Cutting your carbohydrate intake in favor of a high-protein diet is the simplest way to get lean fast. However, people often make mistakes when going low-carb, especially if they are training hard in an effort to accelerate the fat loss process.
With these five simple tips, you can make going low-carb a lot easier and get better fat loss results.
Mistake #1: You Are Not Increasing Protein Enough
Low-carb diets are naturally higher protein diets, but one problem a lot of trainees have is not boosting protein intake sufficiently. If you are training hard and going low-carb for the first time, you need to increase protein by at least 50 percent.
If you’ve been limiting carbs for a while, troubleshoot the makeup of your diet by ensuring carbs are less than 50 grams, strictly from green vegetable sources, and increase your protein by 20 to 50 percent.
Mistake #2: You Are Not Getting Enough of The Right Fats
Low-carb diets should also naturally be higher fat diets, but the fat MUST come from healthy sources—omega-3s, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs like coconut oil), and monounsaturated fats (olive oil and avocado, for example).
The omega-3s are considered essential fatty acids (EFAs) and they have the excellent effect of encouraging fat burning. In addition, consuming MCTs can substitute for glycogen in the body when you are training at high-intensity.
As you know if you’ve ever trained in a glycogen depleted state, it can be particularly painful and some people experience a drop in performance. Training this way is a necessity if you want to lose fat fast, but simply, it sucks. One way to help avoid this is to supplement with MCTs like coconut oil prior to your workout because the body will use it for energy. Try cooking your pre-workout meal in coconut oil (or just supplement with 2 tablespoons) 60 minutes before your workout.
Mistake #3: You Are Low In Sodium & Potassium
When you shift to a low-carb diet, your body ends up excreting more sodium and water. This can lead to mineral imbalances, lower blood pressure, and sluggishness. This situation is commonly mistaken as low blood sugar, and individuals often respond by increasing carb intake. Don’t do it.
Instead you want to ensure you are taking in sodium either in diet or in supplement form. One study found that supplementing daily with 3 to 5 grams of sodium and 2 to 3 grams of potassium allowed subjects who were exercising on a low-carb diet to maintain circulation and avoid losing muscle mass.
Take electrolytes to get both sodium and potassium together. Cooking with meat broths and using Celtic or Himalayan salt on your food can also help.
Mistake #4: You Are Deficient In Magnesium
Unless you supplement with magnesium, you probably have horribly low magnesium that is stunting fat loss. When you cut carbs and train hard, magnesium can be depleted due to its role in insulin metabolism. Avoid this by supplementing with a high-quality magnesium blend such as magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate, but avoid magnesium oxide as your sole source because of its poor quality.
“Mistake” #5: You Are Not Taking Advantage of Caffeine
This one isn’t a “mistake” since using caffeine is a personal choice and people respond differently to it. However, supplementing with caffeine pre-workout when on a low-carb diet can give you a major boost and accelerate fat loss.
A recent study found that when trained cyclists took 3 mg/kg/body weight and performed eight 5-minute “sprints” at maximal capacity in a glycogen depleted state they performed significantly better than a placebo group. Caffeine enhanced power output during the workout and is suggested as a means of enhancing performance when you have low energy stores and want to lose fat.
Larger caffeine doses may have even greater performance-enhancing effects—8 mg/kg/body weight has proved ideal in non-glycogen depleted athletes.