If you’re confused about whether to eat a low carb diet, low-fat or fat-free diet, the confusion ends here in this guide to low carb eating!
Want to know what to eat on a low carb diet? We’ve got you covered. How about how many grams of carbs to consume per day? Read on!
For years, many people bought into the myth that increasing fat in the diet could lead to all sorts of health issues, especially heart disease.
The food supplies responded by producing every food imaginable labeled ‘fat-free.’
However, in the past several years, many health professionals are embracing the fact that a low carb diet that is higher in protein and fat is a much better way to eat in order to avoid obesity and other chronic diseases (1, 2).
Many of the studies of low-carbohydrate diets have been conducted on people that are already dealing with health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The one thing people on low-carbohydrate diets have in common is improvement in the following areas:
- Reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Increased HDL (good) cholesterol
- Improved triglycerides
- Stable blood sugar levels
- Weight loss
One of the best benefits of eating a low-carbohydrate diet is it helps you focus on eating whole, real foods and eliminate highly processed foods that are often full of chemicals, artificial flavorings, additives and preservatives.
The studies also prove that a low-carbohydrate diet is easier to stay with because it reduces hunger.
You are allowed to eat until you are full (6).
I included each study that had data on how many people made it to the end.
Average for low-carb diets: 79,51%
Average for low-fat diets: 77,72%
The results are clear. Low-carb diets are easier to stick to.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the starches, fibers and sugars found in fruits, vegetables, milk products and grains.
Carbohydrates are one of the three main sources of energy for the body amongst Protein and Fat, all known as macronutrients.
The body needs macronutrients to be able to function properly. In other words, the body cannot produce macronutrients on its own – they must be obtained through the diet.
- Protein: The building blocks of the body, vital for life. If you eat plenty of animal foods then you will get all the protein your body needs.
- Carbohydrates: A source of quick energy to fuel high intensity workouts. Should be minimized if weight loss is your goal.
- Fat: A great source of energy for the human body and vital for life. Avoid processed seed oils and trans fats. Most natural sources of Omega-3, Saturated and Monounsaturated fats are healthy and nutritious.
Bottom Line: Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients. The main types of dietary carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fiber.
What Is A Low Carb Diet?
A low-carbohydrate diet consists of eating protein and fat with less than 100 grams of carbohydrates each day.
It consists of eating eggs, meat, fish, fruits (in moderation) and vegetables, nuts, seeds, good fats such as avocados and olive oil.
It also means NOT eating highly processed foods, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and low-fat foods. If it has more than 5 ingredients, you do NOT want to eat it.
Eating leftovers makes eating a low-carbohydrate diet easy.
Simply cook your meats and vegetables separately and store them in the refrigerator separately. In no time at all, you will have a variety of meats and vegetables to mix and match for a unique meal throughout the week.
Eat plenty of big salads. Take advantage of the Romaine lettuce heads, organic lettuce and the variety of mixed salads available in the produce section. Top with your favorite source of protein or leftovers from dinner the night before.
It is always best to make your own salad dressing using extra-virgin olive oil, your favorite vinegar, herbs, mustard, lemon and season with Himalayan Pink Sea salt and pepper to taste.
Just so you are clear about eating a low-carbohydrate diet, take a look at the following list:
Foods to AVOID:
- Soft drinks
- Ice cream
- Fruit juices
- Breads and pasta (wheat, barley, rye and spelt)
- Any Processed Food with Trans Fats – hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
- All vegetable oils
- Artificial sweeteners
- “Low-Fat” or “Diet” foods
Low Carb Diet Foods to Eat:
- Preferably grass-fed meats including meat, and chicken
- Salmon and other fish – preferably wild-caught
- Fruits (In moderation)
- Greek yogurt
- Butter and Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Dark chocolate – that contains a minimum of 70% cocoa (1 ounce)
- Beverages include coffee, tea or water
Each meal should be composed of one of three items:
1. Meat and poultry, fish and other seafood, eggs.
- Meat and Poultry: beef, hamburger (no bread), steak, chicken, turkey, veal. Choose the fattier cuts, they are more satiating.
- Fish and Seafoods: Salmon, cod, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, trout, tuna, mackarel. Any fish really, the fattier fish are better and carry more Omega-3s.
- Eggs: It is better to choose Omega-3 enriched eggs. They’re healthier.
2. Fats and Oils.
- Fats and oils: Grass-fed butter, coconut oil, lard and olive oil.
3. Low-Carb Vegetables.
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, kale, etc. Eat as much vegetables as you want and try to have some at every meal.
How Does The Low Carb Diet Work?
Going on a low carbohydrate diet means the majority of your food intake is from protein and fat sources.
In order to understand how a low carbohydrate diet works, it helps understand first that when you consume large amounts of carbohydrates, your body converts the glucose to glycogen and stores it in the liver.
When your liver is at capacity, your body stores extra carbohydrates as fat.
When you limit carbohydrates in your diet, it forces the body to use the fat that is on you for fuel by limiting glucose to the muscles.
Limiting carbohydrates (dropping your carbs down to 50 grams per day) causes ketosis a state that produces Ketones that break down fat for energy.
Also Low insulin levels are the main reason why low-carbohydrate diets are so effective.
Insulin regulates blood sugar levels, but it also signals to fat cells to build and store fat.
A resistance to the hormone insulin, common in western populations, leads to chronically elevated levels of the hormone.
Reducing carbohydrates in the diet reduces insulin levels, and this is believed to “free” the fat from the fat cells, making it more easily available for the cells to use for energy.
Here is a graph from a study on low-carb diets (20).
Photo source: Diet Doctor.
Bottom Line: When you restrict your intake of carbohydrates, especially highly processed carbohydrates, insulin levels go down and the body can use body fat for energy.
Why Would I Want To Do Low-Carbohydrate Diet?
The more stabilized your blood sugar levels are, the less opportunity for fatigue, cravings and weight gain.
Do you have a muffin top? Going on a low-carbohydrate diet can help mobilize that extra body fat for energy.
Stay away from any packaged sugar-free or low-carbohydrate processed food that often contains artificial ingredients, preservatives and fillers.
If a food is advertised on television, newspapers or magazines, you should probably NOT eat it.
Eat real food, not processed junk food.
Eating a low-carbohydrate diet can actually help you get away from processed foods and enjoy whole, real foods.
Here are some low-carbohydrate snacks that are quick, easy and will keep you full:
- Hard-boiled egg
- Handful of nuts
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Baby carrots
- One slice of Swiss cheese wrapped around a piece of chicken
It is still possible to go on a low-carbohydrate diet when eating out at restaurants. Simply order a fish or meat-based entrée with extra vegetables on the side instead of rice, potatoes or bread.
Bottom Line: Going on a low-carbohydrate diet can make it easier to enjoy whole, real foods and get away from processed foods.
Good Carbohydrates Verses Bad Carbohydrates ?
There is definitely a difference between a salad made with mixed greens, tomatoes and cucumbers and Ice cream.
All of these foods contain carbohydrates, however the good carbohydrates are in the fresh vegetables in their natural state. It is rather easy to separate good carbohydrates from bad ones.
Good carbohydrates are full of fiber, are slowly absorbed into our systems and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.
Bad carbohydrates are processed that have most of their fiber and nutrients stripped away.
When and if you are going to eat carbohydrates, you should focus on good carbohydrates.
They include plant foods such as fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and Phytochemicals.
However, people who are trying to lose weight need to be careful with the whole grains, legumes, tubers and high-sugar fruit.
Bad carbohydrates include refined ‘white’ grains, foods with ‘added’ sugars.
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Americans are consuming more sugar than ever before through processed foods and many do not realize it.
Source: Johnson RJ, et al. Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007.
Refined grains and sugars spike blood sugar levels in the form of glucose.
Better carbohydrates are those that are unprocessed, whole foods.
Avoid artificial sweeteners and added sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup that are used to sweeten baked goods and beverages.
Added sugars do not provide any nutrients and are loaded with extra calories.
There are endless low-fat and fat-free products on the market today, however, what many do not realize is that in order for the product to taste good when they remove the fat, they often add sugar.
Use a ‘nutrition label’ to sort through good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates.
For example, ‘dietary fiber’ will tell you the amount of carbohydrates that is not digested and will pass through the intestinal tract without being absorbed.
Also read: If you love outdoor and healthy living, I’ve found that Globo Surf has many tips and guides that will make your healthy lifestyle even better!
The ‘sugars’ listed on the label will tell you the total amount of carbohydrate from all sources of sugar such as fructose, lactose or high fructose corn syrup.
It is important to distinguish between added sugar and natural sugars.
In order to do that, check the ingredient list and look for the source of sugar such as white or brown sugar. Is any of the first three or four ingredients sugar? The bulk of most food is made up of the first three to four ingredients on the list.
Bottom Line: Many sugar-free foods or low-calorie foods contain sugar alcohols such as Xylitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Lactitol and many others. These can cause diarrhea, cramping and gas in some people.
How Many Carbs Do I Need To Eat Per Day?
On a low carb diet, someone with an average activity level should stick to less that 100 grams of carbs per day.
A range of 100-150 grams of carbohydrates works well per day if you are very active, exercise daily and want to maintain your weight.
For those of who may be dealing with metabolism problems, eating under 50 grams per day would work well for them.
As mentioned before, one of the best ways to lose weight is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet (25, 26, 27).
Doing so reduces your appetite naturally without having to be strict with portion controls or counting calories.
You can eat until you are full, still lose weight and feel satisfied (28).
Each person is unique and what works for one individual may not work for another.
It is important to figure out the best amount of carbohydrate consumption that works well for you.
Here are some examples to consider:
Start with 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day. This amount works well for those who are quite active, lean and healthy and want to maintain their weight. However, you can still lose weight with this amount.
You can eat:
- Several pieces of fruits per day
- Endless vegetables
- Some starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and potatoes with the skin on
- Healthy grains like oats
If you want to lose weight without really trying – choose 50-100 grams of carbohydrates per day.
You can still eat:
- 2-3 pieces of fruit per day
- All the vegetables you want
- Minimal amount of starchy vegetables
Losing weight fast can be accomplished by staying with 20-50 grams of carbohydrates.
This amount of carbohydrates works well for those who have diabetes or are obese.
Eating 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day forces the body into ketosis supplying the body with Ketones.
You will lose weight easily and it will kill your appetite.
You can eat:
- All the vegetables you want
- Some berries – choose organic
- Avocados, nuts and seeds (good fats)
Bottom Line: A low-carbohydrate diet is NOT a no-carbohydrate diet. There is room for plenty of low-carbohydrate vegetables. Figure out what works for you.
Common Misconceptions about Low-Carb Diet!
Some dieticians often say we should all eat a balanced diet touting the words, “everything in moderation.” When low-carbohydrate diets are discussed, they tend to get dismissed or looked at, as a ‘fad’ diet that can be impossible to stay with, or may even be harmful.
Many nutrition professionals do not embrace the fact that eating low-carbohydrates diet is really not that extreme. Compared to low-fat, balanced diets that require the counting of calories and feeling hungry all the time, a low-carbohydrate diet does make sense (29).
If you get hungry on a low-carbohydrate diet, you can have some protein and fiber, not processed junk food or sugary soft drinks. It is not as extreme as some dieticians might have you believe.
Bottom Line: Low-carbohydrate diets are easier to stay with, reduce hunger and make it easier to lose weight.
“Low Carb Diets Lead to a State Known as Ketosis, Which Causes Harm!”
I often hear the claim that low-carbohydrate diets cause Ketoacidosis. However, this is NOT ketosis.
If you eat under 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, ketosis does occur. When the body is not getting any carbohydrates, it releases fat from the fat cells that go to the liver and are turned into ketone bodies.
Ketone bodies provide energy for the brain when it does not get enough glucose from food. Ketone bodies are molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Do not confuse ketosis with Ketoacidosis, which is something that can happen with uncontrolled diabetes, mainly Type 1 diabetes. It is when the bloodstream is flooded with glucose and ketone bodies in huge amounts.
While this is a dangerous condition, it has nothing to do with going on a low-carbohydrate diet.
Ketosis is a good thing and should not be feared.
Bottom Line: If you want to go into ketosis, you must cut back on fruits. Ketosis is a natural phenomenon and should not be confused with Ketoacidosis, which only happens in uncontrolled diabetes.
“All of The Weight Loss on Low Carb Diets is Water Weight!”
Some dieticians will argue that low-carbohydrate diets cause you to lose water weight ONLY, which is true initially during the first week.
The glycogen stores in the liver and muscles go down including the water they tend to hold on to. Plus, insulin levels are reduced which causes the kidneys to release some of the water and sodium they are holding on to (31, 32).
However, you will continue to lose weight from the fat stores in your body, especially from the abdominal area where the ‘dangerous’ fat collects in the body (33).
Bottom Line: A low-carbohydrate diet will help you shed excess of water from the body in the first week and you will continue losing weight from the fat stores in your body.
“Low Carb Diets Lead to Deficiencies in Vital Nutrients”
Another misconception that some nutrition professionals have is that a low-carbohydrate diet leads to deficiencies in vital nutrients. Actually the opposite is true. Grains can hinder the absorption of calcium, zinc and iron (34).
Avoiding grains such as wheat can lead to improvements in vitamin D levels because wheat can reduce the levels of this very important vitamin in the blood (35).
Low-carbohydrate diets do not contain wheat and therefore will not steal nutrients from the body.
The high content of vegetables will give a body plenty of nutrients and antioxidants.
Plus, whole, natural, unprocessed foods that are high in fat such as meat, fish, eggs and nuts are rich in nutrients with fat-soluble vitamins that low-fat diets often lack. You basically eat vegetables with every meal.
Bottom Line: A low-carbohydrate diet allows you to eat plenty of nutritious vegetables and high quality protein that provide all the nutrients a body needs.
“Low Carb Diets Are High in Saturated Fat and Therefore Dangerous!”
Some dieticians also do not agree with eating meat and eggs that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat.
The claim is that these foods increase the risk of heart disease, raise your LDL cholesterol and cause other health issues.
The truth is cholesterol and saturated fats are not bad for you. In fact, a 2010 study showed that there is no association between heart disease and saturated fat (30).
Bottom Line: Low-carbohydrate diets actually lead to a reduction of saturated fat in the blood because they become the body’s preferred source of fuel.
Low-carbohydrate (LCHF) diets like Keto and Paelo offer the following health benefits:
- Reduction of body fat
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve symptoms of diabetes by lowering blood sugar (37)
- Lower triglycerides
- Increase HDL (good) cholesterol
So Shouldn’t I Be Afraid Of Eating Fat?
For years, we were taught to eat as many no-fat or low-fat foods and calories. Doesn’t matter! The thought was ‘fat makes you fat.’ Unfortunately, more people gained weight, developed heart disease and diabetes. Fat is not the enemy, though!
In Europe, The Countries That Eat The Most Saturated Fat Have The Lowest Risk of Heart Disease.
Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.
We actually need fat in our diet for the following reasons:
- Absorption of vitamins and minerals from the food we eat such as vitamins A, D, E and K
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids (from fatty fish like salmon) are precursor to many hormones and chemicals produced in the brain that also affect our mood and behavior
- Your brain needs fat to make the protective myelin sheath that insulates your neurons and to make cell membranes
Good sources of monounsaturated fats are almonds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, hazelnuts, pecans and peanuts.
Fat adds flavor and texture to food that makes you stay full longer. Have you ever noticed that when you eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate meal that you get hungry an hour later? A moderate fat, high quality protein, low-carbohydrate diet makes you full and difficult to overeat.
Bottom Line: The recommendation for eating low-fat or fat-free foods is not good.
Studies show there is no difference regarding the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or coronary vascular disease between individuals with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat (41, 42).
Is A High Protein Diet The Same As A Low Carb Diet?
Protein is an important element in building lean muscle tissue and when it is combined with exercise, it yields results.
Normally, your body burns carbohydrates for energy; however when you cut or reduce carbohydrates, the body goes into ketosis.
Your body burns its own fat for fuel making your fat stores a primary source for energy and you lose weight.
Bottom Line: A high protein diet can be balanced with a low-carbohydrate diet by focusing on high-quality protein and plenty of vegetables without the processed foods.
Are Low Carb Diets Okay For Everyone?
If you are thinking about a low-carbohydrate diet, think protein and fiber.
Related studies regularly show that low-carbohydrate diets reduce the risk for disease and support weight loss as opposed to a low-fat diet alone that continues to be advocated by health authorities throughout the world.
However, a low-carbohydrate eating plan is not a « one size fits all »
What works for some people may not work for others.
I know many people who have given low-carb an honest shot and didn’t like it, either because they didn’t get the results they expected or they simply didn’t feel good.
Still, for those who are physically active, a low-carbohydrate diet can put the mat a disadvantage.
For example, athletes who perform anaerobic exercises need more carbohydrates than people who are sedentary !
Basically, no two people are exactly alike and require different nutritional needs based on their physical needs and fitness goals.
Do I Also Need To Exercise?
Exercise is NOT a must to lose weight on a low-carbohydrate eating plan; however exercise is good for body. Aim for going to your local fitness center at least 3-4 days per week and stretch after your workout.
If you are not sure of what exercises to do, it is always good to meet with a certified trainer for recommendations.
Lifting weight is an excellent way to stay strong, burn calories and boost your metabolism (43).
Studies continue to show that low-carbohydrate diets allow the body to lose significant amounts of body fat while gaining lean muscle tissue. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
Research continues to show that exercise is important for all of the body’s systems including endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
Plus, exercise has a positive effect on your mood and brain function reducing both anxiety and depression.
It is especially important for staying strong as you grow into old age.
The health benefits of exercise are endless and include:
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
- Building and maintaining strong and healthy muscles, joints and bones
- Improves psychological well-being
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Help prevent cancer including colon and breast cancer
- Helps maintain a healthy body weight
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes
Bottom Line: It is a gift to be able to move. Exercise supports the body in many healthy ways. So combine your low-carbohydrate diet with a physical activity you enjoy for best results.
Is There Any Study That Compares Low Carb Versus Low Fat Diet ?
When it comes to low-carbohydrate verses a low-fat diet, the studies are predominantly being done on those with health problems including diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
The outcomes measured are weight loss as well as blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglycerides (45).
1.Foster GD, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
The New England Journal of Medicine (2003) randomly placed 63 individuals in either a low-carbohydrate or a low-fat group that had calorie restrictions. This study lasted for one year.
Study results: The low-carbohydrate group lost more weight (7.3% of total body weight) compared to the low-fat group (who lost 4.5%)
2. Samaha FF, et al. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
The New England Journal of Medicine (2003) conducted a study with 132 individuals with an average BMI of 43 and considered severely obese. Most of the subjects had Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The study lasted for six months.
Study results: The low-carbohydrate group lost an average of 12.8 pounds while the low-fat group lost only 4.2 pounds. There was also significant improvement in triglycerides and cholesterol level.
3. Sondike SB, et al. Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2003.
The Journal of Pediatrics (2003) conducted a study to determine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on overweight adolescent individuals with cardiovascular risk factors. Thirty individuals were randomly placed in a low-carbohydrate and low-fat group. Neither group restricted calories.
The study lasted for 12 weeks.
Study results: The low-carbohydrate group lost 21.8 pounds while the low-fat group lost 9 pounds. Plus, the low-carbohydrate group had significant improvement in triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
4. Dyson PA, et al.A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects.Diabetic Medicine, 2007.
Details: 13 diabetic and 13 non-diabetic individuals randomized to either a low-carb or a low-fat diet for 3 months. Main outcomes measured are body weight, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), ketone and lipid levels. Low-fat group was calorie restricted.
Weight Loss: The LC group lost 6.9kg while the low-fat group lost 2.1kg.
Other Outcomes Measured: There was no statistically significant difference in any of the other parameters.
5.Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.
The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (2003) conducted a randomized trial comparing a low-carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.
Fifty-three obese females were randomly placed in either a low-carbohydrate or low-fat (calorie-restricted) group. The study lasted six months.
Study results: The low-carbohydrate group lost an average of 18.7 pounds while the low-fat group lost an average of 8.6 pounds.
6. A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
Details: 119 obese and hyperlipidemic individuals randomized to either a low-carb, ketogenic diet or a low-fat diet. Low-fat group was calorie restricted.
Weight Loss: Group on the low-carb diet lost an average of 12.0kg, while the low-fat group lost an average of 6.5kg.
Study results: Triglycerides decreased and HDL cholesterol increased on the low-carb diet. Total cholesterol and triglycerides decreased on the low-fat diet. There was a significant difference between groups for triglycerides and HDL, in favour of the low-carb diet.
7. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women.
Details: 28 overweight/obese men and women are randomized to either a calorie restricted low-carb diet or a calorie restricted low-fat diet. The low-carb group ends up eating about 300 calories more per day. Outcomes measured are weight loss, body composition, trunk fat mass and resting energy expenditure.
Weight Loss: The low-carb group lost more weight than the low-fat group, despite eating more calories. Men lost more weight than women. The ratio of trunk fat/total fat also decreased during the low-carb diet (trunk fat, or abdominal fat, is the worst).
Study results: Resting energy expenditure did not decrease on the low-carb diet, but it did decrease on the low-fat diet. The loss of fat in the trunk region was three times greater on the low-carb compared to the low-fat diet.
I have reviewed up to 27 randomized controlled trials that compare low-carb diets to the standard, calorie-restricted, low-fat diet that is often recommended by many health professionals.
I went through all of the studies (2003-2016), took me about 2 weeks.
Weight Loss on Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Diets
Weight loss is, almost without exceptions, greater on low-carb diets although the difference isn’t always statistically significant.
This effect is especially evident when the low-carb group is allowed to eat until fullness while the low-fat group is calorie restricted, which is how these diets are usually prescribed in practice.
When both groups eat the same amount of calories (isocaloric), the low-carb groups still tend to lose more weight but the effects aren’t large enough to reach statistical significance.
Part of the reason for greater weight loss on the low-carb diet given that calories stay the same may be increased water loss.
Calories, Carbs, Fats and Protein
When the low-carb group is not calorie restricted but the low-fat group is, they tend to end up eating a similar amount of calories. Interestingly, calorie restricted low-fat dieters also end up eating a lower total amount of carbohydrates.
Another interesting observation is that on a low-carb diet, people don’t necessarily end up eating more fat than they used to. In fact, they tend to eat similar amounts of fat as they were before starting the diet.
Protein intake is higher on the low-carb diet, which may explain some of the increased satiety.
Appetite And Hunger
Low-carb diets tend to decrease appetite and hunger.
This is the main reason people lose so much weight without portion control or calorie restriction, they simply don’t want to eat as much.
Compliance and Attrition Rates
The studies where the LC diets are most effective are where people manage to follow them completely and restrict carbohydrates accordingly.
However, as with every weight loss diet, compliance is an issue and people tend to increase their carb intake over time. As carb intake increases, weight loss tends to slow down and some people even start gaining weight back.
This implies that weight loss on a LC diet (as with any diet, really) requires people to stick with it for life.
Attrition rates tend to be lower on LC diets (more people make it to the end) despite arguments by dietitians about LC diets being harder to stick to because they eliminate entire food groups.
This is probably due to the fact that people can eat until fullness and don’t have to be hungry all the time, which is common with calorie-restricted low-fat diets
The idea that low-carb diets are harder to follow is a myth!
LDL and Total Cholesterol levels
Low-fat diets tend to decrease both Total and LDL cholesterol, but mostly in the first 3 months or so. Then they tend to go back up.
It is not true that low-carb diets raise LDL or Total cholesterol levels. The fact is that they remain pretty much the same. They don’t get any higher than before, although there is some individual variation here.
This is probably nothing to worry about, as low-carb diets tend to change the LDL pattern from small, dense LDL to large, fluffy LDL which is benign.
HDL Cholesterol levels
HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) usually goes up substantially on a low-carb diet, while it tends to increase less or even go down on a low-fat, high-carb diet.
Blood triglycerides always go down on low-carb diets, while they tend to decrease less, stay the same or go up on calorie-restricted low-fat diets.
Blood pressure seems to decrease for both low-carb and low-fat dieters and the difference usually isn’t significant between groups.
Glucose, Insulin and Type II Diabetes
Glucose and insulin tend to decrease further on low-carb diets in non-diabetics, but it is not always statistically significant.
In type II diabetics, glucose and insulin levels decrease much more on low-carb diets and the patients are often able to eliminate or drastically reduce medication.
This implies that these diets may be particularly useful for those with diabetes or impaired glycemic control.
There were some mild side effects for those on the low-carb, ketogenic diets that usually last only a few days. Some experienced headache, nausea, fatigue, insomnia and constipation.
However, there were no serious side effects from eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet, in spite of some of the scare tactics and/or misinformation.
What About Low Carb Recipes?
Below is a list of great low card recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
Low Carb Breakfast Ideas:
Eggs and Vegetables –
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add your favorite vegetables and cook for at least 1-2 minutes.
In a bowl, add one whole egg and ¾ cup egg whites. Season with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and Pepper to taste – pour into skillet and scramble together.
Low Carb Turkey Bacon, 2 Eggs And Cooked Tomato Breakfast –
This is a quick and easy breakfast to make any day of the week.
Cook 2 slices of turkey bacon in a skillet on medium heat. In another skillet, cook sliced tomato seasoned with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook 2 eggs in the skillet with the tomato until cooked through.
Low Carb Lunch Ideas:
Low Carb Lettuce-Wrap Turkey Cheeseburgers With Mushrooms and Swiss Cheese Recipe –
Pro-Tip: keep frozen beef or turkey patties in your freezer for quick low-carbohydrate lunch or dinner.
Cook patty seasoned with onion or garlic powder or both, sea salt and pepper to taste about 3-4 minutes on each side – add a slice of Swiss cheese and let melt. In another skillet, cook sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Use Romaine lettuce leaf and place hamburger patty in lettuce – top with mushrooms and fold over lettuce.
Low Carb Grilled Chicken Salad With Toasted Walnuts In Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe–
Chop one head of Romaine lettuce and place in bowl. Add cooked grilled chicken breast – sliced. Toast a handful of walnuts in a skillet on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
Add to salad. For Vinaigrette – whisk together the juice of one lemon, 1/8 cup of Rice Wine Vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, Sea salt and pepper to taste and ¼ cup of olive oil. Toss with salad and enjoy.
Low Carb Dinner Ideas:
Low Carb Buffalo Patty With Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms And Spinach Recipe –
grill buffalo patty seasoned with garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Marinate large portabella mushrooms in balsamic vinegar and olive oil – season with sea salt and pepper.
You can add these to the grill or cook on medium heat in a skillet. Steam or sauté spinach in olive oil and chopped fresh garlic and serve immediately with buffalo patty and mushrooms.
Low Carb Grilled Chicken and Roasted Yams and Butternut Squash Recipe –
grill chicken breasts on the grill seasoned with garlic powder or chicken seasoning – the other option is in a skillet on medium heat.
Peel yams and cut into chunks and place on cookie sheet. Look for butternut squash in the produce section of your local grocery store (already peeled and cut into squares).
Toss with olive oil and herbs and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Remove from oven and toss well before roasting an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve with grilled chicken.
Your Low Carb Grocery Shopping List
Shop on the outskirts of the grocery store where real, whole foods are located.
Choose grass-fed and organic foods whenever possible. However, even if organic are not available, you will still be eating much healthier than the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Take some time to clean out your pantry and refrigerator of all processed foods, chips, candy, flour, sugar, breads and cereals.
Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range like for example:
- Fish like wild-caught salmon
- Coconut oil
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Cheese (white cheeses)
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Berries (organic is a must – frozen is optional)
- Fresh and frozen vegetables
- Himalayan Pink Sea salt
Here is A Low Carb Meal Plan That Can Be Your Saviour!
Day 1 – Monday:
- Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
- Lunch: Leftover cheeseburgers from the night before.
- Dinner: Boiled Salmon with butter and vegetables.
Day 2 – Tuesday:
- Breakfast: Eggs and veggies, fried in butter or coconut oil.
- Lunch: Grilled chicken wings (leftovers from night before).
- Dinner: Cheeseburger without the bun. Serve with vegetables and salsa sauce.
Day 3 – Wednesday:
- Breakfast: Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter.
- Lunch: Chicken salad with some olive oil.
- Dinner: Grilled chicken wings.
Day 4 – Thursday:
- Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs.
- Lunch: Leftovers from dinner the night before.
- Dinner: Steak, with vegetables.
Day 5 – Friday:
- Breakfast: Stir fry with eggs and vegetables. Fry in coconut oil or butter.
- Lunch: Chicken salad, with some olive oil.
- Dinner: Chicken Chops, with vegetables.
Day 6 – Saturday (optional):
- Breakfast: Omelet with various veggies.
- Lunch: Leftovers from dinner the night before.
- Dinner: beef tenderloin.
Day 7 – Sunday:
- Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs.
- Lunch: Salad with some shrimp.
- Dinner: Roasted chicken.
If you prefer to eat out at lunch, try to find places that serve something healthy and low-carb like bacon and eggs, chicken salads or something similar.
If you find yourself ravenously hungry between meals, some baby carrots, a full-fat yogurt, leftovers in a box and a handful of nuts are all great snack ideas.
A Sample Day of Low Carb Meals
Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in coconut oil.
Put coconut oil on pan, throw a frozen vegetable mix on top and turn up the heat. When thawed, add eggs and some flavour (salt and pepper, or some kind of spice mix).
Stir fry until ready.
Lunch: Grilled chicken wings, leftovers from night before.
Put spice on chicken wings, insert into oven and bake until they turn brown with a crunchy texture. Serve with some vegetables.
Dinner: Cheeseburgers without the bun, fried in butter.
Add butter to pan. Add burgers and spice. When close to being ready, add the cheese on top. Serve with some vegetables. Put some mild salsa on top of the burgers to make them more juicy.
If these meals look delicious, that’s because they are! On a low-carb diet, you can eat these foods until fullness and still lose weight. Welcome to paradise!
A Simple Blueprint to Lose Weight:
- Do not drink calories (no milk, sodas or juices). Coffee, tea and water are fine.
- Avoid sugar, grains, starchy vegetables and limit your intake of fruit.
- Each meal: protein, fat and veggies.
- Stay under 50 grams of carbs per day.
- Exercise! A combination of strength training and cardio works best.
You can expect to lose 5-10 pounds in the first week, although a lot of that will be water weight.
After that, consistent weight loss of 1-3lbs per week is typical, depending on how strict you are, how much exercise you do and much weight you have to lose.
Regardless of your background or health, many people benefit from a low-carbohydrate diet. It works well for those who have diabetes, metabolic syndrome or are overweight or obese.
We have proven in this guide that a low-carbohydrate diet is easier to follow and stay with than low-fat diets.
In other words, those that are assigned to a low-carbohydrate diet actually make it to the end of the study (45).
Bottom Line: A low-carbohydrate diet is the easiest, healthiest and most effective way to reverse metabolic disease and lose weight.
If you enjoyed this guide, I want you do one thing:
Leave a comment to let me know.
If you are already dealing with health issues such as diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome…going on a Low Carb Diets is your savior!
I REALLY want to see you bounce back to good health very quickly!