Struggling With Weight Loss? Try This Simple “3 Ingredients Per Plate” Rule


 
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You’re probably familiar with my Low Carb KISS Method of “keep it simple”.

One of the reasons people struggle, or fail to lose weight on a low carb diet is because they over-complicate it.

Eating low carb is (and should be) super simple. That’s actually why I chose this way of eating when I decided to lose weight and get healthy…

Because it’s EASY. πŸ™‚

If you’re struggling to lose weight, in a “stall”, or just overwhelmed with cooking and meal planning and complicated recipes with weird ingredients… you’re really going to enjoy this post!

What I’m going to share with you here is what I am doing myself, and what I recommend to everyone I meet that is on a low carb diet – but struggling with their health & weight loss. There are two reasons this “rule” works, by the way. And no – it’s not science. It’s a suggestion. But I challenge you to try it and see if you don’t have great results. πŸ™‚

The “3 Ingredients Per Plate” Rule

I eat a lot of “mono meals”, which basically means ONE food for that entire meal. For example I might eat pecan halves for breakfast, or just cottage cheese. I might enjoy a 12 ounce ribeye steak for dinner, or just steamed broccoli for lunch. There is actual science on this, but I recommend something simpler for you to start, which is this:

Keep your plates to a maximum of three ingredients.

At first glance, that may seem difficult to do. But it’s actually EASIER to eat simple. It takes less time to prepare meals, it requires fewer ingredients, and of course it could easily lower your grocery bill.

In addition to being easier, it actually helps with digestion. The less ingredients you consume in one sitting, the easier it is for your body to digest those foods. You’re also less likely to consume foods that conflict with each other, such as alkaline and acidic foods. There is TONS of information on Food Science (which is an insanely interesting topic for food geeks!), such as the fact that acidic foods (like tomatoes or certain fruits) eaten with a protein negatively affect digestion of that protein.

Ever wonder why you get indigestion, acid reflux, or certain meals just “don’t sit right” with you? There ya go. It’s all about Food Combining. Much of the science behind the way the LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet works boils down to Food Combining – and that’s why it works SO well. It’s brilliant stuff.

I’m not going to get all complicated and geeky on you though…

Here’s what I recommend: Try the “3 Ingredients Per Plate” rule for two straight weeks. Just 2 short weeks. That’s it. Cut out all processed products (bars, shakes, prepackaged foods, etc). Only eat real food, with a total of three ingredients or less on your plate, consistently for two straight weeks.

Easy enough, right? πŸ™‚

Of course, you also want to pay attention to your macros and make sure you are eating a true ketogenic low carb diet. There is a difference between eating “low carb”, and a ketogenic low carb diet. The latter has tons more health benefits – and you lose weight a lot faster and much more consistently.

The goal is simple:

20 Net Carbs/Day (max) with 70% of your calories in healthy fats.

See: Healthy Fats & Super Foods

How do you track?

I use MyFitnessPal and this is how I have mine set up.

Sometimes I eat a lot less than 20 net carbs per day, some days my percentage of healthy fats is 80% or higher. And I’m not talking bacon grease and mayonnaise, but healthy fats (real foods) like: pecans, walnuts, avocado, salmon, tuna, eggs, etc.

* In my own “3 Ingredients Per Plate” which I refer to as “3IMAX” I consider real butter, Duke’s mayonnaise, and olive oil or coconut oil to be “freebies” (foods I don’t count in my “three”).

Examples of Simple Low Carb Meals

Here is a meal I ordered at a pub while out to dinner with friends. It’s a simple meal of grilled chicken, steamed broccoli & avocado slices. I scour the menu for avocado in other dishes, and often order that as a replacement side. That’s may on the right, which I dipped my meat & veggies in (just because I’m “a dipper” lol):

Low Carb Pub Meal

Here’s one of my favorite low carb breakfasts – 1/3 cup Daisy Brand cottage cheese, 2 strawberries & 1/4 cup pecan halves (6 net carbs):

Simple Low Carb Breakfast

(That doesn’t really count since Daisy cottage cheese alone has 3 ingredients, but it’s still simple – and depends just how strict you want to be.)

This is not real pretty, but it’s SIMPLE. I had leftover grilled salmon and avocado slices, and warmed them up with a pat of real butter:

Low Carb Leftovers

This plate has a few too many ingredients (it’s a chicken sandwich, without the bread) but it serves as a visual example of a “simple” plate of food with meat & greens (and healthy fats):

Here’s a super easy one-skillet low carb meal of hamburger steak, sauteed mushrooms and chopped spinach:

Quick Low Carb Meals For One

Salmon, spinach & asparagus:

Healthy Low Carb Meal Ideas

Here’s a low carb meal from Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant. It’s whitefish, shrimp skewers & double green beans. I ask for “no rice, no bread stick” and order the extra shrimp skewer:

Low Carb Food at Captain D's restaurant

A very simple (HUGE) hamburger steak with green beans:

Low Carb Restaurant Meal

One of my favorite low carb take-out orders is grilled chicken with roasted broccoli & cauliflower:

Low Carb Take-Out

I’m sure you can think of endless delicious combinations. Like chicken thighs baked in their own skin & juices with roasted brussel sprouts. Or pan fried pork chops (in olive oil) with seared squash or zucchini and steamed broccoli.

Simple is GOOD. It’s less prep, less time in the kitchen, easier on your digestive system, easier to track your meals & macros, and it helps you focus on the highest quality foods to possibly put in your mouth. πŸ™‚

Join the Low Carb Challenge!

See you there! πŸ™‚

Best,
Lynn Terry, aka @LowCarbTraveler


 

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About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
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82 Responses to Struggling With Weight Loss? Try This Simple “3 Ingredients Per Plate” Rule

  1. Pingback: It’s Time To Get Serious! NEW 2-Week Low Carb Mini Challenge Begins Now… | Low Carb Diet Tips for Busy People

  2. I am only 7 days into my LCHF routine and on 3 months of stalling when it comes to weight loss so this is brilliant, thanks. At least I have a few more evening meals to consider now.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Diane! Welcome to the low carb lifestyle. πŸ™‚ How were you eating before moving to a LCHF diet?

      • Thanks Lynn. so excited to be in your FB group – very active and so supportive.

        I focus on clean eating but it was mainly using grains – rice, quinoa etc and I haven’t been eating many healthy high fats except coconut oil for frying. Since finding out about LCHF (Ketogenic and banting – not sure if they are the same) I have been cooking even more with coconut oil, have completely cut out carbs from grains and trying to get my carbs low but struggling.

        I also want to give up meat and have it as an occassional thing so I am really going to rely on fish and eggs. I have never eaten so many eggs as I have in the last 7 days πŸ˜€

      • Lynn Terry says:

        I eat a ketogenic low carb diet. It’s VERY healthy, and something you can sustain for life for optimal health. πŸ™‚

        I love fish – especially fatty fishes like salmon and tuna. Avocado is a great choice for healthy fats too. It’s great with salmon! Or great as a side dish, salted and browned (hot & fast) in butter.

        There are many great vegetables, fats & proteins! Try pecans & walnuts. Super low carb, high fat – and easy to eat on the go too. πŸ™‚

  3. Robyn says:

    Just happen to come upon this and hopefully people will listen and try the challenge. I’m at goal and maintaining so I don’t need to do it but cheer on people who will try it. People do get caught up in making it too difficult and you pointing it out that eating just 3 ingredients on your plate is excellent. Great post and I hope people try it. Low carb rules!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Thank you, Robyn! It works really well for me, plus it does force you to choose the healthiest combination of foods – eliminating extras & “carb creepers”. πŸ˜‰ Congrats on reaching your goal!

  4. Kathye Auxier says:

    I am so excited to get started on this. I have about 50 pounds I want to lose. I would love to lose at least 20 or 25 by my birthday in September if that is at all possible. I love the fact that we are all in this for the same reason, same purpose, same results. Everybody is so kind and helpful. Good luck to everybody.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Welcome Kathye! πŸ™‚ It will take a lot of discipline to lose 20 pounds by September, but you CAN do it. I had less to lose when I first started (about 30 pound) but I lost 20 easily within 90 days anyway. πŸ™‚ The last 20-30 are the most stubborn, lol – so people with less to lose, lose slower.

      • Kathye King says:

        thank you so much for this challenge. I just started actually today with a friend on Plexus. Can I do that on this challenge?

        • Lynn Terry says:

          Kathy,

          I don’t believe Plexus is low carb. Also, if you do, you cannot mention Plexus inside the group. πŸ™‚ I recommend you do ONE diet / way of eating, and not mix them together.

          • Monica Munson says:

            It actually is low carb … 3 carbs per daily pink drink… i dont use it though

  5. Jennifer Houck says:

    Does the 3 ingredients apply literally. So, in your burger for example, no onions or other herbs?

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I would count onions, but I personally do NOT count: salt, pepper, seasonings, real butter, Duke’s mayo, olive oil or coconut oil (free foods).

      Most seasonings (like garlic salt) are not “zero” carb, but my personal feeling is you cannot possibly eat enough seasonings to count when eating this simple… to worry about it. So I don’t count those. That said, I normally just use salt – as I like to amplify the natural flavor of foods I love.

      Except roasted brussel sprouts – I like garlic salt on those. πŸ™‚

      • Lynn Terry says:

        On the topic of Food Combining, onions are safe with vegetables and proteins – as a combo. But onions ARE a food. They are a non starchy vegetable with high water content.

  6. Rebecca Latham says:

    Hi, Lynn! In the three ingredients, would you count a spice as an ingredient? I make my own salad dressing with oil, vinegar, raw garlic, onion powder and a couple of drops of liquid Stevia. That seems like a lot of ingredients, or do you count the salad dressing as one ingredient? Or possibly not count the salad dressing at all? Thanks! Rebecca

    • Lynn Terry says:

      I do not count salt, real butter, Duke’s mayo, olive oil or coconut oil. These are “freebies” in the “3 Ingredients Rule” as they are zero carb. I also don’t personally count spices, as I can’t possibly use enough spices (like garlic salt) eating this simple to even count.

      Someone else asked about salads – yes, you count each ingredient in the salad. So a Caesar Salad with romaine lettuce, caesar dressing & grilled salmon = three ingredients. πŸ™‚

      So in your case, I would not count the zero carb ingredients. Or just count the dressing as one “food”. I really should have said “three foods” instead of “three ingredients” to make it simpler lol, but the fewer ingredients the better!

      • Rebecca Latham says:

        Thanks!

      • katie says:

        I get what you’re saying, and I agree, low carb works better when you use simple, real, food. However, I do love salads, and we often have just meat and salad or meat and a vegetable. Since I also love celery, and know how important the celery salts are for digestion, all my salads have celery. So just a salad by itself would be 3 ingredients or more (lettuce, celery, tomato, dressing) – especially if I’m using mixed greens, LOL. So, I am choosing to count my salad as one food (okay, maybe 2 if I include avocado), and I’m fine with that. Because, a girl’s gotta have her protein, too….

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Rebecca Latham:

      I was wondering is there anyway you could email me (graysonfarms@yahoo.com) your low carb salad dressing recipe it looks yummy. thanks alot!!

      Melissa

  7. Wendy says:

    Just turned 50 years old! Started traveling on the peri-menopausal train and I need to get off on the next best exciting exit! And from what I read here today I believe I found a great destination! I need to lose 75 lbs and I want to do it smart! This page excited me and I haven’t felt this way in a long time!!!! Starting after the 4th of July weekend, just keepin it real! ❀️✌️

  8. Nichole says:

    Is there any way to follow you on myfitness pal? I like to see what other people eat. I feel like my mind always draws a blank when I am trying to plan my meals.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Nichole,

      You can subscribe here. I share my low carb food journals here on this blog. πŸ™‚ I also share my meals on http://www.facebook.com/lowcarbtraveler If you’re online (not mobile) you can go to that page and click “Get Notifications” when you Like the page then hover over the Like button – you’ll see the option to check that (get notifications). πŸ™‚

      • DENISE says:

        I joined your challenge last week and have been reading everything I can about LCHF diets. My doctor told me to eat low carb low fat but after reading so much information I definitely think she has the wrong idea and high fat is better for me. Plus, I just joined last week but have lost 6 pounds. Thank you.

      • Lynn Terry says:

        Hi Denise!

        I always find it odd for people to recommend or even SAY “low carb, low fat” LOL. Read this: http://www.travelinglowcarb.com/4606/lchf-diet-explained/ to understand they “why” behind it all. πŸ™‚

        Congrats on your weight loss!!

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  13. Linette Houser says:

    You are awesome I have truly been lost and you showing examples is really going to help me I Thank God I found you !!! You are such a wonderful person

  14. Linette Houser says:

    To excited I meant are going to help not is lol

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  20. BRENDA says:

    I AM VERY ANXIOUS TO TRY THIS,HAVE WANTED TO TRY FOREVER BUT IT IS VERY CONFUSING TO ME.I HAVE ABOUT 75LBS.TO LOSE,HOPE THAT I CAN FIGURE IT OUT,TRYING MANY SITES TO TRY AND FIGURE THIS OUT. I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND COUNTING THE CARBS. THANK YOU, BRENDA.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Brenda πŸ™‚

      Just keep it super simple to start: 20 net carbs a day max. That’s Total Carbs minus Fiber. Just read your labels and keep a running journal. If a food doesn’t have a label, use this to look it up: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search

      That’s it! Just make it that simple for now. πŸ™‚ That’s what I did! Then you can learn more as you go.

  21. Pingback: What I Learned From The 3 Ingredients Rule | Low Carb Diet Tips for Busy People

  22. Yvonne says:

    Thanks Lynn, for all the valuable information, I have started the 90 day challenge on 072015. I have been wanting to try this WOE for awhile, I was very unsure where and how to start. I have 100 pounds to lose I am looking forward to becoming Healthy and thin again.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Congrats on taking control and taking the challenge, Yvonne! πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you’re finding the information helpful. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I’m happy to help any way I can. *cheers*

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  26. Paula says:

    I joined the group a few weeks ago. But I’m officially starting my journey today. I’m nervous and excited at the same time.

  27. Brittany says:

    Hi! Question for ya – what IS the difference between a low carb and keto diet? I’ve been reading a lot about both and really thought they were the same. Thanks for your help!! πŸ™‚

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Brittany,

      Great question! There are many variations of the low carb diet, including Atkins which has phases and varying levels of carbs. Some people just eat a “lower carb diet” which can be anywhere from 50-150 carbs a day.

      A ketogenic low carb diet is 20 net carbs a day or less, typically a “real food” diet (not processed foods, bars or shakes), and at least 70% of your daily calories in healthy fats. Mostly meat & greens + healthy fats.

      A keto diet forces your body to run on fat for fuel, instead of carbs & sugar. You have more energy, faster weight loss, and it improves things like: arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, seizures, etc, etc, etc.

      • Brittany says:

        Thank you so much for your response! That is exactly what I have been trying to do. Not always completely successful with the real foods only, but that’s always my goal. Lol. So with keto you ALWAYS eat 20 carbs or less? Even during maintenance?

        • Lynn Terry says:

          I stay at 20 net carbs or less – and eat ketogenic as a lifestyle. That’s because I’m post hysterectomy so I have a hard time maintaining my weight (much less losing! lol) and also because I have inflammatory arthritis in my lower back from a car accident – so eating a keto diet keeps me out of pain. πŸ™‚

          Once you reach your goal weight, you can play around with it a bit. But track very closely and only add back in one thing at a time, and test for two straight weeks before changing anything else.

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  30. Halima says:

    Although I am familiar with ketoses via VLCD in which exercises ain’t even required to achieve weight loss and it actually stalls when you do, I get very frustrated with the weight rebound as soon as one comes off plan since off course it isn’t possible to remain on VLCD for life. But I must confess this is a very doable (WOT) for live, with all the benefits and euphoria one gets when on on VLCD. I AM GLAD I found your website through a lady on another wellness site.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Halima,

      A “very low carb diet” is definitely sustainable. I’ve been eating a ketogenic low carb diet for more than 4 years now. πŸ™‚ It’s a great (healthy!) way of eating – long term.

      Welcome! I’m glad you joined us. πŸ™‚

  31. Pingback: 17-Day Low Carb Challenge Starts Monday! | Low Carb Diet Tips for Busy People

  32. Mona Lesa Seay says:

    I eat a ketogenic low carb diet consisting of low carb foods such as meats, eggs, cheeses, some vegetables. However, I also eat the Great American Low Carb Everything Bread and Bagels, and the Atkins bars and snacks. And I normally stay in ketotis; the keto sticks may vary from lighter to dark, but it doesn’t seem like the breads and bars keep me out of ketotis. Granted, I am losing very, very, very slowly, but I am losing. I think the Bullet Proof Coffee I’ve added to my diet has helped a lot, as instead of staying at the same weight for weeks, I often lose 1/2 a day. I’m happy with that as long as it keeps on.!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      That’s great, Mona!

      If you want to improve your weight loss, try joining us for the 3IMAX challenge – we’re doing one now for the next 17 days. That eliminates “products” like the breads & bars, and everyone experienced GREAT results the last time we did it!

  33. KimN says:

    Is green juicing ok to drink during the challenge?

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Kim,

      Most smoothies and also juicing recipes are very high carb. I recommend keeping it simple with just meat & greens + healthy fats. It’s a lot easier – and less messy. πŸ™‚ And of course lower carb!

  34. John says:

    Some of those meals look so disgusting and unappetizing, I can see how people could lose weight.

  35. Alexandra R. says:

    I want to challenge myself to do the 3IMAX challenge until thanksgiving. I’ve been on the keto diet for a little over 5 months now (28 out of 38 pounds gone!). I have one question about the 3IMAX challenge in particular. I know it’s 3 ingredients per meal/plate, but how do you factor snacks? I work a pretty high activity job and it would be difficult to make it work if I couldn’t have a snack during breaks. Could you have the typical 3 meals with 3 ingredients each and then 2 snacks (or more?) is there a limit? I want to stay true to the challenge so if snacks aren’t allowed, I’ll make it happen. Thank you for your input! πŸ™‚

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Alexandra,

      Congrats on your weight loss! πŸ™‚

      I eat 3-6 times a day, so the 3IMAX rule just applies anytime you eat – whether it’s a meal or a snack. The goal is to keep it simple and only eat 3 types of food or ingredients at a time.

  36. Linda Knight Yarbrough says:

    I love avocado and it’s SO good for you. I keep some on hand at home all the time. I had no idea you could order it as a substitute. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      I always scour the menu for side item options. Sometimes I’ll find cottage cheese, avocado, or maybe even berries. It may not be “a side” but if it’s somewhere on the menu… I know they have it in the kitchen. πŸ™‚

  37. A question about ingredients that don’t count…

    How about herbs and spices? I think if salt and mayo are free, so should black pepper, cayenne, curry powder, cinnamon, cardamon, turmeric, ginger, cilantro, chives, and other such healthy & tasty add-ons…

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Elisabeth,

      I’m not super strict on that myself. Many spices do have carbs, but it would be trace amounts in any foods you’d eat for one meal. If you do have any sort of stomach trouble or weird symptoms, testing different combinations of foods and/or spices would be smart.

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  39. Betty Duncan says:

    What do eat for snacks and how often do you have a snack? I’ve been eating the atkins bars.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      For snacks I usually eat pecans and a slice of cheese off the block, or just eat smaller meals more frequently. I like the Atkins peanut butter granola bar now and then, but you don’t want to eat them every day. They may stall your weight loss.

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  42. Chris Emery says:

    I’m so excited to start this challenge. I got off track and have finding it hard to get back on. But Tuesday I will start again. Your suggestions are very helpful.

  43. Jesse says:

    Hi Lynn,

    You mentioned in this post that one of your favorite take out meals is grilled chicken and roasted broccoli and cauliflower. What restaurant is that from? It sounds delicious! Thank you!

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  45. Christel says:

    Thank you for your site! We have found it very informative!

    We’ve been eating keto for three weeks. No sugar, no processed food, less than 20 carbs a day, all from stevia blends and veggies. My husband has lost 14lbs, I have lost none (and I need to lose about 60lbs). I have not cheated, not even once! I am so frustrated! We have our bullet proof coffee about 8:30, then breakfast of sausage, eggs, and/or bacon about 10. For lunch we eat our meats, and for lunch and dinner we have a little veggies. We do eat salads a lot, and they usually have cheese of some kind and avocado with a homemade olive oil and lemon juice dressing. I do put spices and a little grated parmesan in the dressing, but that’s it. No sugars or anything like that. I have made some fat bombs but use natural peanut butter (no sugar), coconut oil, butter, and go easy on the stevia. We don’t eat them every day, only when we had a lower fat meat for dinner or sometimes I pack one in a cooler if I’m going to be away from home for a long time.

    Any suggestions as to what I might be doing wrong? I have been walking about 30 mins every morning, but no extreme exercise.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer!

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