There are many myths and misconceptions about diets and weight loss. One of the questions I get asked most often is Are Low Carb Diets Healthy?
The main concerns & misunderstandings being that it’s “no carb” instead of low carb, it raises your cholesterol, that you need carbs for energy, or that you won’t get proper nutrients eating low carb.
None of that is true, of course.
The low carb diet works by a science of “food combining” which causes your body to switch from burning carbs and sugar for energy – to burning fat for energy. Most people experience an immediate surge in energy and increased metabolism.
The combination of foods you eat on a Low Carb Diet are actually much healthier than most traditional meal combinations, which include proteins and starches together.
That said, it IS possible to eat UNhealthy on the Low Carb Diet. So when people do ask me Are Low Carb Diets Healthy? my answer is… it depends! 🙂 Take me, for example. I don’t go by a “system” or “the phases” – I simply eat less than 20 net carbs per day. I could easily get by eating all sorts of “junk” and still stay within my range. And I’ve done that at times, and lost weight doing it even! But ultimately it’s all about our health.
Even if you start out *just* wanting to lose weight, you’ll find yourself becoming much more health conscious and much more aware of the food choices you make very day…
Making Healthy Food Choices
No matter what you’re counting (calories, carbs, etc) it’s important to make those numbers count! If you stay within 1200 calories a day, or 20 net carbs a day for example, keep in mind that it’s not JUST about the numbers. It’s also about making healthy food choices so that you get the best nutritional value for those numbers!
You may be counting carbs in things like Atkins shakes & bars, artificial sweeteners, sugar-free candy, sauces & salad dressings, etc. Those can really add up throughout the day! You can easily replace those “numbers” with a serving of vegetables, which is much better for your body – and for your overall health.
I’ve been paying close attention to the foods I’m eating lately, and have really made it a point to make healthier food choices for my low carb diet. Ideally the majority of your daily carb intake will come from fiber-rich vegetables that are high in nutrients. (Contrary to popular belief, we don’t JUST eat bacon and eggs!)
See the low carb vegetable list for an easy reference to help you add more variety into a low carb diet.
In addition to keeping track of your net carb consumption (ie your numbers) start paying attention to the source of those carbs. Keep a Food Journal over the next week and see where you can make healthy food choices and simple replacements in your diet. The majority of your carbs should be coming from high fiber vegetables.
Sometimes I have a hard time reaching my 20 net carbs a day, or sneaking in enough greens. I have to really watch that, because it tends to stall my weight loss. It’s easy enough to add chopped spinach and cheese to your scrambled eggs in the morning (delicious!), or to keep SteamFresh frozen vegetables on hand for a super quick side dish.
Like I said, it’s not just in staying below your “magic number” but also in what those numbers represent exactly. Make it a point to track where your carbs are coming from, and start making smart replacements both for your health AND weight loss. 😉