Low-Carb Dieting For Beginners

Friday, December 1 2017 8:30 AM

Low Carb DietA low carb diet can be hard to navigate, especially for beginners that are just getting familiar with the idea. Studies show that low-carb diets can result in weight loss and improved health markers, and just about everyone knows someone who has tried it once or twice. If you’re curious about hopping on the low carb train too, here’s where to start.

What Is a Low Carb Diet?

A low carb diet is one that includes moderate carbohydrates, not to be confused with a ketogenic diet which requires even less. A low carb diet includes a higher proportion of healthy fats as well as moderate protein.

For decades we’ve been told that fat in our diets will result in negative health effects. Meanwhile, our grocery store aisles are packed full of unhealthy “diet” foods, often full of sugar and other harmful ingredients. This has been a major cause of the obesity epidemic.

Studies now show that you should incorporate plenty of natural fats into your diet. Fat actually provides nutrition as well as the good kind of cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. On a low-carb diet, you minimize your intake of sugar and starches. You can eat other delicious foods until you are satisfied all while losing weight and minimizing bloating.

How Does a Low Carb Diet Work?

When you decrease your consumption of starches and sugars, your blood sugar has the chance to stabilize while insulin levels go down. Yes, insulin is a very important hormone in our bodies as it regulates blood sugar levels and energy storage. But, insulin tells fat cells to produce and store fat and to hold on to the fat that they already carry in case you need the energy later. It also tells other cells in the body to burn glucose for energy instead of fat. So, insulin actually stimulates lipogenesis or the production of fat, and it inhibits lipolysis or the burning of fat.

Lower insulin levels are the main reason that low-carb diets generally yield good results.

It’s said that when carbs are restricted and insulin levels decrease, the fat is available for the body to use as energy, leading to feeling satiated longer. This increases fat burning and decreases the need to eat so much, resulting in weight loss.

How Many Carbs Are Allowed On a Low Carb Diet?

According to Institute of Medicine, adults should eat 130 grams of carbs a day on a regular diet. However, it’s easy to exceed this amount and most people do. Most low-carb diets limit carbohydrate intake to between 50 to 100 grams per day, depending on the diet.

Is a Low Carb Diet Safe?

Most people can safely begin a low-carb diet right away. But in the following three situations you should ask your doctor first:

  • If you’re diabetic or taking insulin

  • If you’re taking medication for high blood pressure

  • If you’re breastfeeding

If you’re not in any of these groups, it’s generally safe to begin a low carb diet. Always consult your doctor if you aren’t sure.

What Can I Eat on a Low Carb Diet?

The type of carbohydrate you consume on a low-carb diet is just as important as the total number of carbohydrates.

  • Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, avocado, spinach, kale, dark chocolate, cheese, nuts (especially macadamia nuts and pecans) vegetables growing above ground and natural fats (like butter and coconut oil).

  • Avoid: Sugar and starchy foods (like white bread, pasta, rice, beans, potatoes and excessive amounts of fruit).

If you enjoy an alcoholic beverage every now and then, stick to low carb beers such as Michelob Ultra and Miller Lite. Vodka, whiskey, and tequila are also low carb options, as well as a small amount of wine.

A low carb diet can help you eat whole, natural foods all while losing weight and feeling great. Try it with a friend that can help hold you accountable!

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