We’ve all heard about low-carb diets and how they’re practically a magic pill to the world of weight loss. Thousands of people have lost weight and kept it off by restricting their carbohydrates and choosing to eat nutrient dense foods that are rich in protein and fat. There are, however, people who have gone into low carbohydrate diets with excitement and gusto only to come out of it feeling shortchanged. This is likely because they went about the diet in an unsustainable way and set themselves up for failure from the very beginning. So how does one go about a low carb diet the right way?
#1: Be Smart About Carbs
Being on a low carb diet doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate them from your life. This is, after all, why it’s called a low carb diet and not a no-carb diet. The trick is to time your carbohydrate in take to a time where it won’t trigger your blood sugar levels to go into a tailspin of despair. The golden hour for carbohydrate consumption is immediately before your work, during your work out or after your work out. At the same time, be discerning about your carb intake. If your work out is an easy one, you probably don’t need the carbs. However, if you’re weight training, are anticipating an intense workout or will be working out for 2 hours or longer, some carbohydrate intake is allowable and even recommended.
#2: Stay Away from Processed Foods
We. Hate. Processed. Foods. With a passion. Period. They’re horrible for your body, are filled with sugar, sodium and all kinds of preservatives that you just don’t need to be putting in your body. Just because you’re on a low carb diet doesn’t mean that you can’t get delicious food from whole ingredients free of preservatives. So just to recap, boxed, packaged or foods with an ingredient you can’t pronounce? Bad. Meals comprised of whole ingredients? Good. Eating real and whole foods doesn’t just apply to your low carb diet either. It’s a practice that you should be incorporating into your lifestyle if you want a long and healthy life.
#3: Think About Your Body Fat
The amount of carbohydrates that you can during a restrictive diet like this one really depends on how much fat you have stored on your body. The higher the body fat percentage, the lower the amount of carbs you can consume. For people who have 30% body fat or higher, it’s likely that carbohydrate intake will be close to allow your body to mobilize the fat tissue already there as a source of energy. Those who have 7 to 8% body fat, on the other hand, will need to consume some carbohydrates especially on work out days.
#4: Have Realistic Expectations
Many people start low carb diets and are on cloud nine when their first two weeks starts with huge numbers dropping from the scale. Then, as the weeks go by, they notice that the weight loss isn’t as fast and somehow convince themselves that the diet is no longer working and quit. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you start yourself on a low carb diet, the first thing that leaves your body is water weight. This is because there’s no longer anything for the water molecules to cling to. Water weight drops dramatically and when all that weight is gone, that’s when the fat burning process and weight loss process really kicks in. Have realistic expectations of weight loss and know that the huge numbers on the onset are coming from water weight
#5: Think Long Term
Riding on the thought of having realistic expectations, you have to understand that a low carb diet is not a short term diet that you can grind out in two weeks then keep the weight off. It’s a process. A long one. Make sure you’re thinking long term and realize that the weight loss journey is not one that happens at a snap of your fingers. It takes time to lose weight properly and in a sustainable way.
#6: No Pain No Gain
Well, we suppose in this case it should be no pain, no loss. We’re not going to lie to you. Low carbohydrate diets are not easy. They are difficult, they come with cravings and they’ll make you want to tear your hair out during the first week or so. You’ll need to mentally prepare yourself for the discomfort you’ll feel as your body adjusts to burning fat rather than carbohydrates for energy. Some of the things to expect are mood swings, lethargy, or the feeling that your body simply isn’t performing the way you’d like it to. You might feel that your work outs are not satisfying while in this adjustment period.
#7: Drink as Much Water as Possible
We can’t even begin to express how crucial it is to stay hydrated while on a low carbohydrate diet. Water serves several purposes for people on low carb diets such as satiating hunger and keeping carb cravings at bay. One of the key functions of water in a low carb diet, however, is beta-oxidation. Beta-oxidation is the way in which your body burns fat as fuel and having an ample amount of water in your body helps to keep the process running smoothly. It’s also important to remember that your body is going to be releasing massive amounts of water as you decrease and limit your carbohydrate intake. In this case, drinking water is also a biological necessity to ensure your success.
#8: Don’t Forget the Fiber
Switching to a low carb diet will mean a drastic drop in your typical fiber intake will also drop. This can mean a lot of things for your body including a shortage of antioxidants, vitamin C and phytonutrients. Make sure that you still consume a sufficient amount of fiber while keeping an eye on the amount of starchy vegetables or tubers that you consume. Also, make sure to time your consumption of this produce carefully.