LOW CARB & KETO DIET PLAN: HOW TO START A LOW CARB DIET
Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to a Low Carb & Keto Diet Plan! If you are new to Wholesome Yum, or just starting a low carb or keto diet, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will show you everything you need to know about how to start a low carb diet, or how to start a keto diet. Then, be sure to check out all the keto diet recipes and the customizable keto meal plan app!
WHAT IS A LOW CARB DIET PLAN?
A low carb diet plan is a way of eating that is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates. It ends the rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes, allowing the body to burn fat.
- Keto diet – Under 20g net carbs per day (sometimes under 25g or 30g works)
- Low carb diet – Under 50g net carbs per day
- Moderate low carb diet – Under 100g net carbs per day
Some people opt to count carbs diligently and some choose to simply focus on eat low carb/keto foods.
WHAT ARE NET CARBS?
Net carbs is simply total carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sweeteners, like erythritol. (This doesn’t apply to high glycemic ones, like maltitol.) We don’t have to count fiber and certain sweeteners in net carbs, because they either don’t get broken down by our bodies, are not absorbed, or are absorbed but not metabolized. (Read more about keto sweeteners here, or see a keto sweetener comparison here.)
ome people on a keto or low carb diet choose to count total carbs instead of net carbs. This makes it more difficult to fit in more leafy greens and low carb vegetables (which are filled with fiber), so you should only try that if you don’t get results with a net carb method. And, start with reducing sweeteners and low carb treats before deciding to do a “total carbs” method.
BENEFITS OF A LOW CARB OR KETO DIET
Low carb diets have numerous benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Stable mood & energy levels
- Blood sugar control
- Reduced cravings & appetite
- Lower blood pressure
- Higher good cholesterol
- Skin improvements
- Digestive support
- Even possibly increased lifespan
WHAT IS THE KETO DIET PLAN?
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet plan, is a specific type of low carb diet that is focused on a specific ratio of macronutrients, or macros, with a goal of reaching a state called ketosis.
Macronutrients are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is generally 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates.
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. It’s very effective for weight loss, energy and mental clarity.
Ketosis is the primary goal of the keto diet plan. We achieve it by severely limiting carbohydrate intake, not calories, but calories are often restricted as a byproduct. In the absence of carbs, the body switches to burning fat for fuel.
Signs of ketosis include increased energy and focus, decreased appetite, and changes in smell of breath or urine. You can test yourself for ketosis using ketone test strips (use code WHOLESOME for 15% off!), or a blood monitor if you want to be super accurate (not usually necessary).
It usually takes about 3 days after starting a ketogenic diet to enter ketosis, but a few weeks before you are “fat adapted” and burn fat efficiently.
The keto diet plan has the same benefits as low carb diets in general (above), but they are usually amplified. In particular, the weight loss results, mental focus, and energy levels on a keto diet can be incredible.
- Jumping into high-fat, low-carb eating? Here are 10 things you need to know to sidestep challenges and set yourself up for success. The ketogenic diet — a high-fat and very low carb eating plan — can be tough to start. After all, it’s likely a radical departure from the way you’re eating now (a typical standard American diet is high in carbohydrates and processed foods). But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That’s what happens when your body’s carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling type 2 diabetes, a small past study suggests. (1)How do you make practical preparations in stocking your fridge and preparing mentally for the big change to come? Consider this your step-by-step guide.
Know What Foods You’ll Eat and Avoid on the Ketogenic Diet
In following a keto meal plan, you’ll be severely limiting carbs. Start off with between 20 and 30 grams (g) of carbohydrates per day, says the New York City–based dietitian Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss.
Also make sure that you know what foods have mostly carbs, fat, and protein, so you can make the right choices. For instance, it’s not just bread, pasta, chips, cookies, candy, and ice cream that contain carbs. Beans may contain protein, but they’re also very high in carbohydrates. Fruit and veggies also mostly contain carbs. The only foods that don’t contain carbs are meat (protein) and pure fats, like butter and oils (including olive oil and coconut oil).
Examine Your Relationship With Fat — Keto Involves Lots of It!
“People are afraid of fat because they’ve been told that it’ll kill them,” says Mancinelli. What is confusing is that research today remains mixed. Some studies suggest that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat (and avoiding unhealthy trans fat) is important for mitigating heart disease risk, while others suggest that total fat and types of fat weren’t associated with cardiovascular problems, according to an article published in June 2018 in BMJ. (2) Deciding exactly how to eat then becomes confusing. What is helpful, the authors note, is to remember that food is more than a single nutrient, and it’s the overall quality of the diet that counts. (They do say that high-fat, low-carb diets still need more research to assess their long-term health benefits and risks.)
To prepare for a high-fat diet, which can be uncomfortable at first, start making small adjustments to what you eat every day, she suggests, like ordering a burger on lettuce leaves and subbing green veggies for fries.
Instead of potatoes or rice with your meal, opt for a nonstarchy veggie. Start cooking with more oil, such as olive or avocado oil. Realize that old dieting habits — like making a plain skinless grilled chicken breast — just don’t make sense on a keto diet because you won’t get enough fat.
“Slowly start pushing out carbs and getting in fat. If you’re afraid of fat, a ketogenic diet won’t work for you,” she says.
Switch Up Your View of Protein — This Is a Moderate-Protein Diet
One of the most common misconceptions about the keto diet is that you can eat as much protein as you’d like. But this is not a diet where you watch carbs only — you also have to keep your protein intake moderate, says Ginger Hultin, a Seattle-based registered dietitian, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition, and the owner of ChampagneNutrition. Protein can be converted into glucose, and therefore overeating protein can take your body out of ketosis. Think of your ratios as a small portion of meat topped with a generous amount of fat, rather than the other way around.
Hone Your Cooking Skills to Make Fresh Fare, as High-Carb Processed Foods Aren’t Okay on Keto
Look at a variety of keto websites and cookbooks for keto-approved recipes you’ll love. Mancinelli recommends finding four to five recipes with foods you know you’ll like. “That way you’re not standing around wondering what to eat, and turn to carbs,” she says.
Try Bulletproof Coffee — It’s One of the Best Keto-Friendly Drinks
Made by mixing coconut oil and butter into your coffee, this drink will help keep your hunger at bay, giving you time to plan your next meal, advises Mancinelli.
Just note that coconut oil has the potential to send LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels soaring, so if you have heart disease or are at an increased risk for it because of family or personal health history, you’ll likely want to avoid this drink. To be on the safe side, check with your doctor. (3)