While there are pros and cons to all diet plans, following a low carb diet plan for weight loss appears to be one of the most effective.
Carbohydrates aren’t nearly as filling as protein and low starch green vegetables, and carbs also give a quick rise and fall of energy, so you’re hungry again sooner. This makes eating fewer calories (which is needed to lose weight), much easier, because you’re less hungry, have steadier energy levels, and fewer cravings for sweet foods.
If you are used to eating a lot of carbohydrates and sugary foods, you may find your body takes a while to get used to this new style of eating. Your body will have to switch from using primarily sugar (carbs) for fuel to fat for energy, and this doesn’t usually happen overnight.
Common symptoms during this transition, referred to as ‘carb flu’, are low energy, cravings, especially for sweet foods and chocolate, poor concentration and irritability.
Second common symptom is the smell of acetone in your breath. This is caused by elevated levels of breath ketones. While this breath may be less than ideal for your social life, it can be a positive sign for your diet.
It sounds horrible but get through this short phase (average 3-5 days) and the way you’ll feel later makes it well worth persevering for!
Meat and poultry such as beef, lamb, pork, venison, chicken and turkey
Fish (both oily and white) and shellfish such as cod, tuna, salmon and prawns
Eggs, free range and/or organic only
Nuts and seeds and their butters, like pumpkin seeds, almonds and peanut butter
Regular (not reduced fat) dairy; yoghurt, milk, butter, cheese and cream
Fats – coconut oil, olive oil, butter and other animal fats
Vegetables – tonnes of green and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, smaller amounts of root vegetables like beetroot and squash
Fruit (stick to 2 portions a day); berries, apples, pears oranges
Sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa and bananas are all higher in carbohydrates but are very nutritious. Eat these around intense workouts, for example porridge before hitting the gym, and a banana in your post workout shake. This will help you to perform well in your workout as well as recover, but means you aren’t eating lots of carbs when you’re being more sedentary and don’t need as many.
Stevia, a natural sweetener, can be used in small amounts when you want something sweet, but try to restrict it as you want to train yourself to prefer less sweet foods.
Legumes such as chickpeas and lentils – a good vegan protein source but also higher in starch. If you can get your protein from animal sources then keep legumes for workout days
Dark chocolate and/or 100% cocoa powder – low carb and rich in phytonutrients
Sugar including natural sugars like honey, sweets, soft drinks, chocolate bars, biscuits.
Grains including wheat, corn and rice. No bread, rice cakes or pasta.
Diet or low fat dairy products – usually high in sugar. Even in plain yoghurt or low fat milk, the lack of fat makes the carb content proportionately higher.
Starchy vegetables like potatoes and parsnips, unless eaten around workouts.
Trans fats aka hydrogenated fat. Low carb, but also extremely unhealthy.
Too many omega-6 fats, found in seed and vegetable oils as well as most processed foods, in relation to your omega-3 intake. It’s the ratio that matters.
Excessive intake of artificial sweeteners – they will encourage a sweet tooth and make going low carb harder.
The plan on the next page is based on working out three times a week in the morning. Feel free to swap foods and meals to fit your personal schedule. Quantities are based on the average female as that’s who I coach, but feel free to increase them if your calorie needs are higher.
While most of the results you’ll see in the first week will be water loss, by the end of the week you should be getting over some of the aforementioned ‘carb flu’, have steadier energy levels and less hunger.
Repeat the week’s plan for as long as you like; it’s designed to be a plan that’s sustainable for life. Just change up what foods you use from each food group and the possible combinations are endless!