A low-carb diet is any diet on which you consume less than 100 grams of carbohydrates. The source of those carbohydrates is not important and if you were to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, you would still be on a high-carb diet that can prevent you from losing weight. A lot of people don’t realize that fruit contains actual sugar – it’s mixed with vitamins, minerals and other good stuff, but if you consume too much of it, you will still hinder your progress when it comes to losing weight/eliminating insulin resistance.
What is considered a low-carb vs. what is considered a ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic diets are diets that include less than 50 grams of crabs per day and they also limit the amount of protein you consume with each meal. High protein meals put a lot of excess protein in your body, forcing it to turn some of it into carbohydrates by a process, known as Gluconeogenesis – this is the equivalent of eating a lot of carbs. Ketogenic diets force your body to rely solely on fats for energy production. This has both advantages and disadvantages – a lot of people take a very long time to get used to such a diet and the cravings and headaches are too bad, making them give up eventually. A ketogenic diet is not for everyone and there is not reason to do it – simply follow a reasonable, low-carb diet. And here is the seret:
Make all your carbs come from vegetables – this is key. If your carbs come from grains you are doing a strange mix of a Mediterranean diet and a paleo diet, which is not good! A high-fat diet, combined with a high vegetable intake is how people ate for eons. Although including a small amount of grains, like rice can still be considered low-carb, there is no reason to do it – you require only about 100 grams of carbohydrates. This is contained in a few pounds of vegetables and fruits or in only 2-3 bananas.
The more difficult question is this – what are the best high-fat foods to eat on a low-carb diet? Is a diet high in meat considered low-carb? Absolutely. However, it is very important to cook the meat properly and not at a high temperature. Fried meat is a big no-no. Finding a source of grass-fed meat is very important, although it can get a bit expensive.
A diet high in plant fats, like vegetable oils still counts as a low-carb, but it may not be so good for you – people have never eaten such a diet. The fats we ate before modern times were all animal fats. Having a large amount of your calories come from nuts is simply not natural. Eating whole nuts on the other hand is totally okay.
What about protein?
It’s difficult to limit your protein intake and still be on a high-fat diet. This is probably the only downside of paleo diets – you are forced to consume more than 100g of protein daily just to keep your caloric intake high enough. There are little tricks that can help this, like adding coconut oil or olive oil to your meals, but it is still difficult to have a protein intake of 50-60g which would be optimal.
Don’t forget the salt
A low-carb diet usually means that you prepare all meals by yourself. Too many people forget to add salt to their meals and this, combined with a high water intake can easily lead to hyponatermia. You don’t need a lot of salt, but you do need some – aim for 2-3 grams a day. Eliminating salt will often make you lose weight fast, but don’t delude yourself – this is purely water weight, which means you are now dehydrated. Salt is needed by your body to retain water and keep normal blood osmolality.
Is it still considered a low-carb diet if you don’t do it every day? It depends! Having a cheat day once a week is good for beginners, but don’t overdo it – having cheat days more than once per week will make it possible to consume so many calories during those 2 or 3 days that you basically undo all your progress. Start with once a week and then try to go for once a month.
There are many different names for low-carb diets, but most of them are the same thing – there is very little to innovate here and the purpose of such a diet, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, is to go back to the way we ate during the first 99% of human evolution. This means eating meat, nuts, vegetables and this is pretty much it! Don’t eat anything that comes off a packet or contains an unusual combination of ingredients. For example ice cream – it combines sugar, milk, wheat and a few types of artificial fat. There is no way you could eat that combination of ingredients 3000 years ago. So stick to basic food that we are used to digesting