Many people see the high profile success of celebrities who lose weight on low-carb diets – most recently Melissa McCarthy’s impressive 45 pound drop – and assume it’s as simple as cutting out the bread and pasta. Unfortunately, there is more to a low-carb diet than that. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by those new to a low-carb diet.
A common misconception is that if you can lose weight on a low-carb diet, then a low fat and low carb diet must be even better. Wrong! Eating enough fat is essential to a low-carb diet, especially a ketogenic (very low carb, high fat) diet. When you cut out the carbs, it’s that fat that gives you energy and allows this diet to work so well.
When Atkins first popularized the low-carb diet, many folks viewed it as an excuse for an all you can eat bacon-and-steak-a-thon. The fact is, too much protein can be almost as bad as not enough protein on a low-carb diet. You need to consume enough protein to prevent loss of muscle mass. However, eating too much can cause your body to convert some of that protein into glucose, which will inhibit weight loss. The correct amount of protein to eat each day will vary for everyone. There are a number of calculators available online to help you find your correct macros (macronutrient numbers).
Another result of that previously mentioned “bacon-and-steak-a-thon” is folks thinking that they can eat all the cheese and bacon they want, as long as they don’t consume any carbs. Calories do matter even with a low-carb diet, so calorie counting is recommended. However, one of the reasons so many people find the low-carb diet so successful is that the fat and protein provide a feeling of being fuller for longer. This makes it much easier to eat less without feeling like you’re starving yourself.
4. Giving up Too Soon
With so many stories of near miraculous weight loss on low-carb diets, it can be disheartening when you don’t see similar results. A low-carb diet, just like any diet, takes work and above all patience. Some experience a rapid initial drop in weight during the first few weeks, some don’t. Some lose at a steady pace every week, some only lose a couple of pounds a month. Plateaus, or stalls, happen to everyone. The important thing is not be discouraged. I highly recommend one of the numerous online support groups for low-carb dieters for more realistic insights into the diet as well as tons of friendly support.
Staying low-carb means knowing just how many carbs you are consuming at every meal. Becoming familiar with what foods are best to avoid helps but it’s not always that obvious. For example, many sauces served with food can be surprisingly high in sugar. Additionally, while everyone knows that potatoes are off the menu when eating low-carb, not as many know that tomatoes, carrots, and peas can add up pretty quickly too. Be sure to do your research. Additionally, if you are going to eat out, be sure to check the restaurant’s website for any nutritional information first.