Going low-carb is undoubtedly one of the best ways to lose weight. Yes, the cravings can be tough to deal with at first while your body adjusts, but if you stick with it the results on your health and waistline can be dramatic.
The low-carb diet is one of the most popular diets for women with many other big-name diet brands borrowing and applying it’s principles with great success, including Paleo and Atkins. Below you’ll find a short how-to guide on the low-carb diet for women, including foods and helpful dieting strategies
Low Carb Diet for Fast Weight Loss
Eating Low carb for weight loss has more than one meaning. Even the phrase “low carb” can have a variety of meanings – from very low carb use (as low as 20g daily) to the total elimination of sugar, wheat, and processed foods from one’s diet.
The consensus from most seems to be that under 40g of carbs per day is considered “low”. Yet, if you do your research, you will find many differing opinions. In fact, in the book “Life Without Bread” by Allan and Lutz, the authors (one of whom is a physician) go to great lengths to explain that reducing carbs to 75g daily (108g for those over 45) is enough to provide significant health benefits (though they do not focus on weight loss, but rather discuss how low carb eating can improve disease prevention and treatment). What I am trying to say here is that there is no single ‘correct amount’ in low carb living, just what is ‘right for each individual based on their own knowledge and experience.
Low Carbs and Then What?
You may hear low carb eating referred to as “low carb, high protein.” This is true, for some. Some of the plans popularized for those wanting to lose weight are indeed low carb and high protein (e.g., Atkins, Eades). However, other low carb eating plans have a more balanced view of protein in terms of ratio to carbs while other plans do not focus on an importance of protein at all. Again, it is often relative, as most all low carb plans are certainly low carb – high protein in relationship to the typical U.S. diet.
Which Low Carb Diet Plan is Right For Me?
My advice would be to read as much information as you can (taking it all with a grain of salt, keeping in mind your prior knowledge and common sense). Check books, research articles and discuss with friends and family who may have experience with low carb dieting. Of course, in doing so you will also encounter a great deal of conflicting advice (beware that friends and family may know much less than you do and so may be wary of anything that does not fit ‘conventional’ eating patterns). At the very least, you should purchase one well-received low carb diet book to guide you and serve as a foundation on which to further build your knowledge.
One further comment – I have read from several authors in the low carb arena that low carb eating works best for weight loss for those who are ‘apple-shaped’ (i.e. their weight mainly distributed in their upper body and stomach) while those more ‘pear-shaped’ (bottom heavy) often do better on low calorie diets. Regardless, if you are at the stage where your body is growing accustom to this new way of eating, you become bored/sick and are no longer seeing results, change it. Your body knows what’s best, so listen to it.
How Do I Eat This Way Long-term?
The biggest complaint about low carb dieting seems to be the view that it’s dull and uninspired. I both agree and disagree. Perhaps there is somewhat less variety, after all many people do so enjoy pasta, bread, and sugar. If you’ve just started low carb, you may hit that “I can’t eat anymore bacon and eggs” plateau before long. But that’s where the real work of eating low carb begins. That’s when you search for fun, new recipes and cookbooks specifically written for low carb dieters. There’s no shortage to choose from, either. Places like Amazon and chock-full of low-carb e-books which you can buy and download for just a few dollars.
I would also add that if you get to a point where you feel fed-up (you shouldn’t, ideally), that’s the time to really analyze what food means to your life, what it is worth to you, and in what way you are using food, be it for better health or weight loss. Only then can you take an objective look at why you’re eating and address those issues at the source to create a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
There are also far too many of us who use food as a hobby or an ‘escape’. Yes, food does have an emotional-basis and it’s great to enjoy what you eat, but it has to be measured and kept in perspective. Finding happiness to fill the void in your life will benefit your health and your waistline far more than any glazed doughnut.
Life Without Bread *Gasp!*
This is without question the number 1 concern among would-be low-carb dieters. Most of the panic is unfounded, however. The first point I would like to make is, it’s not that bad going without it and is in fact easier than you might think. The stumbling-point most people experience is attributable to a mental-block where because bread has played such a large part in their life, they have conditioned themselves to a point where they almost find it difficult to imagine life without it. Don’t get me wrong, I love bread and it would surely be one food choices if I was to be forever stranded on a desert island.
However, there are many healthier (and tastier) alternatives which you can quickly and easily find in low-carb diet books and at your local supermarket. The reality is, you do not have to go without bread. You do need to cutout without the white bread in the bad you’re use to buying! Good news, don’t you think?!
What Foods Can I Eat?
Actually, quite a lot. Given the use of specialty low carb foods and some creativity, you won’t feel restricted, cheated or bored – on the whole there are many more foods that you can eat while eating low carb than those you can’t.
Below is a list of foods low in carbohydrates. It’s not an exhaustive list but it does include foods that make up a large part of a typical low-carb diet plan. Below these you’ll find lists of foods that are progressively lower in carbohydrates. It may help to think of this as an upside down food pyramid, with many acceptable low-carb food choices are the top, and few off-limits foods at the bottom.
Foods Very Low in Carbohydrates: These make up the main part of a low-carb eating plan and can be consumed often and in large quantities (note, many of these foods are also high in protein).
Meat, Fish & Dairy: Pork, ham, bacon, fish, shellfish (e.g., shrimp), lamb, beef, chicken, sausage (without sugar or high-carb fillers).
Dairy & Fat’s: Butter, eggs, cream (not milk), cheese (includes cottage and other soft cheeses if in small portions), many oils (grapeseed, olive, canola, and others), some nuts (e.g., almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts).
Fruit & Vegetables: Tomato, cucumber, winter squash, zucchini, lettuce, onion, dill pickles, berries (in smaller quantities, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries).
Extra’s: Yellow mustard, vinegar, horseradish, low carb marinades (check the label), low carb dressings (e.g., bleu cheese, green goddess, ceasar), salsa (in smaller quantities), pork rinds, sugar free products that are zero or very low carb such as Sugar Free Jello, tea and coffee (without sugar or sugar substitute), specialty low carb foods (e.g., Atkin’s and Carbolite Chocolate Bars, La Torilla Factory Tortillas).
Foods Somewhat Low in Carbohydrates: These are eaten in moderation and make up a smaller portion of a low carb diet plan.
Beans, coconut, additional nuts (those not added under the low carb section above), additional fruits (e.g., oranges, cantaloupe and other melons), 100% whole wheat or whole grain breads and flours (that do not contain sugar), whole grain rice (very limited quantities)
Foods High in Carbohydrates: These foods are eaten very infrequently, if at all.
White flour, sugars (fructose, sucrose), potatoes, white rice, bananas, grapes, dried fruits, processed snacks (e.g., chips), white and many other pastas.
Note, some low carb recipes may include very small amounts of these ingredients. There are also some very good specialty products and recipes that can return bread and other ‘no-no’ foods to your life if you simply can’t live without them.