Showing posts with label Counting calories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counting calories. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Get Started On a Low-carbohydrate Diet

If you read our previous article Is a Low Carb Diet Right for You?, a primer on low carbohydrate dieting, you may feel ready to forget about counting calories and focus instead on counting carbohydrates per day. Here’s how:
  • Get guidance
  • Get inspiration
  • Prepare your fridge
  • Stock up on low-carb recipes

Safe Low-Carb Dieting


Doing a low-carb diet “right” – that is, in a way that is safe and optimizes long-term weight loss potential – requires a proper balance of dietary fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Getting the balance wrong – too few carbohydrates, too much protein, too little dietary fat or the wrong kinds of fats can sabotage your success or worse, lead to health risks. Always discuss any weight loss plan with your doctor before you begin and report any health issues right away.

burning fat
A low-carb diet does not mean cutting out all carbs.
For example, some people might thing that ending their carbohydrate intake completely is a low-carb diet. But, they often cut out all fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds from their diet, opting instead for nothing but bacon cheeseburgers, steak, and hot dogs.

Not only is a zero-carb diet very hard to stick to, it can also be counterproductive, slowing down long-term weight loss while depleting alertness and energy. All the above foods are permissible in the right type and quantity, and at the right phase of the diet.

Another common mistake some low-carb dieters make is to get stuck in the what is called the introductory phase, which is only supposed to last about two weeks. This is a "kick-start" phase and it is valuable for getting your body keto-adapted, which means adjusted to burning fat instead of sugars.This introductory phase is not sustainable in the long run. For one thing, it lacks variety and dieting can become boring and unproductive when there is little variety in the menu.

Inspiration to Stick With It


Any diet change can be difficult to adjust to. To help you maintain a low carbohydrate diet, it helps to have inspirational sources, such as the examples of others who have stuck with the diet and have succeeded in losing weight or meeting other health goals. There are plenty of places you can turn to online for this kind of support. Some of my favorites include:
  • Me and My Diabetes – Both inspiring and educational, this blog shows how low carbohydrate dieting has helped the author overcome many health issue.
  • Timothy Olsen's article on the effectiveness of a low-carb diet for ultra-marathon runner.
  • It's the satiety A successful low-carb dieter discusses weight, health, and satiety as a guiding principle to the diet.
  • Eating Academy: Another successful weight loss individual, focusing on the positive effect of a low-carb diet on athletics/physical performance.
It's also helpful to develop a network of low-carb buddies – people who are doing the same diet and have similar goals. Participating or commenting in discussions on blogs dedicated to low carbohydrate dieting is a great way to build such a network and to get that much-needed inspiration.


Prep Your Fridge 

Prepare your food supply to support a strong start to a low carbohydrate diet. has several lists that can help you determine the best low-carb foods for your lifestyle and health goals. We also cannot stress enough how important your health care professional is as a partner in your weight loss plan. Having a physical prior to beginning a new diet is a great step in helping you decide with diet is right for you.

Here are some of the foods that are either extremely low in carbohydrates or are low enough that you can still achieve a healthy weight loss:
counting calories
Green vegetables and healthy fats are
recommended instead of starchy
carbs and high fat foods.

  • Meats – Proteins usually have no carbohydrate calories on their own. However, if something is breaded or marinated, those extras will add carbohydrates.
  • Healthy fats – Lean cuts of meat are healthier than fatty choices. Also, beware of low-fat dairy products that are sometimes higher in carbohydrates due to added sugars. Full fat cheeses may be better, as long as you have smaller portions. Butter, olive oil, and coconut oil are also good choices.
  • Greens – Any green vegetable is recommended including lettuce, spinach, kale, and green beans.
  • Seeds and nuts – Though not free of carbohydrates, most nuts are low enough in carbs that you can safely enjoy a few handfuls daily. A handful of sunflower seeds or almonds makes a great between-meals snack to keep you feeling satisfied.
  • Fruit – Nearly all fruits are too high in carbohydrates to include on the diet. The exceptions to that include berries, avocado, lemons, and limes.
To get a better handle on what foods with carbohydrates are healthy, WebMd's article about the Glycemic Index can help.

Stock up on low carbohydrate recipes 


There are many low-carb recipe books available as well as recipes for a low carbohydrate lifestyle online. Ready Set Eat has some great low carbohydrate recipes. Remember that variety is the spice of life and of any weight loss plan you want to use. Making sure your refrigerator is stocked with the healthy foods you need and having quick and easy recipes handy will help you be successful

Happy dieting, and feel free to share your recipes and idea about low-carb dieting in the comments.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is a Low Carb Diet Right for You?

An introduction to low carbohydrate dieting

If you’ve considered weight loss dieting, you’ve no doubt heard the buzz about low carbohydrate dieting, also known as low carb dieting.  Here are some answers to common questions about low carb diets that may help you decide if it’s the right kind of diet for you.

What is a low-carb diet?


A low carb diet is one in which you avoid foods with carbohydrates, maintaining a much lower than average low carbohydrate count – maxing out at between 20 and 60 carbs a day, depending on which low-carb author or which low-carb diet. By comparison, the average American consumes closer to 500 carbohydrates daily in their diet.

How do low carb diets work?


Counting calories
Example of a meal for a low-carbohydrate diet.
Your body needs energy. The two primary sources of dietary energy in the human diet are carbohydrates and fats. On a standard diet, your body will always opt for the easiest source of energy – carbohydrates. However, if you significantly limit your intake of carbohydrates, the body has no choice but to burn fat. Therefore, your body burns fat calories and, consequently, body weight.

In fact, most low-carb diets encourage you to consume more fat, healthy fats like peanut butter, lean meats, and nuts, since fat becomes your primary energy source. Even while consuming higher amounts of healthy dietary fat (such as olive oil or coconut oil), low-carb dieters have experienced weight loss. WebMd contains information about how low carb dieting works.

Why has low-carbohydrate dieting gained so much attention? 


There are four primary reasons for the recent high level of interest in the low-carb diet.
  • For weight loss, low carb dieting works.
  • Low carb dieting is different from traditional dieting and weight loss.
  • Low carb dieting challenges common beliefs about dietary fat.
  • The higher levels of protein that many consume while trying to reduce their carbohydrates has potentially serious health risks.
For many, low carb dieting works as an effective means of weight loss. Although low carbohydrate dieting is somewhat controversial, there is some evidence that indicates that a properly administered low carbohydrate diet can result in weight loss.
  • A study by Ontario’s University of Guelph concluded that carbohydrate restriction to 70 grams or less promotes weight loss and improves body composition, blood pressure, and blood lipids without compromising glucose tolerance in moderately overweight women. 
  • A study conducted by the Naval Hospital Oakland used a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and discovered that, over a ten-day period, subjects on the diet lost more body fat than a control group who fasted from all foods during that same 10-day period. 
I speak from personal experience, having lost (and kept off) 30 pounds in the previous six months while maintaining a relatively low-carb, high-fat diet.

But aren't all calories the same?


Carbohydrate count
Low carb dieting means cutting
out unhealthy carbs and adding
healthy fats.
Most of us have always been told that if we consume fewer calories than we burn, we will lose weight. But low carbohydrate dieting has challenged the idea that all calories are the same, even going so far as to say that you don't need to be counting calories at all – that simply by significantly reducing your carb intake without increasing your calorie intake, you will lose more weight.

And there is scientific evidence to support this. According to USA Today, some recent research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicated that those who consumed the same amount of calories on a diet that was low in carbohydrates lost more weight than those whose calories came from a low-fat diet. Specifically, participants in this study burned roughly 300 more daily calories on a low-carbohydrate diet than they did on a low-fat diet.

Is it safe? 


The answer to this question is one you should answer after doing some thorough research and consulting your doctor. The Livestrong website has some great links that answer questions about the safety of low carb dieting and things to consider if you have other medical conditions. Again, it is always wise to review this information with your health care professional before making changes to your diet.

While little evidence directly indicates that restricting carbohydrates is dangerous, or even that consuming more-than-average amounts of healthy dietary fats is dangerous, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that large amounts of protein can be dangerous. Too much of the unhealthy fats can also be dangerous. Some low-carb diet plans actively encourage high protein consumption, so it is important to be aware of the risks of high protein in the diet. It is also important to check with your doctor to see what your own health status is before undertaking any diet plan.

Some risks that are associated with high protein diets occur because the dieters are not following a medically or scientifically defined low-carb plan. If you decide to use a low-carb diet to lose weight, it is important that you follow it correctly. Some of the risks, such as kidney failure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and kidney stone, are outlined in this high-protein, low-carb diet article. As you can see, these risks can be quite serious.

The high-protein risks may be avoided by following a low carb diet that encourages eating a moderate amount of protein, balanced with green vegetables (most of which are low-carb) and small amounts of low-carb fruits, such as berries, avocado, lemons and limes.

Is a low-carb diet right for me?


Many experts agree that there is no one diet that is right for everyone. Whether it is right for you depends on your health, your body and your lifestyle. Talk with your doctor before starting any new diet. Don’t just “wing it” by changing to a low-carb diet without doing your homework; study and follow the dietary programs created by respected doctors or scientists.

What’s next?


In a follow-up article, we will look at other low-carb dieting information, such as how to do a low carb diet, the risks associated with attempting a low fat/low carb diet, how many carbs in a low carb diet and what to eat on low carb diet, including some recipes to help you get started.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer