According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of the adult American population is obese. What’s worse is that children are suffering more than ever from obesity too.
This is an epidemic plaguing not only America but all over the world. Our children are now more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Bad diets and sedentary life styles are responsible for these kinds of results. This is a serious problem and it needs to be fixed before it gets worse.
Due to the increase in obesity research has been done and different diets have been adopted amongst the population. One of the diets currently popular is the low carb diet. The standard American diet is full of highly processed foods such as chips, processed fake food, and soda. Even fruit juices are so processed they are no longer good for you.
Studies show that low carb living could be the answer to this epidemic. The truth is, though, that any diet can promote weight loss but that does not mean it’s healthy. Many experts and other people who have tested the low carb diet are urging the importance of avoiding carbs, excess sugars and starches but forgetting that certain types of fats are bad as well.
If you want to fight obesity, and improve your health you will learn all about what low carb living is like by reading this report. You’ll learn about foods you can eat, foods you can’t eat and how to be successful in your new lifestyle.
WHAT IS LOW CARB?
A low carb lifestyle is exactly what it sounds like; it is a diet or lifestyle low in processed carbohydrates and typically higher in fats, but only healthy fats. It might sound pretty simple at first but what exactly is a carbohydrate? There are both simple and complex carbohydrates. Each of these carbohydrates breaks down and form glucose. This glucose is then used as an energy source or stored for later use.
A simple carbohydrate has a simple glucose structure which means they are consumed easier usually resulting in energy spikes. Simple carbohydrates include processed foods such as bread, pasta, potato chips, cookies, candy, soft drinks or most packaged foods. Because these foods break down so easily and bring small energy spikes you will tend to consume more of them. They also hardly lead to any satisfaction, resulting in more consumption and stored glucose. Stored glucose is then converted into excess fat on the body.
A complex carbohydrate has a complex glucose structure meaning it takes more time for it to break down into glucose. Complex carbohydrates are also considered the good carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include vegetables, legumes, berries, and some fruit. These are the carbohydrates you still want to consume because they take longer to digest resulting in sustainable energy. The only carbohydrates you should avoid altogether are simple carbohydrates but you still want to make sure you keep your intake of complex carbohydrates on the low side.
The basics of a low carbohydrate diet are pretty simple. Keep your carbohydrates and sugar low and raise your protein consumption and healthy fats. With that being said you may wonder what is left to eat. Below is a list of foods you can eat and foods you should avoid while on a low carb diet:
Meat — This includes beef, pork, lamb and chicken that are primarily organic and grass-fed. Go for the lean cuts, and try to limit your intake of bacon and other deli meats. The foods are overly processed foods and often contain nitrates. The images you probably have of low carb living with eating a pound of bacon each day are erroneous.
Fish & Seafood — Wild-caught fish is the healthiest option. You can go for salmon, trout, and cod. Lobster, shrimp, and crab are also excellent choices.
Eggs — Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats and can be consumed on a daily basis. The best thing about eggs is that you can add flavors and healthy vegetables to them for a meal any time of the day.
Vegetables — Any vegetables that have a high water content can be consumed. Zucchini, celery, and cucumbers are great options because of their high water content. Other vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach.
Natural Fats — Be careful about adding too much additional fat to your cooking process. But, when you do, use the most unprocessed virgin you can find such as cold pressed olive oil, virgin coconut oil.
Drinks: Water is the most essential ingredient in any diet and should be consumed the most out of any beverage. If you need to drink something else, try to reach for decaf unsweetened tea and coffee. But, liming yourself to eating your calories instead of drinking them will help you gain better health.
Low Fat/Fat-Free Products — Low fat and fat-free products actually contain more sugar to mask the fact that it contains some to not fat. If you are going to use high fat additions to your diet like sour cream, go ahead and enjoy a dollop of the most natural form.
Sugar — Cookies, candy, ice cream or anything with high amounts of added sugar should be completely avoided. Most processed and packaged food items will contain sugar. This is especially true for low fat and fat-free products. You can use natural sweeteners like Stevia if you really want something sweet.
Starch — Starches include potatoes, yams, peas, and artichokes should be avoided because they contain high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. Instead of mashed potatoes, enjoy mashed cauliflower.
Processed Foods — Processed foods are usually found in a package and contain high amounts of unnatural sugars, salt, and chemicals. Candy, chips, and soda are just a few examples that should be completely avoided. Energy drinks are also included on this list because of their high amounts of sugar as well as the highly unhealthy chemicals found in those drinks.
Fruit — Fruits naturally contain sugar and high amounts of carbohydrates but because fruits contain so many vitamins it’s still important to get them in. They should only be consumed occasionally and should be monitored. The best fruit to eat on a low carb diet are strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
Overall, carbohydrates should be limited to only vegetables and dairy. Sugar, starch and fat-free or low-fat products should be avoided altogether. That includes all processed foods that are packed full of sugar and chemicals. If you want a natural sugar source, then reach for berries. They are low in carbohydrates and calories and are full of vitamins and minerals.
DIFFERENT LOW CARB DIETS
With the rise in popularity of low carb diets also comes the confusion. There are so many different low carb diet plans out there that it can get a little bit overwhelming and be pretty hard to pick. The good news is that most of the low carb diets out there are pretty similar. They all follow a similar philosophy and that is to cut back on carbs, processed foods, sticking mostly to whole foods that are low in carbohydrates naturally with good fats.
Atkins — The Atkins diet is the most popular of all low carb diets. The idea is to limit carbohydrates so that your body burns off fat so that you can get through your day and eventually lose weight. The Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates to about 20 grams per day. You must avoid fruit, bread, starchy foods and consume high amounts of protein and healthy fats.
Dukan Diet — The Dukan diet is a low carb diet that is restricted to a list of 100 food items. This diet is meant to mimic what hunter and gathers use to eat during the primal ages. As long as you stick within the list of foods you can consume as much as you want. This low carb diet plan includes four different phases to get you started. On this diet, you can even occasionally add in one or two servings of starchy foods to your meals.
Ketogenic Diet — The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to get to a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when the liver breaks down fat and turns it into ketones. These ketones are then used as the main energy source rather than carbohydrates. When you are in this state it is said you can lose the most weight because your body is using all your fat as energy. With the Ketogenic diet, you should consume about 25% proteins, 5% carbs and 70% healthy fats. Your carbohydrate intake should come from vegetables, nuts, and dairy.
Carb Cycling — Carb cycling is when you rotate the number of carbs you eat each day. You will have a high-carb day, moderate-carb day, low-carb day, and a no-carb day. A high-carb day includes about 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight, a moderate-carb day is about 1.5 grams per pound of body weight, a low-carb day is about .5 grams per pound of body weight and finally, a no carb day is less than .5 grams per pound of body weight.
Eco-Atkins – This low carb diet is borne out of the vegan diet, or vegetarian (eating eggs and dairy) and wanting to continue to avoid eating animal products or meat while also getting the benefits of eating low-carb for weight loss and improved health. This diet includes a lot of tofu, nuts, avocado, olives, coconut oil, plant-based yogurts and more.
As you can see, all these different low carb diets are pretty similar. The only thing that is a little different is how it’s being executed. As long as you follow the basic principle of each of these diets you will be successful. You will want to research more on your own to find the best plan for you.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF A LOW CARB LIFESTYLE
The low carb diet provides plenty of health benefits and is pretty simple to follow. If you follow everything correctly you are sure to reap all these health benefits:
Reduced Diabetes — People with diabetes struggle everyday with finding the right foods to fit the particular needs of someone affected by diabetes. A low carb lifestyle has shown in recent studies to help diabetics decrease their hemoglobin A1C levels by 2.6% compared to a high carb diet that only decreased these A1C levels by 1.9%. In fact, the low carb diet helped drop blood glucose levels significantly more than that of a high carb diet as well as reducing levels among a varying spectrum of blood glucose.
Lower Blood Pressure — Having high blood pressure is, unfortunately, a more common ailment of modern times; about 1 and 3 Americans are currently affected by high blood pressure. Interestingly enough, only 3% of hunter-gathers populations are affected by hypertension, likely due to their diet which is traditionally low carb. Sugars and processed carbs are the main culprits of high blood pressure and as the name suggests, a low carb diet is just what the doctor ordered. Among the foods in a low carb diet, you have many nutrient-rich foods that will also assist in helping your body begin to heal and recover from hypertension.
Improve Metabolic Syndrome — Low carb diets have shown many times that when compared to low-fat diets, low carb diets tend to show more results. In a study in low carb vs low-fat diets, low carb dieters showed a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin. As well as a big 51% reduction in triglycerides compared to only 19% in low-fat diets. Low carb dieters even saw an increase in good cholesterol!
Lower Triglycerides — Many studies have shown that lowing carb intake pairs nicely with lowering triglycerides as much at 25-50%. And surprisingly not evidence suggests that going on a low carb, high-fat diet will even raise bad cholesterol despite high amounts of saturated fats being eaten. The main goal advertised to insure reduced triglycerides is about no more than 100 grams of carbs a day.
Weight Loss/ Obesity – In a controlled study, where individuals were instructed to eat less than 40 carbohydrates a day and to not change any activity levels, each surprisingly lost 11.7 pounds on average, despite never making their goal of 40 carbs a day. In fact, they doubled that amount on average and still lost a decent amount of weight. On the opposite side of the study, individuals were only instructed to eat a low-fat diet where the goal was set at 30% reduction in fat intake and in turn they had a high carb intake. The results may surprise you; the low-fat group in the study averaged about 3.9 pounds lost at the end of the study, much lower than the low carb dieters.
COMMON MISTAKES ON A LOW CARB LIFESTYLE
If you find that you are at a standstill in your progress, while on a low carb lifestyle, then you need to stop and analyze what you are really doing. Analyze the areas you might not be following correctly or as well as you could be. There are reasons you could be at a standstill that can easily be fixed. Just take a moment and don’t automatically jump to conclusions. Here are the most common mistakes on a low carb lifestyle and how you can possible fix them.
Eating Too Much — One of the basic principles of a low carb diet is eating until you are satisfied. This doesn’t mean you can eat all you want though. You must have trust in your ability to know when you are satisfied. The best way to make sure you are not over eating is to monitor it. This doesn’t mean you should count calories; just track your portion sizes. If you feel like you have been monitoring your portion sizes then try to track the calories for a short time just to make sure. Even if it is low carb that does not mean you can have all you want. This way you can see how many calories you are really consuming and if you are actually hungry when you eat too.
Avoiding Healthy Fats — The idea of increasing your healthy fats can seem a little scary but your body needs something to use as fuel and with the low carb diet that is fat. So if you find yourself a little more tired than you used to be, this could be why your progress is being stunted. Not only that, you might even be increasing your protein which is causing you to take in too many calories. Take a week to monitor what you really are putting in your body. Don’t be afraid of healthy fats, they are needed to get you through your day and exercise.
Not Reading Labels — Reading labels can be annoying after a while. It’s full of small text and it’s hard to find the exact information you are looking for. This can lead you to not taking the time you actually need to properly read the labels or it can make you avoid it altogether. Reading labels is very important though. You could be ingesting carbohydrates without even knowing while also ingesting high amounts of healthy and unhealthy fats. This combination is a recipe for disaster. If you make the habit of reading your labels eventually it will become second nature.
Too Much Protein Not Enough Vegetables — Just because you are on a low carb diet doesn’t mean you should be avoiding all vegetables. Vegetables are important because they are packed full of vitamins and nutrients. They are also low in calories, unlike protein. When switching to a low carb diet it can be easy to increase your protein and want to avoid your vegetables. A simple way to fix this is to monitor, again, what you are putting on your plate.
Being Impatient — Being impatient is just sabotaging your results. If you are constantly getting on the scale or looking at yourself in the mirror you will stunt your results. The reasoning behind this is because you will become depressed and/or annoyed. Being upset or annoyed with yourself can make you not want to do your best. It can cause you to gravitate towards processed carbs, eat until you are stuffed and not workout your best. Make a rule that you can only weigh yourself one day a week or even one day a month if you can. Try to find the progress in how you feel and the clothes you wear.
Learning these common mistakes that people make on a low carb lifestyle is a great way to keep your results on track. Knowing these things can and possibly will happen will also help you analyze what you might be doing wrong. It takes time to build the skill to really fully know when you are satisfied. It takes even more time to remember which items have low calories so make sure you continue to read those labels and most importantly be patient. Being impatient can really sabotage your results so keep in mind that results don’t happen overnight.
HOW TO GET STARTED
The hardest part to any diet is starting it. It can become stressful and over whelming the moment you decide to do it. Don’t let that stop you. Getting started on a low carb diet is pretty easy if you just take the time to research, prepare and read. Some people find it easier just to dive right in but others know they need to do it gradually to prevent them from cheating. Either way, you will know what is best for you.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Research — Before you start a low carb diet you need to do your research. Find all the information you can to find what is best for you. Each low carb diet may have the same idea but the way they lay it out and execute it is different. Knowledge is the key to success in every aspect of life. For example, you might have made an assumption that a low carb diet meant bacon, butter, and eggs daily when it can mean instead avocado, zucchini noodles with homemade sauce on it.
Prepare — Once you find all the information you think you need then it’s time to prepare. Figure out what you need to throw out or donate that is in your kitchen. Then prepare a list of foods you can buy. Create a menu of recipes you are going to have for the week. This way you know exactly what you need to buy before you get to the store. If you go to the store with a list then you are setting yourself up for success. You should also make sure you eat beforehand so you can avoid buying too much food or grabbing convenience food.
Read — Reading is a top priority. When first starting a low carb diet, the easiest thing you can do is read the labels on products you normally buy. If the carbohydrates are high, get them out of your kitchen and definitely do not buy them again. This is a great starting point if you are not ready to dive in all the way.
Jump In — Now that you have all the information you need and you are prepared all you have to do is jump right in. If you find that you need to go in cold turkey to succeed then do it. Some people are more successful if they don’t think about all the things they are going to miss or not allowing themselves foods that are not in the low carb plan. If you want fast results and want to make a good habit this is the way to do it.
Or Go Gradual — If you have a prior history of failure then your best bet is to take it slow. Find areas in your diet that won’t be too hard for you to fix. Start eliminating sugary drinks like soda or juices and then go from there. The goal is to make it feel like it easy so you keep going. One tip is to avoid too much variety. Trying too many new recipes can cause problems and make more work. A good sample plate is 1/4 carbs, 1/4 protein, 1/2 Healthy Fat.
Researching everything you can, is the best way to make sure you get started correctly. Researching can help build your confidence to know you are doing things the right way. After you have researched everything, prepare your recipes and make a list; never go to the store without a list. You simply can’t do a low carb diet without reading. If you need to gradually go into this diet read all the labels and throw out the ones with high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates.
HOW TO SUCCEED ON A LOW CARB LIFESTYLE
Now that you got started on a low carb diet you need to make sure you are doing everything you can to be successful. Hindering your results can be depressing but there are ways to insure you are saying on track for success.
Below are a few ideas to continue or make success on a low carb diet:
Keep Track — Counting calories is not a must when you are on a low carb lifestyle because the rule is simple; eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Although it sounds easy on the surface, if you have a history of overeating then this can be very challenging. Be honest with yourself and take the time to track what you eat. If you don’t want to track the calories, then just track the portion sizes along with how many carbohydrates. If you do this from the first day you start it will become a habit and you won’t be hurting your results.
Exercise — If you want maximum results, then you must add exercise to your diet. The idea behind a low carb diet is that you are using fat as your energy source. When you use that fat then you lose weight. The best way to use that fat up faster is by exercising. Some low carb plans recommend at least three days a week.
Water — This diet may be beneficial for weight loss but it does have a draw back; constipation. A diet high in protein can back you up and you need the water to keep it going. Make sure you pick vegetables high in water content to get the necessary fiber you need to avoid this as well. Water, in general, is important to every diet. You need at least 8 cups of water a day to stay hydrated. Constant dehydration is even known to keep you from losing weight because your body is retaining it and is afraid to use it.
Calories – Although most low carb diets stress the need to not count calories and listen to your body, you need to first identify who you are. Have you had problems knowing when to stop eating before? Then counting calories is probably the best idea for you at first and the fact is losing weight is mostly a science; calories in, calories out. You cannot expect to lose weight if you are eating too much food.
If you want to succeed in this lifestyle then you need to make the effort to stay on track. Luckily, there are some simple ways to make sure that happens. First, keep track of how much food you’re eating even if that means you need to count your calories. You also need to add exercise to this lifestyle so you can see even more results. Exercise increases your happiness and makes you avoid mistakes. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. It’s important for digestion and can really mess with your physical activity if you are constantly dehydrated.
EASY LOW CARB RECIPES
Starting a new diet routine can be quite stressful and even tiresome. The most tiresome part is find easy recipes that you know you will enjoy. The great thing about a low carb diet is that it is fairly simple. All you need is a protein source, vegetable and health fat to get started.
The easiest option for breakfast is eggs. Eggs can be prepared however you like and cater to your unique taste. Start with a couple of eggs and whisk them up, add in your favorite low carb vegetables and cheese and scramble them up.
If you want to be really bold you can make a Greek Frittata.
All you need is:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Half a bag of baby spinach
Half a pint grape tomatoes cut in half
1/4 of an Onion
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Any other vegetables you like
Add the olive oil to a large sauce pan that has tall sides and let heat up for about one minute. Add your onions and cook until lightly translucent. Add your veggies and whisk up your eggs. Once your vegetables are slightly cooked add in your eggs. Add your eggs and half of the cheese to your vegetables and cook for about three minutes. Add the last bit of cheese put the lid on and place it in oven until its light brown and the center is fully cooked.
For lunch, you can easily cook up a stir-fry. This is another one of those options that can be changed to your preference. Add in your favorite protein, vegetables, and spices and you are good to go. Another option is making a simple salad with steak or grilled chicken. A simple stir fry you should try is Lemony Chicken and Asparagus Stir-fry.
All you need is:
1 pound skinless chicken breast (or tofu) cut to bite size pieces
½ Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or veggie broth)
2 Tablespoons reduced sodium Soy Sauce
2 Teaspoons Cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Water
1 Tablespoon Canola oil
1 Bunch of asparagus, you can even substitute this with broccoli
3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Ginger
2 Lemons, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the asparagus or broccoli to a medium heat large wok and cook until it’s just about to be done. Then add your garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Set your vegetable to the side.
Add the oil and chicken to the wok on high heat. Cook until the chicken is brown and cooked through. Add the chicken to your vegetables.
Then bring the soy sauce and broth to a boil. While that is boiling add the water and lemon juice to the corn starch. Whisk in the corn starch mixture, wait until it thickens and then add the chicken and vegetables back to the skillet.
Finding a snack to eat on a low carb diet is super easy. You really shouldn’t have any trouble here. Grab your favorite high water content vegetable, or make some hard-boiled eggs. If you want something super-fast and convenient then you can buy some Atkins advantage bars or some of the newer low carb prepared TV Dinners or Shakes.
If you really wanted to you could repeat some of the ideas above for dinner. You could make the stir fry with steak and bell peppers instead and leave out the lemon juice. It would feel like a completely different meal. That is what is so great about stir-fry, not only are they easy they can provide different flavors just by choosing different ingredients. Another easy idea is to broil a piece of steak for about 4 minutes on each side, slice it up and add it to a bed of baby spinach, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil, add a few cracks of pepper and squeeze a half of a lemon and you got a delicious steak salad.
If you want to go all out but still make something easy then you should try Chicken breast and “Pasta”
All you need is:
1 Spaghetti squash
1 Skinless Chicken Breast (or more depending on how many people you are serving or you can leave out the chicken and just eat more squash or use tofu)
1 to 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Favorite low carb tomato sauce
First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and cut your spaghetti squash in half, long ways. Scrape out the center of the squash and take a little olive oil and coat the insides. Cook face down for about thirty minutes.
While the squash is cooking take your chicken breast and season it however you like. Took get it to cook all the way in a saucepan take a meat tenderizer and slightly flatten it. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan on high heat and add the chicken. Cook until there is not pink in the middle and then add your favorite tomato sauce and vegetables.
When the squash is done, take a fork and scrape out the middle. Put it on the plate with the chicken on top and vegetable tomato sauce and you are done. This recipe is super simple and gives you a basic idea on where to start.
With these easy recipes, you should have no problem sticking to a low carb lifestyle. Each of these recipes can be changed to what your taste buds are wanting that day. Change of the vegetable and protein but keep the same idea and you won’t even notice that they are actually pretty similar.
Overall, a low carbohydrate diet consists of less than 30 grams of carbs each day, moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of healthy fats. People who adopt a low carb diet use healthy fats as their energy source, instead of carbohydrates, to burn off the extra weight.
On a low carb diet, you can have red meat, chicken, eggs, high water content vegetables such as cucumber or zucchini and natural fats like coconut oil and avocado. Foods you should avoid completely are processed foods and sugary drinks. As well as any extra sugary and starchy foods; that is because starchy foods turn into sugar in your body. When that happens, more than likely, your body will want to store it later because it is getting too much of it. Natural sugars like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries can be consumed occasionally. You can also use stevia if you’d like.
Starting a low carb diet can be overwhelming. There are so many out there that It can be hard to choose. Just do your research and find which has the best plan for you. You could try the Atkins, the “Eco-Atkins” diet, Dukan Diet, Ketogenic Diet, and carb cycling just to name a few. You can even mix it all up and do one each month if it helps to shake things up and keep you going.
They all have the main idea of being low carb; it’s just the way they are executed. For example, carb cycling is about having different amounts of carbs each day. One day you will have a high-carb day, the other a low-carb day and even a no-carb day. The most popular low carb diet is the Atkins diet and the goal is to consume less than 20 grabs of carbs a day.
As with almost any diet when followed correctly, a low carb diet comes with amazing health benefits. Studies have shown it lowers blood pressure and triglycerides. It even fights against diabetes due to the low sugar content in the foods. Studies have even shown that you will lose more weight on a low carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet. One study on the eco-Atkins diet showed it cut bad cholesterol more than 10 percent in just a few weeks.
Getting started is actually easier than you think. All you need to do is do your research and make sure you get all the information you can. Then you need to prepare. Make a list of groceries you need before you go to the store and make plans before you choose a restaurant if you need to eat out. You should even clear out your kitchen of anything with high carbohydrates and trans fats to prepare for the healthy stuff. If you want to keep on track and be successful you need to make sure you clearly read all the labels and keep track of your food intake even if that means you need to count calories. You know yourself better than anyone else, so make sure you are true to yourself and do what you need to do to be successful.