More often than not, eating healthy is always part of one’s New Year’s resolutions and although the year is almost about to end, it’s never too late to start eating healthy. The easiest way you can make a switch to a healthier diet is to go for a low-carb diet. You may gasp at the term “low carb” thinking that you will have to restrict yourself drastically. Yet, a low-carb diet doesn’t have to feel restricting, if you do it right. Truth is, it involves a lot of greens and healthy fat, which makes for a richer diet.
Here’s a guide on what a low carb diet entails and how to start:
What is a low-carb diet?
A low-carb diet involves minimizing your carbohydrate intake. Food rich in carbohydrates contains glucose, which is the primary target of the body for an energy source. If you’re switching to a low-carb diet, this means restricting the amount of sugar and starches you consume.
Reducing the amount of glucose intake means your body will have to look for a new source of energy instead. Its target will then be the body’s stored fat, which means you are on your way to losing weight. Since you are also restricting your sugar intake, you are also reducing your risk for diabetes, and you will soon find that there is an increase in your body’s good cholesterol levels and a decrease in blood pressure that is most beneficial to those diagnosed with hypertension.
Benefits of a low-carb diet
A low carb diet does not only reduce your cholesterol levels and minimize your likelihood of getting lifestyle diseases such as diabetes; it is also beneficial for your mental health.
You may not realize it but sugar is highly addictive and has a significant influence on the brain when it comes to fatigue, cravings, and anxiety. That’s the main reason why you feel more alert and awake after eating chocolates or drinking soda that is rich in sugar. Yet, when its effects wear off, you’ll experience the crash making you feel grouchy, irritable and tired.
Reducing your sugar intake means you take away the highs and the lows it brings about, resulting in better mood control and hormone regulation. And since a large part of your brain is made up of fatty acids, consuming more healthy fats instead of the carbohydrates is tantamount to you aiding your brain to perform at an optimum level. The best part, you do not need to count your calories or portion your food intake. You can eat to your stomach’s content and still reap the benefits!
The question now is, what are the basics when going on a low carb diet?
If you’re doing a low-carb diet, keep in mind that healthy fats are your friends and carbohydrates are the enemies when you are selecting your food choices. Low carb just means low carb and not necessarily no carb, depending on how strict you want to go for yourself. As a general rule, strict low carb diets would suggest a consumption of 20 grams per day for maximum effect and less than 100 grams, if you’re not too keen on losing weight.
The trick is to replace all the carbs you used to consume with natural fat. This is where your body will take the energy it needs. Eat fat until your body tells you that you are satisfied, so you can avoid feeling hungry and tired throughout the day. The quantity of fat you need to consume varies from person to person. What matters is that you are satisfied after a meal.
Generally, here’s a breakdown of what you can eat and what you should avoid:
What you can eat:
- Meat of all kinds such as beef, pork, chicken and lamb
- Fish of all kinds and shellfish
- Vegetables that grow above the ground such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, cabbage, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumber, onions, peppers, and tomatoes
- Cheese of all kinds
- Dairy products such as cream, sour cream, Greek and Turkish yogurt and butter
- Nuts for snacking instead of candy or chips
- Low carb fruits such as strawberries and raspberries
What to avoid:
- Flavored drinks high in sugar such as sodas, fruit juices, flavored drinks, energy drinks
- Food high in sugar such as cakes, biscuits, jams, candy, ice cream
- Bread, pasta, potatoes and the like, as they contain a lot of carbs and the fiber and vitamins that they supply can easily be replaced by eating more greens
- Grains such as wheat, oats, and barley
- Rice and other rice products
- Low-fat products as they substitute the fat with carbs instead
- Beer, as it is made from barley
- Legumes such as beans and lentils
- Sweet fruits as they contain a lot of sugar, they are considered unprocessed candy
In the end, starting out with a new diet will never be easy, especially since your body has to go through major adjustments. It will take time before your cravings ebb, but it is also not as hard as you probably first imagined. When things seem a little too hard as you make the switch to a low-carb diet, just think of the benefits not only of your physique but also of your entire wellbeing. Soon enough, the cravings will go away and you will have happily adjusted to your healthier lifestyle. The key to successfully making the transition to a low-carb diet is to not make yourself feel deprived. Your body will thank you for it.
Yet, what seems to be the key to sticking through it is not only to go on a low-carb diet for aesthetics purposes. You should go for it because you want to feel healthier and more balanced. If weight loss is your only reason for doing so, make sure not to drastically remove all carbs from your diet, as this can really result to you just bingeing afterward. Instead, take it slow and just be mindful about your carb intake, knowing that you don’t have to avoid them completely.