Updated Friday, December 30, 2022
Starting a Low-Carb Diet? Have You Done These Things?
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash
This article is the continuation of Beginning Or Restarting A Low Carb Diet.
Read The Low-Carb Books
First of all, have you read the book? It doesn’t matter whether you’ve chosen Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Protein Power, CAD (The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet) or any of the other low carb plans. Have you read the book? Reading the book is imperative. You need to understand how your plan works, and you need to understand why your plan works. Knowledge is power.
If you have read the book, plan on reading it again. There’s too much information to absorb in one reading. Consider your copy a reference work and consult it frequently. Questions will pop up as you go along; the answers are generally in the book.
Don’t loan your book to anyone! It won’t be there when you need it. Tell friends and family where to buy their own copy. If you really care about them, buy one for them.
Go To The Doctor and Get Your Blood Work Before Starting A Low Carb Diet
Have you gone to the doctor and had a physical, including blood work?
I’d be willing to bet you haven’t. Do it. This is particularly important for anyone who has underlying medical issues – diabetes, PCOS, fibromyalgia, etc.
Request a written copy of your physical report from your doctor. You will want to consult later on.
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash
Have you weighed and measured yourself?
Clean Out The Kitchen
Have you cleaned the tempting high-carb goodies out of your kitchen?
Stock Up Your Pantry and Refrigerator
Have you stocked up on unprocessed meat and seafood, low-carb vegetables, and sugar-free Jell-O?
Do you have your vitamins? Start with what is suggested in the Low-Carb diet book you’ve chosen.
Low Carbing Is Different!
Low carbing is different from any other diet you’ve tried, and it is going to require you to switch mental gears. You are no longer on a quantitative diet. You do not count calories! You eat when you are hungry. You do count carbohydrate grams, though, and you must do this religiously.
You are on a qualitative diet, however. This means that you only consume those foods which are on your chosen plan. You absolutely cannot have “just a taste” of off-plan foods. A little bit of something high in carbohydrates can totally sabotage your efforts. Don’t do it, no matter how tempted you are.
You Will Go Through Carb Withdrawal When Starting A Low Carb Diet
Initially, a low carbohydrate diet can be very difficult. Carbohydrates are, for a lot of us, an addictive substance, and you will be literally going through withdrawal in the same way an alcoholic or drug addict does. You will crave carbohydrates; you will think about them; you may even dream about them.
When I first started low carbing I was obsessed with the carbohydrates I wasn’t consuming. I thought about them constantly. I read cookbooks like novels. I even told my husband that I had no more sexual fantasies, that all my fantasies were reserved for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Minute Rice. (He was not amused.)
The cravings do dissipate as time goes on. There’s a big drop in physical cravings once your body is in ketosis (the fat-burning mode). This happens anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. Personally, I found that my cravings dropped by about 50% within the first week. Within 6 weeks the physical cravings had dropped by 75%, and by 3 months they were down by 90%. Your cravings may disappear at a different rate, but they will go away if you hang in there.
You may also not feel well for the first few days as your body becoming accustomed to burning fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates. Many, but not all, people may have headaches, nausea, or fatigue. This is normal and usually doesn’t last very long. (Remember, you are going through withdrawal.) Within a few days, you will feel much better. Many people actually have a terrific burst of energy once they are through the withdrawal phase.
A Look At The New Low-Carb Rules
1. Eat only what is on your plan
Do not deviate from your plan. This means eating unprocessed meats, eggs, low carbohydrate vegetables, and small amounts of dairy products (primarily hard cheeses, butter, and cream), nuts, and seeds. Sugar-free Jell-O may be eaten as a treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
2. Count every single carbohydrate!
Remember that everything but unprocessed meat and pure fats (oils and butter) has carbohydrates. Even small amounts of carbohydrates can add up quickly. I recommend buying a copy of Corinne T. Netzer’s The Complete Book Of Food Counts or Dana Carpender’s NEW Carb and Calorie Counter and looking up the carbohydrate counts of the foods you are consuming.
3. Don’t Get Too Hungry
Do not let yourself get too hungry or feel deprived. If you’re hungry, eat. Eat until you are satisfied but not uncomfortably full.
You may find yourself consuming much more food than you normally would. Don’t worry about it. As your body adjusts to burning fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates, your appetite will naturally decrease.
4. Drink your water!!
This is vitally important. You will be excreting toxins from the body fat you are now burning, and the water is necessary to flush them out of your system. You should be drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day + an additional 8 ounces for every 25 pounds you want to lose.
5. Take your vitamins
You should be taking a good multivitamin, extra vitamin C, a calcium/magnesium/zinc combination, and potassium. I will be writing an article later specifically about vitamins and supplements that will go into this topic in more depth.
Low Carb Diet Tips And Tricks
1. Eat the Foods Listed in the Book
(That’s simple enough, isn’t it?) Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Going too long without food causes your blood glucose levels to drop. If that happens, you are more likely to give in to the cravings and grab something high in carbohydrates. The Atkins Center recommends that you go no longer than 4 hours without eating.
2. Plan ahead!
This is crucial. Have food either already cooked or ready to cook immediately. I routinely bake chicken legs and thighs and have a bag of them in the refrigerator ready to eat. I always broil at least 2 steaks and slice the leftovers thinly to snack on or to add to salads. I hard boil a dozen eggs at a time and always have 3 or 4 of them already deviled and ready to eat. There’s always tuna with mayonnaise already prepared and in a plastic tub. There’s always sugar-free Jell-O ready to go.
If you work and people are always bringing in tempting high carb “treats” to the office, be sure to take low carb snacks to reach for so that you have an alternative.
3. Read the food labels
Read the labels of everything you consume and check the listed carbohydrate counts against those listed in The Complete Book of Food Counts.
You can’t always believe the label since the manufacturers manipulate the data to their own best advantage and will list ridiculously low serving sizes to keep the food counts low.
Remember that all cheese, low carbohydrate vegetables, eggs, coffee (if you are still drinking it), and cream all contain carbohydrates. Count them. Always round up to leave yourself a margin for error.
Having an item labeled “sugar-free” isn’t enough. Many sugar-free items are still loaded with carbohydrates. Check the labels! Be aware that even artificial sweeteners have carbohydrates. You need to count 1 gram of carbohydrate for every packet of artificial sweetener you use. (Liquid artificial sweeteners are truly carbohydrate-free.)
4. Keep track of your food consumption – all of it!
Keep a food log in a small notebook and record everything that goes in your mouth right down to the smallest breath mint or stick of sugar-free gum. Tabulate your carbohydrate consumption so that you know exactly where you stand.
Your food log is also a good place to record your water intake, your weight, and your measurements.
5. Drink your water!
Why do I keep nagging you about this? Other than the fact that I am genetically programmed to nag (just ask my husband), it’s very important! Not only is it critical to provide your body with enough fluids to flush out the toxins of the fat-burning process, but drinking enough water also helps you to avoid becoming constipated.
Not drinking enough water can actually slow or stall your weight loss.
6. Get Support When Starting A Low Carb Diet
If you are the lone low carber in a household of non-low carbers, enlist their support. Ask them to not eat tempting high carb foods in front of you or to leave the room when they’re eating them. If they won’t leave, then you leave.
For my family, I buy only high carbohydrate goodies that don’t tempt me. I don’t like sugared cereals, so those can go in the pantry. I can avoid popcorn, so I keep that around. If my daughter wants a dessert, like a cupcake, I take her to the grocery and we buy one. If she wants some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese we buy one box and it’s fixed and consumed immediately.
I don’t buy pizza (my personal nemesis). If my husband and daughter have a hankering for those things, they go out on a “date” to Dairy Queen or Pizza Hut. I don’t go with them, and they know better than to bring home leftovers.
If sitting with your family at mealtimes watching them eat the things you are craving is torture for you, don’t do it! Fix and serve their meals, but eat yours separately. I did this for the first couple of weeks until the cravings subsided, and it really helped.
Join an online support group
These groups offer not only terrific support, but information and recipes as well. They are invaluable. I don’t think I could have been successful at low carbing without the help of the people from the online support groups.
You can find online support groups on Facebook.
Don’t let yourself get bored with what you are eating
Invest in some low carbohydrate cookbooks.
There are thousands of low carbohydrate recipes on CarbSmart and available over the Internet. Start your own low-carb cookbook by printing out the recipes you find.
Check out the recipes available here at CarbSmart. We currently have over 1,000 low-carb, ketogenic recipes here.
Ready, Set, Go!
You’re ready to start low carbing now. It won’t always be easy, but it will be a rewarding journey to a new, healthier lifestyle.
You CAN do this. There’s not a doubt in my mind.
I would enjoy receiving your own observations about your low carb journey. Please send your comments, personal tips and tricks, suggestions, and questions to [email protected] or in the comments below.
We’re all in this together.
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