Should You Start a Low Carb Diet?
The decision to start a low carb diet is huge. Some people choose a low carb diet to lose weight. Others go low carb for the health benefits alone.
Learn where to find the right resources and advice. Prepare yourself, your friends and family, and your kitchen.
- Grab a free carb counter and a 7 day low carb meal planner.
- Build a solid grocery store shopping strategy.
- Take the plunge with confidence and support.
The general concept behind the low carb diet is to replace bad carbs with good ones, and ultimately- in restricted amounts. Basically, the focus is on making healthier carb choices and limiting sugar in order to maintain a healthy and stable blood sugar level.
The Basic Science
The essence of a low carb diet is weeding out all the refined starches and sugars from your diet. That’s all.
You don’t need to buy extra stuff, special-made products etc. Just cut out the starches and sugars, and limit your carbs to 60 grams/day or lower.
The remaining fat, protein and non-starchy vegetables you eat will satisfy your hunger sooner and for a longer amount of time.
Ketosis Changes Your Body
As you cut the carbs, you enter a state of ketosis. In ketosis, your body’s metabolism changes. You will no longer be a “sugar burner.” Instead, you are a healthier, more efficient fat burner. You’ll eat high fat foods but continue to lose weight.
When there is an absence of sugar in the body, it uses stored body fat for energy. This is the magic of the low carb diet at work. You are eating “very fattening” foods, yet dropping weight like crazy. (We love this.)
During keto, low carbers experience bursts of energy and heightened mood – just two of the big benefits of ketosis.
Some dieters notice a temporary, sweet taste in the mouth or a mild, sweet breath odor, a signal they have reached ketosis.
Measuring Keto with Test Strips
A measurable way to know if you’ve reached ketosis is by testing for ketones with inexpensive strips.
Check Amazon for the lowest prices: Keto Test Strips.
Keto test strips are one way to know you’ve reached ketosis, but if the strip doesn’t register the presence of ketones, you can still be ketosis.
Why is this?
- Sometimes urine samples are diluted from drinking lots of water.
- It’s also possible to burn away ketones during exercise.
Tip: Rely on eating the correct keto ratio of fat, protein and carbs, and use the keto testing strips as a “check in.”
Gather Legit Resources
Before starting a low carb diet, it’s important to understand the reasons for the food choices you’re making.
Finding free Atkins resources here and other places online is helpful. But for even more details and the science behind the diet, there is nothing better than reading the original books by Robert Atkins or The New Atkins for a New You. You can also visit a local library and borrow one.
Atkins Diet Workbook
Tracking progress is the key to success. This step-by-step guide makes it easier than ever to follow Atkins. The New Atkins for a New You Workbook includes grocery shopping guides, food lists and tracking tools.
The Atkins Cookbook
The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook features 200 delicious low carb meals, ready in 30 minutes or less.
Choose your resources, and read them cover to cover.
Check with Your Doctor
Limiting carbs is absolutely safe for most people. But it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can recommend any necessary adaptations that should be made before starting a low carb diet – especially if there are any existing health issues or concerns.
If you are starting a very low carb diet, your doctor can also discuss dealing with any physical symptoms that may happen during the first few weeks.
Tell Family and Friends
Support from family and friends is important when you are working towards a goal. They may not completely understand how a low carb diet works, but they do know you’re trying to make a positive, healthy change in your life.
A good basic rule of thumb is to tell them that you’ll be avoiding sugar and junk food while eating lots of fruits and veggies.
They don’t have to eat your diet – but they should respect your wishes, boundaries and decision to avoid sugar. Low Carbe Diem has some excellent tips for dealing with friends and family while on a low carb diet.
Eat New Delicious Foods
There are four phases to the Atkins Diet. The first phase, Induction, is the most restrictive, and lasts 14 days. However, there are over 120 foods that fit perfectly into the first two weeks.
There are also plenty of healthy high fat low carb foods you could never dream of eating on other “conventional calorie restricted” diets.
This inexpensive wonder creates uniform, curly noodles from zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips and other round or long vegetables.
- Zucchini spaghetti (Zoodles)
- Cucumber ribbon strands
- Sweet potato, radish or turnip curly fries
- Long spiral squash strands
The veggie spiralizer is great for making curly fries, frittatas, salad garnishes and zoodles – low carb “pasta” made from zucchini!
The Inspiralized cookbook shows you how to transform more than 20 vegetables and fruits into delicious meals that look and taste just like your favorite indulgent originals.
Zucchini turns into pesto spaghetti; jicama becomes shoestring fries; sweet potatoes lay the foundation for fried rice.
Veggie Spiralizer Cookbook
Top 98 recipes Spiralizer Cookbook is a step-by-step guide on using a spiralizer, includes a list of spiralizer-friendly veggies and delicious recipes:
- Paleo-Friendly Carbonara
- Roasted Carrot and Coconut Crostino
- Chicken and Zoodle Bowl
- Mediterranean Zoodle Platter
- Zucchini Rice with Sweet Cider Dressing
- Parmesan Broccoli Noodles with Tomatoes
- Beet Noodles with Tangy Mustard Dressing
- Gluten-Free Parsnip Puttanesca
- Avocado and Beet Omelet
- Rutabaga Spaghetti with Truffle Marinara Sauce
- Summer Prosciutto and Cottage Cheese Pasta
Take Time to Adjust
All change involves some amount of stress or second-guessing. Give yourself a few weeks to adjust. Take care of yourself and avoid stress during this time. Put off dinners, social events or any other potentially stressful situations.
Before you start a low carb diet, gather a few favorite books to read or some DVDs you’ll enjoy watching.
Try a bubble bath or a new computer game. Give your low carb diet a fair chance in the beginning, as early as possible.
Learn How to Count Carbs
A successful low carb diet depends on knowing how many carbs are in everything you eat. You must learn how to count carbs.
Don’t worry. We wouldn’t leave you unprepared. Download or print a free copy of the official Atkins carb counter.
Read Labels Like a Pro
When you start a low carb diet, you may be surprised to find out where all that sugar has been hiding. Reading food labels like a pro means finding the hidden carbs and determining the number of carbs that some from sugar.
Find the Hidden Sugar
- Pay attention to the sugars carbs listed on the nutritional label, and the added sugars/starches in the ingredients list.
- Subtract the carb grams that come from fiber, and you are left with “net carbs” per serving. This is the number you will go by for your totals.
Eat the Right Type of Sugar
A low carb diet does allow natural sugars, especially those found in fruits and veggies packed with fiber.
However, starting a low carb diet always means avoiding products that have refined sugars, like corn syrup solids or high-fructose corn syrup.
There are hundreds of low carb alternatives and replacements for all the higher carb or processed foods you used to eat.
If you’re craving sweet foods or desserts, artificial sweeteners are a good solution. Dr. Atkins prefers sucralose (Splenda), but small amounts (2 to 3 servings) of all natural stevia are also allowed.
(Type, Serving Size, Net Carbs)
- Splenda: (sucralose) 1 packet, 1 net carb / liquid is zero carb
- Sweet N Low: (saccharine) 1 packet, 0.9 net carbs / liquid is zero carb
- Stevia: (all-natural) 1 packet, 1 net carb / liquid is zero carb
- Erythritol (all-natural) trace net carbs per serving
Sucralose Liquid Sweetener
EZ-Sweetz liquid sweetener is made of sucralose and has no bitter aftertaste. Zero carb, zero calories, zero impact.
De-Bittered Liquid Stevia
EZ-Sweetz’s de-bittered stevia blend has no unpleasant aftertaste. EZ-Sweetz’s blend has none of the characteristic bitterness of typical stevia sweeteners.
Now Foods erythritol powder is a natural sweetener that’s non-GMO, low glycemic impact and zero calorie.
Prepare Your Kitchen
If your house is full of candy bars, potato chips, cookies, bread, pasta, rice and ice cream, it will be hard for you to eat healthy. It’s time to do a cleaning.
Clear Out the Dangerous Food
Get several empty boxes together. Gather up the junk food and donate it to the Salvation Army. Give the rest away to friends.
Focus on quick and easy meals using simple and inexpensive fresh ingredients you can find in your local grocery store.
Prior to starting a low carb diet and after a close review of allowable foods, you should create meal and snack plans for your first week. This is the time when many people want to give up on diet changes due to lack of inspiration.
Why is this important?
Having a structured meal plan before you start a low carb diet removes any stress from wondering what your next meal should be.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead for the first week of meals when you’re starting a low carb diet. Here are two sample meal plans from Atkins to take you through a solid week.
Atkins 20 Carbs per Day Meal Plan
Atkins 40 Carbs per Day Meal Plan
Carb Proof Your Pantry for Good
Before you shop, you must carb-proof your pantry to make room for all the wonderfully fresh, low carb foods you’ll be buying.
Check your cabinets and fridge, read those labels and banish those dangerous foods. Then, stock your new low carb kitchen like a pro.
You have the info, you have the resources and low carb food lists. Now, let’s build a solid, low carb grocery store strategy. Don’t even think about entering a grocery store unarmed.
- Learn all the acceptable, low carb foods.
- Print your low carb grocery list.
- Know exactly which aisles to hit, and which ones to avoid like a voluntary tax audit.
- Hit the store!
Plan to shop for a week’s worth of menus, and have low carb food on hand for a few days ahead of time.
When you get home, put your new, low carb foods in the front of your cupboards and shelves. It’s time to be proud of your decision.
Starting a low carb diet takes commitment and planning. But it’s well worth it.
Make certain you keep it fresh, challenging and enjoyable. Focus on the fact that all it takes to shed those unwanted pounds is trying a few new foods in a slightly different way.
There will be rough spots, especially during the first few weeks as your body converts to a new metabolism. They will pass, as your new body emerges.
This is the most important step of all. Having support from family and friends is a big part of success on a low carb diet.
What if your friends or family don’t understand your decision? Find someone to start a low carb diet with you.
There are so many active Facebook groups and forums where you can ask questions, get support for the new steps you are taking, find help through the rough patches and chat with people who have similar goals.
Rapid Keto Plan for Women
The Keto Beginning is a highly recommended program – especially if you’re not ready for Atkins Maintenance phases or an increase in carbs every day.
Bust through plateaus, eat more carbs and uncover a life you love. Restore your weight, balance hormones and lift mood naturally.
This carb cycling keto meal plan slides you into fat-burning mode, without needing to go strict low carb.
If what you’re doing isn’t working,
…this is your chance to change your body, meet your goals and achieve the balance you’re searching for.