11 Quick Tips To Lose Weight On A Low Carb Diet
Carbohydrates Restriction (low carb) Background –
To lose weight on a low carb diet, you must increase your fat burning potential and efficiency. The strategy must focus on the quantity, type, and timing of carb eating. Low carb is not only used as a dietary intervention in hospitals and clinics but now is being used by health conscious people around the world.
Low carb is an effective intervention for specific conditions and patient/client populations. It is not a “cure all” but it is highly effective. Low carb should be tailored to individual needs and goals.
The origin of low carb dates back to 1825, when Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin published The physiology of Taste. In this book, it was recommended as a solution for obesity which involved an avoidance from flours and starches.
In 1864, William Banting wrote, Letter on Corpulence. Banting had unsuccessfully tried to lose weight in addition to developing metabolic disease when he met Dr William Harvey who prescribed a diet that restricted starches, sugar and some dairy products. Banting’s letter documents his 50 pound weight loss and improved health due to the diet.
In the early 1900’s therapeutic carb restriction was used in the treatment of diabetes and epilepsy. Unfortunately, with the widespread use of insulin, diet management lost its luster to drugs.
Recently there has been a revival of interest in low carb diets as the Ketogenic diet has now been found to be one of the most effective dietary interventions for treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, a physician in the United Kingdom was named Innovator of the Year in 2016 after demonstrating a low-carbohydrate diet not only improved patient health, but also saved them money by reducing drug and medical costs.
1 ) Carbohydrate Levels Matter:
Carb restriction refers to dietary interventions that limit the amount of carbs to less than 130 grams/day, which is based on the U.S. Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for carbohydrate.
Varying levels of carb restriction protocols are in use or defined in research literature.
- Very Low Carb Ketogenic (VLCK): This diet recommends 30 grams or less per day of carbohydrates. Deliberate caloric restriction is not typically recommended.
- Low Carb Ketogenic (LCK): This diet recommends 30-50 grams of carbs per day. Deliberate caloric restriction is not typically recommended.
- Reduced Carbohydrate (RC): This diet recommends 50-130 grams of carbs per day. Deliberate caloric restriction may or may not be recommended.
- Moderate Carbohydrate, Caloric-Restriction (MC-CR): This diet recommends more than 130 grams of carbs per day with a range of 45-65% of daily calories coming from carbohydrates. By the way, this is the typical diet recommended to diabetes despite the overwhelming positive outcomes and adherence from the Ketogenic Diet. In my opinion, this diet should be avoided by anyone looking to lose weight or improve their risk factors associated with diabetes (type 1 and type 2).
2) Ignore Calories for a While:
On a low carb diet, especially a ketogenic diet, most people do best when NOT counting calories. I have found that 100% of my clients do not need to count calories. As your body heals and optimizes your metabolism, you’ll eat fewer calories naturally due to improvements in satiety. Cravings and hunger decrease and weight loss happens without counting pesky calories.
3) Practice Patience:
You did not destroy your metabolism, gain weight, or develop a chronic disease overnight. It will take more than a few days to reverse months, even years of a poor lifestyle and diet. But, the good news is that this intervention is strong and predictable…it will work! Practice patience and allow your body to heal…you will be rewarded.
4) Adequate Protein:
Many people falsely believe that eating too much protein while following a low-carb diet is bad. In fact, current research suggests that when you eat a low carb diet and maintain low (healthy) levels of blood sugar, too much protein is not an issue. Additionally, you need to maintain lean tissue and getting enough protein helps you do this. I customize the amount of protein depending on client goals, activity levels, and history.
5) Fat For Satiety:
Since you’ll be eating a lot more fat on a low carb diet, we want to ensure that is the “healthy” type. Avoid highly processed, refined oils like vegetable oil, canola oil, and other seed oils. Instead, eat whole food fats like fatty fish, fattier cuts of meats, poultry, pork. Freely add olive oil, butter, avocado oil, and coconut oil to meals. Eat nuts, seeds, avocado, whole eggs, and full-fat dairy products.
6) Don’t Go Fatty Batty On Low Carb
There is no need to eat tons of fat on a low carb diet. Don’t be afraid to eat them but use them for satiety (to keep you full). Be mindful that your body will use dietary fat and body fat for fuel.
7) Don’t Stress About “Net Carbs” vs. Carbs:
On food labels, the calculation of total carbs minus fiber is referred to as “net carbs”. Fiber is important to gut health and does not breakdown into glucose. Dietary carb intake may be based on total carbs or net carbs depending on which dietary approach is best for you.
8) Eat More Vegetables:
Dietary carbohydrates vary considerably in their ability to raise blood glucose (blood sugar). Non-starchy vegetables like greens, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, pepper, cucumbers, cabbage, brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc. minimally impact blood sugar and can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Non-starchy vegetables have fiber that feed your gut bacteria and provide you with lots of vitamins and minerals.
9) Ketogenic Diet/Low Carb Toolbox:
Depending on your health and goals, a ketogenic diet does not need to be followed forever but is a great tool for your toolbox. For example, someone who wants to reverse type 2 diabetes may need to follow this lifestyle indefinitely, while another person who only has weight loss as a goal, may follow it until the goal is reached and then loosen up the diet a bit. For example, I eat whole, unprocessed foods all of the time. But, when I want to lose body fat, improve the appearance of my skin, feel more energetic and focused, I “go keto” for a while. Typically, I follow a keto diet several months out of the year.
10) You Are Unique:
Your body and the way it responds is different than anybody else. You have your own unique genetics, underlying health issues, diet and health history, activity level, cultural and behavioral habits and beliefs, and level of knowledge. Combined with your goals, you are unique and complicated. Be mindful that when you use standard diets and guidelines, you and your body are not considered. Your optimal diet should be based on YOU, YOUR goals, and what works for YOU. You must be able to pivot your plan and stay consistent long enough to make a change.
11) Weight Loss and Low Carb:
If weight loss is your ultimate goal, calories still matter. Fortunately, when following a very low carb diet, calories tend to be reduced due to the natural decrease in appetite and cravings that occur on these diets. Occasionally, people plateau or are slow to lose weight, in those cases, I modify food choices, introduce “time restricted feeding”, may use intermittent fasting, or other tools in my mega toolbox of strategies to promote weight loss, health, and the body you desire.
I have found that the biggest drivers of “Getting YOUR Dream Body” is based on you eliminating processed foods (refined carbs, sugars, seed oils), eating unlimited non-starchy veggies, eating adequate protein, using “healthy” dietary fat for satiety, hydrate well and….stay patient, consistent, and committed to YOUR goals and plan….do not chase every new diet or “magic pill”…pick a program based on science and results and stick to it.
Valerie Grosso RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
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