Before starting a carboyhdrate-restricted diet, it is important to remember that limiting your carb intake altogether isn't advised. The most critical element to low-carb dieting is to eliminate starches and sugars from your diet, while still getting much-needed energy and nutrition from vegetables, fruits, and in the latter portions of the diet, whole grains in moderation. However, the first couple of weeks on a low-carb diet are the most restrictive.
Starting a Low-Carb Diet
Give yourself a few days to prepare.
Clean out your refrigerator and cabinets of carbohydrate-laden foods like bread, pasta, rice, snack cakes, candies and ice cream. Getting rid of these products altogether can eliminate temptation when the going gets tough---and it will. Fill your refrigerator with low-carb goodies. You may also want to allow yourself one big "goodbye carbohydrates" meal before you begin the diet. Include your favorite carb foods and enjoy them slowly, since you won't be able to eat them again for a long time.
Focus on what you are allowed to eat rather than what you aren't allowed to eat.
One of the benefits of low-carb diets is the ability to eat more dietary fat and foods that are not allowed on other diets. Plentiful amounts of eggs, meats, poultry, fish, cheeses, green veggies, most salad dressings and even butter are allowed on the low-carb diet. These savory foods are delicious, so you won't feel like you are depriving yourself.
Remember to count the carbs, not the calories or fat. If you are following the Atkins Diet, the first two weeks allow 20 grams of carbs per day. Most meat is carbohydrate-free, but other products usually aren't. Salad greens, dressings and even cheese contain small amounts of carbs.
For foods that do not have nutritional information printed on their packages, try using an online food database to determine the nutrition content. An excellent choice is the database located at www.thedailyplate.com .
Remember that fiber can be deducted from your final carb count.
Since fiber isn't digested and doesn't affect blood sugar levels, it doesn't count toward your total carb limit. If a product has 5 grams of total carbs and 2 grams of dietary fiber, you should only count that product as 3 grams of countable, or "net," carbs.
Cut the caffeine.
Atkins recommends cutting out caffeine altogether, if possible. If you feel like you can't, try to limit the amount you consume. Caffeine can inhibit weight loss in some low-carb dieters. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, try decaffeinated varieties.
Tips & Warnings
- After two weeks, you can try adding new sources of carbs into your diet and increase your carb intake a little bit. Nuts, seeds and berries are low in carbs and high in valuable nutrients, and can be enjoyed after the first two weeks of the low-carb diet.
- Low-carb shakes and protein bars can be good for sweets cravings. Keep some on hand to use if you crave carbs or are in a hurry and can't grab a full meal. Be sure to check the nutrition labels for carbohydrate content and hidden sugars.
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