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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?

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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Last Updated on June 9, 2021

How to Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Weeks: 20 Simple Tips

How to Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Weeks: 20 Simple Tips

Weight loss has become a sticky subject of confusion, conflicting information and myths. Before you know it, you’re on the crash-course diet from hell and getting no-where! Sustainable weight loss is not a fad diet or program, it’s a lifestyle. With these 20 proven weight loss tips, you can lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks. Best of all, you will set yourself up for continued progress every week!

1. The Golden Rule: Calories In vs. Calories Out

This simple fact simply cannot be overruled – to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume.

Use tools to help track and measure your daily intake then slowly taper down. Start with 500kcal steps or lower until you observe a consistent weekly loss.

Never go dangerously low, eating much below 1200-1600 can stall your progress and harm your health!

2. Set Attainable Goals And Track Your Progress

Achieving each goal will help spur you on, so be realistic and start small. Here is an example of an easily achievable goal progression:

  • Lose weight each week
  • Lose 1-3 pounds per week
  • Lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks
  • Fit into size 30 jeans!

3. Consider Skipping Breakfast

Breakfast is commonly considered the most important meal of the day, however, it is not so when it comes to weight loss.

Intermittent fasting can be a useful fat-loss tool. Restrict yourself to a smaller eating window by skipping breakfast and only eating from 12-8pm. You will reduce your daily calorie intake without restricting your lunch and dinner!

4. Drink More Water (Especially Before Meals)

Drinking water an hour before eating has two proven benefits for weight loss:

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  • 24-30% boost in metabolism for 1-1.5 hours after intake[1]
  • Increased chance of consuming less calories which further supports weight loss[2]

5. Make Coffee Your New Best Friend

Coffee has received a bad reputation in the past, however, it should be known that quality coffee is rich in antioxidants and beneficial to weight loss.

The caffeine content will boost your body’s metabolism by up to 10%,[3] leading to a 10-29% increase in fat burning power. Take it black, with no added sugar!

6. Make Green Tea Your Second Best Friend

Green tea provides a milder dose of caffeine but it is abundant in wonderful catechins. These antioxidants will work with the caffeine in a perfect fat burning harmony!

7. Always Check For Added Sugar

Sugar has demonstrated worryingly strong links with obesity, diabetes[4] and heart disease[5] (to name a few).

But even if you do not add it yourself, you should check the ingredients of your sauces or packaged foods. Even self-proclaimed health foods can be riddled with added sugar!

8. Cut Out Simple Carbohydrates

Simple/refined carbohydrates are quickly absorbed, spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels in the process.[6] As a result, you will feel hunger and cravings come back again in no time!

Avoid all sugar or refined grains by avoiding the following foods:

  • Cookies, candy and sweets
  • Packaged cereals
  • White bread and rice
  • Cakes

9. Scale Down Your Portion Sizes

It pays to become aware of how much you are eating, exercise portion control and slowly scale it down.

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Even small reductions of 10-20% are often enough to tip the balance and trigger weight loss. Try measuring your portions more carefully and don’t underestimate the power of using smaller bowls![7]

10. Keep Healthy Food On Standby for Stacks

The power of temptation is mighty, so why not remove it completely?

Only keep healthy snacks within reach, then you won’t be able to binge on junk food! Here are some healthy ideas to stock your cupboard:

  • Whole fruit
  • Handful of nuts
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Vegetables

11. Spice Up Your Life

Breathe new life into your dishes and reinforce your weight loss efforts with the power of cayenne pepper! Capsaicin from cayenne pepper and other spicy foods helps to ramp up metabolism and decrease appetite.[8]

12. Top Up Your Protein Intake

Protein rich foods not only keep you fuller for longer[9] but burn more energy during digestion. Studies have shown that swapping calories for whey protein supplements can boost weight loss whilst increasing lean muscle![10]

Alternatively, here are a number of protein-rich food sources:

  • Lean beef
  • Skinless chicken breasts
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Low-fat yogurt

13. Balance Your Diet With Complex Carbs

Consuming complex carbs will produce a sustained energy release and keep blood sugar levels manageable. You can easily keep hunger and cravings at bay with these nutrient dense complex carbs:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Brown rice
  • Wholegrains
  • Beans and legumes

14. Forget About Fast Food

Not matter how healthy it may claim to be, fast food is almost always laden with heart-clogging trans fats,[11] excessive sugar and salt.

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Worse yet, these meals are high in calories whilst low in nutritional value, making them a terrible choice for fuel. Before you know it, you will have broken the cardinal rule of calories in vs. calories out!

15. Watch Out for “Hidden Calories”

There’s no need to completely forgo your favorite condiments, just make sure you are aware of their true caloric impact. It’s easy to go overboard and negate much of your hard work!

Go easy with the following condiments and toppings, they are surprisingly heavy in calories:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Oils

16. Choose Low-Medium GI Foods

High GI foods sources cause sugar levels to shoot up, the resultant spike in insulin will actually encourage dreaded fat storage![12]

Check out the GI scale and choose low-medium GI foods. Your insulin levels will remain under control, you will feel fuller for longer and find it easier to lose weight!

17. Opt For Weight Training Over Cardio

Weight training burns a significant amount of calories, keeping you strong, fit and healthy in the process. It’s more effective than cardio for body recomposition as it helps preserve essential muscle mass whilst you lose weight.[13]

Studies have also shown a significant increase in metabolic rate both during and after your workout,[14] further supporting your weight loss efforts!

Choose a routine that uses compound lifts such as Presses, Squats and Deadlifts. These exercises recruit the largest amount of muscles per movement, ideal for maintaining lean muscle mass and trimming body fat.

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18. Go Walking or Cycling

Consistent small actions soon add up to big changes. For this reason, why not choose to walk or cycle whenever you can? You will burn more calories as you go about your day without the need for further diet restrictions.

You can burn more calories as you go about your day, without any further diet restriction. If you’re physically able there is no excuse, take the stairs over escalators and lifts!

19. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated for weight loss. Forget about the 6-hour minimum claim, many of us require 8-9 hours to operate at peak efficiency.

Both duration and quality of sleep will have a great influence on hormones that control body composition. In fact, poor sleep has shown worrying links to obesity, increasing the risk in adults by 55%![15]

20. Be Careful Of Liquid Calories!

We all know alcohol dehydrates and damages our liver and kidneys. But it can also thwart weight loss efforts as an unexpected source of calories.

You may be surprised to know a beer can equate to 150kcal, 125kcal for a glass of red wine and a whopping 400Kcal for a single sweet Piña Colada! Instead, try sticking to tonic water with a slice of lime, your body will thank you!

    So there you have the 20 simple lifestyle tips that will support you in achieving healthy weight loss. Adopt as many as you can and you will easily lose 10 pounds or more in 3 weeks!

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    Featured photo credit: Lecic via shutterstock.com

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