How to get started on a low carb diet

Consider these 12 helpful tips when switching to a low-carb diet.

Switching to a low-carbohydrate diet requires more than just swapping meat for pasta, and eggs for your morning bagel. The following tips, suggestions, and advice will help ease the transition from a high- to low-carbohydrate diet.

1. Make every carbohydrate count. When you eat carbohydrates, reach for complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and pasta, legumes, nonstarchy fruits, and vegetables.

2. Pick produce that triggers lower glucose response. Fruits and vegetables with the lowest glycemic index include apples, apricots, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumber, grapefruit, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, plums, spinach, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Moderate-GI produce includes cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, orange juice, peaches, peas, pineapple, yams, and watermelon. High-GI fruits and vegetables include bananas, beets, carrots, corn, potatoes, and raisins.

3. Read labels. Food labels are required to show how many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving. By reading labels carefully, you can track how many carbohydrate grams are in all the foods you eat.

4. Skip the soft drinks. Soda, sports drinks, sweetened juices, and other soft drinks are chock-full of low-quality carbohydrates. When you’re thirsty, choose diet sodas, sugar-free iced tea, or seltzer water with a splash of lemon instead.

5. Think ahead when dining out. You can eat in restaurants when you’re on a low-carbohydrate diet. Pick a restaurant whose menu doesn’t revolve around bread or pasta — a seafood restaurant is an excellent choice. Second, plan your day’s diet around the restaurant meal. If you’ve got your heart set on a hunk of French bread at dinner, go light on carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch. Third, when you place your order, don’t be afraid to ask the waitress to leave off the bun or breading. You’re paying for the meal, after all, and it should be served the way you like it.

6. Stock your kitchen with low-carbohydrate foods and snacks. Fill the pantry and fridge with nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish, lean meats and poultry, dairy products, and low-carbohydrate snack bars.

7. Go nuts about nuts. A variety of studies have shown that peanuts and other nuts, which are rich in monounsaturated fats, help contribute to weight loss and heart health. What’s more, they are rich in magnesium, folate, fiber, copper, vitamin E, and arginine, all of which play an important role in the prevention of heart disease. Smear peanut butter on a sliced apple, sprinkle chopped almonds on a salad or in yogurt, or reach for a handful of nuts instead of a bag of potato chips.

8. Have an oil change. Select heart-healthy monounsaturated oils such as peanut, olive, and canola oil for cooking and salad dressings.

9. Watch your condiments. Carbohydrates hide in condiments such as relish and ketchup, which each have 4 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, and barbecue sauce, with about 8 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon.

10. Choose lean meats. If you’re switching from a low-fat to a low-carbohydrate diet, you might think you now have license to eat lots of fatty meats. Forget it. Fatty meats are high in saturated fat, which is bad for your heart. Select lean beef, pork, or poultry. Remove any skin and trim visible fat.

11. Fill up on fish. Seafood is high in protein and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids that protect against heart attack and are vital to the proper function of brain and nerve cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly abundant in higher-fat, cold-water fish such as mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, sardines, and lake trout. All seafood, including shellfish and crustaceans such as oysters and shrimp, contain omega-3 fatty acids.

12. Get out and move. Exercise is a crucial part of any diet. It speeds up metabolism, burns calories, strengthens and tones muscles, increases flexibility, boosts mood, improves circulation, and so much more. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking, biking, or swimming at least five days a week, and more if you can fit it in. Make exercise more enjoyable by working out with friends, giving yourself nonfood rewards when you reach your goals, and trying new sports. Combining moderate exercise with a healthful, low-carbohydrate eating plan will help you lose weight and stay healthy.

Originally published in the Easy Everyday Low Carb Cookbook, from the Editors of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

-Sanjana Subramanian

How many times have you heard people say, “I’ve lost all that weight because I went on a low-carb diet!”? In today’s scenario, it would be too many to count! Let’s face it – low-carb diets are one of the most popular diet plans today, with everyone from celebrities to your best friends trying it out (and probably even succeeding). So, yes, a low-carb diet is a good choice for you if you intend to lose some weight. But, it’s also important to keep your meal plans balanced, so that your body receives all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and of course, display effective results.

How to get started on a low carb dietLow-carb Balanced meal

Why should you go on a low-carb diet?

Most people opt for a low-carb diet to lose weight. But there are other benefits to this, too. For instance, when you begin a low-carb diet, your sugar cravings will start reducing. This is because carbs break down into sugar in the body and when you cut down on your carb intake, you’re bound to have a lower amount of sugar cravings, which can aid in weight loss. Moreover, when you cut down on sugar and starchy food when you’re on this diet, it leads to more stable blood sugar levels. What this also means is that your body’s levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, tend to go down, which helps burn fat and leaves you feeling content, instead of irritable and hungry. You might also find that you have more energy and are sleeping better.

Where do you even begin?

Before you get started, it’s important to educate yourself. After all, it’s your body that’s going to go through this change and so, it’s absolutely essential for you to know everything about this diet plan before you take the plunge. So, begin by doing all your research – read relevant articles, speak to people who know more about this or consult with your dietitian.

The most important thing to do before you begin is to understand what kinds of food items contain carbs. Bread and rice, for example, contain a lot of carbs, as do starchy vegetables including potatoes, beans and corn. Proteins and fats, on the other hand, do not. You can keep whole grains, low-carb veggies like broccoli and cauliflowers, in your diet. What you should do is reduce the intake of unhealthy carbs in your diet, such as extra sugar and refined food. Cookies, cakes, cereal, and aerated drinks are your enemies, so steer clear! Look for substitutes such as almond or peanut butter, if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Incorporating healthy fats like avocados and nuts in your diet, is also essential because these fats keep you full.

Once you’ve done all your research and know exactly what you should eat and what you must avoid, start stocking up your kitchen with the ingredients and food stuffs you need, while throwing away what you do not. If you’d like, you can also prep your meals beforehand, so that it saves you time and keeps you from craving other kinds of food when you’re hungry and have no inclination to put together a meal from scratch. You can also start looking for low-carb substitutes. For instance, lettuce leaves are great substitutes for taco shells, while zucchini ribbons can be used instead of pasta.

Studies also suggest that a good way to begin is by trying to consume less than 200 gms of carbs in a day. You can start off this way and then bring the count down lower, if you feel like you can. It’s all about focusing on exactly what you eat and how much of it you eat. Once you start focusing on the carbs in your diet, you will slowly begin to reduce your intake of processed food. To help yourself, try to maintain a food journal. There are also Keto apps that you can download, to keep track of your calories and carb intake. While this may seem difficult at first, don’t give up! With time and practice, you will definitely get a better idea of your daily carb intake and will be able to prepare your meals more mindfully.

It’s equally important to understand that eating fat is not going to make you fat. In fact, if you eat healthy fats and cut down on carbs, it leads to body fat burning faster. But more than anything else, it’s vital to be patient with your body and mentally prepare yourself for this diet by consulting with a doctor or a nutritionist first.

What to eat on a low-carb diet

  • Natural fats like butter, olive oil, etc.
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Lean meat
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Veggies that grow above the ground (Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Bell Peppers, Avocados, Brinjal, Lettuce, etc.)
  • Nuts (in moderation)
  • Berries (in moderation)

What to avoid

  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Soda
  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Sweets including doughnuts, cakes, chocolates, and candy
  • Fruit
  • Beer

What you must also avoid is any product that claims to be a ‘low carb’ version of high-carb food. This happens with ice-creams, chocolate, bread, pasta, cookies and more. But, don’t be fooled into thinking this is ‘low carb’. Avoid such items altogether or make sure to check the macro-breakdown carefully

To conclude, what we’d like to say is – always, always listen to your body and look for signs. Your body knows enough to let you know whether a particular diet regime is working for it or not. Keep your nutritionist or doctor informed of your progress at all times and if you’re absolutely careful and dedicated, you’re bound to achieve your goal weight soon.

Get Personalised Diet and nutrition coaching at Coached Darzee

How to get started on a low carb diet

You’ve likely landed on this page because you made the decision to try a low carb diet. Congratulations! You’re about to start a journey that may change your life for the better. This article will walk you through the essential steps needed to get started with a low carb diet.

1. Write Down Your Goals

This may be the most important step to success. Why do you want to get started with a low carb diet? Do you want to lose weight? Get off medications? Feel better? All of the above? Take a few minutes now to really think through this. Do you have a timeline? Is it realistic? Remember to keep your goals S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. I created a worksheet you can download for free below if you need help with goal setting.

2. Define Your Strategy

Do you have an all-or-nothing personality, or do you do best when you are able to ease your way in through moderation? Think about how you’ve done things in the past — which approach has been the most successful for you? If you’re not sure, give the following article a read. Mark weighs the pros and cons of each strategy and reviews the available research on the topic.

Knowing which approach is likely to work better for you can have a huge impact on your success, especially as you’re getting started with the low carb lifestyle.

3. Keep a Low Carb Food List Handy

Familiarize yourself with what foods are low-carb (and which foods aren’t!). Do your research. I’m not saying that any food is completely off limits; but you’ll want to plan for high carb items and eat them in moderation. You can download my Low Carb Food List to get started!

In addition, there are lots of great (and free) apps to track and/or look up carb counts. My favorite app is Chronometer (it uses the USDA food database), but MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary are great too.

4. Clear Out Your Pantry and Fridge

This may seem obvious, but you really do want to avoid temptation as much as possible, especially during the first few weeks of lowering your carb intake. Depending on how much of a sugar addiction you have, your body may initially go through withdrawal and it will help to remove all temptations you can. While this can be challenging if you have roommates or family who are not also following a low carb diet, but it can be done!

Your strategy in number two above will come in to play here. If you are an all-or-nothing person, you’ll want to clear out all the high carb foods right away. Donate what you can, give to friends or family, or simply throw away anything won’t fit into your new diet.

If you are able to ease in, I still recommend donating or giving away. This will make things easier in the long run.

5. Recruit Support

If you have friends or family joining you on your journey, count yourself lucky! Starting a low carb diet is much easier when you have someone to call upon for support and advice, or for a little extra motivation when you need it. Many people think a low carb diet is just a fad and not sustainable — believing they have to give up bread or pasta forever. While this is not true, it can be awfully hard to convince someone to try something new and you’re likely to face some pressure from those who aren’t familiar with the low carb diet.

We’ve got your back! Join the Low Carb & Tasty Facebook Group and subscribe to my monthly newsletter for support and motivation as you get started on your low carb journey.

Published: July 12, 2018 Last Updated: February 29, 2020

Eat up that meat, cheese, savory salmon, and bed of greens like there’s no tomorrow!

How to get started on a low carb diet

How to get started on a low carb diet

Why go low-carb? It’s a valid question, especially considering there are so many diets and lifestyle plans out there. Many people find that pasta and bread get in the way of their weight loss goals. If that sounds true for your lifestyle, then this low-carb diet for beginners may be the perfect way to jump-start your weight loss goals. Low-carb diets are designed to help you slim down while also allowing you to find satisfaction in meals that don’t involve carbohydrate-rich foods.

There are some diets that go completely no-carb – like the Keto diet – while others just reduce the number of carbs you consume. Which is right for you? After you read more about this low-carb diet for beginners, you’ll be informed and can more appropriately rethink how many carbs you should be consuming. I’ll be the first to tell you that eating carbs is one of my favorite past-times. A warm baguette smothered with a triple creme brie is heaven on earth! And I honestly can’t get enough of a giant bowl of linguine, drenched in red sauce and smothered with parmesan before I delicately twirl it around my fork.

Unfortunately, eating a large amount of carbohydrates (especially simple carbs) does a lot for the soul but nothing for the waistline. It becomes so much easier to stick to a low-carb diet when you have all the information at your fingertips. You can learn how to enjoy a rich piece of salmon atop a bed of greens and allow a lot of the Italian classics to become an occasional treat.

There’s a lot of information out there on low-carb diets, but I want to break it down for you, from the research to the foods to eat, and the recipes to try. Enjoy!

The Research

How to get started on a low carb diet

Studies show that avoiding sugar and starches aids in the stabilization of blood sugar, as well as the levels of insulin (which stores fat). This combo makes for increased fat burning, higher levels of satiation, and reduced food intake. While other studies show that a low-carb diet helps in weight loss and blood sugar management, research has also revealed that consuming a high-fat diet is not problematic.

So, this is where a love for vegetables and healthy fat proteins comes in handy. In the end, a low-carb diet is all about eating fewer carbohydrates while consuming foods with a higher proportion of fat. There should also be a large portion of vegetables on your plate. Where there’s a lack of noodles, there should be a whole lot of zoodles! And you won’t think the bread is missing if you have a hefty leaf to roll up your sandwich with in its place.

But to help you better understand the ins and outs of a low-carb diet, we put together an in-depth guide that explains the how-tos to start a low-carb diet for beginners. It includes what you should eat, as well as the things you shouldn’t eat.

1. Think about your ‘why’

Before you even start, it can be really helpful to think carefully about why you are looking to embark on a low carb lifestyle. Having a clear set of goals at the start can help maintain motivation and give you something specific to work towards.

Write down a clear set of goals now so if down the line you start to lose motivation, you can easily revisit these and remind yourself why you started. Why not try setting some SMART goals to help you come up with some goals which are realistic, achievable and motivating.

2. Become a student again

Many people find that understanding some of the basic science behind low carb can help them to understand how and why the changes that they are making are helping them to achieve their goals. For example, if your goal is to improve your blood glucose control, it can be helpful to understand that higher carb foods can cause spikes in blood glucose level.

Learning which of your favourite foods are higher in carbs and which are lower can empower you to make the right decisions to manage your blood glucose and allow you to become creative with your meals.

As one of our Low Carb Champions, Diane, said “Go for it. Educate yourself and read as much as you can”.

3. Forget the diet

The term ‘diet’ often gives the impression of a short-term way of eating and can have connotations of constantly feeling hungry and missing out. But, if you’re looking to improve your health in the long run, it’s important to find a way of eating that reflects this.

It can be helpful for some people to ditch the diet mentality and instead focus on creating a low carb lifestyle. We don’t want the low carb way of eating to feel overly restrictive or boring – in fact it’s the opposite! We’ve created recipes that you and the whole family will enjoy, including favourites like bolognese, lasagne and pancakes.

When it comes to feeling hungry, a lot of people find that the combination of increased healthy fat intake and fewer blood glucose level spikes actually help them to feel more satisfied after eating.

4. Become a shopping pro

The supermarket can be daunting, especially if you are trying a new way of eating. We’ve put together a go-to guide on the Low Carb Program to help you navigate the supermarket while keeping low carb in mind.

In general, it can be helpful to make a clear shopping list before you go and not shop when you are hungry to reduce the temptation to buy high sugar snacks and things not on your list.

5. How low do you go?

Low carb is generally defined as reducing carbohydrate intake to 130g or less per day. For some people this is low enough for them to feel comfortable and achieve their goals. Others prefer to aim for a lower carbohydrate intake per day. Take some time to experiment and see how you feel at different levels of carbohydrate intake.

For those getting started it can be easier to gradually reduce carb intake over a number of days or weeks. We have a range of moderate carb recipes on the Program which can help with this transition period.

6. Keep a food diary

For many people, going low carb is a learning curve. Tracking your food intake, even just for a few days, can help you to understand how many carbs you are eating, and where the most carbs are coming from. You might be surprised by some of the higher carb culprits!

For those who are testing blood glucose levels, tracking this alongside your meals can help you to see any patterns that arise between different foods and blood glucose level.

7. Use your support network

Starting a new way of eating can be difficult at times. This is where your support network comes in. Whether it’s friends, family or the online community, having people there to motivate and encourage you can make all the difference.

Finding a support network of people on a similar low carb journey is also a great opportunity to share tips, advice and resources.

8. Go for it

We asked some of our Low Carb Champions to give us some of their top tips for getting started and the common theme was to “go for it”. Here are some of our favourite quotes:

Jean Amison: “Grasp it with both hands, it’s turned my life around. Before, my doctor told me that as time went on I’d probably need to take insulin, but since starting the Program I’ve managed to come off nearly all of my medication. You’ll see results in such a short space of time.”

Vince Smith: “Do it. I used to have dry skin and a dry scalp and that’s gone now. There’s other benefits than just blood glucose control, it can help with weight loss, circulation and foot issues”.

John Nevans: “Be prepared and just do it and consider getting a mentor to support you”.

Chrissy Stevens: “Don’t give up. The first two weeks are the worst but then it becomes a lot easier”.

9. Remember – it’s not always about perfection

Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves for not achieving perfection. The important thing to remember is that progress is not always about perfection!

It’s likely that everyone will slip up every so often, but the best thing to do is remember your motivation and goals and get back on it as soon as you can.

Find out more and get your annual Low Carb Program membership with 70% off here.

How to get started on a low carb diet

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How to get started on a low carb diet

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How to get started on a low carb diet

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Inside the Low Carb Starter Kit, You’ll Find…

How to get started on a low carb diet

Chicken Fajita Soup

Combine these classic Mexican flavors into a delicious soup that is both flavorful and filling. This soup is perfect for a freezer meal.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Zoodles with Pesto & Shrimp

Use a spiralizer to create zucchini noodles that you can use in any dish where you’d normally use pasta.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Steak & Arugula Salad

All a steak needs to shine is salt and pepper and a simple, lightly dressed salad. That’s what makes it the perfect low-carb meal.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Chicken Fajita Soup

Combine these classic Mexican flavors into a delicious soup that is both flavorful and filling. This soup is perfect for a freezer meal.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Zoodles with Pesto & Shrimp

Use a spiralizer to create zucchini noodles that you can use in any dish where you’d normally use pasta.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Steak & Arugula Salad

All a steak needs to shine is salt and pepper and a simple, lightly dressed salad. That’s what makes it the perfect low-carb meal.

30 KETO MEALS IN UNDER 30 MINUTES

✓ Recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
✓ Each recipe takes 30 minutes or less to make
✓ Easy-to-find, common ingredients
✓ Net-carb, fat, protein, and calorie count for each recipe
✓ Beautiful color photos of every recipe

How to get started on a low carb diet

Chicken Fajita Soup

Combine these classic Mexican flavors into a delicious soup that is both flavorful and filling. This soup is perfect for a freezer meal.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Zoodles with Pesto & Shrimp

Use a spiralizer to create zucchini noodles that you can use in any dish where you’d normally use pasta.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Steak & Arugula Salad

All a steak needs to shine is salt and pepper and a simple, lightly dressed salad. That’s what makes it the perfect low-carb meal.

PLUS

A done-for-you 2-week meal plan that uses the recipes from the cookbook to form a simple plan. Macronutrients are provided for each day’s meals (* totalling 1,100 calories to promote a 2-lb weight loss per week), and less than 15 grams of carbs. Not that it is not necessary to count calories on a low-carb diet. We recommend eating to satiety.

How to get started on a low carb diet

How to get started on a low carb diet

* Calorie intake and net carbs vary from person to person. To adjust for your individual needs, you can increase the portion size of your meals and/or add in the recommended snacks.

What other customers say

I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this for more than a week, but I’m on week 3 already. It’s been so much easier with the meal plan. Thanks!

I think I was eating too many carbs when I started out, but after I read your guide I cut back to 20 grams, like you recommended and it worked!

I love the meal plan and that the cookbook includes all the recipes for the meals in the plan. That saves me so much time.

Low Carb starter kit faqs

✔ After I purchase the starter kit, how will it be delivered to me?

The starter kit is a digital collection that will be sent to you via email in PDF form. There are three total downloads: the Getting Started Guide, the Delightfully Low Carb Cookbook, and the 14-day meal plan/shopping list. After purchase, it can be viewed in your browser and downloaded. You have the option to read it on your computer, phone, or tablet. And you can print it too!

✔ Does the starter kit contain everything I need to get started?

Absolutely! The main things you need are 1.) Information you can rely on, 2.) A list of foods you can and can’t eat, 3.) A meal plan with calorie/nutrient counts, 4.) A shopping list, 5.) A cookbook with all the recipes in your meal plan. All of those things are included in this starter kit!

✔ What can I expect from the meal plan?

The meal plan contains 14 full days of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner). The main meals for the day are set to 1100 calories to promote a 2-lb weight loss per week. If your calorie count is higher than that, recommended snacks are included, or you can increase the portion size of each meal.

Does the cookbook use hard-to-find ingredients?

No. The recipes in the cookbook use ingredients that are easy to find in your local grocery store.

✔ Are the recipes difficult to make?

No. Each recipe will take under 30 minutes of active cook time. They are designed to be quick and easy.

‍There are three common errors made with a poorly-formulated low carbohydrate diet that can cause stomach and intestinal upset and diarrhea: sugar alcohols, too much protein, and the wrong source of dietary fats.

A well-formulated ketogenic diet is a key component for effective diabetes reversal. When done right, diarrhea is not a common side effect of this nutritional plan. If it occurs, it is likely due to well-intentioned but incorrect food choices. But while sorting this out, it is important that you stay hydrated and replenish your electrolytes!

It is also important to note that there are many causes of diarrhea independent of a ketogenic diet, so contact your doctor if your diarrhea causes severe symptoms or lasts longer than a week.

You may need to take a closer look at what you are eating.

Ask yourself a few questions:

1. Are you a frequent consumer of sugar free beverages, candies, protein/diet bars, and sugar substitutes? These can cause diarrhea.

Sugar free and low carb products frequently contain sugar alcohols to give them a sweet taste while avoiding table sugar (sucrose). These sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, lactitol, and isomalt) have been known to cause gastrointestinal distress (Makinen, 2016). Of these, sorbitol is the least tolerated, but all of them can cause gas, nausea, and diarrhea if consumed above one’s level of tolerance. Thus, eating fewer products containing sugar alcohols may help with your diarrhea.

This video explains the connection between sugar alcohols and gastrointestinal distress:

2. Are you eating low carb, low fat, and high protein? Too much protein can lead to diarrhea.

Remember, a well-formulated ketogenic diet is low carb, high fat, and moderate protein. When cutting carbs, it can be tempting to increase your protein without increasing your fat, but the resulting high protein diet can lead to diarrhea (Speth, 1983). It is important to keep protein at about 10-20% of your daily energy need and add ‘good fat’ for satiety. More on what constitutes ‘good fats’ below. Read more on how much protein you need on a ketogenic diet

3. Are you choosing the right sources of dietary fat? Some oils can cause diarrhea.

While a little bit of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fats are required from our diet, more is not better. In particular, our digestive systems have a limited tolerance for vegetable and seed oils high in omega-6 fats. Early in our human research, we found out that feeding our patients a high fat diet made with soybean, corn, safflower, or sunflower oils promptly made them feel nauseated and caused diarrhea. Given that a well-formulated ketogenic diet eaten to maintain body weight provides 70-80% of one’s daily energy intake as fat, the majority of this fat intake needs to come from mono-unsaturated and saturated sources such as olive oil, high oleic versions of safflower and sunflower, coconut oil, lard, butter, cream, and high fat cheese.

Here are some fats and oils that we recommend:

How to get started on a low carb diet

Citations

Makinen KK. Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals. Int J Dent. 2016; 2016: 5967907.

Speth JD, Spielmann KA. Energy source, protein metabolism, and hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies. J Anthropol Archaeol 1983; 2:1–31.

How to get started on a low carb diet

  • by Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC Last modified on: January 5th, 2020 09:42 am
  • First posted: July 9, 2019 January 5, 2020
  • Healthy Weight Loss, Lists, Low Carb Diet

There is no doubt that reducing my carb intake has made a world of difference in how I feel, and low-carb dieting is a very effective weight loss strategy. But, if you’re just getting started on a low-carb diet, there are some things to consider. In this post, I will share five things that are good to know before you go low-carb.

5 Things to Know Before You Start a Low-Carb Diet [Video]

In this video, you will learn…

  • How your body will feel during the transition to a low-carb diet.
  • The importance of electrolytes.
  • What to look for on the ingredient list of packaged foods.
  • The effect a low-carb diet has on medications.
  • The relationship between starting a low-carb diet and age.

Number 1: Eating Too Little Fat will Leave You Feeling Hungry.

The foods you eat provide your body with calories that it uses for energy. That energy is derived mainly from carbs and fat. When you cut carbs, you rob your body of a primary energy source.

If you also eat low-fat, you cut out both energy sources and your body will turn on hunger and cravings to coax you to eat more food. Remember that the goal of a low-carb diet is to turn your body into a better fat burner, but to get to that point, you need to feed your system fat.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Even if you eat enough fat, there will likely be a period of time right after cutting carbs when you feel low on energy and generally worse rather than better.

This transition period is due to the fact that your body has not yet developed all of the enzymes and processes it needs to rely on fat as its primary fuel. To work through this transition, one of the things your body needs is simply time. Another thing it needs is electrolytes.

Number 2: Replenish Electrolytes when Starting a Low-Carb Diet.

Electrolytes partner with water. When you cut carbs, your body releases a lot of water from glycogen stores in your muscles and liver. That water flushes out of your body and carries electrolytes along with it.

If you don’t replenish those electrolytes, which are things like magnesium, potassium, and salt, you will be prone to muscle cramps, fatigue, and cravings. The easiest way to stay on top of this is to use an electrolyte supplement each day. In my home, we use Endure Electrolyte Supplement.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Number 3: Sugar is Everywhere.

Another thing to realize is that sugar is everywhere. Sugar is a carbohydrate. In fact, it is the most refined form of carbohydrate that you can consume.

When you cut carbs, you will find that your success improves if you become somewhat of an ingredient detective. My rule for sugar is that it should not be one of the top three ingredients.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Get in the habit of reading the ingredient list on packaged foods. Keep in mind that sugar goes by many aliases. Some common alternative names for sugar are corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fruit juice concentrate, and sucrose. You need to be careful so that you don’t get fooled by creative marketing.

For instance, this package of Golden Delicious Apple Chips contains apples and oil, followed by corn syrup, sugar, and dextrose. That’s three added sugars, so in my book, this is not a good alternative to potato chips.

How to get started on a low carb diet

Number 4: Some Medications are Impacted by Diet.

The next consideration is medication. Medications for blood sugar regulation may need to be adjusted within a day of moving from a high-carb to a low-carb diet.

There are other medications as well, including blood pressure meds that can be affected by changes in your diet. If you are on a medication, don’t start a low-carb diet without letting your doctor know about your intentions.

Number 5: Age Doesn’t Matter.

When it comes to low-carb dieting, age doesn’t matter. Perhaps because I myself am in my fifties, a large portion of my audience is 50 years of age or older. Low-carb diets work for weight loss regardless of age.

As an added bonus, issues like energy and mood improve and joint pain diminishes, so we can learn new tricks or at least a new way of eating as we age.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this was beneficial. I will see you in the next post. Till then, have a great week!

About the Author

Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

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