Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to have a flying car and a robot maid by now, but I’ll settle for a healthy body and a happy life. How ’bout you? I think it’s the annual reminder of the relentless passage of time that makes New Year’s Day a great time to rededicate ourselves to achieving and preserving those things. In the interests of doing just that, here are some suggestions for low carb New Year’s resolutions.
If you’re a newcomer to the world of low carb, congratulations and welcome! We have more fun here than people imagine. You know that this isn’t a six-week sprint to the finish line, after which you can go back to eating the Standard American Diet, right? There is no finish line. It’s a lifestyle change. If you stick with it through those first six weeks, though, you’ll likely find the idea of sticking with it is easier than you expected it to be. High energy, rapidly improving health, and no gnawing hunger will do that to a person. In the interests of making the most of those first six weeks – and six months, and six years – here are three great resolutions you can make:
Set Your Low Carb Resolutions
- Get Involved– Resolve to spend at least fifteen minutes every day reading low carb websites and blogs – hi! – or participating in low carb message boards. The more you feed your brain positive messages, the easier it will be to resist the junk food ads, the well-meaning friends, and the family members who are sure you can eat Mom’s famous mac-and-cheese “just this once.”
- Low Carb / High Fat Foods– Make a list of all the high fat, low carb foods you love, but have been avoiding because you’ve been told fat is bad: bacon, rib eye, lobster with lemon butter, macadamia nuts, brie. Resolve to make room in the budget for at least one of these treats per week. Reward yourself!
- Learn to Cook Low Carb – Resolve to try a new low carb recipe at least once a week – you might designate one night per week as “New Recipe Night.” I’d love it if you bought my cookbooks, of course, but there are plenty of great low carb cookbooks out there, and lots of terrific recipes posted online for free-free-free. (Here’s an unpaid plug for Jamie Saal Van Eaton, who does great work.) Learning to cook a wide range of appealing low carb dishes is the most powerful way I know to claim this change as your own – 2500+ recipes later, I ought to know.
Commit to a Low Carb Lifestyle
If you haven’t yet committed to a low carb lifestyle, but are looking to dip your toe in the water, here are the two most powerful changes I know:
1. Start eating a high protein, high fat, low carb breakfast every single day
Bacon or sausage and eggs are great, but a bunless hamburger patty, a chunk of cheese or a cup of full-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, tuna salad, sugar-free baked custard, it’s all good. No cereal, not even oatmeal. No toast, donuts, Danish, muffins, toaster pastries, not even “healthy” whole grain varieties. No fruit juice, it’s loaded with sugar. If you want fruit, berries and cantaloupe are the lowest sugar. If you have been skipping breakfast, or worse, eating a carb-laden breakfast, you will be stunned by how this one change will reduce your hunger all day long. Prevents energy crashes, too.
Here’s a recipe for low carb, high protein, grain-free hot cereal:
- Serves: 6
- Calories: 375
- Fat: 24g (54.0% calories from fat)
- Carbohydrates: 19g
- Sugar: 0g
- Fiber: 12g
- Protein: 28g
- 2 tablespoons almond meal
- 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
- 1 tablespoons vanilla whey protein powder
- 1 tablespoons shredded coconut meat - finely shredded
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoons almond butter
- ⅓ cups boiling water
- Spoon the almond meal, flax seed meal, vanilla whey protein, coconut and salt into a bowl, and stir together.
- Add the almond butter, and pour in the boiling water.
- Stir till the almond butter is melted in.
- Serve with cream or half and half and sweetener of your choice.
2. Quit drinking sugary beverages
This means soda, sports drinks, juices, vitamin “waters,” energy drinks, sugary coffee drinks, all that stuff. I can’t recommend you drink a lot of diet soda, but if the idea of quitting soda cold turkey is unbearable, spend the money for Zevia or Blue Sky Free, natural sugar-free sodas. Too many people find aspartame addictive; you don’t need to get one monkey off your back only to adopt another one. And the premium price of the natural sugar-free sodas will put a brake on your consumption.
By the way, I have no feeling you should ditch caffeine; I’m unconvinced it’s unhealthful. I drink tea – hot tea all winter, iced tea all summer, and have long since gotten to the point where I like it plain – no sweetener, lemon, nothing. But that can take time. If you’re a fan of coffee drinks, consider real cream plus flavored liquid stevia extracts – I have vanilla, chocolate, and English toffee stevia in the house, all of which are good in coffee. Plain liquid stevia, lemon flavored, or berry flavored are good for tea, hot or iced. Cinnamon stevia is good in coffee or tea!
I’m also a huge fan of sparkling water; I can drink a liter or two in the course of an evening. I like La Croix or Canada Dry, but if you buy a Soda Stream you’ll save money and won’t have all those cans to recycle. And of course, water is always a great choice!
Sugary beverages are the single biggest source of sugar in the American diet. If you’re like most Americans, this one change will make a noticeable difference in your health, and very likely your weight.
Take Your Low Carb Lifestyle to the Next Level
How about those of you who are already low carbing? You’ve made the biggest change, how can you tweak your lifestyle for better results?
- Lift weights – Not little bitty five pounders for “toning” – I’m talking weights. I use Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn Fitness Revolution method on a Total Gym XLS, and have had dramatic gains in strength and fitness. Cardio – treadmill, running, elliptical, etc – is near-useless compared to heavy resistance exercise.
- Drop the diet soda– Over and over I’ve heard from people who have broken stalls this way.
- Ditch wheat – low carb tortillas, low carb bread, Dreamfield’s pasta, etc. If you haven’t read Dr. William Davis’s Wheat Bellyyet, it’s a real eye-opener. It’s not just blood sugar fluctuations that make us hungry – opioids in wheat can also cause hunger and severe cravings.
- Go for the best quality foods possible – local pastured eggs, beef and dairy from grass-fed cows, pastured pork. Consider the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” when buying produce, and invest the money in organics for the foods most likely to be contaminated. Avoid soy oil and other industrial seed oils – go for butter, preferably grass-fed, coconut oil, pasture-raised lard, and carefully-chosen olive oilinstead.
- Keep track – I find that when I take the time and trouble to record everything I eat — I use Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal on my iPhone, but have also used FitDay Mobile – I lose weight. Attention is a very powerful tool.
So there you go! Let’s have a great 2013 — we’ll be here for you!
What are some of your Low Carb Resolutions? Let us know in the comments below.