If you want to get healthy and reach a healthy weight, reducing your daily carb intake is one way to go. In fact, some research indicates that this eating style may help people with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other health conditions.
Yet, embarking on a low-carb journey can be tough, especially if you don't notice any changes in your body right away. But there are a number of strategies you can take in order to transition to a low-carb diet with success. Here are my top tips for cutting carbs in a healthy and effective way.
Be wary of eating too much fruit.
Of course, a healthy diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, while fruit is packed with nutrients and healthy in moderation, it also has fructose, and consuming too much high-carb fruit can create havoc in the insulin department. A good serving size is a closed handful of berries or chopped fruit, a medium-sized apple, or half of a larger fruit, such as grapefruit.
Avoid keeping high-carb foods in your kitchen.
Especially when you're starting out on a low-carb diet, it can help to keep chips and cookies and other high-carb stuff out of your pantry or fridge—even if you're saving it for a rainy day. Donate, or, better yet, toss them. Instead, stock up on plenty of highly nutritious snacks and staples to keep you fueled and feeling great.
Eat low-carb treats in moderation.
If you want to eat low-carb snacks like packaged cookies, breads, treats and sweets once in a while, go for it. Feeling deprived isn't good for your longterm health, and incorporating occasional treats can help you maintain your low-carb diet more effectively. But if you're trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight,
you may want to be wary of how much you're actually eating and how often.
Don't forget about foods with fat...
Many people have ingrained in their minds that fat is evil. Some fats may be, but healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado are anything but evil. In fact, eating the right fats may even help you lose weight. Maintain a well-rounded diet by including nutrient-rich fat foods on your plate.
...but don't go overboard on healthy fat either.
Again, quantity is an issue here. I love coconut fats, olives and avocados, animal fats, nuts and nut butters, since they offer our body numerous nutrients. But when I first started eating low-carb, I downed too many coconut chips and nuts, and was way too liberal with my drizzle oils.
Here's a good guideline: A serving size is no more than two teaspoons of fats and oils, daily (including coconut oil, coconut butter and drizzle oils like olive and avocado oils). Or a closed handful of coconut chips, olives or nuts. Count one-half of an avocado as a serving. Full-fat coconut milk is best, and one-third of a can is a serving size.
Try spicing up your meals with cinnamon.
Sure, cinnamon tastes delicious, but it may also be able to curb cravings for sweets and even out energy levels by balancing blood sugar. This happens because the spice helps slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract, which limits the amount of glucose1 that enters the blood stream. In fact, eating around 2 teaspoons of cinnamon has shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels2 by 10 to 29 percent. Try sprinkling the spice in your morning smoothie, or really any dish you please.
Keep healthy portions in mind.
You certainly don't need to think about portion control all the time, but you should get used to glancing at your food and making sure you're getting the right amount for your body needs.
In addition to the guidelines for fats that I outlined above, here are some additional rules of thumb. Protein should be the size of the palm of your hand. You can fill the perimeter of your plate with non-starchy veggies. And if you need some starchy or dense carbohydrates, a good serving size is one to two cups, depending on your needs.
Stick with your goals.
After you've been maintaining a low-carb lifestyle for some time, you may start to relax a little too much and fall into some of your old patterns. Remember why you started this in the first place and make sure that you're eating low-carb as a rule, not an exception. When you realize you're having a gelato or a martini one too many times, be intuitive about it. Ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing, and shift back to the plan.
Support your low-carb lifestyle with sleep.
Get organized for success.
If you don't get organized with meals and pantry updates and planning ahead with regard to what you'll eat at holiday parties, birthday bashes, etc., you're asking for trouble. Have lots of "yes" foods on hand at all times. Avoid setting yourself up for grabbing foods on the run that are surely going to keep you from achieving your healthy weight.
Another way to set yourself up for success is to ensure you're drinking plenty of water. Not only is proper hydration essential to your overall health, but it will also help you avoid turning to mindless snacking. That's because, it's easy to confuse hunger with thirst. To avoid this phenomena, try to sip water throughout the day.
Don't give up if you don't notice changes overnight.
If you expect to lose weight fast on a low-carb diet, or even at a moderate pace, you may be disappointed. For some people, it takes a while for weight to normalize. A low-carb diet is by no means a quick-fix diet. It's a lifestyle diet that leads to longterm results. Trust me on this one. It will happen.
When you get a handle on all of the above, the magic will happen. Be patient and trust that your body will do what it needs to do.
Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D. is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet, Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Cookbook, and The 10-Day Belly Slimdown. She also is the host of the highly successful PBS special, 21 Days to a Slimmer, Younger You and 10-Day Belly Slimdown with Dr. Kellyann.
A weight-loss and natural anti-aging expert, Petrucci is a concierge doctor for celebrities in New York City and Los Angeles. She is a board-certified naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition consultant. Dr. Petrucci attended Temple University and St. Joseph’s University before doing postgraduate work in Europe, studying naturopathic medicine in England and Switzerland. She is one of the few practitioners in the United States certified in biological medicine by the esteemed Dr. Thomas Rau of the Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle in Switzerland.
Petrucci is a weekly contributor on Dr. Oz and appears regularly on Good Morning America and other national news programs. As the driving force behind the popular website drkellyann.com. Currently, Petrucci is focusing much of her attention on developing innovative beauty- and food-based products.
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