Eating a low carb diet can help the process of burning fat by and building muscles since the body technically eats less calories than usual. Many carbs are found in foods with gluten, sugar, and chemical flavours, which create fat cells in the body and reduce one’s chances of building lean muscles. You may actually find yourself eating a lot of carbs from fruits, which of course is healthy carbs but carbohydrates nonetheless. Bodybuilders actually have high-carb diets in order to bulk in muscle size, but then have to cut down on carbs and boost their protein intake in order to get the fat percentage lower and therefore build lean muscle.
By limiting your food intake to healthier choices, usually with less carbs, you will be able to break down the fat cells in a way to promote a leaner figure. The science behind is pretty simple actually; carbohydrates have the tendency to be stored as fat throughout the body, which can create cellulite in women and bulky figure for men. They are not “created”, so to speak, to be stored as fat though.
Carbohydrates give your body energy to function right but since we tend to eat more carbohydrates then we need, the body doesn’t know what to do with it and stores it as fat. After understanding the science behind it, it’s easier to start the low carb diet. Of course, you can’t always eat what you want, but you will find yourself shedding inches at the speed of light during this process. By cutting down on carbs, i.e bread, your body has enough space now to enhance the muscle under the alleged fat. This creates the fat burning process where everything you eat feeds your muscles instead of fat, which will give you a leaner figure and a faster burning process.
Which low carb diet is for you? There are many things that can qualify a diet to be low carb. The most popular plans have a range of carb levels and food choices different from one another. Although they are different, all of them cut out most sugars, starches, and gluten. By doing some research, you may find various diets; such as the Atkins diet, the No White Diet, or the South Beach Diet. All of these are great, but they also have different levels of difficulty to say the least.
The Atkins diet allows you to eat a lot of vegetables and then in later phases add in carbohydrates like fruits and whole grains. It’s a harder diet at the beginning since you are pushed to eat lean proteins more than fruits or the usual sandwich we are so used to. After the starting phases, you can add in more intense foods, snacks, and carbohydrates. This would be a great diet for a stay at home mother, who might have more time to prepare the food and actually sit down and eat meals instead of grabbing the first thing that comes to hand in a grocery store.
The No White Diet, on the other hand, is great for everyone! Basically, you just stop eating anything that is white or that has white ingredients, which nowadays is easier to find. You get to eat healthier by cutting sugars, white flour (pasta, bread, cake, donuts, etc.), white rice, and white potatoes. This alone cuts back in the carbohydrate percentage of your diet, but is quite easy to accomplish. You learn to create healthier recipes and of course to eat healthier foods in the store. You now have the ability to buy whole wheat/gluten-free bread or sugar-free and whole-wheat muffins! You get to keep some amazing white foods in your diet though, such as tofu, cauliflower, and onions, which are low in carbohydrates and actually very good for you!
The preferred low carb foods for this lifestyle aren’t as hard to find as before, since society’s health habits has greatly improved. Just in case you’re still not sure that exactly you should buy when going grocery shopping, here’s you go-to EzDealio Low Carb Grocery List:
- Meat: Beef, lamb, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best. These products are 100% real, unprocessed, and have a low carb percentile. You can cook these in coconut oil or you can even boil them and add them to your favourite vegetable soup. They are a great way to add lean protein to your diet. Just make sure you don’t fry it or buy it with layers of fat. Ask for a lean cut piece when you go to the butcher.
- Fish: Salmon, trout, haddock, tuna and others. My personal favourites are the wild-caught fish. Again, they are unprocessed and have a very low percentage of carb. Fish is recommended over meat simply because it has less fat. It has all the right nutrients and is 100% lean meat. You can make a tuna salad with some lemon, salt and pepper, or you can add it as a breakfast protein with a side salad or egg.
- Eggs: Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs would be the best to eat. If you are looking for even better eggs, find a farm near you and buy from the farmer. It may cost a little more, but the results will be amazing. Again, protein is extremely important in a low carb diet as you want to burn the fat and replace it with muscle to have a sexy lean figure. You can boil, fry (in coconut oil) or use it as an ingredient.
- Vegetables: almost all vegetables can be added to the low carb diet. You can make salads with spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, or even shredded carrots. Some have a higher glycemic index, therefore be careful with the portion sizes. They are full of vitamins though and can fill you up right away. Add some lean meats and proteins to your veggies for optimal results.
- Fruits: these are a bit tricky to add in a low carb diet, since their natural sugar boosts their carb level. You can still eat them for breakfast though by adding them to your Greek Yogurt, Oatmeal, or by simply making a delicious fruit salad. Again, be mindful of portion sizes.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. They are a great source of natural proteins and have a low carb percentage. You can add them to you fruit salads or to you vegetables and lean protein meal.
- Fats and Oils: Coconut oil, olive oil, and cod fish liver oil. You might’ve stepped back a little with that last one, but they are all low carb ingredients that can be added to your lean protein, salads, or cooking! They are full of nutrients that you body needs in order to function.
If you are a vegetarian, the possibility to follow a low carb diet is there for you as well. Although you need to make some additional accommodations to make sure that you are getting the proper nutrition, you can still do it. To follow a successful low carb vegetarian diet, you would need to ensure three simple steps: cut the carbs, add fat, and boost the protein intake. We already know that cutting the carbs means taking out all simple carbs from your diet, first of all. Therefore anything white must be crossed off the list; no sugars, white flour foods, and processed food.
Adding fat can also be easily done by using coconut oil, tofu spreads, soy yogurts, etc. which can be ideal for vegetarians or even vegans. Keep in mind that when you cut carbs, you need to add fat to your diet to make up for the lost calories, therefore don’t worry if you eat more fat than carbs, that’s the whole point of it! Adding proteins, which is the next step, will burn off the extra fat calories, although they are healthy fat. It’s extremely important that you get enough protein. For people who eat meat and fish, it’s not really an issue.
Vegetarian diets have a small limitation on protein, which is why we have to find other substitutes. For most people, 60 to 80 grams of protein per day is a necessity. If you work out on top of it and need want to add even more muscle, one gram per kilogram of your current weight is ideal. The thing with vegetarian protein though is that all protein other than fish and meat contain carbs, even in the tiniest amounts. Which is why you have to choose your proteins very carefully and keep a good eye out for they carb percentage.
- Eggs (vegetarians): very low in carbs and extremely rich in proteins and other nutrients.
- Yogurt (vegetarians): plain yoghurt is your best bet! There is now a new hype with Greek yoghurt, which is actually the best dairy product out there in terms of protein. It contains whole milk and helps the digestive system clean itself up. Great source of protein and low in carbs, if bought plain.
- Nuts and seeds (both): You may as well call yourself a squirrel because these babies will be your new best friend. They are high in fat, which is great, low in carbs, which is even better, and high in proteins! You can eat them roasted, raw, grounded, or whole and add them to various meals to spread the proteins throughout the day.
- Tofu or Tempeh (both): These are a great source of protein in a low carb lifestyle. The beauty of it is that you can actually eat as much as you want because it’s extremely low in carbs. You can cook it in coconut oil, or boil it and make a delicious vegetable soup. You can even make desserts, such as yoghurt or various fruit spreads.
Are carbs bad for you? Not really. When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies digest them to form glucose. Although it circulates throughout the body, which provides us with energy, we tend to eat in excess. There is also a difference between good carbs and bad carbs. Good carbs will give you energy without being stored as fat, which can be found in fruits and vegetables. Bad carbs are usually processed ingredients that your body is not programmed to recognize and therefore is storing it as fat.
You may sometimes notice that after you eat chips or chocolate you have a crash where you don’t want to do anything; that is what happens when you eat bad carbs. Your body uses the energy it can get from the small amount of natural carbs in chocolate, for instance, but then has to work double to process the other chemical carbs that are found in it. This creates a loss of energy as the processed ingredients are processed and transformed to fat, usually. This up and down is extremely bad for your heart as it doesn’t give it a normal flow of energy.
The heart will therefore be overworked on a constant basis, and in turn so is your body. This can create other problems as the body stops focusing on keeping the body healthy and instead focuses on processing the large amount of carbs that is given to it daily. This in turn creates health problem such as diabetes, hyperglycaemia, or even heart problems. Keep in mind though that good carbs taken daily in a portioned amount is essential and good for the body. Large amounts of carbohydrates is what causes problems to the body in the long-term.
What is the difference between good carbs and bad carbs? They can be differentiated between two classes: complex carbs vs. simple carbs. Think of it this way, the more complex the carb the better it is for you. I know we all like to live a simple life and not overthink things, but with carbs it’s completely different. It has to be complex in order for you to put it in your mouth. All simple carbs are usually made of one or two sugar molecules. These are the “get energy quick” foods that are rapidly digested but that puts the body in a very hard position as it processes all the un-natural ingredients through the body.
These simple carbs are usually anything with sugar; sugar (brown and table), corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, jams, soft drinks, candy, chocolate, etc. A great trick to find simple carbs in an ingredient list is the show and tell practice; if you can’t say or explain it, you shouldn’t be eating it.
Complex carbs on the other hand are great for you! They are the dietary starch of the carb world. They are made of several sugar molecules put together like a bracelet. If you look closely at the nutrition table of the foods you pick up, you will find complex carbs are high in fibre, which satisfies your hunger and is healthy for you. You can find complex carbs in whole plant foods such as green vegetables, whole grains and foods that have it, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and pumpkin, and any type of bean, lentil, and peas. When you eat complex carbs, you will find yourself having more energy throughout the day instead of one sugar spike within the hour. It’s extremely healthy for you heart, sugar level, and altogether body health.
Be aware of the glycemic level in your foods. Knowing the glycemic index of your food is important as it can help balance your blood sugar, lose weight, or stop craving food all the time. The glycemic index is basically a way of ranking foods and beverages based on how they affect your blood sugar level. Foods are usually scored on a scale of 0 to 100.
NOTE: foods that contain carbohydrates are the only foods ranked in the glycemic index, since they have glucose.
You goal is to aim for foods in the low glycemic index category as it is digested slower throughout the body therefore keeping you full longer and keeping the blood sugar level low. The low glycemic foods in turn help weight management by keeping you fuller longer and keeping your blood sugar level stable instead of high, which causes constant hunger. Eating high glycemic foods spikes up your blood sugar which is then followed by a fast chute in blood sugar, also known as sugar coma where you don’t want to do anything after eating all the Easter chocolate. In comparison though, foods with low glycemic index don’t have that decline in blood sugar which is healthier for the body and heart as it gradually raises the blood sugar and doesn’t spike it down in one shot.
Living a healthy lifestyle through a low carb diet is actually quite simple now that you have eliminated all the processed ingredients and simple carbs. The low carb diet helps you focus on the good ingredients instead of losing time with processed and sugar-rich foods; it helps you have more energy, be proactive, and influence those around you to be healthy and happy. It might be a cliche, but eating a healthy low carb diet can actually make you extremely happy.
You will find yourself eating more greens, which in turn will give you more energy and a fresher skin. You will fit better in your clothes as you lose inches around the waistline, which will definitely spark up your life one way or another if you know what I mean.
Of course, let’s now forget all the delicious recipes you can cook up with beans, lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds; your whole neighbourhood will talk about your healthy low carb recipes and your new perspective on life.
If you want to feel better, of course a low carb diet will help, but you must move around and exercise daily in order to get rid of all that extra energy you have or you won’t be able to sleep at night. Exercising can even maximize your weight loss and good feeling. You don’t necessarily have to become a gym rat, but doing thirty minutes of cardio and thirty minutes of weight training every day can help rid yourself of extra energy and flush out any extra calorie you might be indulging in every now and then. You can make it fun and bring the whole family together on hikes, running trails, or dog walks. Anything you can do to move will be good to add to your healthy low carb lifestyle.
Be careful with foods labeled with the “0g of carbs” or “No Carbs!” which of course makes you want to buy it right off the bat, especially if it’s something delicious like buttercream or anything that is usually filled with carbs. Those products are the ones I would recommend to stay the most away from; nothing in life is free of carbs. Everything has carbs, even if it’s in the tiniest amounts or is actually complex carbs that are good for you. Let’s look at those “no carb” delusion for a second though, because as a low carb eater you have to know how and why companies are allowed to hide carbs in the nutrition list.
If we look at a Buttercream’s ingredient label from the manufacturer:
Serving: 1 Tablespoon
10 grams of fat
3 grams of protein
0 grams of carbohydrates
Keep in mind that Fat is 9 calories per gram, protein is 4 calories per gram, and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram.
Fat: 10 x 9 = 90 calories
Protein: 3 x 4 = 12 calories
Carbohydrates: 0 x 4 = 0 calories
Total: 102 calories
I don’t know about you, but 102 calories is not the same thing as 110 calories. Where does the difference come from then? My bet goes on hidden carbohydrates. No one actually knows where the calories are from, and most people don’t actually do the calculations to realize that there are hidden calories. You are not like most people though, you are a savvy low carb eater, and you want to get to the bottom of this.
How it works is that manufacturers are allowed, legally, to round their ingredients’ grams to 0 if it’s lower than 0.5 (for example 0.41) per serving. Therefore if a serving of food has 0.41 grams of carbohydrate (which can come from corn syrup), the manufacturer can round it up to 0 and claim that it’s carb-free. All this completely legal! Which is why you must extra careful with anything “carb-free” and double check the grams in the nutrition label; take some time and quickly add up the calories and grams before putting it in your cart or in your mouth.
What exactly is clean eating? The concept is to eat something that looks, tastes, and is good for you. A wise man once said that if your plate was brown after you finished eating, it is not healthy for you; the trace your food leaves on your plate is the trace it will leave in your body. When you eat clean, you should have more energy, have a fresher look, lose or maintain your weight, and drink lots of water. Foods that can make the cut into the clean eating table are foods that don’t have too many ingredients: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, fish, and five ingredient foods. Five ingredient foods are exactly that, ingredients that have only five ingredients. The ingredient count restrains you from buying those carb-rich foods like chips or cookies, and helps you shop smart in the grocery store by looking for chips that have only three ingredients instead of a paragraph. Clean eating is buying ingredients instead of buying meals, keep that in mind.
You also want to stay away from those already prepared meals as they tend to be processed and full of chemicals and sugars. There are some ingredients in those meals that even your dog wouldn’t want to eat, so why should you? The processed ingredients can’t be processed by the body as it should since it is not recognized by the body. Therefore you are eating chemicals and ingredients that your body wasn’t made to digest, so of course it’s going to end up somewhere you don’t want it to be. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, your body most likely will not be able to recognize it and will put it away as fat. Your body is not a trash can, therefore you shouldn’t be putting trash ingredients in your body.