After years of being told to avoid fat and eat low-fat foods, many people find the hardest part of adopting the diet is adding back in more fat. A low-carb diet needs the fat. Fat adds taste and calories to help us feel satisfied. Get it from using butter, coconut oil, high fat cheese, olive oil, avocado oil, even beef and bacon fat. Here are some easy tips.
Another option is to decrease the intake of carbohydrates slowly, over a few weeks, to minimize side effects. But the “Nike way” (Just Do It) may be the best choice for most people. Removing most sugar and starch often results in several pounds lost on the scale within a few days. This may be mostly fluids, but it can still be great for motivation.
That said, you don’t have to jump in with both feet. Schmidt recommends trying to eat under 200 g of carbs a day initially (a moderate-carb diet) and then adjust lower based on how you feel. “If you start paying attention to the carbs in your diet, you’ll eat fewer processed foods,” she says. And it’s those whole foods that are the basis of good health.
You probably hear the most about low-carb eating for weight loss, but for some people, the approach could also help optimize their health, says Schmidt. “Research shows that women who are obese or have metabolic problems [may] do better hormonally on lower carbs,” says Schmidt, pointing out that other outcomes of the diet can include better sleep, mental clarity, and increased satiety. (1)
If you’re looking for healthy low-carb snack ideas to bring on-the-go with you, your best bet is to make your own. Low-carb snacks you can prepare yourself at home — using low-carb foods like nuts, seeds, hummus, coconut flour or coconut oil, protein powders (like whey or bone broth), cocoa “energy bites,” cauliflower tots, and even low-carb “sweets” like cookies, muffins or donuts. And quickest of all are making up some low-carb protein shake recipes.
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Basic no-cook plates: Away from a kitchen or not wanting to cook for a meal? Sliced deli meats, cheese, and vegetables with dip make an easy lunch. Or boil up a dozen eggs and keep them ready in the fridge to grab for lunch or snacks. A can of tuna or salmon, with some full fat mayonnaise and vegetable crudités, is a simple lunch. Smoked oysters, sardines, herring with raw veggies or a salad are other easy no-cook choices.
Vegetables that grow above ground: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, mushrooms, cucumber, avocado (technically a fruit but usually included with vegetables), onions, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, other kinds of leafy greens etc. These are lowest in net carbs and can be enjoyed at all levels of carb restriction. However, if you are following a keto diet (< 20 grams of carbs per day), you may need to limit your portions for certain types, like bell peppers and Brussels sprouts. Low-carb vegetables guide
Research funded by an American company also found that some people with type 2 diabetes who followed a programme that included a low-carb eating plan were in remission after two years. Participants in the study were supported to restrict their intake of carbs, initially to less than 30g per day and then gradually increasing the amount, based on personal tolerance and health goals.
Not everyone should opt for a low-carb diet. If you’re pregnant, it’s possible to be on a lower-carb diet (and may even be indicated if you are told you have gestational diabetes), but talk to your doctor to find out what’s right for you and to ensure that you’re covering any potential nutrient gaps. “Many women who are pregnant find that the thought of eating protein and fat makes them sick,” says Spritzler. This can be especially common in the first trimester. “They naturally want more carbs. You should always listen to your body,” she says.