How to Start a Low-Carb Diet. For those of you who want to lose weight, a low carb diet is a very effective method! But unfortunately, following such a diet can be very tiring for some people, especially because they have to radically change their daily eating habits. Do you want to follow this diet, not knowing where to start? If so, before you go on a diet, replace simple carbohydrates and refined sugar with complex carbohydrates first to ease the transition process. You can also feel full by making smart food choices. If you plan to follow a low-sugar diet for a long time, try to choose a specific diet and consult a healthcare practitioner.
Reduce carbohydrate consumption
Avoid refined sugars and simple carbohydrates
A good start to dieting is to limit the intake of unhealthy carbohydrates. Of course, you can do it gradually! For example, start by drinking water and sugar-free drinks rather than sugary and carbonated drinks. Here are some examples of sources of refined sugar and simple carbohydrates
Foods to avoid are:
- cookies, cakes, and sweet pastries
- sugary drinks such as sodas
- white bread
- white rice
Eat whole grains during the transition
Before fully adopting a low-carb diet, you may need to replace carbohydrates with healthier carbohydrate sources like whole grains. Start gradually by replacing 1 serving of carbohydrates you normally eat with 1 serving of whole grains every day or every week. After 1 or 2 weeks, your carbohydrate intake will decrease, since your body will be used to receiving more complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates. As a result, you will feel full longer! Here are some examples of complex carbohydrates you could eat
Whole grains to consume are:
- pasta and whole wheat bread
- brown rice
- Irish oatmeal
- high fiber, low sugar cereals
Opt for sweet potatoes or similar tubers
Another main source of simple carbohydrates is white potatoes, so it’s a good idea to replace them when you’re trying to eat a low-sugar diet. For example, you can use sweet potatoes or similar tubers in various recipes that require white potatoes. Here are some options to try:
- baked sweet potatoes or yams
- roasted carrots, beets, or kohlrabi
- turnip or rutabaga puree
- celeriac or daikon radish fries
Try other simple options to reduce carbohydrate intake
Once you are ready to go on a low-carb diet, you will need to make some simple changes to your diet by replacing carbohydrates with healthier options.
Try these simple low-carb diet options.
- Replace the simple rice with cauliflower. If you have a food processor or grater, try shredding a cauliflower head into small pieces the size of rice grains. Cook in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, then add them to your dishes instead of rice.
- Replace the pasta with zucchini or pumpkin noodles. Cut zucchini into thin strips to form noodles with a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Or, cook a spaghetti squash after removing the seeds and scraping the flesh with a fork. Add your favorite tomato sauce and enjoy!
- Take nuts or raw vegetables instead of potato chips. Sometimes you will only need a crispy snack. Instead of taking a packet of crisps (source of empty carbohydrates), take a handful of salted nuts or a few sticks of fresh carrots or celery.
- Replace the candies with the berries. Berries are rich in nutrients, low in carbohydrates, and taste as sweet as candy! Try taking a handful of strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries to satisfy your sugar cravings.
Choose foods that provide more lasting satiety
Make protein the priority of your meals
If you choose lean protein on a low-carbohydrate diet, this can help reduce your chances of increasing your cholesterol levels. Here are some examples of low-fat proteins you can try:
- skinless chicken meat
- ground turkey meat
- lean ground beef
- canned tuna in water
- egg whites
- low-fat cottage cheese
Eat plenty of vegetables without starchy foods
You don’t need to limit your intake of non-starchy vegetables when you are on a low-sugar diet. Don’t worry, these types of vegetables are filling! Here are some examples of non-starchy vegetables:
Fill your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks
Whenever you are hungry, do not hesitate to munch on some snacks low in carbohydrates. Here are some options:
- celery, broccoli, peppers, and other fresh vegetables cut into pieces
- hard-boiled eggs
- dried beef
- almond seeds
- regular Greek yogurt
Drink water and other unsweetened drinks
If you follow this type of diet and stay hydrated, it will help you feel full and reduce the risk of negative side effects, such as dehydration. Avoid drinking carbonated drinks and other drinks containing artificial sweeteners because they can increase your sugar cravings. Instead, stick to water and other unsweetened drinks. There are many types of carbonated drinks which you should avoid. Here are some suitable low-carb drinks:
- unsweetened tea (hot or iced)
- coffee (normal or low in caffeine)
- sparkling water with lemon or lime slices
Choose an easy diet to follow for the long term
Try the Atkins diet
If you want to try a low-carb diet that has been proven for some time, then the Atkins diet is a great choice. With this diet, it would be possible to lose about 7 kg in the first two weeks. Therefore, it is the ideal choice if your goal is to quickly lose many kilos
Try to follow the Atkins diet.
- The first 2 weeks: reduce carbohydrate intake by 20 grams per day. You should also eliminate simple carbohydrates and refined sugars from your diet, as well as fruits, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, broccoli, whole grains, and nuts. Over time, you can reintroduce them into your diet in small portions and gradually.
- Eat protein with each meal. Make this diet more interesting by trying new sources of protein every two or three nights. For example, feel free to use chicken, fish, turkey and even tofu to create healthy and tasty meals.
- Follow this diet if you have health problems. The Atkins diet can be beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease. In some cases, it can improve the patient’s health or even cure him completely.
Adopt the South Beach diet
This diet was developed by a cardiologist and aims to lose weight while developing healthier eating habits. Besides, this diet does not limit the consumption of carbohydrates with the same rigor as other diets, which means that you can easily follow it in the long term
South Beach Diet Steps
- Step 1: Avoid all types of carbohydrates.
- Second step: consume 1 or 2 servings of healthy carbohydrates per day.
- Third step: eat any type of carbohydrate in a reasonable portion
- Advantages: this diet helps you choose sources of carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which helps stabilize blood sugar and control hunger. It will also encourage you to eat moderately sources of monounsaturated fats (which are healthier for your heart), lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits.
Try the ketogenic diet
If you still want to eat satiating high-fat foods, go for this diet. Indeed, it is characterized by daily consumption of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. This will force your body to convert fat into energy, which will help you lose weight faster. Before starting this diet you should be aware of List of Foods Allowed on Keto Diet.
- This diet is beneficial for people with epilepsy. Also, it is also believed to be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, brain damage from trauma, and stroke.
- Some people experience negative side effects when transitioning to a low-sugar diet, such as mental fog, fatigue, and mood swings.
Opt for the paleo diet
With this diet, you cannot eat potatoes, dairy products, whole grains, or processed foods. However, you can eat as much meat, vegetables, fruit, tubers, and nuts as possible. The paleo diet approach (which consists of consuming whole foods) is very healthy to apply. Also, you can eat a lot to be full.
- The paleo diet aims to overcome various health problems that affect our modern society (such as obesity) by limiting the consumption of dairy products and grains.
Stay healthy and motivated
Consult your doctor before starting any diet
Before you start dieting, be sure to always consult a doctor! This is especially important if you have a history of medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. After checking your health, the doctor will know if this type of diet is safe for you. Besides, it can recommend the low-carb diet that suits you best.
If you have diabetes, it can be dangerous for you to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Instead, the doctor will advise you to opt for healthy sources such as whole grains and fruits.
If you have high cholesterol, eating foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can make the situation worse. Most likely, your doctor will advise you to eat more lean protein, such as skinless poultry, low-fat cottage cheese, and egg white.
Download an app to track your carbohydrate intake
If you want to reduce your carbohydrate intake and balance the macronutrient levels in the body, try downloading a special app to make it easier for you. Download one that you can use on your phone or tablet. Record all your meals in the app each day to keep track of your intake of carbohydrates and other macronutrients (such as fats and proteins). You can also use such an application for planning meals, shopping lists, and saving recipes.
MyFitnessPal is a nutritional tracking application that is very popular and available for free.
If you prefer to track carbohydrate consumption manually, try to buy a notebook and write down everything you eat each day. Check the food labels of the products you buy to find out their nutritional value. To know the nutritional references in proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and fibers, you can consult a nutrition guide or do research online.
Get in touch with other people who follow the same diet
To stay motivated, join a group of people who are also on a low-carb diet. They could give you advice on how to start your diet and stick to it. Do some research on the Internet to find these kinds of groups. Become an active member!
- Introduce yourself and let people know that you have just started a low carb diet.
- Ask the other group members for help whenever you have difficulty. For example, if you have cravings for sugars, ask them what they have done to overcome them.
Cook your meals for next week
If you plan your meals for the entire week and spend a few hours a day preparing, this can help you immensely task. Choose a day when you have a few hours of free time to find carbohydrate recipes and suggestions. Take advantage of this time to prepare part or all of your meals for the whole week.
Some tips for preparing low-carb diet meals
- Prepare the ingredients. Chop the vegetables you will need to cook throughout the week. Measure and portion them. Store them in small containers or plastic bags.
- Prepare the proteins earlier. For example, you can boil eggs, roast chicken, baked salmon, etc.
- Portion your meals. Measure them and divide them into appropriate portions. Store them in plastic containers that you can easily take with you. You can try a 35 g serving of skinless roast chicken with 1 cup (90 g) steamed broccoli and 1 cup (150 g) baked zucchini.
The Bottom Line
- Always eat breakfast and avoid skipping other meals during the day.
- Low-carb diets can cause a lack of energy and chronic headaches. Consult a doctor if any of these problems occur soon after starting a low-carb diet.