Step-by-Step to Starting a Low Carb Diet
- Read and follow Taking out the Carbage: aka the big book of bacon by D.J. Foodie. It’s like a comprehensive field guide to low carbing in the real word, with recipes. I used to suggest a handful of different books, but I don’t need to anymore. Because this one’s got it.
- Do you have any medical conditions? Or you on medication? Talk to your doctor! Low carb diets are not for everyone, and your doctor may need to monitor your progress or adjust medication levels as your nutritional habits change.
- Start cutting back on sugar now, even before starting a low carb diet. Why? The first week or two after starting a low carb diet can be especially tough as your body switches from burning carbohydrates for fuel to burning fat instead. Many people experience what we call “induction flu” or “keto flu,” with physical symptoms very similar to flu. It’s not fun but it’s temporary. However, the more sugar you have been consuming up to that point, the more significant the transitional symptoms seem to be. Whatever changes you can gradually make in preparing will ease your transition.
- Find a solid source of low carb recipes. Perhaps I’m biased, but I am fond of the Low Carb Zen Facebook page! You do need to be aware that since you’re going to be eating plenty of real food and much less processed food, you’ll likely spend more time in the kitchen. You don’t have to be a great cook to be a successful low carber–I’m living proof of that!–but you do have to be willing to make some of your food yourself.
- Clean your cabinets. Get rid of all the items you will not be eating and get yourself stocked with what you will be eating. If you have others who will not be starting a low carb diet with you, try to limit their “carby foods” to choices that are less appealing to you. Realize that you can easily accommodate others by serving everyone the same thing, but perhaps adding a special side dish for those who want “their carbs.” Don’t be surprised if your family members eventually join you, however, when they see how great you’re doing!
- Restock with items you’ll need to make your new, low-carb options. You’ll know what you need if you’ve been saving those recipes!
- Supplements are a great idea! A good multivitamin is all many people take when beginning. But some will also add Magnesium and Potassium as starting a low carb diet will initially have a diuretic effect and replacing the minerals lost that way can cut down on symptoms like fatigue or muscle cramps. You’ll also want to make sure you’re eating some salt in your diet for the same reason. L-Glutamine can also help with sugar cravings if you expect that to be a problem for you. (It was for me!)
- Get a nice water jug! Drinking a lot of water is very important for those starting a low carb diet, and your water might as well be as cold, refreshing and appealing as possible. Your water jug is your new best friend!
- Find an option for tracking your carbs. A cell phone app like Lose It!, an online option like FatSecret, or even an old fashioned paper Food Journal will do. I like to track in my MasterCook Recipe program. But however you do it, you’ll need to track your carb intake when starting a low carb diet. You may also find use for a food scale to aid in tracking, too.
- Decide how you will address the sweetener question. Purchase or not depending on your choices.
- Take your measurments as well as your weight so you know where you are starting at. Digital bathroom scales are helpful because it’s less easy to “fudge” the numbers. But whatever you’ve got will do, just write it down!
- Set aside your day for starting a low carb diet, and just do it! All the thinking, planning, research, considering and mulling over can easily become a fancy way to procrastinate. Every little step counts, every single improvement counts! And if you have any questions or need some extra support, visit us on our Low Carb Facebook page and we’ll do what we can to get you pointed in the right direction.
For the newbies, do you still have questions about starting a low carb diet? If you’re an experienced low-carber, what would you add to this list?