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    Categories: Dietsnutritionweight loss

The Low Carb Diet : How it Can Help You Lose Weight


In this article we will show you what exactly the low carb diet is and what you can expect to eat and drink.

You will find in this article a week-long meal guide and how to stay on track when eating out at restaurants.

What Is The Low Carb Diet

The low carb diet is a diet that limits the intake of carbohydrates.

You can find carbohydrates in a number of foods, such as starchy vegetables and grains.

There is no evidence that claims that this diet is undoubtedly effective and safe. Indeed, carbohydrates are necessary in a healthy diet. 

Carbohydrates give the body the fuel it needs to keep going through energy. When carbs are broken down in the body, they turn in to glucose, causing blood sugar levels to rise. When this happens, your body triggers and insulin release so that it can use the glucose in its cells.

While some of this glucose is used for our activities, the extra glucose is converted into fat. This is why some claim that a low carb diet can help you lose weight.

The recommended daily intake is currently at 130-225g, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For an average low carb diet, you are looking at consuming around 60-130g of carbohydrates a day.

What Are The Side Effects And How Can You Avoid Them?

With a low carb diet, you may experience low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. If this happens, you may have headaches, tired more easily or unable to concentrate.

Also, your digestive system can easily become affected. With a low carb diet, constipation is one of the commonly reported side effects.

Make sure that you eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables to offset any deficiencies that you might get when limiting your carb intake.

To best avoid constipation, make sure that you introduce a variety of vegetables that are high in fiber, like artichokes, peas and broccoli.

This is why a low carbohydrate diet must be closely monitored by a doctor. 

What The Studies Say

There are many theories as to why the low carb diet has its effect on weight loss.

  • One theory is that insulin is needed less. And as insulin helps to store sugars as fat, eating less carbohydrates leads to weight loss.
  • Another is that by eating less carbohydrates, we eat less calories.

However it works!

There are some studies that show that eating a diet low in carbohydrates can help with weight management.

  • A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that its participants lost more weight eating a low carb diet than a low fat diet. Within 6months, obese participants lost between 5.8 and 8.6kg compared to 1.9 and 4.2kg on the low fat diet. They also saw an increase in insulin sensitivity on the low carb diet, which could mean that their body will store less fat in the future.
  • A study published in the same journal in 2003 found a 4% difference in weight loss compared to a conventional diet after 6 months. But when the participants were checked again after one year, there was no significant difference.
  • A study in 2007’s Obesity journal found that the diet had a significant positive effect on low mood, fatigue and hunger, more so than when compared to individuals on a low fat diet.

Best Things To Eat On A Low Carb Diet!

Per week:

  • Approximately 8oz of nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts and pumpkin and sunflower seeds are the best)
  • Approximately 8 tablespoons of coconut oil, butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 servings of fruit (apples, oranges, berries, melons, pears, mangos)
  • 15 servings of vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, peppers, onions, broccoli, salad leaves, carrots, spinach)
  • At least 3 meals that contain fish (fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna or sea bass, and seafood like shrimp, lobster, oysters and mussels)
  • At least 4 meals that contain good quality, grass-fed where possible, meat (lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, pork)
  • High-fat dairy (cheese, yogurt)
  • Eggs (pasture-raised or omega-3 enriched are the best)
  • At least 2 meals that contain a portion of whole-food, complex carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, lentils and beans)

What to Drink On A Low Carb Diet

  • Water (aim for the recommended 2 liters a day)
  • Coffee and tea
  • Carbonated beverages low in carbohydrates and without artificial sweeteners

Things To Avoid On A Low Carb Diet

  • Processed sugars (high fructose corn syrup, “diet” drinks, artificial sweeteners, candy, ice cream, cookies)
  • Fruit juices (try to get your fruit intake from whole foods only, or make your own smoothies)
  • Gluten grains (bread and pasta, wheat, barley, spelt)
  • Trans or unhealthy fats (hydrogenated oil)

Your Low Carb Meal Guide

Remember that this is a low carb diet, not a no carb diet!

So throw in some sweet potatoes, brown rice and lentils too, as carbohydrates are still an integral part of a balanced meal.

You will crave carbohydrates by cutting them out of your diet completely. So try to incorporate them into 1 or 2 of your weekly meals.

Vegetarians should enhance their use of dairy products such as eggs, yogurt, grass-fed butter and cheese. Instead of meat and fish, to keep their protein and fat intake up. 

​Vegans may experience a vitamin B12 deficiency more easily that others.

So be careful. You can find vitamin B12 in supplements or in food that is fortified with it. Consider adopting a mid-to-low carb diet, so that you can eat fortified breakfast cereals and fortified yeast extract in pastas.

Many of the meals you see here, you can find recipes for in our other article: 10 Awesomely Healthy Low-Carb Recipes.


Monday

Breakfast - Berries and yogurt with homemade granola

Snack -Nuts and seeds

Lunch - Coconut flatbread with your choice of low carb filling

Snack - Carrot sticks with hummus

Dinner - Spiralled vegetable “pasta” bolognese

Tuesday

Breakfast - Oven-baked eggs with spinach, chilli and harissa yogurt

Snack - A portion of fruit

Lunch - Lettuce wraps

Snack - Handful of nuts and seeds

Dinner - Steamed trout with vegetables and a side salad

Wednesday

Breakfast - Berries and yogurt with homemade granola

Snack - A hard boiled egg

Lunch - Chicken and mango salad with avocado

Snack - Nuts and seeds

Dinner - Spiralled vegetable “pasta” with chilli shrimp

Thursday

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon

Snack - Handful of nuts and seeds

Lunch - Smoothie

Snack - A hard boiled egg

Dinner - Grilled chicken with vegetables and a side salad

Friday

Breakfast - Yogurt with homemade granola and berries

Snack - Handful of nuts and seeds

Lunch - Chicken and mango salad with avocado

Snack - Portion of fruit

Dinner - Pumpkin and shrimp or chicken curry with cauliflower “rice”

Saturday

Breakfast - Oven-baked eggs with spinach, chilli and harissa yogurt

Snack - Portion of fruit

Lunch - Coconut flatbread with your choice of low carb filling

Snack - Small portion of organic dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or higher)

Dinner - Mediterranean warm salad with goat cheese

Sunday

Breakfast - Pancakes with mashed banana instead of flour, cooked in coconut oil

Snack - Seeds and nuts

Lunch - Lettuce wraps

Snack - Portion of fruit

Dinner - Teriyaki salmon with asparagus and a side salad

How to Stay On Track When You’re Going Out

  • In most restaurants there is the likelihood that it will be, but make sure to ask that your meal be cooked with real butter where possible.

  • Go for the fish, steak or chicken option for your main meal, ask them politely to swap out anything that doesn’t adhere to the diet (like fries) with fresh, seasonal vegetables.

  • Pick something filling so you’ll be less likely to give in to dessert temptation.

  • Politely pass on the complimentary bread.

  • Drink still or sparkling water.

  • If you do slip up, remember that it isn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t mean that you ate unhealthily. Just get back to your eating plan when you are home. This diet needs to be incorporated into your lifestyle, so you need to be able to enjoy it and indulge every now and again.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing is to find a diet that suits you, and one that you will stick with. If you enjoy the food that you eat on a certain diet, you are more likely to continue to diet this way. 

A dietician will be the best person to help you make the decision as to which diet is right for you. If you have problems controlling your blood sugar levels or suffer with kidney and heart troubles, you are advised to speak with a healthcare professional.

Making a change in your diet will not produce rapid results. You will have to wait around 4-6 months to start seeing the benefits as your body gets over the initial shock and adapts to your change in lifestyle.

The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. As long as you do not exceed the recommended allowance of calories on this diet and you exercise regularly, you should see a change in weight.

Take the time to listen to what your body is trying to tell you and how it is reacting to what you put in it.

Remember that every individual is different and what will work for some may not work for others.

Have you tried a low carb diet in the past? Has it been a success or has it done more harm than good? Or are you restricting carbs in your diet at the moment?

Let us know in the comments, and share with us the tips and recipes that kept you going!

The Low Carb Diet : How it Can Help You Lose Weight
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