A low carb diet can help you lose weight and enjoy other potential health benefits.
Many studies suggest that cutting back on carbs may contribute to stabilizing your blood sugar and reducing your risk for diabetes and certain heart conditions.
However, there can be pitfalls. Know how to do it right and you can see some great benefits.
For example, your body needs time to adapt to your new diet, and you may miss some of your favorite foods.
If you’re thinking about consuming fewer carbs, read this. You’ll learn whether a low carb diet can keep you healthy and satisfied.
Losing Weight on a Low Carb Diet
It’s possible to slim down by avoiding carbs, but it’s not guaranteed. Success depends on knowing how to make smart choices.
Try these strategies to help a low carb diet work for you:
1. Think long term. There is some evidence that low carb diets produce more weight loss within the first 6 months compared to low fat diets, but the difference declines over time. If you don’t need to reduce quickly, you may prefer a less restrictive diet.
2. Understand ketosis. That initial weight loss is based on ketosis, where your body responds to the lack of carbs by burning its own fat for fuel. As you eat more protein and fat, your appetite is reduced too.
3. Stay regular. A less pleasant side effect of ketosis is constipation. Rely on natural remedies like exercise and water rather than laxatives.
4. Drink lots of water. Speaking of water, a low carb diet can be dehydrating. You may need to drink at least 2 quarts of water a day to keep your body running smoothly.
5. Freshen up. How’s your breath? Metabolic changes may leave your mouth with a stale odor, giving you an additional reason to drink more water.
6. Control portions. While many low carb foods are healthy, some of them are high in calories. That includes nuts, seeds, full fat dairy products, and meat. Ensure that you stay within sensible limits.
7. Take supplements. Any restrictive diet where you cut out many foods can create nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor may recommend supplements for folic acid and other vitamins and minerals.
8. Be flexible. Strict diets can also tempt you to cheat. If you’re having trouble sticking to a low carb diet, you may get the results you want with less discomfort by taking a more lenient approach.
Safety Considerations for a Low Carb Diet
Most experts agree that more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of low carb eating. While there are many different ways to interpret a low carb diet, some plans advocate getting as little as 30% of your total calories from carbohydrates compared to current US government guidelines that recommend 45 to 65%.
Follow these tips for safety while on a low carb diet:
1. Consult first with your doctor or dietitian. Your doctor can help you decide if a low carb diet is appropriate for you. Discuss your fitness goals and your options for reaching them.
2. Protect your kidneys. Any high protein diet places extra strain on the kidneys. Therefore, low carb diets are not recommended for adults with kidney conditions. They’re also inadvisable for teenagers and pregnant women.
3. Increase your fiber. Eating too much meat and too little fiber can cause bloating and more serious gastrointestinal symptoms. Leave room for low carb vegetables and fruits like mushrooms, spinach, berries, and peaches.
4. Make it sustainable. Overall, choose a healthy diet you can maintain for life. Daily habits produce greater results than following each new trend.
Talk with your doctor or dietitian to determine if a low carbohydrate diet is right for you. Even if you decide to follow a different plan, you can probably still benefit from cutting back on the refined carbohydrates found in cookies, candy, and other processed foods.