Getting Started on a Low Carb Diet

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Low Carb Lifestyle Today!

15 Tips for Low Carb Dieting Success

15 Tips for Low Carb Success

  1. When making any dietary or lifestyle change it is essential to talk with your doctor. Your doctor is an important part of your care team that will be able to assess the possible health risks based on your medical history and current health that may be of concern with any changes you desire to make. Again, always talk to your Doctor before starting any new diet regimen.
  2. Before implementing a dietary change it’s important to have a benchmark. If you are trying to lose weight, invest in a good scale.  We recommend the EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom scale which costs less than $29 and goes up to 400 pounds.  If you’re looking for a scale with a Body Fat sensor, we recommend the EatSmart GetFit Digital Body Scale ($49.95), and if you’re looking for something that will sync up with apps in your phone via BlueTooth and track your weight automatically, the Weight Gurus Bluetooth Smart Connected Body Fat Scale ($59) is amazing.  In addition to taking frequent weight measurements, you can also see progress in a different way: measurements.  Weight loss progress can vary, and there can be weeks when you stagnate on the scale but lose around the waist or thighs, and vice versa.  Invest in a good body tape measure. I wouldn’t recommend obsessing over these numbers every day or week, but take a look at them as measures of change every 2-4 weeks. You may also consider completing blood work before you start, especially if you have preexisting conditions you’re hoping to improve or reverse or if your medical or family history puts you at risk. This can be a gratifying to see your lipid panel change after 3-6 months of making these dietary changes.
  3. Precision in the kitchen enables you to get off to a good start, but tracking the volume of food for each meal can be a real eye opener. Get a good food scale to be able to make get concise measurements of your portions.
  4. You can access hundreds of different apps on a smartphone to track food intake. Many are user friendly and provide an accurate database to keep you on track. Try Lose It! Or MyFitnessPal.
  5. Get into the habit early on to read food labels, question ingredients in meals, and know what is in the food at restaurants. Beyond looking at net carbs, review the ingredient list for processed carbohydrates and junk that are not beneficial for the body. For example, if you’re modifying a stir fry dish at a restaurant by removing the rice also consider what is in the sauce…usually a good amount of sugar. Instead request it on the side or removed all-together so you can season it with a bit of soy sauce.
  6. Being prepared and planning ahead will put you in the seat for success. Take time on a Sunday to plan out your meals and snacks for the week. Make your grocery list and complete all the prep work. Invest in some quality food containers to make sure you can bring your food where it needs to go.  It will help you stay on the right course and avoid situations where you’ll have an “excuse” to cheat.
  7. Make sure you are getting enough fat. This will be your body’s primary source for energy with a reduction in carbohydrates, so it’s essential you’re getting enough. It’s not necessary to reach for the fat free cottage cheese, fat free dressing, or reduced fat cheese.
  8. In addition to fat the other ‘filling’ counterpart is fiber. Make sure you are fitting in those servings of vegetables to get plenty fiber. Unsweetened coconut, flax seeds, spinach, collard greens, chard, avocado all have a good amount of fiber to keep the colon happy.
  9. Plan for the unexpected. Forget to bring your lunch, thought you had almonds to snack on at work? Have convenient items stored at home, work, the car, gym bag, and/or purse. Convenient items that are low carb can help you stay on track if you haven’t planned (e.g. Atkins Shake, Quest bars, pork rinds, etc).  Our snack list has over 75 ideas, many of which are perfect for on-the-go.
  10. Eating too many artificial sweeteners can hinder your weight loss efforts. Consider using in moderation or if absolutely needed. They’ve been demonstrated to potentially lead to an increase in appetite as your body is preparing to release insulin because you’re eating something sweet. This anticipation leads to an unnecessary production of insulin and reduction in blood sugars.
  11. Planning to allow for some alcohol in your meal plan. The occasional drink can fit, but there are many sugar laden drinks to steer clear from. No worries if your drink of choice is rum, scotch, or even wine drink. No or low carbohydrates, but those are still empty calories with no nutritional value added to your day.
  12. Avoid grazing throughout the day. With successfully reducing your carbohydrate intake, getting most of your calories from protein and fat the desire to snack or graze should diminish. Though if it’s purely habit, begin to focus inward and ask yourself when you truly are hungry before reaching for a snack. Every bite adds up!
  13. Even with reaping the benefits of increased satiety, stress can play a role in triggering that old habit of stress eating. Make sure stress reduction techniques are in place. But, first learn what leads to your stress and how being honest with yourself in recognizing it.
  14. A team approach is better than taking something on solo. Encouraging family and friends to join in on these dietary changes will not only help them improve their health as well, but you’ll all be going through the ups and downs together. If you do end up taking it on solo, a support system is essential in your success. Having someone to talk to, gain encouragement, troubleshoot with, etc can help you navigate the challenges you’ll come across.
  15. Remember variety! For some chicken and broccoli every day is desired to keep it simple so they can breeze through the week. If this is you I would still encourage variety, even if it’s one meal or the weekend, changing it up can help maintain the changes long-term. Most will benefit from changing it up, trying something new, and keeping meals interesting and enjoyable. Plus, most importantly, variety enables you to obtain the many nutrients that your body needs.

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Nicole Barnick, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.

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