Low Carbohydrate Eating -Top 10 Tips
1. Eat food that is as minimally processed as possible.
Avoid processed foods and highly refined grain products such as white rice and white flour. It is best to cook with ingredients that have not been processed in a factory. If food comes in a packet and there is a long list of ingredients, then it is worth considering buying something else instead.
2. Reduce sugar intake to an absolute minimum.
Eating or drinking carbohydrates often and in large quantities can actually increase sugar cravings and make you feel more hungry. Avoid sugary drinks including fruit juices and Karak tea.
Make better carbohydrates choices such as whole grains and less processed foods and avoid sugary foods such as cakes, chocolate, biscuits jams, dates and honey.
3. Reduce your starchy carbohydrate intake- a lot.
Remember starchy carbohydrates are quickly broken down into sugar in your gut.
A low-carb diet can cause an immediate fall in insulin and blood glucose levels. You can do this by reducing the amount of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and breakfast cereals that you eat.
4. Eat Healthy Fats.
These include fish like salmon and mackerel, olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts. Eating enough fat lowers your insulin levels and releases a hormone that makes you feel full. Four essential vitamins – A, D, E and K – are only found in some fats or oils and healthy fats are associated with a reduced heart disease risk.
However, do not eat too much fat. If you want to lose weight you have to burn your own fat stores for energy rather than consuming all the energy you need by eating fat.
Beware of low-fat foods–they often have sugar or sweeteners added to make them palatable.
5. Get the right amount of protein
For weight loss, protein should be adequate but not excessive. Eating enough protein reduces hunger hormone levels and increases levels of the hormones that make you feel full. Eating lots of vegetables with protein and healthy fats leaves you properly full in a way that lasts. However too much protein can limit weight loss and increased blood sugar levels. The general advice is to eat about 1-1.5g of protein per kilogram target body weight.
6. Avoid Snacking
If we eat three meals a day and snack between meals, our bodies are continually in energy storage mode throughout the waking hours, and both glucose and insulin levels are high, increasing fat storage.
Unsalted nuts such as almonds or walnuts, olives and pickles are okay to stave off hunger. The occasional treat of strong dark chocolate 70% or more in small quantities is acceptable.
7. Exercise regularly
Walking briskly can improve your body’s insulin sensitivity, and therefore diabetes control, within weeks. Try to build up your walking to a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.
Resistance training such as lifting weights will help build muscle which can help increase your metabolism. The more muscle you add the better your insulin sensitivity and the increase in the improvement in your blood sugars and cholesterol levels
8. Drink enough water
Dehydration can make the early side effects of reducing carbohydrate intake, such as headaches and dizziness, worse. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
9. Get enough sleep
Research has shown that poor sleep has negative effects on your hormones that can cause weight gain and an increased risk of disease. In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better and be healthier. Try to have 6-8 hours of sleep at night.
10. Reduce stress levels
Stress can cause emotional eating, and prolonged stress also increases cortisol levels which can result in weight gain and insulin resistance. Try yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques, relaxing walks or other pleasant diversions and hobbies to reduce stress levels. This helps reduce your appetite and reduce the risk of weight gain.
Managing side effects
In the first few days of starting to eat low carb, you may experience symptoms caused by the body adapting to a new diet. The symptoms occur as a result of withdrawal from carbs, similar to those experienced when weaning off an addictive substance such as caffeine and typically last about a week. You may notice that you are urinating more often. A low carb diet can cause you to rapidly shed water stores, increasing the risk of dehydration This is because glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrates, binds to water in the body. When dietary carbohydrates are reduced, glycogen levels fall and water is excreted from the body. Additionally, reducing carbohydrate intake will result in a fall in blood insulin levels. When insulin levels decrease, the kidneys release excess sodium from the body. Dehydration as a result of the excess urination can cause some side effects as you change your diet. By increasing fluid intake these symptoms should settle quickly.
- Headaches: make sure you are drinking enough fluids. You may use paracetamol if required. These should settle within a few days of starting the programme.
- Dizziness: make sure you are drinking enough fluids, take your time when standing up. Add a little salt to vegetables. If you are on medication for high blood pressure we may need to reduce the doses.
- Tiredness: This is unusual but it is reasonable to start the diet when you do not have any strenuous activities planned. Most people report an increase in energy levels and well-being after around 2 weeks.
- Constipation: this is largely preventable with enough fluid and vegetable intake. Make sure you are eating enough vegetables each day. Drink enough fluids and undertake some gentle physical activity.
- Hunger: This usually wears off after the first few days. Keep busy to take your mind off food. Drinking some water, particularly sparkling water, may help.
- Sugar cravings: you may initially have stronger cravings for carbs during the transition period. This can last anywhere from one to two days to a cou0ple of weeks. With time, these cravings pass and you will stop thinking about carbs.