Many of us are opting to go for a low carb diet approach, to shed weight or to reverse health conditions, such as diabetes type 2, fatty liver disease, and hypertension.
A low-carb diet can deliver fantastic health benefits. It’s also easy to make mistakes when you’re new to low carb and when this happens we can end up feeling pretty awful or failing to reap the benefits we were looking for.
Here are 5 common Low Carb Mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Carb Confusion
Restricting the carbohydrates that we eat and drink is the key to our Low carb diet. Yet setting and sticking to individual carb levels can feel overwhelming at first.
In order to avoid high-carb foods (starchy veggies, tropical fruits, grains, sauces, juice, sweets, most highly processed foods) and instead focus on eating Low Carb foods (zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, capsicum, nuts, seeds), we need to learn what they are. See our Low Carb Food List and High Carb Foods To Avoid guide. For some people, limiting your carb intake provides enough benefit so that you won’t need to be stricter or monitor carb values.
To set and monitor your own carb daily limit there are now a vast array of apps, books, and online calculators to choose from. Or, you may opt to work with a Low Carb Health Coach, follow a set meal plan or ongoing programme to help avoid carb confusion. Low Carb Down Under is currently offering an introductory Health Coaching Programme special offer to help you to get started.
2. Fat focus
Increasing our fat intake can help us to change over into the metabolic state of ketosis, especially in the early stages of following the diet. But, eating too much fat can prevent weight loss.
Butter, eggs, bacon, oily fish, cream and fatty meats can be part of a healthy diet. After all, when you cut your unhealthy carbs you are going to need to replace that source of energy with something.
Fats provide an alternative energy source, to replace glucose from carbohydrates. Fat helps us to feel full after a meal so that we don’t feel the urge to continue to eat or graze throughout the day.
Once our low carb or Keto diet is established we may need to review and reduce the quantity of fats we’re consuming. Eating and drinking too much fat could stall weight loss as our body utilises dietary fats as fuel, not our body’s stored fat.
3. Get enough salt!
The first few days or weeks of a low carb or Keto diet can leave you feeling light-headed and vaguely unwell as you change from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. Collectively these symptoms are known as ‘Keto flu’. The best solution is to add plenty of salt to your food, and even add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of hot water and sip it slowly. This often makes you feel immediately better.
When you start a low carb / keto way of eating you pee out a lot of excess water accompanied by salt (sodium chloride). So get plenty of salt especially in this rapid weight loss phase. Dr Peter Brukner’s book ‘A Fat Lot of Good’ is great reading on this topic.
4. Food variety
When changing over from old foods that we have depended on to new low-carb foods there can be a temptation to stick rigidly to a handful of ingredients and food combinations. Repeating the same old numbers will soon get very boring, whereas eating a wide variety of whole foods can help us access a host of goodness, such as vitamins, nutrients, minerals, fibre.
Only 6-8 years ago following a keto or low carb diet was a more challenging feat, and finding new creative recipes and ideas was really difficult. Happily, now there are a huge amount of recipe books, websites and apps to guide us as we become more proficient in our new culinary style. We have selected a number of low-carb recipes from mainly Aussie and New Zealand based sites to help you on your way.
5. Lack of Support
If opting for a low-carb diet to help therapeutically with a medical condition discuss with your health care practitioner first — especially if you’re taking medication. Some medications may need to be adjusted by your Doctor as your signs and symptoms improve. See our list of LCHF Doctors with expertise in Low Carb nutrition.
Changing to a completely new way of eating can be daunting, especially if you are going it alone.
Avoiding favourite foods, facing social challenges, friends or family that do not understand or support your lifestyle changes can all wear down your resolve.
Getting that much need support can be a game-changer. Being open with family, friends and colleagues on your new choices and the reasons for your food changes can help to win over some supporters to boost you up. Online communities of like-minded people who are in the same position as you can also really lift your spirits and provide practical answers and suggestions to any obstacles you might face. Join our lively and friendly Low Carb Down Under Facebook Community here, see you in the group!
It can be easy to make mistakes when starting a low-carb diet, as we get used to macro-counting, ketone testing, and new foods.
Now that you are aware of some of the key mistakes on a low-carb diet you will be able to avoid them and focus instead on enjoying your new lifestyle.