Food Freedom Friday Edition 115 - Low Carbohydrate Success
Creating Success On a Low Carb Plan
It has become a relatively well accepted notion that cutting carbohydrates is one of the simplest and fastest ways to not only lose fat, but to deal with many other health concerns as well. In order to ensure that your intended approach leads to your intended result, there are a few factors to take into account before you begin your plan. These concepts are perfect reference points to reflect on during your journey too, especially if your results seem to have stalled.
Some considerations as you embark on your low carb journey:
Ensure You Are Restricting Carbohydrate Enough
You are well aware that weight loss can be achieved through low carb diet. The term low-carb is in itself rather vague. A useful definition of a low-carb fat loss diet is one where carbohydrates are restricted to 50 grams per day or less. This will usually lead to the production of ketones. When your body is producing ketones, it is no longer relying on glucose (sugar from carbohydrates) for its fuel source. This state provides significant metabolic benefits and easier fat loss.
For best results, get those 50 grams of carbs from above the ground vegetables and low sugar fruits such as berries. Eliminate all grains—whole and processed. Look for hidden carbohydrates in the foods you eat by reading food labels carefully for added sugars. It has been found that it typically takes 10 grams of carbohydrates or more to spike your insulin levels so it may be best to keep your meals and snacks to less than 10 grams of carbs for maximum fat loss.
You also need to remember that everyone is different and some may need to restrict carbs to 20 grams a day to induce weight loss. What works for one person may not work for you. It may help to count total carbs rather than net carbs. Generally speaking, some fiber and sugar alcohols can have an impact so you may want to count at least half of them.
The Scale Is Not Your Only Measure
Weight is a relative thing when it comes to your health and your fat loss goals. At the start of a low-carb program, the majority of the weight loss is a reduction in water. This explains why people often experience rapid changes on the scale initially, but this slows down and may actually stall or even go the other way. Judging the effectiveness of the program by the scale alone is thus a fruitless exercise.
If you have started doing any strength training or exercise that may build muscle, the muscle mass by be getting larger while fat goes down. There are devices that can give you a body mass composition reading such as amount of water, fat, and muscle. This will give you a better idea of what is really changing in your body. You may not want to weigh yourself daily. Weekly weigh-ins will provide ample data if you are following the plan.
The simplest and most reliable way to determine whether a low carb diet is working is to do body measurements. Some even like to judge their weight loss by using their jeans. If your jeans feel looser even when the scale may not be moving, it is a good sign that you are indeed burning off the fat stores.
Moderate Or Avoid Dairy
Some people make the low carb diet mistake of replacing a large proportion of their carbohydrates with dairy products. Even if you tolerate dairy well too much dairy can create a fat loss challenge.
The problem begins with the concern that protein can raise insulin levels and thus result in fat storage. One way this happens is through a process called gluconogenesis. The liver is capable of converting the amino acids found in protein into sugar when glucose levels are low. This makes burning fat more difficult and can hinder weight loss.
Dairy protein has a combination of amino acids that can trigger an insulin spike similar to high carb foods. The rise in insulin levels will hinder the transition to becoming keto adapted and burning fat efficiently. If you suspect this happening, lay off the dairy products like heavy cream, cheese, and yogurt. Butter, on the other hand, is low in dairy protein and generally does not cause the same type of insulin spikes.
A common misconception is that drinking a lot of water will make you gain weight when quite the opposite is true. Gaining weight from drinking water may be true if you drink tons of water right before stepping on a scale. However, not drinking adequate water during the day will actually cause your body to retain water.
On a low carb diet, water is needed to flush out excess ketones and burn fat more effectively. It is believed that water will help break down the fat more efficiently. Consuming adequate water on a low carbohydrate plan also helps relieve constipation and any flu or low-carb adaptation symptoms you may experience when you initially reduce your carbohydrate consumption.
On average, you should strive for 8 glasses or 64 ounces of water each day.
Move Your Body
Although you can lose weight without doing any exercise, this is generally not recommended. One of the reasons is that a low carbohydrate nutrition plan will encourage the release of fat stores in the body and if there is no activity to burn off this energy source, it will just go back into storage.
Fat is not dimply going to melt away while you lie on the couch watching your favorite shows. Moving daily in some form is important to keep your organs and systems functioning at their best. It does not have to be strenuous exercise. Simply cleaning up the yard or tidying up the house will help. Get moving!
Eat Real Food
I often see people who decide to go on a low carb diet and stock up on unhealthy processed foods like low-carb protein bars and shakes. Have you read the ingredients listed on all of these convenience foods? They all contain a plethora of chemicals that your body will need to process. You may end up losing weight with these products, but you may not be feeling too great and would probably be in need a good detox after.
Stick with a diet rich in grass-finished beef, hormone free organic poultry, organic vegetables, eggs, and healthy fats. Low carbohydrate to include in your daily meals are comprised of most plants that grow above the ground like leafy greens, celery, broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower.
Although some people eating a low-carb diet eliminate the majority of plant foods, this is generally not the best choice for a range of reasons. Vegetables and other whole foods are packed with numerous nutrients which are required for reducing inflammation in the body and preventing disease. Furthermore, the fiber in vegetables will help keep you regular and support maintaining the health and strength of your gut bacteria.
Fruit and vegetables are not the same. The sugar in fruit can trigger sweet cravings, cause weight loss stalls or even lead to weight gain if eaten in excess. Low carb fruits such as berries are highly nutritious and should be incorporated into a low carbohydrate plan but, like all good things, particularly sweet things, their consumption must be moderated.
Be aware of the sugar carbs in fruit and stick to an amount that will not exceed the 10 grams of carbs in one sitting.
Calories Do Still Count (Somewhat)
With all the wonderful low carb high fat foods that one can eat, many embarking on a low carb diet make the mistake of eating more calories than they need. Eating adequate amounts of fats should satiate your hunger such that you the desire to overeat is thwarted. However, this may not always be the case as some people turn to food for reasons beyond hunger.
Keep in mind that overeating on any plan is bound to lead to weight gain. If you struggle with overeating or are unsure of your portions, you may want to track how many calories you are taking in on an average day to see if it is excessive.
You may want to invest in a glucose meter even if you are not a diabetic. You can find these meters at your local pharmacy.
Some foods labeled as low carb may trigger blood sugar to rise unknowingly. If blood glucose gets too high, insulin is released. Insulin levels and fat storage are directly related so it helps to be sure that what you are eating is not causing a surge in insulin.
Avoid Sweets (Even Those Labelled Low Carb)
Although low carb sweeteners may appear to be carbohydrate and calorie free but never the less they may negatively affect your appetite. It has been shown that sweet foods can trigger the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. When these hormones are imbalanced, your appetite may get triggered causing you to crave more carbohydrates or possible to eat more food than you need.
A low carb diet can lead to numerous health and fat loss benefits. It is, however, important to implement a few strategies that go beyond merely restricting your carbohydrate count. This will ensure you receive the most benefit and best results from your new lifestyle plan.