Eating carbohydrates while trying to lose weight is doable. The key is choosing the right kinds of carbs and monitoring portion sizes. A low-carb diet restricts the intake of carbs to less than 130 grams per day.
By comparison, a typical American consumes about 225-300 grams of carbohydrates per day. A low-carb diet lowers glycogen levels, the storage form of glucose in your body.
When you restrict carb intake, your body releases fat stores as beta hydroxy acids (or BHAs). This process triggers your liver to convert BHAs into fatty acids and cast them into the bloodstream instead of storing them again as fat. Your body can use these ketones as an alternative energy source when glucose is limited or unavailable.
A low-carb diet has several benefits, including weight loss and reduced blood pressure. A low-carb diet is often prescribed as a healthy diet for people with diabetes since it can help improve blood cholesterol levels.
A low-carb diet can also reduce appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods, resulting in better food choices and reduced calorie intake. A low-carb diet doesn’t have to be a short-term fad diet.
It is a sustainable eating plan to help you lose weight, prevent disease and improve overall health. Compared to low-fat diets, low-carb diets help you lose weight and reduce your risk of infection by promoting a healthier metabolism.
A low-carb diet promotes better sleep, increases energy, and positively affects mood and mental health. A low-carb diet is a sustainable eating plan that can be followed for a lifetime.
You don’t have to follow a low-carb diet forever. Instead, it is an effective way to lose weight quickly and improve your health while transitioning to a more sustainable, long-term healthy diet.
How to follow a low-carb diet plan?
A low-carb diet is a long-term eating plan. It is not a diet you follow for a few days or weeks. Successful weight loss and maintenance of a lower weight require long-term adherence to a healthy diet.
A low-carb diet is not a high-protein diet. You can follow a low-carb diet by eating various healthy, natural foods with a modest amount of carbohydrates. The specifics of your low-carb diet will depend on your daily calorie needs.
For example, a person with a daily calorie requirement of 2000 calories will consume a different number of carbs than someone who consumes 3000 calories daily. The daily carb intake for each person will be additional, but the overall goal should be to consume less than 130 grams per day.
Foods To Eat in a Low-Carb Diet Plan
There are many carb sources you can eat while following a low-carb diet. A low-carb diet involves carefully selecting whole foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds. Foods that contain a low amount of carbs and a high amount of protein include:
- Leafy Greens - Leafy greens like kale, spinach, cabbage, and broccoli contain minimal carbs and are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, iron, calcium, and fiber. These are great to add to salads and stir-fries.
- Vegetables - A wide variety of vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, carrots, etc.) contain minimal carbs and are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals. You can also use vegetables like mushrooms, eggplant, and squash as low-carb, low-calorie substitutes for carbs like rice, potatoes, and pasta.
- Low-Carb Vegetables - Certain vegetables like asparagus, bell peppers, eggplant, okra, and mushrooms contain minimal carbs and can be an excellent addition to your low-carb diet.
- Beans - Beans like black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils are excellent sources of protein and fiber. They also contain minimal carbs and can be consumed liberally on a low-carb diet.
- Eggs - Eggs are one of the healthiest, most nutrient-rich foods you can eat, and are great for weight loss. They contain minimal carbs and are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamin A.
- Nuts and Seeds - Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflowers seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and other nuts and seeds are very low in carbs and calories and contain essential nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium and healthy fats. They can be used as a healthy snack or to add flavor and texture to various dishes.
- Dairy - Dairy foods like cream, yogurt, kefir, cheese, and butter contain very few carbs and are excellent sources of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals like calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and vitamin A.
Foods You Should Avoid
Any foods that are refined or processed (including white flour, refined sugar, and white rice) should be avoided on a low-carb diet since they are devoid of nutrients. Fried or fast food should also be avoided since it is high in sodium, low in nutrients, and high in calories.
Sugary beverages, alcohol, and sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup should also be avoided on a low-carb diet. These foods are very high in carbs and can derail your efforts to lose weight by increasing your daily calorie intake. Other foods that should be avoided on a low-carb diet include:
- Nuts and Seeds with high carb content - While most nuts and seeds are low in carbs, a few are higher in carbs. Cashews, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts are higher in carbs and should be consumed sparingly on a low-carb diet.
- Beans with high carb content - Certain red beans and pinto beans are high in carbs and should be avoided on a low-carb diet.
- Vegetables with high carb content - Certain vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and plantains are high in carbs and should be avoided on a low-carb diet.
- Dairy with high carb content - Certain types of dairy, like yogurt, full-fat cheeses, and whey protein, are high in carbs and should be avoided on a low-carb diet.
- High-sugar fruits - Certain fruits like blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates, kiwis, and bananas are high in carbs and should be avoided on a low-carb diet.
Tips to Maintain Good Health While Following an LC Diet
Even though a low-carb diet can help you lose weight, it is essential to follow a healthy diet plan to maintain good health. Here are some recommendations for following a low-carb diet:
- Stay Hydrated - One of the most important tips while following a low-carb diet is to stay hydrated. Throughout the day, drink lots of water to keep hydrated, wash out toxins, and support a healthy metabolism.
- Stay Fit - Exercise can help speed up weight loss and improve overall health. Exercise also helps manage stress and promote better sleep. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to long-term. Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day to get all the essential nutrients your body needs.
- Avoid Incessant Restriction - While following a low-carb diet, try not to obsess over counting carbs and calories. This can lead to weight gain once you stop following a low-carb diet plan since you will need to gain the skills or knowledge to select and prepare nutritious foods.
- Stay Connected and Supportive - A low-carb diet can be challenging, especially in social situations with many unhealthy snacks. Please stay connected with your support system and tell them you are following a low-carb diet. You can also join an online community to connect with people following a low-carb diet and get support when needed.
A low-carb diet is an effective way to lose weight and improve overall health. While following a low-carb diet, eating various nutritious, natural foods like nuts, seeds, and vegetables is essential.
Avoid refined and processed foods like sugar-sweetened beverages, white rice, and white flour. Stay hydrated, fit, connected, and supported to maintain good health while following a low-carb diet.