Low Carb Weight Loss

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Fit, Losing Weight, and Feeling Great with a Low Carb Diet

The Ultimate Guide to Low Carb Weight Loss

Looking to lose weight, whether it be that last 10 pounds or just starting your weight loss journey a low-carbohydrate diet can help you reach those goals. Making these types of changes is beneficial for a multitude of reasons.

First, eliminating high carbohydrate processed foods eliminates the added sugars, chemicals, and food additives that are not beneficial to overall health.  Instead, relying on healthy whole foods to meet your nutritional needs is what the body with thrive on.  While doing so pay careful attention to carbohydrates from fruit, starchy vegetables, and other items with added carbs such as yogurt and milk.  Balancing the level of carbs that is appropriate for your low-carb journey can be a learning process.  Many diets, such as Atkins, start you out on a very restrictive phase and then add back some carbs in future phases.

Throughout such stages you may find you detect a level of carbohydrate sensitivity, one sign might be your weight plateaus for some time and you end up reducing again to achieve additional weight loss.  Below are additional tips to overcoming plateaus, as it’s a natural part of the weight loss process.

1. First, weigh yourself every week vs daily.  We all realize that from day to day our weight is bound to fluctuate; water changes, exercise, stress, regularity all impact weight.  It’s best to stick with a 7 day spread or longer since your body is likely still benefiting from your food choices that may not be reflected on the scale each and every day.  Realize that your body can be re-proportioning body weight, consider taking pictures to recognize the changes instead of relying on the scale.  Invest in a good scale, like the EatSmart Precision Digital Scale which costs less than $29 and has a capacity of up to 400 pounds.  Additionally, it can be helpful to buy a body tape measure that can help track progress beyond just what the scale says.

2. You might be somebody that is more carb sensitive and find reducing your carbs even further gets the scale to budge.  Experiment with 10 gram decreases until the scale moves.  This can be a temporary change to give your body the boost it needs to overcome a plateau.

3.  This is a big one.  Stress impacts our hormones.  You throw a mess of hormones into your weight loss efforts and you’re bound to get some interference.  Develop a tool box of ways to cope with stress early on so you don’t sabbatoge your weight loss goals.

4.  Don’t solely rely on all the low-carb products that are on the market.  I know we all can benefit from those convenient items when necessary, but that is the trick…using them when needed.  Think whole nutritionally dense foods.  Just because it’s a low-carb cookie or brownie doesn’t make it a beneficial staple to your diet.  Take a look at how often you are relying on these items and replace them with protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.

5.  Too many high fat foods?  Does you lunch consist of avocados, cheese, and nuts?   Nuts and cheese can be easy to overeat, especially nuts.  Many people find themselves quickly going through a bag of nuts while they work at their desk.  They offer some protein, but are predominately fat which means they are packed full of calories.  If your weight loss has stalled, cut back on these foods or eliminate them.

6.  Sleep  impacts the same hormones as stress.  It’s well known that lack of sleep interferes with weight loss.  If you’re tired you are less likely to exercise, choose the right foods because of feeling hungrier, and more likely to pack on the weight.

7. Doing the same thing each week at the gym?  Your body needs variety to facilitate continued weight loss.  Mix up your routine with weight training, intervals, and endurance training.  This will keep your body guessing, help improve your metabolism, and burn calories.

8.  Eating too many artificial sweeteners is sure to impact your weight loss through triggering your appetite and tricking your body into thinking it needs to release insulin to help address an anticipated spike in blood sugars.  Use modestly or eliminate when a plateau is encountered.

9.  Other considerations: medications that can impact weight loss, allowing yourself too many ‘cheat’ days, cutting calories too drastically, etc. When you experience a weight plateau try to look at the big picture.  As you can see it’s not just what you’re eating that can interfere with your efforts. 

Here are some helpful low-carb weight loss tips to consider as you get started:

  1. First clean out the pantry.  Remove the temptations, the refined and processed foods.  Then stock up on the basics so you’re ready to go.
  2. Start off by keeping a food journal.  Count your carbs in the beginning to identify the appropriate adjustments you need to make for your success.  A good food scale in the kitchen can help you track what you are eating more accurately.
  3. Preplan your meals and have your snacks prepared and ready to go for the day.
  4. Get rid of the caffeine and alcohol, especially in the beginning.  When you’re well established in the low-carb plan then add back in moderation if desired.
  5. Balance out your dietary efforts with an exercise routine that you enjoy.

Low-carb diet weight loss happens mainly the same way other diets elicit weight loss, through a calorie deficit.  When you limit a major food group, ie grains and fruit, you are likely to consume fewer calories than your body expends.  Some feel low-carb diets result in a decrease in appetite by altered hormones resulting in satiety.  Keep in the mind the first week is usually the hardest as your body adjusts by not relying on its primary source of fuel, glucose.  Over time you should feel more stable, with a greater control of appetite, and start seeing some weight loss.

To be successful make sure you have a good support network!  Surround yourself with individuals who will be willing to understand your efforts and support you.  There will be struggles and times where you may want to revert to your old ways.  Having a friend to call or a forum to rely on for support is essential throughout the transition to a low-carb lifestyle.


Meet The Author

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

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