There are two main reasons people choose a Low Carb Diet over other options. One being health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The other being the dramatic kick-start to weight loss that people experience when they start eating low carb.
Some people lose up to 15 pounds in the first two weeks. My personal experience was losing 8 pounds in the first 10 days. The weight loss varies for everyone individually of course, but most people experience a great kick-start and dramatic weight loss in the first month.
Unlike most diets or methods of losing weight, this “instant gratification” is very motivating – and really helps to keep you on track for continued weight loss and improving your overall health long-term. Before you start though, it pays to understand how it works…
How The Low Carb Diet Works
Carbs are often our primary fuel source. When you lower your carb intake, and start eating more high fiber vegetables and healthy fats (instead of high sugar/glucose carbs), your body will switch to burning fat (including body fat) as it’s primary fuel source instead of carbs.
People will argue that you need carbs for energy, but this is simply NOT TRUE. Eating carbs for energy is like drinking caffeine for energy. The carbs cause a fluctuation in blood sugar levels. It’s a cycle of ups and downs that give you a temporary surge, but it ultimately does more harm than good – causing strong cravings for more carbs to swing back. Your body and brain actually run much better on healthy fats.
A good balance of protein, healthy fats, fiber and carbs in the form of “above ground vegetables” will allow your body to burn it’s own fat and keep your energy levels more even. You end up having less cravings, feeling less hungry at (and between) meals, and losing weight in an easy and natural way.
When you first start eating Low Carb your body changes from burning carbs & sugar for energy, to burning fat for energy. During the first couple of weeks you’ll see dramatic weight loss as your body goes through this chemical change. It’s called ketosis, and interestingly… it also totally changes your taste buds and curbs your cravings! You’ll find that you no longer desire the foods you thought you couldn’t live without (such as bread, pasta and sugar). That’s a huge bonus!
Getting Started On A Low Carb Diet
A low carb diet is very easy to start, and very easy to maintain. Most people choose it as a lifestyle change, or a WOE (way of eating), when they realize the health benefits and start seeing amazing results.
Personally I did not buy any programs or books or worry about any complicated details. I kept it simple from the beginning and just lowered my carb intake to less than 20 net carbs per day. It’s helpful to keep a food journal and make a note of everything you eat, and the net carb count. This will help you stay on track and know (for sure!) how many carbs you are consuming.
To help you get started, here are some helpful links & info so you’ll be fully prepared…
Tips For Success On A Low Carb Diet
- The low carb diet is also a high fat diet. Read Low Carb High Fat Diet Explained to understand exactly how it works. There’s a proven science behind it, which boils down to “Food Combining”.
- The goal is to eat 20 net carbs per day (max). Here’s how to calculate net carbs.
- What to eat: Any meat & seafood, eggs, healthy fats & low carb vegetables. It’s easy to create meal plans you’ll enjoy. Just choose foods from those groups that you know you like.
- See: List of Low Carb Vegetables. You should eat 10-15 net carbs in high fiber vegetables each day.
- See: Healthy Fats & Super Foods You Should Eat. ENJOY natural/healthy fats. They’re good for you, make you feel physically & emotionally satisfied, and they help you lose weight on a low carb diet.
- Ideally you’ll get at least 70% of your daily calories from healthy fats. I like pecan halves, salmon, avocado, egg salad, etc (“real food” healthy fats). The free MyFitnessPal site/app makes it easy to track what you’re eating, and to keep up with your net carbs & fat/protein ratios.
- During the first or second week, as your body makes the huge chemical change to burning fat for energy, you’ll experience The Low Carb Flu. Drinking hot chicken broth helps as this is a diuretic diet, and the broth will help replenish your sodium & electrolytes.
- Focus on making intentional choices, one meal and one snack at a time. Eat as much as you need to stay physically and emotionally satisfied, as long as you stay within 20 net carbs per day.
- When you’re just starting, Keep It Simple! (see two Low Carb Meal ideas at that link)
- Concerned about eating fats, and how that affects blood pressure and cholesterol levels? Educate yourself on the Cardiovascular Health Benefits of a Low Carb Diet.
- You may find some resistance from well-meaning friends and family members when you start eating low carb. See: When People Don’t Support Your Low Carb Diet.
- If you find you’re not experiencing the success you expected eating low carb, review the four points in this post: Not Losing Weight Eating Low Carb?
- And finally, there are many myths floating around about how much water you should drink while eating low carb. Please see: How Much Water Should I Drink? to understand the health risks of drinking TOO MUCH water!