22 Jul Low Carb Lifestyle – Is It Sustainable?
When you search the internet today, you’ll find a plethora of different diets, citing to be the best for health and weight loss. There’s gluten free, paleo, keto, low carb, and vegan – among many others. Personally, one of my favorites is the low carb diet. I’ve been low carb for 2 years now, and this is by far the best I’ve looked, felt, and performed. While out in public, a buddy of mine overheard someone say that a low carb lifestyle is unsustainable! People like this should find a better way to use their words. He should’ve termed it, “a low carb diet is unsustainable for me”. There are many people out there who can go low carb without a problem. While there are others who go throw withdrawals when going low carb. It really depends on the person, and in today’s post I’ll give some tips that can help you live the low carb lifestyle.
1) Know The Difference Between Low Carb and Keto/Atkins – Many people use the terms low carb and keto interchangeably. In actuality, they are 2 different diets. A ketogenic diet is an ultra-low carb diet where you eat less than 30 grams of carbs daily to produce ketones. Many figure competitors will eat this way leading up to a competition. This is a great way to temporarily get that extra shredded look and drop the bodyfat levels very fast. Now, a low carb diet is where carbs are the lowest of the 3 macronutrients (Macros are protein, fats and carbs) that you eat for the day, keeping them about 50-100 grams daily. Following a ketogenic diet is much different from a low carb diet. Keeping your carbs under 30 grams is very challenging and will be very difficult for the average person. Keeping the carbs as the lowest macronutrient is much easier to do and you will be able reap the rewards of a low carb diet. Those who suffer from carb cravings can still have their carbs on a low carb diet (preferably with the meal after a lift). With that said, a keto diet is a very difficult diet to follow long-term where a low carb diet actually is pretty sustainable since you still get carbs and their well-timed benefits.
2) Eat Enough Fat – When going low carb, many people make the mistake of going low carb and low-fat. This will set you up for disaster. If you’re going to reduce one macronutrient, then you need to replace it with another. I’m a big fan of high fat/low carb diets. I learned this from Dr. Mark Hyman’s books the “10 Day Detox” and “Eat Fat, Get Thin”, and John Kiefer’s book “CarbNite Solution”. Healthy fats have many important roles in the body, such as hormone regulation, vitamin absorption (fat soluble vitamins), energy, heart health, brain function, as well as other benefits. When you eat low carb and low-fat diets you will see a significant drop in your energy levels. This will also cause irritability, loss of strength, and an increase in cravings. Don’t believe me? Spend a day with a bodybuilder 1 week leading up to their show. So, when cutting carbs you want to make sure that you increase the amount of healthy fat that you intake. This will keep your body in fat burning mode, help keep your energy up, and help with the cravings.
3) Eat Enough Food Throughout The Day – This piggy backs off the last point, but if you’re going low carb, you need to make sure you’re eating enough food throughout the day, especially if you’re a person who suffers from cravings. To operate efficiently your body needs energy, and the body gets its energy from calories. If you’re not eating enough food and your body doesn’t have any carbs as an energy source, then you will crash and burn really fast. When you are eating consistently throughout the day, you’re constantly refueling which helps keep your energy levels up. Also, by keeping food in your system, you won’t be as hungry, which will help reduce the cravings. If you’re hungry and you typically crave carbs, you’ll crave them a lot more on an empty stomach. Moral of the story, if you’re going low carb, make sure you’re eating consistently throughout the day, especially if you live an active lifestyle.
4) Have a High Carb Day – The body is great at adapting to what you throw at it. The same holds true for diets. To achieve the most benefit from going low carb you do need to have a higher carb day during the week. You can look at it as a reward day for being disciplined during the week. These days are great for those who love their carbs. I tell people all the time, just because you’re going low carb, doesn’t mean you’ll never have carbs again. Don’t think about it as an elimination diet, think about it as controlling the carbs we eat and using them for our benefit. Your goals will determine how you do your high carb day. A person who is in shape can go ahead and have the burger, fries, pizza, and booze on the weekend if they choose to. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, I would keep the high carb day with carbs from root vegetables, rice, potatoes, etc. Also, keep the fat intake low on this day.
5) Meal Prep – This is one of the most important things to do on any diet, but especially on a low carb diet. If you’re a person who struggles with carb cravings then you need to keep your meals close by. If fail to plan, then you plain to fail. I can’t stress this enough. When you have your meals prepped and with you, whenever you get hungry you can just pull one out and eat. If your meal isn’t prepped and you get hungry, chances are you’ll make a bad decision, especially if you’re new to this diet or struggle with carb cravings. Following any diet is so much smoother when your meals are made ahead of time. The best part is, meal prepping doesn’t take a lot of time. If you have a slow cooker, you can throw several days’ worth of meat in there, let it cook overnight, separate it out in Tupperware containers in the morning filled with different vegetables and condiments and just like that you have meals to take with you. Don’t over complicate things, keep it simple, the food will still taste great.
Despite what some people believe, a low carb diet is very sustainable long-term. I have no problem being on a low carb diet and will remain on one for a very long time. Everybody is different though, and some people will not be able to handle a low carb diet. You have to try different things and see what works best for you. If you are looking to try a low carb diet, then follow the tips above to set you up for success.
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