When you shift from a high-carb to a low-carb diet, you help your body regulate blood sugar, control hunger, and release fat. In this post, I share five things that will boost your low-carb success.
5 Things to Focus On When You Go Low-Carb [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Which foods to eat to increase healthy fats in your diet.
- Which vegetables are best for a low-carb diet.
- The importance of unprocessed foods.
- How to understand carbs and nutrition labels.
- Tips on helping your body transition into a low-carb diet.
Focus #1: Boost Your Fat Intake
When you cut carbs, you need to replace those calories with foods that will satisfy your body.
Foods that are high in protein are hunger-satisfying foods, but a high-protein intake can trigger an insulin response that slows fat release from fat cells.
Focus on boosting your fat intake by including fatty protein foods like eggs, fatty meat, and fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Adding fat presents a mental hurdle to get over because we’ve been taught that eating fat makes you fat. However, that adage is outdated. We now know that eating a low carb/high-fat diet keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels low, which promotes fat burning.
Focus #2: Keep Non-Starchy Vegetables in Your Diet
Being on a low carb diet doesn’t mean you have to cut all carbs. In fact, keeping non-starchy vegetables in your diet is a good way to provide hunger-satisfying volume.
They also provide vitamins and minerals that your body uses for everything from helping to convert nutrients to energy to promoting healthy bones.
With only three total carbs in two full cups (85g) of leafy greens, a salad a day is certainly doable for both a low-carb and a keto diet.
Focus #3: Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods
You’ll notice that the foods mentioned so far are whole, unprocessed foods. This is the third thing to focus on.
Now that low-carb and keto diets have become popular, food manufacturers are racing to get low-carb products on store shelves.
These processed foods have many of their beneficial nutritional and satiety elements stripped away to prevent spoiling and increase shelf life.
You’ll find that a low-carb shake will move through your digestive tract quickly, allowing hunger to return much quicker than if you had eaten twenty raw almonds despite the fact that the two snacks having similar amounts of carbs and calories.
When you opt for the raw almonds, you have an equally convenient snack without the preservatives and additives found in this processed drink.
Focus #4: Count Total Carbs
The next thing that is beneficial for low-carb dieters to focus on is total carbs, not net carbs. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carb count.
If you are allowing some processed foods into your diet, food manufacturers can reduce the number of net carbs by adding these two ingredients to their product.
The natural fiber that you get from plant foods is helpful because the fiber is locked within the structures of the plant making digestion and absorption of the sugars a slow process.
But, when the fiber is extracted from a plant and added back into a processed food, you are no longer getting that full benefit.
Adding sugar alcohols to their products is a way for food manufacturers to add sweetness without calories.
Some sugar alcohols like maltitol, which is an ingredient often added to sugar-free items, has a glycemic index of 35 and an insulin index of 27.
When you consume a food with maltitol, it will raise your blood sugar and insulin, setting up a condition within your body that can slow or prevent fat loss.
Even if you avoid processed foods and focus on whole foods, counting net carbs is simply another calculation that is unnecessary. Why go to the trouble of subtracting fiber grams when you can simply total up your total carbs?
Focus #5: Allow Your Body Some Downtime
Lastly, when you move away from carbohydrates, you want to focus on allowing your body time to go through a transition period.
When you first cut carbs, your body has less fuel to run on. This can lead to some low-energy days where you feel irritable and mentally foggy. This can be an uncomfortable period for some people.
If you have a condition that is affected by your diet, you do want to let your doctor know about your intention to follow a low-carb diet. For others, this low-energy period will self-correct as your body adapts to running on its alternative fuel source which is fat.
The length of time it takes to transition from being a good sugar burner to a good fat burner will depend on how drastically your diet has changed, your unique metabolism, and how strict you stick with your low-carb diet.
We do not live in a society that caters to the low-carb lifestyle so there are temptations around every turn.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next week!
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.