We’re in the middle of a fun Low Carb Challenge, and if you haven’t joined us yet, it’s not too late to jump right in! Week One was all about “getting set up for success”, so I’ll share some helpful links with you on that just in case you missed some of those:
- LCHF Explained: Why You Need FAT
- Getting Started With Low Carb (Checklist)
- How To Set Up MyFitnessPal To Track Net Carbs (Free)
- Understanding Your Macronutrients: Use Ratios vs Grams!
- Healthy Fats & Super Foods
- Feel Yucky? Learn About Ketosis & Low Carb Flu
- Not Losing Weight? Check These 4 Points First
- Nutrient Database: Research Foods Without Labels
This week, we’re going to focus on “Healthy Swaps” – or how to make healthier low carb choices. I strive to eat as much “real food” as possible, but I’m not perfect and I certainly don’t expect you to be either. We can be perfectly IMperfect, together! 🙂
My motto is “Keep It Super Simple” and simply eat 20 net carbs a day max, with at least 70% of your daily calories in healthy fats. In the beginning, that’s ALL you need to worry about. But as you go, and as you get better at reading labels, you’ll naturally start making healthier food choices. That’s what our mini-challenge is all about this week: making Healthy Swaps to improve your “diet”…
Making Healthy Swaps In Your Low Carb Diet
Once you’re set up to track carbs, and know how to monitor your macronutrients, you start learning A LOT about the foods that you eat. It’s very eye opening! The more you become aware of what you’re putting into your body, the more you want to make healthier choices. It’s just a natural progression.
1. STOP DIETING
First, I want you to stop dieting. That may sound crazy, I realize – because we all want to lose weight, right? But in order to become the healthiest, happiest (leanest!) version of yourself… you have to get your head in the right place.
“Dieting” will cause you to make unhealthy choices. “Dieting” can become a total obsession. “Dieting” can take over your life. Just STOP.
Instead, vow to make a healthy lifestyle change and “eat for your health”. You’ll lose weight as a result. There will be weeks you won’t lose pounds or the scales won’t move. If you’re “dieting”, this makes you want to throw in the towel. Don’t. Those are the weeks you say to yourself, “Eat for my health.” There are days I repeat that over and over, and force myself to make mindful and intentional healthy food choices – regardless of what my fickle scales are saying.
By the way, if you’re participating in the challenge, you should know this:
It’s typical to experience a brief “hold” or even slight fluctuations in your weight during Week 2 and/or Week 3. This is totally normal.
It’s just your body adjusting to the initial weight loss. This is NOT the time to throw in the towel, or try something drastic. That’s what a “dieter” would do. Just keep doing what obviously worked during that first week or so when the weight was melting off. Prove to your body that you’re serious, stay consistent – ride it out.
2. Start Exploring NEW Low Carb Foods
I don’t do Atkins or Phases, but simply eat 20 net carbs a day max, with at least 70% in healthy fat. I keep it that simple. That said, the list I started with, and what I recommend to you, is to go to Atkins website and look at the Acceptable Foods List for Phase One of their program:
Go over this entire list, including the low carb vegetables, and create your own Low Carb Food List based on YOUR personal preferences. I don’t want to hear, “but I don’t like this or that.” It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to eat anything you don’t like. There are TONS of beautiful low carb foods to enjoy, so simply pick those that you do like and start there.
Use that list to expand your menus and add in new meats of vegetables to try, or new combinations.
There are a few things I eat that are not on Atkins’ “phase one” list, but still fit within my “20 net carbs a day” limit. Examples include: berries, pecans, walnuts and cottage cheese – all in moderation, and all within my carb limit.
Print out the Acceptable Foods List, cross off things you KNOW you don’t like, make a list of things you do like, and make a list of things you’d like to try.
Start exploring labels more at the grocery store as well. Keep in mind that Total Carbs minus Fiber equals Net Carbs. You’ll find all kinds of fun new low carb foods to try!
3. Improve Your Diet With Healthy Low Carb Food Swaps
Do you tend to grab shakes or bars on the go? Swap those out for pecans or walnuts. Pecans and walnuts are the lowest carb / highest fat of the nut group.
That makes them an easy “real food” snack or meal to eat on the go, or when you just don’t feel like cooking. I often eat pecans, green olives & slices of cheese for a quick (filling!) meal. Or for breakfast I like 1/4 cup Daisy Brand cottage cheese with 1/3 cup pecan halves and a sliced strawberry (4 net carbs):
Daisy Brand cottage cheese is the only one on the shelf with only THREE (real) ingredients. Compare those labels! 🙂
On the topic of cheese, buy it by the block. Shred, cube or slice your own cheese. It stays fresher, has less additives, and it’s a healthier option. Not to mention it’s cheaper.
Ribeye Steak is better than Sirloin for fat content, and for flavor. Salmon is a healthy fatty fish, and a better choice over Tilapia or Whitefish (which are both all protein, with no healthy fats). Chicken thighs & wings are fattier and juicier (they taste better!) than chicken breast – and they are TONS cheaper!
Crisp cucumber slices make a great “cracker” for your favorite salads, dips or spreads. They’re great for egg salad, tuna salad, herb cheese spreads, and they’re great for dipping.
Not a big fan of fresh veggies? Get creative with them!
I like to hide spinach in hamburger steaks for example, and at that same link you’ll see how I make “fried squash” – which is delicious! I do the same thing with avocado: slice or cube it, salt it & brown it in butter or olive oil. It’s almost like french fries. 🙂
It’s a super food, very rich in potassium and magnesium.
Did you know that avocado has more potassium than a banana?
I was never a fan of avocado before, but I do love it now. And it’s especially good “fried” (browned in butter). I also love it mixed into chicken salad or other salads.
Check out this Avocado Pecan Chicken Salad Recipe for example. Delicious!
Sick of broccoli? Try it LOADED. Just like you would load a baked potato: top your broccoli with butter, sour cream, chopped bacon & cheese.
4. Pay Attention To Nutritional Value
Eat the highest quality foods you can to make each of your 20 net carbs and each of your calories “really count” toward good nutrition. The goal of being on a LCHF diet is to become HEALTHY. Not just to lose weight, but to also get HEALTHIER in the process. Make smart food choices, and make each of your carbs & calories count toward a healthier leaner YOU.
On that note, don’t eat “empty calories” just to increase your fat intake.
BPC (Bullet Proof Coffee) for example, or just pats of butter, are empty calories with no real nutritional value to your body. Instead, enjoy a handful of pecan halves or some fresh avocado slices with your meal!
5. Analyze Your Food Diaries For Improvements
Go over your low carb food journals for the last week, and consider ways you can make improvements to make your low carb diet even healthier. Are you getting enough vegetables? What should you eat less of, or more of?
What healthy swaps could you make this week… for your health?
If you have questions about food swaps, alternatives for some of your favorites, or healthy low carb diet foods in general… leave a comment and let’s discuss it! Or simply join us in the group and post your questions there. 🙂 *cheers*
p.s. You can see MY healthy meals by following along on your favorite social channel if you need some fresh (EASY) low carb food ideas: