A strictly low carbohydrate diet is not the key to long term weight loss. But, incorporating low carb diet food into your health plan, in addition to lean proteins and exercise, will definitely contribute to weight loss.
A low carb diet requires approximately 20 – 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. You may hear about people who lose 8 pounds in their first week of dieting when they try a no carb diet. Those 8 pounds are water weight due to their kidneys working overtime to process the excess protein in their system. In addition to quickly gaining those 8 pounds back once they add carbs into their diet again, people who choose to not eat any carbs for a short term diet are really grumpy! It is much healthier and more permanent to diet with long term goals in mind.
When you are calculating your daily carbohydrate intake as you try to lose weight, it is extremely important to utilize a carb counter and consider how much energy you burn. You will find an endless array of carb counters online – both free online calculators and various tools you can purchase.
As you familiarize yourself with carb counting, remember your body stores carbs as energy to burn when you are living an active lifestyle. That being said, your body stores carbs when you are not living an active lifestyle, too. When you do not burn off your energy stores, an excess is created and your body will metabolize that excess into fat. Depending on your activity level, a diet balanced with good carbohydrates and lean protein is the key to weight loss and weight maintenance.
As you tackle the challenge of carbohydrate control in your diet, remember that there are a lot of delicious low carb foods at your fingertips. In this day and age, it is a lot more difficult for restaurants, markets, and food manufacturers to sneak carbs past the consumer. Before you begin altering your shopping and ordering habits to reflect less carbohydrates, you need to create a carbohydrate limit for yourself. This can be frustrating at first since you are only used to counting calories, fat, and protein. What a pain to have to pay attention to one more thing on the nutrition label, right? Wrong! Once you become accustomed to acknowledging your carb intake, the bigger picture of calories, fat, protein, and carbs will start to make a lot more sense to you, and your deeper understanding of nutrition is something you have for the rest of your life. After awhile, you will not even realize how many more healthy choices you make on a daily basis.
Create a Unique Low Carb Plan
The easiest way to determine your daily carbohydrate intake is not found in a book or online, it is something you, as the owner of your body, need to find yourself.
Begin with the knowledge that a high protein diet, like Atkins, calls for only 20 grams of carbs per day for the first part of the plan. In most diet books you read, there will be suggested daily carb intakes anywhere from 40 – 80 grams per day. Since this is a lifestyle change for you, torturing yourself by suddenly depriving yourself of your regular carb intake is unnecessary and will most likely result in you cheating or overeating.
It is much more reasonable to simply begin by using a carb counter for a regular day of eating. Once you see how many carbs you consume when you are not thinking about it, see what you can realistically remove or replace in your meal plan to bring your carb count down to 100 grams per day. Once you are down to 100 grams per day and you are exercising regularly, try reducing your carb intake by 5 – 10 grams every week. If you are able to comfortably get all the way down to 40 grams of carbs per day, with exercise, and you are eating proteins low in fat, you will definitely notice a difference on the scale and with the way your clothes are fitting. Remember that 20 – 40 grams is the very low end of what you should consume – it should not be your initial goal.
Depending on your age, how much weight you need to lose and how active you are, you may notice a big difference by consuming 100 or 80 grams per day. You are tailoring your own diet, so as long as you are being true to yourself and you are not torturing yourself by going “cold turkey,” you will feel great, inside and out, about your new nutrition plan.
Go Ahead, Eat
The best part of being on a diet is the part when you get to eat. As a dieter, make it your mission to rarely feel deprived – within reason, of course. Try fooling your taste buds into believing they are tasting something naughty, without having to pay the consequences on your thighs in a few days.
As you are tailoring your personal low carb diet plan for yourself (yes, you need to invest time in this), you should put together a low carb food list, highlighting your favorite things. It is helpful to put a list like this on your refrigerator, or another high traffic area at home or work. You will start to remember the things you like that are also good for you, and you will begin to order and buy those items as a subconscious reflex.
As you become accustomed to living with your list, some of the different choices you may notice yourself making and not thinking about are: at a salad bar, you might choose the leafy mixed green lettuce instead of the iceberg and garbanzo beans instead of cheese; on sandwiches, you might use/order whole grain bread instead of sourdough and eat a side of fruit instead of fries or potato chips. These seem like simple, obvious good choices to make, but the fact that you will make them without actually trying will prove you are successfully changing your lifestyle by successfully changing the way you think about food and carbs.