Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are macronutrients, meaning your body needs them in large amounts to function properly. However, carbs provide the body with a reliable source of energy, making it challenging to reduce carbs or lose weight. You can start and maintain a low-carb diet by making these simple nutritional changes:
1. Take It Slow
The first thing you’ll notice when you cut carbs is that you start craving more of them. This is the body’s reaction to losing its favorite macronutrient, but gradually reducing your carb intake will minimize cravings. The body will eventually begin to adjust to your new food plan and start burning fats, then proteins, in that order. It may take a couple of weeks before this happens, but you are also likely to lose weight during the transition period.
2. Limit Simple Carbs
Simple carbs are found naturally in foods, such as fruits and milk, but are also found in food containing refined or processed sugars. Simple carbs are called “bad carbs” because of how quickly they are absorbed into the bloodstream and stored as fat. So, they are not a lasting source of energy, unlike complex carbs. Therefore, a rule of thumb when transitioning to a low carb diet is to consume fewer simple carb foods such as:
• Baked products (e.g., pastries, cakes, and white bread)
• Sodas and sweetened drinks
• Desserts (e.g., ice-cream and cookies)
Having to limit these foods is not always easy for those who enjoy or consume them regularly. However, it is a necessary evil when switching to a low-carb nutritional program.
3. Increase Complex Carbs
Complex carbs (“good carbs”) take longer to breakdown and are a more reliable source of energy. They include foods such as:
• Whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat flour, corn, quinoa, and oats)
• Peas, beans, lentils, and other legumes
• High-fiber foods (nuts, fruits, and green or leafy vegetables)
These foods are less likely to quickly increase your blood sugar levels and will, therefore, prevent the hunger and crave cycle associated with eating refined or processed carbs.
4. Consume Healthy Fats
When the body runs out of carbs to burn, it is forced to use fats, then proteins, for energy. So what better way to transition to eating fewer carbs than to force the body to use these other macronutrients for fuel? It will also force the body to convert its fat reserves into energy. What’s important is to choose foods containing healthy fats (“good fats”). Some examples are cheese, whole eggs, fatty fish (e.g., salmon and sardines), nuts, avocados, peanut butter, and flaxseeds. They are good for your heart and won’t raise your cholesterol levels.
Here Are Some Other Tips To Help You Upkeep Your Low-Carb Diet:
• Do not skip meals (unless intermittent fasting)
• Drink plenty of water
• Curb cravings with healthy snacks
• Choose foods with a low glycemic index
• Read the nutritional labels on food packages
• Create authentic menus using healthier carbs, fats, and protein