Carb counting – This question is so individual. Children can tolerate more carbs than adults as they are generally more insulin sensitive than adults.
My children are lower-carb, not no carb. I allow my children to have low-sugar fruit (but not to excess) and some treats when out, or at friends.
I am, however, quite strict when it comes to carbs, especially ultra-processed carbs as I know by restricting them it allows my weight to remain stable, my appetite is controlled, my energy levels are high and my concentration is pretty much regular throughout the day.
Net carbs vs Total carbs
Total carbs include sugars, starch and fibre.
Fibre, however, is a non-absorbable carbohydrate so most people choose not to count this. They choose to count net carbs instead, which are the absorbable carbohydrates from food.
Net carbs are the total carbs with the fibre deducted. Total Carbs – Fibre = Net Carbs
Some easy targets to follow are:
- Moderate low-carb – 100g net carbs or below each day
- Low-carb – 50g net carbs per day
- Keto – 20g net carbs per day, or less
What do 30g carbohydrates look like? CLICK HERE
If you increase your carb intake, it stimulates appetite, weight loss stalls and the weight creeps up. If you have a specific goal to address such as weight loss, lowering blood pressure, lowering triglycerides etc, then you may choose to be quite strict until the problem has resolved or the weight is lost. Once this happens, then you can increase your carbs slowly until you feel it is affecting your weight, hunger etc. This is a good stepwise approach to find out what works for you.
Begin by cutting out the obvious sugars such as cakes, biscuits, cookies, candy, chocolate, sugary drinks, bread and treats.
If weight loss stalls, you may need to become stricter and lower your carbs further.
If you start off too strict, for many, it may be unsustainable. You won’t want to continue, your children certainly won’t want to continue and then it’s back to old eating habits.Even just LOWERING your carbs will be beneficial. Stop the most obvious places of sugar and carbs first.
As an example, try to aim for less than 50g carbs/day. On a good day you might just about get down to 20g, but it may creep back up to 75g or 100g when you enjoy too many low-carb foods or snacks begin to creep back in. But compared to the average diet that is easily 300g carbs/day, you may still benefit from improved health.
Carb counting really helps you figure out how sensitive to carbs you are. Try my Food & Carb Tracker to see exactly where your carbs are creeping in.
Protein – aim for 0.8g-2g protein/kg ideal body weight/day. Examples of protein quantities are – chicken drumstick is 11g, chicken breast 30g, most fish fillets 22g, pork loin 29g, bacon 3g, egg 6g, almonds 1/4 cup is 8g, milk 250ml glass is 8.5g, yoghurt pot 5g, 2cm cube cheese is 2g.
Too little protein and your appetite will not be stable, too much and the body will convert it into glucose.
Protein is satiating, protein is required for our essential amino acids. Choose quality protein sources.
What Does 30g Protein Look Like? CLICK HERE.
Fat – aim for 80% of your calories to come from fat. Most people imagine it is 80% of your food, but it is 80% of your calories. What this means in real terms is that if you are eating a varied diet with vegetables, meat and healthy fats, the majority of calories will come from the fat from the meat, oils added while cooking, dressings, dairy products etc.
Eat only when hungry and eat only until full.
Don’t go for the low-fat options as they usually replace the fat with carbs. I’ve given examples of this in the pantry guide.
In the beginning, Simply start by cutting down on carbs first and then slowly increase your healthy fats.
If you continue to eat a moderate or high-carb diet and increase your fat, you are back to eating a standard unhealthy diet (SAD Standard American Diet) and you will put on weight. You must get your carbohydrate countdown to be able to increase the fat. This is the biggest complaint when people start changing their diet, they increase their fats but do not REDUCE their carbs enough then start putting on weight.
The stepwise approach is to either
- give up everything on the ladder below, then slowly reintroduce food groups until weight loss stalls, hunger increases or any other symptom which shows you cannot tolerate an increased amount of carbohydrates OR
- start gradually. Give up the most obvious sources of sugars and carbohydrates, especially the processed ones. So no more juice, cakes, bread, pasta, rice etc. This may be all it takes for some people. then you may choose to go further and cut out all sources of wheat, legumes, grains, fruits and root vegetables.
Give up the following in a stepwise approach –
Sugar→pasta, rice, bread, root vegetables→wheat/grains→fruit→legumes
Your tolerance to carbs is dependent on many factors such as weight, activity, insulin sensitivity, metabolic state, appetite regulation and other health issues you may be trying to resolve. So for a fit and active, a slim person who has no problem controlling their appetite or weight, they may be able to tolerate more carbs than a person with insulin resistance.Want to start low-carb? This stepwise approach is genius!
Children can tolerate low-sugar fruits and occasional treats. It can be trial and error and it may take some weeks/months to discover what suits you. Reassess your carb level if your weight loss stops or you have reached goal weight.
Should you restrict your carbs even if you are slim? Your body composition, where you store your fat, is a crucial factor.
Those who carry excess weight mainly around the tummy are more likely to be insulin resistant. Apple shape (band of tummy fat) should be more aware of their carb intake compared with pear-shaped (mainly bottom heavy).
So if you have always had skinny legs but notice a tummy starting to appear, then watch your carbs as it is this visceral (tummy) fat which is more dangerous to your internal organs.
Benefits of reducing carbs
- every person will benefit from some form of carbohydrate restriction.
- improves appetite regulation
- increases energy levels so you actually want to be active
- improves blood lipid ratios, blood pressure
- weight loss
- reduce vascular inflammation, which is the cause of most modern diseases, and is linked to CVD, diabetes, dementia, cancer
- decreasing carbs increases the fat transporting enzymes AND increase the rate at which the mitochondria (powerhouses of your cells) utilize fat
- increase whole, real foods leading to an increase in nutrients
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