In the years that I have struggled with my own weight, I have researched and tried many different methods of weight loss in search of ways to lose weight that I could live with – but most only resulted in the loss of a few pounds, which I always gained back in short order.
This same scenario also played out when I tried a low carb diet a couple of years ago, but I learned how to work with it and it has turned out to work pretty well for me.
What I mean by ‘working with it’ is that whenever the pounds start to creep back on or I need to lose a few pounds fairly quickly (the low carb diet is great for quick weight loss) I just eat low carb meals for a few days, throttling back on the carbohydrates until I reach the desired results.
Like many others who have to watch their weight, I have major carbohydrate cravings that I have to constantly struggle with.
So it was not realistic for me to think that I could give most of them up permanently, and for that reason I didn’t even try the low carb diet for many years. Instead, I chose to try all kinds of weight loss pills, programs, and diets – all with disappointing results.
Low Carb Diet Myths
But my reason for writing about the low carb diet here is to address some of the misconceptions that have swirled around the diet for many years. I think a lot of it actually started with the Atkins diet, which somehow seemed to give a lot of people the impression that you could eat a diet loaded with fatty meats, fried foods, dairy, and other high-fat foods – forget the fruits and vegetables – and yet remain perfectly healthy.
I have read a lot about Atkins and other low carb diet plans, and that was not the impression I got at all. In fact, even in the Induction phase of the Atkins diet – which is the most restrictive phase and only lasts 2 weeks – you are advised to eat something like 15% carbs each day, in the form of salads.
The primary thing that I see the low carb diet trying to eliminate in the diet are sugary processed foods that have no nutritional value in the first place.
Vegetables and fruits are loaded with fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals and are thought to be partly responsible for lower risks of many serious health problems (including heart disease and some cancers) in people who eat diets that include large amounts of vegetables.
Therefore, I would be very hesitant to even consider a diet that excludes these healthy foods that are, in my opinion, essential for a healthy body.
The ‘anti – low carb’ folks would have you believe that you are not allowed any vegetables on the diet, but this is not true. The healthier versions of the diet focus on nutritious, healthy food, and promote leaner, healthier cuts of meat along with non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits. This allows you to still lose weight quickly and at the same time maintain a leaner, healthier body.
Some Of The Healthy Foods Allowed On A Low Carb Diet:
- Low-fat Beef cuts
Low- sugar fruits such as strawberries, rhubarb and berries.
Low Fat Cheese
Foods To Be Avoided While On A Low Carb Diet:
- White Rice
- White Flour (Bread, Pasta, Cake, etc.)
- Starchy Vegetables such as corn, beets, all potatoes, acorn and butternut squashes, and parsnips
- High-sugar fruits such as bananas, tangerines, figs, grapes, and pomegranates – and some dried fruits.
- Unhealthy foods such as bacon, hot dogs and lunch meats that have a high fat content should be eaten sparingly or avoided altogether.
Health Benefits Of The Low Carb Diet
Some health benefits that have been commonly reported (and attributed to following a low carb diet) are listed below. And even though not every person that follows the low carb lifestyle will experience all of these benefits, you can at the very least expect to lose some weight.
- Decreased blood pressure
- Decreased triglycerides
- Weight Loss
- Fewer headaches (For those who had them before the diet)
- Better mental concentration
- Improved gastrointestinal symptoms (For those who experienced the symptoms before the diet)
- Improved mood – less mood swings
- Improved skin appearance
- Reduced cravings for sweets
- Compulsive eating diminished
- Drink plenty of water while on this diet, 8-10 8 oz. glasses per day are normally recommended. I find it hard to drink that much water, so I have been following Oprah’s trainer, Bob Greene’s suggestion of substituting Crystal Lite lemonade for water, and it seems to be working just fine for me.
- Incorporate some sort of physical activity into your life each day.
- Take a vitamin and fiber supplement.
- Make sure you have the appropriate foods and snacks in the house at all times to avert unnecessary temptations.
- Learn to substitute lower carb ingredients in as many of your favorite dishes as possible. You might be surprised at how appetising low carb meals really are.
As always, before starting any diet, including a low carb diet, you should consult with your physician. Your current health and any medications you take may be a determining factor on how long you should follow this diet.