’ll begin to experience its many health benefits.
No matter what type of diet you get into you will be a bit grumpy. During the first one or two weeks into a low carb diet, you’ll feel less energy or with a change of mood. That’s because you’re burning fatty acids for fuel. Expect it to subside and for your body to normalize within a week or two.
One of the best low carb diet tips is to be mentally prepared and keep moving forward. Feeling a bit down is inevitable, but it’s up to you to decide whether to give up or keep going! To stay motivated, I like looking at before and after results to inspire me, or I keep myself distracted from food by taking a walk or picking up on hobbies to keep my hands busy, like writing!
Ben Greenfield Fitness adds to this by reiterating that it’s reasonable to experience some discomfort as you go on a low carbohydrate diet. Instead of giving up, however, push through it, and you’ll enjoy its many benefits.
During the first 7-14 days that you go low carb, you’re going to find that your energy levels plummet, you get grumpy, you feel lethargic, and your body simply does not move or perform the way you’d like it to. This is because you are burning fatty acids (ketones) as a fuel.
So a strict low carbohydrate diet can be uncomfortable, and you need to be mentally prepared for that. Implementing the carbohydrate craving tips I gave earlier will help, but ultimately, you will find that you feel the same way as a marathoner does when they “bonk”, which is what happens during a run when your body runs out of storage carbohydrate and needs to begin burning fat as a fuel. This is also called “hitting the wall”.
If the discomfort does not subside, then I recommend you A) identify nutritional deficiencies and get tested for fatty acids and also for amino acids, and B) also make sure you’re incorporating carbohydrate re-feed days if you’re a physically active person.
3. Meal planning helps
What about meal planning? According to Medical News Today, meal planning can help keep you on track and can also help you lose more weight. Try mapping out the week ahead and see if it helps keep you on track with your diet. Chances are it will!
A meal plan can help make things easier.
Anyone trying to follow a low-carb diet could try mapping out their week and plan all meals before heading to the grocery store.
Planning meals in advance can help people stick to the diet.
Knowing what they are going to eat for lunch and dinner can help a person avoid making unhealthful food choices, such as stopping at a fast food restaurant.
Planning is one thing, but preparing meals ahead of time can also help. Meal prep can help a person:
avoid making unhealthful food choices
save time during busier times of the week
Some people like to prepare a week's worth of breakfasts and lunches ahead of time and store the meals in containers, so they are convenient and ready to go. It is possible to freeze some meals too, meaning people can prepare even more food in advance.
Having lots of pre-prepared meals on hand can help people avoid choosing less healthful options.
Popular low-carb meals to prepare in advance include:
Greek yogurt bowls
chicken lettuce wraps
protein and vegetable stir fry with no rice
4. Understand it helps with portion control
The beauty of going on a low carb diet, and more specifically, the keto diet, is that it vastly helps with portion control. According to Women’s Health, when you’re on the keto diet, your stomach will feel fuller from the fat and protein you’re consuming. That’s good news because you’ll likely eat less without feeling like you have to “starve” yourself.
No carbs means no-brainer portion control. Weight loss associated with a low-carb diet is mainly a result of eating less, says Albert Matheny, C.S.C.S., R.D., of SoHo Strength Lab and Promix Nutrition. “Carbs aren't bad, they're just over-consumed relative to a person’s activity level,” he says. When you cut carbs, you’re giving up the foods you might be overindulging in, which saves you tons of calories.
And it's easy to see why we can't stop, won't stop with the refined carbohydrates, says Matheny. Besides being super satisfying, things like cereal, spaghetti, and rice are cheaper, more convenient, and more frequently advertised than other foods, he says.
Plus, portion control is difficult for most people. “It's much easier to eliminate a food group than to learn how to eat it in a healthier way,” says Gans. If you’re a carb overeater, you’ll likely be cutting at least 20 percent of the food you consume, so of course you’d lose weight.
5. Figure out your body fat levels
Another way to do a low carb diet the right way is by staying on top of your body fat levels. According to Ben Greenfield Fitness, your fat levels actually reveal quite a bit.
If you’re fat, you’re going to have more fat to burn. Look down at your waistline. Do you have layers of fat that you can grab? A beer belly? Muffin-tops? All of that is fat that can be mobilized if you are on a low carbohydrate diet.
But if your body fat is under 7-8% as a male, or in the low teens as a female, then it is highly likely that you’re going to struggle with a consistently low carbohydrate intake – specifically during exercise sessions.
So if I have a client who is 30% body fat, I have no issues with that client staring at the ceiling awake at night craving carbohydrates as their body mobilizes fat tissue for energy, and I generally continue to advise them to watch their carb intake. But if that person is 6% body fat, it is far more likely that they’re going to need that extra fat for insulation or essential fat stores, in which case it might be a good idea to go slam a bowl of rice.
Bonus: Drink lots of water
My Keto Tribe reminds us of just how important it is to drink lots of water. Why? It helps you burn fat, replenish your fluids, and prevents you from getting dehydrated. It sounds like it’s pretty important!
This is especially crucial on a low carb or keto diet. Why? When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores the extra as glycogen in the liver, where they are bound to water molecules. Eating low carb depletes this glycogen, which allows you to burn fat – but it also means you are storing less water, making it easier to get dehydrated. Instead of the traditional recommendation of 8 cups of water per day, aim for 16 cups when following a low carb lifestyle.
Check out the Body Reboot book to find out about the many benefits of the keto diet and how it can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Sources: Ben Greenfield Fitness, Women’s Health, Low Carb Yum, Wholesome Yum, My Keto Tribe
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