Easy low-carb diet

Written by jessica herschberg
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Easy low-carb diet
A low-carb diet includes plenty of meat and vegetables. (meat image by Svetlana Kashkina from Fotolia.com)

Low-carb diets are easy and rewarding. Many delicious and convenient options are available to low-carb dieters that will keep them feeling full and satisfied as they lose weight.

Some popular low-carb diet books tout the Atkins, South Beach and Paleo Diet approaches to low-carb dieting. Reading these books can be helpful, but sometimes they seem too complicated or time consuming. Some basic rules apply to low-carb diets that you can remember to make dieting much easier.

Carb Counting

Most low-carb diets have an initiation or induction phase that speeds up weight loss for the first few weeks. In general, the goal is to become ketogenic, which means your body is burning fat reserves for fuel. To get into ketosis, it's best to keep your carbs below 30g a day during this phase. To keep things simple, don't count calories; only count carb grams.

Foods to Enjoy Liberally

Several foods are OK to eat in unlimited amounts on a low-carb diet. If you make these foods the staples of your diet, you will have an easy time staying in control of your carb intake. All meats -- including beef, chicken, pork and turkey -- and all fish can be consumed liberally. Eggs can also be used as much as you like. These foods should make up the majority of your daily calories. Butter and double cream can also be used very liberally, as well as coconut oil and olive oil.

Moderation Required

Some foods are perfectly fine if not eaten to excess. One to two servings a day of full-fat dairy products such as cheese, whole milk and Greek yogurt can be used. Most vegetables are OK in large amounts, but starchy vegetables need to be eliminated or only eaten in moderation; these include potatoes, carrots, green beans, sweetcorn and peas.

Fruits need to be eliminated during the induction phase in most low-carb diets, but once you are through the first few weeks, you can enjoy one to two servings of fruit a day. The best fruits to eat are berries such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries as well as cherries, prunes and apples.

Nuts are a delicious snack food for low-carb dieters, but too many nuts may derail your weight loss efforts due to high fat, salt and calorie content. Try to consume no more than one to two servings a day of walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts.

Avoid or Use Sparingly

Some foods will quickly derail your weight loss efforts and are best avoided entirely or used very sparingly. These include alcohol, sweets, bread and cakes. Sweet treats and alcohol are OK to eat on a low-carb diet, but only in small amounts. You can use artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar, or simply use caution when choosing foods that are naturally sweetened, such as dark chocolate. Diet fizzy drinks are OK, but the liberal use of artificial sweeteners may make it harder to kick your sugar habit, so use caution. Red wine is a good alcohol choice for a low-carb diet, but save it for special occasions and wait until after your induction period is over.

The Rules

The easiest low-carb diet is one that is consistent. Use these rules to make life simple: At each meal, make sure you eat a protein source, a fat source and an optional small carb source. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

During induction, don't eat more than 30g of carbs a day. After induction, you can eat between 75g and 100g a day, but experiment so you know where your sweet spot is.

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