Shifting to a low-carb diet can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In a high-carb world where processed food is king, low-carb eating takes some planning, but the health and body composition benefits are worth the effort. This article will give you ten steps that simplify the process and make the transition easier.
Step 1: Eat every two to three hours.
When you are initially transitioning to a healthy low-carb diet, having frequent meals is helpful to balance your insulin and cortisol levels. It also keeps you from being hungry and consequently eating something you shouldn’t. Once you have a low-carb routine down, you can shift to fewer meals that are farther apart if you prefer, but most people find 5 to 6 small meals a day is a good place to start, especially if fat loss is a goal.
Step 2: Eat a complete protein with each meal.
Your best bet in protein is anything that could once fly, swim, or run in the wild. Choose animal proteins that are wild caught, free-range or pasture-raised whenever possible.
Step 3: Eat two to three cups of green vegetables with every meal.
Vegetables promote satiety and nutrition, while providing fiber to ensure everything moves smoothly through the GI tract.
Step 4: Eat a healthy fat with each meal.
Healthy fats include coconut oil, butter from pasture raised cows, olive oil, nut oils, and avocado. Healthy fat makes meals more delicious and will help improve absorption of nutrients.
Step 5: Eat foods in their natural state.
Eat high-quality protein (fish, meat, eggs, etc.), low-carb vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, etc.), and healthy fat (nuts, seeds, olive oil) for every meal. Avoid processed foods.
Step 6: Drink only calorie-free liquids.
Water, tea, and coffee are the best choices. Avoid artificially sweetened beverages as much as possible.
Step 7: Individualize your carb intake.
A review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that in an overweight, minimally active population, less than 50 grams of carbs a day is ideal for fat loss. Up to 150 grams of carbs a day is recommended for leaner, more active people. Cycling carbs is another option in which training days are higher carb and rest days are very low-carb.
Step 8: Low-carb doesn’t mean no-carb.
Including some complex carbs in your diet from healthy sources (starchy vegetables, boiled grains, fruit) at opportune times (post-workout or with dinner) is necessary to support healthy hormone balance.
Step 9: Be prepared.
Prepare your meals in advance and have them with you when you go to work.
Step 10: Eat to satisfy your own needs and goals.
Don’t eat something just to please the people around you. Choose to eat what you want; don’t let someone make you feel bad because you are not eating the same unhealthy food they are.
Make It Happen: If you follow these simple rules at least 90 percent of the time, you will see results.
Try this: If you plan to eat every 3 hours and you have your first meal at 7 a.m., that means you can get 5 meals in, with your last one at 7 p.m. Five meals a day for seven days means 35 meals per week. In order to hit the 90 percent mark, that means 32 of your 35 meals need to be on point.
That leaves you with 3 meals each week in which you can go off-track. Skipping a meal counts as an off-track meal. At the end of each day, tally your score. It’s important to keep track; initially you will be surprised how far you are from 90 percent. With time, though, you will get better and better!