How to Lose Weight on a Low Carb Diet
A traditional diet across cultures is majorly made up of carbohydrates. It is the primary source of energy for your body. Complex carbs break down into simple sugar (glucose), which is released into the bloodstream. Insulin then helps glucose enter blood cells, where it is used up for energy.
The number of calories you eat per day will depend on your age, physical constitution, and the intensity of exercise or other activities you commit to each day. If you haven’t tried a low-carb diet before, minimizing carbs may feel like a challenge. So, before you embark on this journey, it is helpful to gather some information, such as the number of calories you can consume and the best healthy low-carb meal plans. This should help you determine the perfect nutritional plan that’ll support your fitness goal to shed those extra pounds.
What Is a Low-Carb Diet?
While there remains a lack of information on the number of carbohydrate grams allowed in a low-carb diet, in general, all weight loss programs restrict your carb intake from little to nothing. However, before you push yourself to the extremes of any weight-loss program, exercise caution and, most importantly, heed your doctor’s advice.
Dietary guidelines normally suggest that you consume about 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates. So, if you are on an 1800-calorie diet each day, an intake of anything less than 800 calories (200-225 grams) should be considered a low-carb diet — so, about a maximum of 60 grams is permissible.
Some popular diets like the keto diet (similar to Atkins) are pretty low on carbohydrates. They are high in protein and fats with the carbohydrate percentage not above 10 percent. While some medical conditions may lead your doctor to prescribe the keto diet to you, many vouch for its remarkable weight loss benefits. Low-carb diets have been known to have significant health benefits like lowering blood sugar or blood pressure levels and raising the “good” cholesterol (HDL) significantly. That said, it’s not necessarily suitable for all — each one is different, and so should be their diets.
Restricting carbs consumption totally can be difficult, especially with your body being accustomed to it. So, if the plethora of low-carb diets has left you confused and you’re planning to lose weight, the information discussed below should help you make the right food choices.
Best Low-Carb Food Options
Low-carb food options are plenty for vegetarians, vegans, and non-vegetarians. Opt for complex carbohydrates as they take time to digest and keep you fuller for longer. If you’re planning to cut back on your carb intake, here are a few low-carb friendly options that you can include in your diet plan:
- Vegetables: This food group is your best friend when you are on a weight loss journey. Tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, kale, bell peppers, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, onions, and eggplant are good choices to opt for.
- Fruits: Apples, oranges, blueberries, strawberries, pears are best for indulgence on a low-carb diet.
- Nuts and Seeds: Power-packed with “good” fats; almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds are great for snacking between major meals.
- High-Fat Dairy Products: Yogurt, cheese, cream, butter, cottage cheese are great options to choose from.
- Dark Chocolate: Choose a variety with at least 70 to 85 percent of cocoa solids, but consume it in moderation.
- Healthy Oils: Olive, coconut, sunflower, and avocado are great oils to use while cooking your low-carb meals.
- Proteins: Lean grass-fed meat like chicken, beef, lamb, and pork; fishes like salmon and mackerel; pastured eggs, soy (tofu and tempeh), beans, chickpeas, and legumes are healthy low-carb options.
- Caffeine: Unsweetened beverages like tea and coffee are great metabolism boosters.
Food to Avoid On a Low-Carb Diet
When on a low-carb diet, there are a few food groups that you should steer clear of. While some of these may seem healthy, they aren’t quite suitable for a low-carb diet. Indulging in these food items can sabotage all your efforts at weight loss. Here are the ones you should limit your intake of:
- Refined grains like rice, wheat (bread, pasta), barley, and rye.
- Sugary treats like soft drinks, candy, ice cream, fruit juices.
- Diet foods like cereals, chips, or crackers.
- Hydrogenated oils like palm, vegetable, or soybean oil.
- Starchy vegetables like potato, beets, corn.
- Alcoholic drinks like beer.
- Commercial salad dressings.
- Baked goods like cookies and muffins.
Apart from the dietary changes, if you need to lose weight, exercising (any physical activity like yoga, dance, playing a sport, pilates, or Zumba), drinking sufficient water (approx. 5-7 glasses), and taking a good night’s rest is critical. You may not see the changes overnight. So, stay patient on your weight loss journey — your body will soon adapt, and you’ll notice changes. For a proper low-carb meal plan (well-suited for your body), you may also consult a Toronto nutritionist. Last but not least, motivate and surround yourself with people who share similar fitness goals as yours.
Several studies have shown that a low-carb diet is more beneficial in weight loss than a low-fat diet. But eating a low-carb diet shouldn’t be complex. As long as you base it around natural and nutritious foods and ditch processed foods, you will feel lighter and improve your overall health.