If you’re wanting to try the benefits that a low carb diet can offer, such as better blood sugar levels, some weight loss, and some hunger control, there are a few tips you need to know. Many low carb diets are dangerous, restrictive and quite unhealthy. The simple truth is, the right low carb diet can actually be pretty awesome. Think less blood sugar swings, an increased sense of satiety that leads to less late-night snacking, eating simple and healthy foods, and keeping processed foods and junk out of your body. The key to doing it right is following some crucial steps you’ll find here. Oh, and if you’re worried about eating a low carb diet, or unsure about it, these tips also cover some of the basic ideas most people worry about. I find that eating this way takes away that nasty sugar monster that lives inside of me, and keeps my blood sugar stable. Try these tips and let me know what you think!
1. Don’t Go Overboard
A low carb diet does not mean living off meats and fat to be healthy or thin. If you cut too many carbs at one time, then you’re going to get what is known as “carb crash” from the dramatic drop of carbs. You’ll feel exhausted, tired and suffer from a terrible mood. You need to slowly drop the carbs that cause a rise in your glycemic index, starting with sugar, refined sugars, added sugars from agave, honey, maple syrup and molasses, along with grains at first, which you can add back later, and potatoes. After that, don’t worry so much about the carbs in other veggies. You will need to limit fruit if you’re just starting out since it can mess with your blood sugar too, with the exception of berries, green apples and grapefruit.
2. Always Eat Protein at Every Meal
Protein is the key to surviving a low carb diet. It spikes your metabolism, fills you up, stabilizes your blood sugar and prevents a bad mood. The key is to keep your protein healthy. Choose foods like organic grass-fed poultry when you can, wild fish, unsweetened organic yogurt, organic or local eggs, egg whites, quality protein powder, and if you’re vegan or vegetarian, use quinoa, tofu, vegan protein powder and limit the beans and legumes you eat since they are higher in starchy carbs. Though quinoa is technically higher in carbs, it is actually a seed, not a grain, and is a good source of protein.
3. Eat Plenty of Veggies
You should never be counting the carbs of veggies, except potatoes, which you’ll need to limit in the initial stages of a low carb diet. You can add back healthy sweet potatoes later once your blood sugar and insulin levels have adjusted to eating low carb. Eat tons of veggies like broccoli, spinach, celery, salad greens, artichokes, green beans, leafy greens, asparagus, red bell peppers, onions, garlic, cucumbers, zucchini squash, etc. Butternut squash and canned or whole pumpkin are also very low in carbs and great for giving you a sense of carb satisfaction. You need veggies in your diet for nutrition and to prevent constipation that many extreme low carb diets can bring.
4. Include Healthy Fats
Going low carb does not mean going fat free. It also doesn’t mean you should load up on butter and bacon either. Instead, keep healthy fats to 1 tsp-1 tbsp. at each meal. I like fats such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, almonds, avocado, coconut oil, coconut butter, and if I eat eggs, I keep at least one yolk with the rest of my whites for the healthy fats in eggs. These foods actually do not raise your cholesterol and have been proven to lower the bad cholesterol, while raising the good cholesterol in your body. Moderate amounts of fat are important for nutrient absorption, your metabolism, and satisfying you for longer periods of time.
5. Eating Too Much
Don’t think eating a low carb diet means you can go overboard on your portions. While you don’t need to count calories, you still shouldn’t have multiple sources of servings. A simple trick I like to give people eating low carb is to make sure they have at least 20 grams of protein per meal, and always include lots of veggies with the recommended amount of healthy fats. Beyond that, there’s no need to pile on the meat or fat just so you’re full. Eat a good serving size and give yourself 20 minutes to let the fullness set in.
6. Embrace Herbal Tea
One really good tip for eating low carb is to satisfy that in-between-meals desire for food when you're not really hungry and just bored. I like herbal tea for this. Herbal teas like fruit flavored green tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea or any other caffeine-free herbal tea are excellent for offering taste that you want to enjoy without adding calories. Plus, this is a great way to increase your water intake, which you need plenty of on a low carb diet. Not consuming enough liquids can make you constipated, moody and dehydrated. Herbal teas are also full of antioxidants that nourish your heart, brain, digestive tract and skin.
7. Don’t Buy Prepackaged Low Carb Foods
If you’re starting a low carb diet, you may be inclined to buy those pre-packaged low carb products, marketed by many low carb diets out there. Don’t fall for this. Those foods are full of MSG, sodium, processed fats and oils, GMO soy, cheap protein and hormone-loaded protein. These foods can actually make you crave more of them, and though they may be sugar-free, many are loaded with sugar alcohols that make you gassy and can still spike your glycemic index. Snack on raw veggies, almonds or walnuts, and unsweetened Greek yogurt with a little stevia to keep things healthy.
8. Be Condiment Choosy
I recommend only using mustard and vinegar as your condiments, which are both calorie-free and sugar-free. Avoid mayos, ketchups and salad dressings, which can have added sugar. A little apple cider vinegar and mustard mixed with some black pepper is a great salad dressing topper. I love squeezing lemons over my salads with some Mrs. Dash for a nice and tasty zing too! Utilize herbs and spices to avoid MSG in premade seasonings or condiments, which can make you crave more food and cause headaches. Apple cider vinegar is especially helpful in lowering your glycemic index as well. A safe choice at restaurants is to ask for plain oil and vinegar for your salads
Low carb diets can be a great way to get ahold of your sugar cravings, keep off the weight, and are actually very easy to do. Feel free to enjoy beverages like black coffee, unsweetened almond milk, plain green tea, lots of water and herbal teas. If you need a sweetener, stay with stevia, which has zero effect on your blood sugar and is not artificial. Just avoid the juices and sweetened foods and drinks and you’ll be good to go. Have you ever tried a low carb diet?