Low-Carb Diet Tips

Low-Carb Diet Tips

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Fuel up on healthy fats such as those found in avocados.

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

Low-carb dieting can be an effective method of losing weight because not only does it reduce your calorie intake by restricting your consumption of sugar and starchy foods, it also can help manage your blood sugar levels. This leads to better control of the hormone insulin. High blood sugar and insulin levels can trigger fat storage and make you feel hungry. Starting on or sticking to a low-carb diet can be tough, but having a few tricks up your sleeve helps you maintain your plan.

Manage Your Calorie Intake

If your current diet is particularly carb-heavy, you may find that switching to a low-carb diet leaves you feeling drained and lethargic. This is partly because of the change in the foods you eat but also is a result of severely cutting calories. Low-carb diets typically contain between 50 and 150 grams of carbohydrate per day, reports, so start at the top end of this limit. You don't need to worry about meticulously monitoring calories on a low-carb plan since low-carb dieters tend to eat fewer calories overall because of the increased fullness factor from eating more protein and less processed carbohydrates, says Dr. Mike Roussell, a nutritionist.

Don't Forget Fiber

Fiber plays an important role in digestion and gut health. Whole grains contain a high amount of fiber, but on a low-carb diet there may not be room for these carb-based foods in your plan. This means you'll have to find other sources of fiber. The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends berries, nuts, vegetables and beans as lower-carb sources of fiber.

Find the Right Fats

When you cut carbs, you need something to fill the energy void, and that can come in the form of fats. Stick to mainly unsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds, peanut butter, olives and olive oil, and oily fish. Some saturated fat is OK, too. People on low-carb diets can eat more saturated fat than those on a low-fat diet and still have lower blood levels of saturated fat, says Dr. Jeff Volek, a nutritionist at the University of Connecticut. You shouldn't worry about the odd good-quality steak, tablespoon of organic butter or a splash of coconut milk or cream.

Balance Is Key

Make low-carb dieting sustainable with a few simple changes. At meal time, instead of filling half your plate with a carb source and half with protein and vegetables, double up on veggies and add an extra serving of healthy fats. Snack on handy, tasty low-carb foods such as unsalted nuts, small pots of cottage cheese, or low-sugar natural yogurt or cheese sticks. Allow yourself a slightly higher carbohydrate intake one day a week to help control any cravings you might be experiencing.