How To Start a Low Carb Diet
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How To Start Low-Carb – the basics
Think of it like a scale of what’s best and what’s not. At one end you have fried, processed carbs, cakes, sweets, ice cream. At the other end, very little carbs, whole foods, and no packaged goods.
Don’t think it is impossible. Just do the best you can and each step is a step closer. Every step you can take to reduce your carbohydrate consumption is fantastic.
At one end you have fried, processed carbs, cakes, sweets, ice cream. At the other end, very little carbs, whole foods, and no packaged goods. Don’t think it is impossible.
Just do the best you can and each step is a step closer. Every step you can take to reduce your carbohydrate consumption is fantastic. If you eat 3 meals a day and maybe 3 snacks, that equates to 42 opportunities (or food choices) to improve.
How about you start by just changing your snacks to begin with. Already you have improved 21 of your food choices each week. You’re halfway there.
Once your comfortable with this, now improve your breakfast. Now you have improved 28 out of 42. Next your dinner, and then your lunch. This is sometimes the hardest as so many eat out at lunch.
Each meal you have which is a good choice, is one less bad meal. Ditch the processed carbs!
These are the first 5 things you should stop to cut our sugar and carbs from your diet: Take a look at my post on Low Carb Hacks where you can easily see how to make better choices and low carb swaps.How to start low carb, meal plans, what to eat, what to avoid & the low carb food pyramid based on real foodClick To Tweet
Stepwise approach to reducing the carbs
- Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, flavoured milk and energy drinks – liquid sugar in a bottle. Even the fruit juice and flavoured milk.
- Sweets, confectionary, sugary treats – and don’t be fooled but the ones that market themselves as being made with real fruit juice. They are still little cubes of sugar but packed into an attractive sweet.
- Baking, cakes, biscuits, pastries – all incredibly high in sugar, wheat, carbs and bad fats. Learn to banish the beige.
- Cereals – especially the wholegrain ones. Highly processed, high in sugar and fortified. It will make you have a low sugar crash later in the morning and not fulfil you.
- Sugar & Flour – if you give up these 2 things, you will improve your health, weight and nutrition beyond belief. People may say it is restrictive and you are giving up entire food groups, but what you are giving up is food products. It is only because flour and sugar are made into so many products that it appears to be restrictive. Even just 10 years ago, these products weren’t available. Supermarkets looked very different to how they do now.
READ LABELS – you must become a label reading ninja. Read the BACK of the package (nutrition label) not the front (marketing). Don’t worry, once you get the hang of it, you’ll instinctlively know what you can and cannot buy.
How To Start A Low Carb Diet
So what can you eat?
Take a look at the Low Carb Starter Pack which has 25 easy recipes for beginners, meal plan, shopping list, a progress tracker and simple guides.
- Meat – all types of beef, pork, chicken, lamb etc. Do not trim the fat or the skin off the chicken – yay –
- Fish – all types especially those high in Omega 3 such as salmon, mussels, tuna, sardines …
- Chicken – skin on, free range
- Vegetables – all types that grown above the ground. Leafy greens, spinach, silver beet, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, avocados, courgettes, aubergines, capsicums, mushrooms, lettuce …..
- Cheese – choose the full fat varieties.
- Cream – full fat, double, whipping.
- Full fat milk – avoid all flavored milks and avoid any milk in large quantities because even though it may only contain 5% carbs, it is easy to drink a 250ml serving which equates to 12.5g carbs.
- Nuts and seeds – a great snack but just watch not to overindulge, especially on cashews which have a higher carb content and many nuts are high in omega 6 and we need to watch our 3/6 ration.
- Eggs – choose free range if you can
- Fruit – best to eat the low carb, nutrient dense berries such as blueberries, blackberries etc. Serve with double cream to ensure you are satiated for longer.
- Fats – use butter, olive oil, coconut oil (high in oleic acid), lard
What to avoid?
- All processed sugar drinks – this includes fizzy drinks, flavoured milks, sports drinks, energy drinks and especially fruit juices which are incredibly high in carbs.
- All cakes, biscuits, jams, sweets.
- Seed Oils stop using any seed oils such as sunflower, canola, corn, grapes or margarines. They are all high in inflammatory Omega 6
- All cereals – if you look at most cereal packets, they contain anywhere from 50%-80% carbs. No wonder they are known as CEREAL KILLERS!!!
- Bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar etc. There is no nutritional value in these foods. You may argue that there is fibre and B group vitamins, true, but you by gain so much more fibre and vitamins by increasing your vegetable intake and stopping the leaky gut that wheat creates which also reduces your vitamin/nutrient absorption. There is no known bread or pasta deficiency in medicine!
- Fruit is something that should be limited because of the high fructose content. It is natures candy. Yes fruit has vitamins and healthy nutrients, but you will be getting far more nutrients from your increase veggie intake. Choose nutrient dense, low carb fruits such as berries. Fruit such as pineapple, mango, and especially dried fruits, should be avoided. Also avoid ALL fruit juices. They have an incredibly high glycaemic index, which will make your insulin spike (and start storing fat again). “If you are overweight, fruit is not your friend”.
- All wheat products have a high GI, raise your blood sugar and increase appetite
- Grains avoid all grains including wheat, oats, barley, spelt, sorghum
- Pasta high in carbohydrates and almost no nutritional value
- Potatoes as above
- Starchy vegetables if you can tolerate some carbs, choose highly coloured starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, beetroot or sweet potato for their wonderful phytonutrients and vitamins.
- Rice very little nutritional value. Generally used to bulk out a meal. Try substituting rice for more vegetables.
- Rice crackers these are almost 80% carbs and incredibly processed, especially the flavored ones. Avoid.
- Diet or low fat products check the labels and you will see how processed they are and how much higher in carbs they are compared to their regular version e.g, low fat cream cheese can be up to 15% carbs, whereas the regular is only4%
If you don’t have weight to lose, are metabolically healthy and all your blood results are within your goal, you can occasionally have the following.
- Red wine not sweet varieties
- Dark chocolate 85% or above
- Low carb baking part of the ethos of going low carb is to give up the sweet treats, but when the need arises, best to make it a low carb recipe
Weekly Meal Planner
How many carbs you consume depends on your health goals. Your daily carb allowance will be different for someone who is weight stable, diabetic, or someone who has a lot of weight to lose. Personally I don’t count anything anymore as I know all the foods I choose are low carb, sugar free, grain free and my appetite is well regulated.
All the nutrition panels in my recipes are guides only. There are so many variables with different brands that you choose so if your carb requirement is strict, please calculate your own for accuracy.
From the examples below, you can choose your own weekly meal plan. It will take some time to adjust your appetite, but believe me, it will change. In the meantime, if you are hungry, increase your healthy fats at each meal.
It really will keep you fuller for longer, but to do this, you MUST decrease your carbs (otherwise your diet is nothing more than a standard high carb high fat diet). So pour more healthy oils onto your salad, snack on nuts, coconut cream etc. Click here for my list of top snack foods.
Choose 1 – Click here for all breakfast recipes
- Grain Free Granola,
- Chocolate Grain Free Granola
- Cinnamon crunch
- low carb yoghurt, berries, nut muesli, coconut cream
- 2 slices bacon, eggs, spinach, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, capsicums
- scrambled eggs with cheese and full fat milk
- omelette with any vegetable left over from last nights dinner
- chocolate, green smoothie
- berry smoothie with coconut cream
- Low carb waffles
Choose 1 – Click here for all lunch recipes
- last nights leftovers are KING!
- salad with any combination of lettuce, spinach, avocado, tuna, salmon, chicken, bacon, egg, olives, tomatoes, feta, capsicums, spring onion, beetroot, etc and add oil, full fat (not lite) mayonnaise
- crustless bacon and egg pie
- salmon crustless quiche
- rice free sushi
- salmon zoodles
- my children regularly make themselves smoothies, bacon (2 minutes in the microwave covered with kitchen paper), scrambled eggs with cheese in the microwave (mix 2 eggs, cheese, milk – 1 minute, stir, 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir). They used to moan and complain there are no cereals in the house, but they have learned to cook their own breakfasts and look for what ingredients we have rather than reach for a box of cornflakes
- easy egg salad
Choose 1 – Click here for all dinner recipes
- good quality meat and plenty of low starch vegetables. Add fat in the form of butter or cream cheese on the table for encouraging children to eat their vegetables. Add stilton onto steaks, grated cheese onto broccoli, hollandaise sauce, cream sauces.
- try and make your regular recipes to start but remove the carbs, so a stir fry and remove the rice and add a double helping of vegetables to the mix. Make meatballs and zoodles. Roast dinner but without the potatoes. Lasagne but use zucchini slices instead of lasagne sheets.
- Fish, fish, fish. The oilier the better to increase your omega 3 and essential fatty acids for brain power, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines.
- Chicken tenderloins wrapped in bacon with a cream cheese sauce
- Burgers – homemade and no bun. Add salad, avocado, cheese, grated carrot, mushrooms, ….
Click here for all snack recipes
- I dont tend to snack much these days, but if I do I make a snack tray for the children
- most days I have a decaffeinated coffee made with full fat milk and added cream. This usually fills me up and I don’t need much more although it did take quite a long time before snacking wasn’t part of my day
- cubes of cheese
- small handful of nuts (not cashews)
- coconut cream in the fridge goes quite firm so you can eat a spoon or two to keep hunger at bay (or add cocoa powder and stevia for a chocolate fix)
- very dark chocolate – the higher % the better as you won’t want more than 2 squares and it is actually good for you
- a boiled egg
- cheese or pate on cucumber slices instead of crackers
- cheese and olives
Don’t worry if you have a bad meal or a bad day. Congratulate yourself on how you have improved, from when you started and probably all of your 42 food choices a week were so unhealthy. As you continue, you will feel so much better from eating low carb, you wont want little slip ups any more.
“strive for improvement, not perfection”
I didn’t go through my pantry and throw away all my high carb foods, I just used them up slowly, then didn’t replace them. My bread maker, toaster and bread bin are all gone.
That was a great day. I got to the point where I hadn’t bought bread in over 2 months, so decided this was the day. Wow, how much better your kitchen bench looks!
Start by thinking of your regular meals and just think about how you can cut the carbs out. Have a roast dinner but cut out the potatoes and root vegetables but have as many other vegetables as you like. Instead of crumbed fish and chips, have grilled salmon on salad with a lemon dressing.
Have a hamburger but not the bread bun, load it up with veggies and cheese. Instead of a sandwich, have the fillings on a salad or wrapped in a nori (seaweed) sheet, wrapped in slices of ham or other deli meats. And instead of cheesecake with biscuit base and sugar laden filling, have a base made of ground almonds topped with cream, cream cheese and berry filling.
Start to google low carb recipes, submit your own to me and I can add them here. It’s amazing how you can tweak your old favourites to remove the carbs and add more vegetables, fat and dressings. Your diet will be more meat and plant based and far less processed than before.
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