Have you just started a low-carb diet, like Atkins or Keto? Feeling a bit overwhelmed?
Changing your lifestyle is not easy. There is so much to learn and get used to.
Here’s a quick compilation of top low-carb diet tips for beginners, to help you glide into your new lifestyle and transform your body.
1. Count your carbs correctly
Limiting your carbs is the key to any low-carb diet – obviously.
But it is surprisingly easy to get this wrong. Many beginners calculate their carbs inaccurately or incorrectly. So their diet becomes really difficult, or doesn’t work at all.
Our brains are hardwired to underestimate the amount of food we eat, as proven by multiple scientific studies. It’s the same story with carbs. You might not even notice how you gradually slip into eating a lot more than you think.
Here are a few common carb-counting mistakes to watch out for:
Don’t just guess how many carbs are in your food
Find out for sure. Check product labels or look up the info online.
Don’t try to tally up carb counts in your head
Your brain will trick you into underestimating it. Use an app like FatSecret or CarbManager. A simple food diary using just pen and paper works too. Be brutally honest and write down everything.
Watch out for hidden carbs
Sometimes they lurk in the most unexpected places.
Don’t trust all “low-carb” or “sugar-free” labels
Not all of them are as good as they claim to be.
Understand regional differences in how net carbs are calculated
USA is different to the rest of the world. This is important if you use online recipes or apps.
2. Base your low-carb diet on fresh whole foods
Getting enough vitamins and fibre is essential for health. But some of us struggle to get there even on standard diets.
It gets even harder when you cut out high-carb foods like fruit and grains. But let’s not panic – there are many nutrient-rich low-carb foods to bridge any potential gaps.
Fresh whole foods like green leafy vegetables, low-carb salad vegetables, grass-fed red meat, fresh fish and cold-pressed oils contain everything you need. Make these foods the foundation of your low-carb diet and your nutrition will be fully balanced.
Don’t waste your carbs allowance on sweeteners, dodgy sugar-free bars and other processed foods. Not only you will miss out on vitamins, you may also experience unpleasant side effects. You might even accidentally push yourself out of ketosis.
Quick guides: High-Vitamin Low-Carb Foods and High-Fibre Low-Carb Foods
3. Figure out your go-to low-carb substitutes
Some foods are high in carbs by definition – bread, pasta, desserts, snacks, side dishes like rice and noodles, breakfasts… Are you finding it hard to let go of these staples?
Here’s how you can substitute them with low-carb alternatives:
Buy low-carb bread online, or bake your own from scratch using low-carb nut flours
Use zero-carb sweeteners instead. Our favourite options are erythritol, Stevia (popular brands are Truvia, Sukrin and Swerve).
Make your own low-carb desserts or buy sweet low-carb treats.
Pick some safe go-to options for low-carb snacks
Pasta and noodles
Try zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash pasta or shirataki noodles
Substitute with cauliflower or low-carb root vegetables
Swap for cauliflower rice or konjac rice
Oh yes, you can! Buy sugar-free chocolate online or make your own from scratch
Swap for berries, low-sugar citrus fruit and fruit extracts
Make your own low-carb cereal with nuts and seeds
4. Support your low-carb diet with the right supplements
Supplements market is saturated with thousands of products that promise magic results. Can they really help? Or is it just a waste of money?
The answer is – it depends.
Some supplements have a long track record and scientifically-proven benefits. Most low-carb diet authors and experts recommend supplementation, especially in the beginning of your diet.
The right combination of supplements can help you solve common low-carb diet problems and protect your health over the long term.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
High-quality multivitamin, optimised for low-carb diets to bridge any nutritional gaps and fight issues like tiredness and sugar cravings
Electrolytes (primarily magnesium and potassium) to help with headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue and other Keto flu symptoms
Co-Enzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine to speed up transition to ketosis and kick-start fat-burning metabolism, as recommended by Dr Atkins
Psyllium husk capsules, psyllium husk powder or flaxseeds to add more fibre to your low-carb diet
Try this quick low-carb diet supplements checklist to find out which products are right for you.
5. Get into the right mindset for long-term change
The best diet in the world won’t save you if you don’t have the right mindset. Weight loss, like any other major transformation, requires mental strength and focus.
Here are a few common obstacles you will need to push through.
Low-carb diets are great because you don’t feel that hungry. But there is still some degree of discomfort involved – coping with sugar cravings, being disciplined about your food choices, learning new recipes and cooking methods. Don’t try to avoid discomfort. Embrace it and grow stronger.
Don’t expect instant results
Weight loss is a long-term game. It may take weeks or even months before you notice a substantial difference in your body composition. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Change your habits
Some of our ingrained habits stall weight loss, for example, eating at set times even if not hungry. Review your habits and eliminate those that don’t help your weight loss.
Analyse your mistakes
If something goes wrong – for example, if you fall out of ketosis – don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, analyse what went wrong and think of ways to prevent it in the future.
Believe in yourself
Above all, have faith in yourself and your ability to change. Millions of people have successfully lost weight, transformed their bodies and improved their lives. You can do it too.
I wish you the best of luck with your weight loss!
If you have any questions, please shout out in the comments.