5 Most Common Low Carb Mistakes And How to Avoid Them
Dr. Jeff S. Volek is a Registered Dietitian and Dr. Stephen D. Phinney is a medical doctor.A?5 Most Common Low Carb Mistakes And How to Avoid Them?
These guys have performed manyA?studiesA?and have treatedA?thousandsA?of patients with a low-carb diet.
According to them, there are many stumbling blocks that people tend to run into, which can lead to adverse effects and suboptimal results.
To get into full-blown ketosis and reap all the metabolic benefits of low-carb, merely cutting back on the carbs isn’t enough.
If you haven’t gotten the results you expected on aA?low-carb diet, then perhaps you were doing one of these 5 common mistakes.
1. Eating Too Many Carbs
There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a “low carb diet.”
Some would call anything under 100-150 grams per day low-carb, which is definitely a lot less than the standard Western diet.
A lot of people could get awesome results within this carbohydrate range, as long as they ate real, unprocessed foods.
But if you want to get intoA?ketosis, with plenty of ketoness flooding your bloodstream to supply your brain with an efficient source of energy, then this level of intake may be excessive.
It could take some self experimentation to figure out your optimal range as this depends on a lot of things, but most people will need to go under 50 grams per day to get into full-blown ketosis.
This doesn’t leave you with many carb options except vegetables and small amounts of berries.
. Eating Too Much Protein
Protein is a very important macronutrient, which most people aren’t getting enough of.
It can improve satiety and increase fat burning compared to other macronutrients (1).
Generally speaking, more protein should lead toA?weight lossA?and improved body composition.
However, low-carb dieters who eat a lot of lean animal foods can end up eating too much of it.
When you eat more protein than your body needs, some of the amino acids in the protein will be turned into glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis (2).
This can become a problem on very low-carb, ketogenic diets and prevent your body from going into full-blown ketosis.
According to Volek and Phinney, a “well-formulated” low-carb diet should be low-carb, high-fat andA?moderateA?protein.
A good range to aim for is 1.5 – 2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, or 0.7 – 0.9 grams per pound.
3. Being Afraid of Eating Fat
Most people get the majority of their calories from dietary carbohydrates, especially sugars and grains.
When you remove this energy source from the diet, you must replace it with something or you will starve.
Unfortunately, some people believe that because low-carb is a good idea, then low-fat AND low-carb will be even better. This is aA?big mistake.
You need to get energy from somewhere and if you don’t eat carbs, then you MUST add in fat to compensate. If you don’t, you will get hungry, feel like crap and eventually give up on the plan.
There’s no scientific reason to fear fat, as long as you choose healthy fats like monounsaturated,A?saturated, and Omega-3s while keeping theA?vegetable oilsA?to a minimum and eliminating trans fats.
Personally, my fat intake hovers comfortably around 50-60% of total calories when I strictly stick to a low-carb plan. According to Volek and Phinney, fat around 70% of total calories may be even better.
To get fat into this range, you must choose fatty cuts of meat and liberally add healthy fats likeA?butter, lard,A?coconutA?and olive oil to your meals.
4. Not Replenishing Sodium
One of the main mechanisms behind low-carb diets is aA?reduction in insulinA?levels (3,A?4).
Insulin has many functions in the body, such as telling fat cells to store fat.
But another thing that insulin does is to tell the kidneys to hold on to sodium (5).
On a low-carb diet, your insulin levels go down and your body starts shedding excess sodium and water along with it. This is why people often get rid of excess bloat within a few days of low-carb eating.
However, sodium is a crucial electrolyte in the body and this can become problematic when the kidneys dump too much of it.
This is one of the main reasons people get side effects on low-carb diets… such as lightheadedness, fatigue, headaches and even constipation.
The best way to circumvent this issue is to add more sodium to your diet. You can do this by adding more salt to your foods, but if that doesn’t suffice then you can drink a cup of broth every day.
I personally like adding a bouillon cube into a cup of hot water, then drinking it like a soup in a cup. It actually tastes really good and supplies 2 grams of sodium.
5. Not Being Patient
Your body is designed to preferentially burn carbs, if they are available. So if they’re always available, that’s what your body chooses to use for energy.
If you drastically cut back on carbohydrates, the body needs to shift to the other energy source… fat, which either comes from your diet or your body fat stores.
It can take a few days for theA?body to adaptA?to burning primarily fat instead of carbs, during which you will probably feel a little under the weather.
This is called the “low carb flu” and happens to most people.
In my experience, this can take about 3-4 days, butA?full adaptationA?can take several weeks.
So it’s important to be patient and be strict on your diet in the beginning so that this metabolic adaptation can take place.