If you are used to eating a lot of potatoes or rice in your diet, you may think that going on a low-carb diet is virtually impossible. While it is true that your body and your cravings will go through a major change, always remember why you wanted to change your diet in the first place. If you wanted to shed a few pounds, just think of that feeling of achievement you will get once you’ve reached your goal. The reality is, you will surely experience a few bumps in the road. So before you start, prepare yourself for it and remember to go easy on yourself. Changing your diet is basically changing your lifestyle and here are a few tips to make going low carb a bit easier.
- Get yourself informed
First things first, know what you can and can’t eat and how many grams of carbohydrates you want to allow yourself to eat in a day. Low carb does not mean no-carb at all. Depending on how fast you want to lose weight or depending on how healthy you want to go, you may choose to include 20 up to 100 grams of carbs in a day. Familiarize yourself with the carbohydrate content of different food items, so that you know which ones you can and can’t eat. Different reading materials will have different advice on what you can and can’t eat and it’s up to you to make your own.
- Think real, whole food
Now that you know more about what you can and can’t eat, as much as possible try to avoid processed and refined food. Make use of quality protein and fat from meat, fish, eggs, butter, and cream. Selecting organic and natural food products will not only make you lose weight but will make your body a lot healthier as a result. Whatever you do, make sure to avoid low-carb processed food items.
- Remember to count carbs and not calories
Eating plays an important biological function, as it allows you to satiate your hunger and gives your body the nutrients it needs to function properly. Contrary to belief, going on a low-carb diet doesn’t mean starving yourself or depriving yourself of the nutrients it needs. It’s merely substituting the unhealthy carbs in your diet with healthy fats and proteins until you feel satisfied. The amount does not matter, as what is important is that your body will still have a source of energy to burn.
- Be ready for the transition
Carbohydrates are like drugs, and it is inevitable that in the first few days that you will feel like an addict looking for its next fix. Realize that your body is going through a major change during its first foray into the low-carb diet and although you fill yourself up until you’re satisfied, you may still experience fatigue, a lack of clarity and extreme cravings. The transition phase may only take a day or up to 3 weeks, and how long it lasts actually varies from person to person. Just because your friend was easily able to adapt, it may not mean the same for you. To make the transition period a little bit quicker for you, it is best to eat meat that has higher fat content.
Going on a higher protein and moderate fat diet will mean that your body will still convert the protein to glucose the way it did with carbs thus prolonging the conversion of fat as your primary energy source. It is best to cook fatty pieces of meat in butter and add in full fat cream whenever you can, so you can force your body to use fats as energy quickly. It’s like shocking the system into awareness so that it can get on with the new program quickly. Whatever happens during the transition phase, just make sure not to succumb to the wailings of your body for carbohydrates. Succumbing will only prolong the transition phase and your current progress will just be null.
- Be ready for the manifestations of the transition phase
While your body is adjusting to your new diet, you may experience a few symptoms. Not everyone does but in the event you do, here’s what you may experience: fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, dizziness and cramping. This is mainly because your body is going through an imbalance in electrolytes and a rapid lowering of insulin levels to which your body has to adjust to. If you feel like you’re about to faint, and you go to the bathroom quite often, this may mean a lack of the electrolyte sodium and dehydration.
The easy way to fix this is to add more salt to your food and increase your water intake. Going through a low-carb diet may make you lose not only sodium but potassium as well. Keeping your sodium intake up will mean you’re also keeping your potassium levels up. This will help ensure that during your weight loss, you don’t lose a lot of lean muscle mass and you will not experience cramping and fatigue. Cramping may not only be due to lack of potassium, it may also be due to dehydration. Make sure that when you begin your low carb diet, you also begin to consciously take more water.
- Be content
Your cravings may be screaming at you when you walk past the bread rack at the grocery and that’s okay. Remember that the cravings won’t last and remind yourself that you are contented with what you can eat. In the long run, doing away with bread or any other carbohydrate source will reap more benefits than the instant gratification and satisfaction it can bring when you succumb.
- Eat when you are hungry
Truth is, the more satiated you are with healthy food, the lesser you will crave for unhealthy carbs and the lesser chances you will have for succumbing to the cravings. So, make sure to eat whole food, as it can always keep your stomach full and yourself fully satisfied. Eat whenever you feel hungry and the next time you see a shining cookie, it will surely lose its sparkle.
Keep in mind that although going low carb isn’t easy, a few days to a few weeks of discomfort is a necessary evil you will have to contend with on the way to a healthy lifestyle. It’s a small price to pay to keep your body happy. At the end of the day, the benefits will be worth it.