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Last Updated on February 24, 2021

How Does a Low Carb Diet Work for Health and Weight Loss?

How Does a Low Carb Diet Work for Health and Weight Loss?
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Going on a low carb diet is something almost everyone has either tried, considered, or heard about. However, low carb diets may mean many different things to different people. The old-style low carb dieting meant you ate butter and bacon all day. Most of us know that’s not the quickest ticket to good health, despite that the well-known approach might help you drop weight in the short term.

Thankfully, low carb diets have meant something much different these days. Low carb diets are now usually much healthier and help you eliminate the most harmful carbs from your plate: refined (processed) grains, all added and refined sugars, fast food, and junk food. Most also limit how many starchy foods they eat and mostly avoid foods like potatoes or corn.

Here’s how lowering your carbohydrate intake can help you achieve your health and weight goals and whether you should give it a try.

Why Try a Low Carb Diet

There are many reasons why one might adopt a low carb diet. I have actually lived on a low carb diet for the last 10 years. In that time, it has helped me overcome two serious medical conditions: chronic acne and food addiction. Here’s my experience with a low carb diet:

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  • I don’t count grams per day like some diet advice suggests.
  • I don’t eat bacon and butter (or even meat).
  • I eat well-balanced meals rich in clean protein, ample amounts of greens, and any veggies I want.
  • I always include some healthy fats in my day.
  • I enjoy produce sources of carbs like berries, green apples, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and pumpkin.
  • Fermented foods are also a daily part of my routine for optimal gut health and mood function.
  • I eat most of my fermented foods in the forms of kimchi, sauerkraut, plain (non-fat) Greek yogurt, coconut kefir, and 100% dark chocolate (yes, it’s a probiotic-rich food!).

What about whole grains and nuts? Generally, I even eat whole, gluten-free grains such as oats and wild rice if my body tells me it desires or needs them.

This style of eating can help you learn to crave healthier foods and realize just how much better your body feels on real food versus sugar and flour any day. You’ll also find your blood sugar levels are more stable, and your overall focus at work may improve.

How a Low Carb Diet Can Help You Achieve Better Health and Lose Weight

Lower Blood Sugar

A low carb diet can reduce the amount of sugar in your bloodstream, because carbs break down into simple sugars, which turns into blood glucose for your metabolism. Less carbs means less sugars, which is more beneficial for your heart health and waistline.

Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Eating a heart-healthy diet rich in produce, lean sources of protein, and heart-healthy sources of fats (in moderation) can prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes[1].

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It can also reduce insulin swings throughout the day due to better blood sugar levels—but don’t cut carbs too much or you may feel lightheaded and dizzy.

Weight Loss

It can help you drop weight either temporarily, through water weight when glycogen levels are depleted due to a reduction of carbs, or long-term, when the body starts to burn its own fat as fuel.

Setting Yourself up for Success on a Low Carb Diet

When you decide to start a low carb diet, it’s important to remember that you should cut carbs over a span of at least a few days. If you cut carbs back too much (from produce, especially), you may experience side effects that mimic flu-like symptoms, which will immediately turn you off to your new diet. It’s better to take things slow and work on cutting out the added sugars, refined grains, and all processed food and fast food before you go worrying about the carbs in berries and vegetables.

When you’re not eating many carbs, it’s important to consider where your calories are coming from. You’ll naturally be eating more protein and fats, so it’s important not to go overboard on either as this can also lead to weight gain and poor health over time.

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From the moment you start, make sure you’re getting enough water. You may have increased levels of thirst as your body begins to eliminate sodium and water via the kidneys. Drinking enough water as the body adjusts is essential.

Focus on produce, lean protein, and small amounts of  healthy fats at each meal. Even if you’re vegetarian or vegan, this is simple enough to do. What about whole grains, you may be asking? Moderate-style low carbohydrate diets can include small amounts of whole grains throughout the day if your body tolerates them well.

Some whole grains (especially steel-cut or rolled oats, wild rice, and quinoa) all have many health benefits that you can take advantage of if your body tolerates them. They are also excellent for lowering blood pressure levels and are rich in heart-healthy magnesium, potassium, and are good sources of iron.

However, try to eat moderate portions (1/4 – 1/3 cup) once a day instead of relying on them at all of your meals.

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If you aren’t sure where to start with your low-carb diet, check out these great low-carb foods and these low-carb recipes.

Supplement Tips

Don’t rely on diet bars, processed low-carb shakes, and pricey supplements. Get yourself a good multivitamin from a quality brand, a Vitamin D3 supplement and a probiotic to support your gut health. Take these daily, and if you have issues with constipation or irregularity, eat more vegetables and add some chia or flax seeds to your routine (which you should be eating anyway since they’re great sources of fats and fiber!).

The Bottom Line

When you decide to take the leap and get started, optimize real foods, kick the sugar and refined foods, and you’ll be on your way to a naturally healthy, low carb diet in no time. Soon, you’ll feel healthier, lighter, and more energetic.

More Tips for a Low Carb Diet

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Published on July 14, 2021

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)
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We’ve all had late-night cravings. Those times when you would lie in bed but your mind is on the fridge. You try to fight it, but you find out that you can’t. Food—you want food—to chew and to drink and to swallow. It usually goes this way: after much hesitation, you would get off your bed and walk over to the kitchen where you would stand for seconds and maybe even minutes contemplating a lot of things.

You have heard about it—read about it, too—the famous “eating late at night isn’t good for you.” You know well about how eating late at night can cause you stress and make you gain weight. But you just want to eat—and eat you must.

But what must you eat? What are your best and most healthy options? Here are the 13 best foods to eat at night.

1. Turkey

If you aren’t a vegetarian, then you most probably love turkey. It is not only very tasty and delicious, but it is quite nutritious, too. Turkey contains a lot of protein. As little as 28 grams of turkey already contains eight grams of protein.[1]

It also contains some amount of vitamins and a nutritive compound called selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring the thyroid gland functions properly.

Turkey passes as one of the best foods to eat at night because the protein tryptophan, which it contains in a considerable amount, is believed to promote tiredness and thus, sleepiness.[2]

2. Fish

Another great choice for non-vegetarians is fish, especially fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These are considered healthy choices because they contain a considerable amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body regulate its calcium levels and is good for your kidneys, parathyroid glands, skin, etc.

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Fatty fishes also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of healthy fatty acids that can serve as anti-inflammatory agents and are good for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to be able to increase the amount of serotonin produced by the nervous system, and thus, make sleep feel better.[3] This means that fishes would not keep you awake! You don’t have to roll from side to side trying to fall asleep after eating them.

Fishes also contain nutritive oils that are good for your body and skin.

3. White Rice

White rice is just rice that has no bran germ—that is, both bran and germ have to be removed as a result of processing from brown rice to make it white rice. This removal of bran and germ causes white rice to contain lower fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants when compared with brown rice. However, white rice still contains a commendable amount of nutrients such as thiamine, folate, and manganese and so is great as a late-night meal.

White rice has a high Glycemic Index. (GI). A food’s glycemic index is simply the measure of the rate at which that food increases the body’s sugar level. Taking in foods with a GI index, such as rice, can improve the quality of one’s sleep. This is as long as one takes these foods one hour before sleep. If you plan to sleep by 7 p.m, then it is a good idea to eat white rice by 6.p.m.[4]

4. Bananas

Finally, Something for vegetarians. A fruit! Bananas not only taste good, but they are also rich in the compounds potassium and tryptophan, making them one of the best foods to eat at night.

Tryptophan, as earlier stated, is an essential protein that plays a role in relaxation. Some bananas before meals can improve the quality of your sleep. Plus, they contain vitamins and are rich in antioxidants. They also contain compounds that are capable of making bowel movements easier.

5. Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers, crackers being a source of carbohydrates and cheese a source of tryptophan, can help balance the body’s sugar level. When you take cheese and crackers together, more tryptophan is made available to your brain.[5] The sugar in cheese feeds your brain, and tryptophan helps with the production of melatonin.

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This means that there would be more serotonin and melatonin production in your nervous system when you take cheese and crackers together. Serotonin improves the quality of a person’s sleep.

6. Warm Cereals

Cereals are great sources of fiber. Ones like oats also contain an impressive amount of melatonin, which improves sleep.

Before bed, a hot bowl of cereal and maybe even whole grains are a good choice. They do not contain a lot of calories and would most likely not keep you awake.

7. Yoghurt

Yogurt tastes good, and kids and adults love them. They are also a rich source of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral to the body. It is necessary for the growth of bone and teeth, and skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles need it for muscular contractions to happen.

Your body also needs calcium to produce melatonin from tryptophan. If calcium levels are low, there will be a reduced rate of production of melatonin—and thus, low quality sleep. Yogurt also contains casein. Casein is believed to reduce early morning hunger.

Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack and one of the best foods to eat at night.

8. Eggs

Eggs are great sources of protein and don’t contain many calories. As a late-night snack, eggs are a great pick. They are easy to cook and can go along with many different kinds of snacks.

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Eggs also contain tryptophan, which—as you must now already know—can improve the quality of one’s sleep.

9. Protein-Pineapple Smoothie

As you may have noticed, most of the snacks and foods on this list of best foods to eat at night are protein-rich foods. Protein-rich meals taken around bedtime can boost muscle repair. They can also combat age-related muscle mass loss especially in people who frequently exercise.

As a late-night snack, you can blend some pineapple pieces into milk. Milk is a great source of the protein tryptophan from which the body produces melatonin. Pineapples do not contain a lot of calories and might not prove a threat to your body’s normal digestive functions. Pineapples can also boost your body’s serotonin levels.[6]

10. Tart Cherries

Juices made from tart cherries are great alongside other snacks, such as crackers and cheese. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory effects. Even though in small quantities, tart cherries contain the sleep hormone melatonin. They also contain procyanidin B-2, which is believed to keep stable the essential amino acid tryptophan.[7]

Tart Cherries have low calories, too. This means that they are not too heavy and do not pose the threat of fat deposition, and they would not keep you awake.

11. Honey

Honey harvested from bees is nutritious and does not contain a lot of calories. It is known to be capable of increasing the production of melatonin in one’s body.[8]

It also contains healthy sugars, such as fructose and glucose, and can have a healthy effect on your body’s sugar level. Honey is one of the best food to eat late at night.

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12. Popcorn

When it isn’t swathed in sugar and milk and other fatty stuff, popcorn presents as a great late-night snack. Popcorn is a low-calorie snack and contains a rich amount of fiber.[9] High-fiber grains are believed to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Also, popcorn contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants believed to improve circulation and in general, health.

13. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are amazing. They taste so good. Do you like french fries? Then baked sweet potato fries are a great pick you might want to consider.

As a late-night snack, you can very well bake sweet potatoes instead of frying them. They are easier to prepare when baked and do not contain so much fat. Sweet potatoes contain a good quantity of fiber and vitamins.[10]They also contain some great amounts of protein.

Final Thoughts

When next you have the craving for a late-night meal, you should know that not all meals are great when eaten at night. Some are about right, and others could contribute to excessive weight gain, heart diseases, digestive disorders, and other health issues.

Have you ever woken up with swollen eye bags, felt nauseous, or had malaise after a late-night meal? Then it’s possible the meal was not a great pick.

When choosing the best meals and snacks to eat at night, you should choose meals that contain low calories—not more than 200 calories—and have high protein content. Proteins like tryptophan enhance the quality of sleep. Some of these foods include eggs, turkey, cheese, bananas, yogurt, juices, etc.

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Remember, eating healthy is a great way to remain healthy.

More Healthy Snacks Options

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

Reference

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