How To Low Carb Diet: 5 Tips To Ensure Success
If you follow this blog you’ll know that this is not a click bait title, but actual sound advice to help you if you want to opt for a low carb approach to dieting.
I’ve made it abundantly clear, here and here that carbs are not the enemy. Too many calories are! Dramatically reducing the total volume of a food group will likely illicit a calorie deficit, and thus fat loss.
So it’s not a bad thing. To an extent.
You need to do whatever you need to do in order to elicit a calorie deficit. A reduced carbohydrate intake can be a good strategy to do this.
Especially if you are an individual with a terrible relationship with blood sugar control and it's effect on your physiology.
You know. That feeling when you eat or drink a sugary snack for your energy levels to surge for a short period of time, only for you to then crash, making you crave even more sugar to avoid a mid-afternoon nap at your desk. This pattern could repeat over the course of a 9 – 5 work day and subsequently put your calories over the threshold because you are craving energy dense food to keep you awake.
Overweight people may also benefit hugely from a reduction in daily carb intake. This kind of leads on to the point above. Terrible blood guar control, and thus a likelihood of a hyper-caloric diet.
If you fall into the above categories, it be worth trying a low carb approach.
What even is low carb?
Low carb is a relative term. So we’ll define this as anything above 50 grams - to a ceiling of 150 grams of carbs. Obviously it depends on your calorie intake, and the variance will be different in a case by case basis.
But for ease we’ll keep to this range.
Also, I won’t discuss the ketogenic diet today which is an extreme approach to low carb dieting. Usually defined as under 30 grams of carbs. This can be for another time.
So here’s some tips to point you in the right direction.
1) Eat lots of veggies
Who would have guessed right?
If your relative carbohydrate intake is low then it’s going to be a very good idea to up your overall vegetable intake to compensate for a short fall in nutrition you might experience.
When you remove a macro nutrient, you open yourself up to deficiencies which will negatively affect your performance and your bodies ability to function properly. You can off-set this by pimping out all of your meals with veggies.
Yes, technically vegetables are carbs as well. But for the amount of calories a portion of spinach will yield against a portion of rice – the veg will be lower in calories by a long stretch.
However, you may have to do the following if you are not careful...
2) Take a fibre supplement
Fibre is not only important for your digestive health and preventing a blockage down there, it has many other important health benefit, and may even protect us against certain cancers like colorectal cancer.
Fibre is mainly found in grains and the skins of vegetables. When you eliminate grains from your diet you leave yourself open to a considerable drop in daily fibre intake. So bring in some assistance should you feel your fibre has taken a hit.
A good measure is to have 10 grams for every 1,000 calories you consume. Use a food tracker such as My Fitness Pal to determine your daily fibre, and keep on top of your intake.
3) Have a re-feed day
A re-feed day is a tactically planned day in our week to increase overall carbohydrate intake. In other words, a day for you to enjoy you bread and potatoes.
A lot coahes will have their trainees do this to manipulate their performance and recovery.
But in our instance, it’s less so for ‘replenishing glycogen stores’ or boosting performance, and more for keeping you psychologically sane if you enjoy eating carbs.
But it might help you in the long run to keep this day in your arsenal for a demanding training day, like a heavy leg day, or if you are heading out with friends for a curry and catch up on the weekend.
4) Avoid dramatically changing up your training
With fat loss, the aim of the game is to retain as much muscle as possible while oxidising your fat stores for energy.
Most of this effort comes through a calorie deficit. A little bit will come by way of exercise and energy output.
Dose this mean you need to do as much cardio as possible and do as many reps as possible to increase your energy expenditure?
There’s no need to adjust your training (if you have already been doing some form of resistance training which I recommend to clients.)
Stick with the basics; 6-12 rep range, compound movements, 2-4 sets, try and hit most muscle groups, concentrate on form and technique whilst you try to to retain as much muscle and strength as possible. Ultimately what builds muscle, keeps muscle.
My final tip is...
5) Don’t low carb diet for a long period of time
A low carb approach to dieting should be a phase. Just like any diet should be. If you find that you are low carbing for 6, 12, 18 months, it’s probably too long to maintain and might have consquences that far outweigh anything physiolgoically.
The problem which an approach like the low carb diet is that you can start to demonise certain foods and become dogmatic to a diet that not everyone need be on.
Diets need to have a variety of foods and food groups. If you start to equal bread as fattening then you have labelled a certain food as bad. Which in itself - is bad.
We know that foods aren’t bad, diets are bad.
Not only is this damaging to your mindset, it’s going to create a negative relationship with the food you eat. So keep the low cab approach short and sweet, and stop blaming bread for your dieting woes!
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