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Nutrition

Trying Out a Low Carb Diet Plan? How to Stick to it For The Long-Run

Low Carb Diet Plan

Say goodbye to carb crashes, and hello to sustainable success

In today's fast-paced world, unhealthy habits and sedentary lifestyles are leading to a surge in chronic health conditions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (1), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like heart disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, are responsible for 71% of all global deaths, with a significant portion attributable to poor dietary choices and physical inactivity.

Fortunately, with the right nutritional approach and dietary adjustments, you may not only prevent but also manage these ailments effectively. Enter the low-carb diet plan – a sustainable solution for a healthier, more balanced life.

We turned to our metabolism experts and gathered valuable tips on transitioning to living 'la vida' low carb! 

By adopting a low-carb diet, you'll shift your focus to wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, such as lean proteins, healthy fats, and an abundance of vegetables. This move to healthier eating habits may help regulate blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and help pave the way to a healthier, more vibrant lifestyle.

But how can you ensure that your low-carb journey is a lasting one? You can start by assessing your current metabolic health with this 30-second quiz. 

Low Carb Dietlow carb diet plan metabolic health quiz

How many times have you tried a low-carb diet, or at least looked at one and wondered how many grams of carbs you should eat? 

Following a low-carb diet has many health benefits for you. It can also help you shed any excess weight that you’re holding onto. If you’ve noticed your weight loss progress has plateaued, implementing a low-carb diet may help jumpstart your metabolism and shed more pounds. By incorporating smart carb cycling based on your unique metabolism, and with access to regular biofeedback, you could be well on your way to reaching metabolic flexibility.

Quick recap: Metabolic flexibility is the ability of the body to efficiently switch between using different fuel sources such as glucose and fats. Improving metabolic flexibility can lead to health benefits such as better weight management, improved energy levels, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

What is a Low-Carb Diet?

A low-carb diet is a nutritional approach that focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake while emphasizing proteins, healthy fats, and nutrient-dense vegetables. Typical low-carb diets will give you a range of how much you should eat, but the right amount is actually different for everyone. When deciding to cut back on your carbs, there are two things that you should focus on.

The first is focusing on carb timing, rather than eliminating them. Consuming your carbs in the first half of the day will give your body a better chance of burning them for energy.

Low Carbohydrate Diet

The second is if you are decreasing the amount of carbs you consume. This small change can make a big difference in achieving your health goals!

Low carb will look different for each person, and it's important to refer to a nutritional tracker that looks at what you're currently eating to decipher what that looks like for you. 

By limiting carbohydrate consumption, a low-carb diet aims to help individuals lose weight, stabilize blood sugar levels, and improve overall health.

"A low-carb diet encourages a shift from a carbohydrate-driven metabolism to a fat-burning one, which can lead to increased energy levels and enhanced metabolic efficiency."
Marine Melamed, R.D. Nutritionist at Lumen

The Physiology of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients, and they play an important role in the body. They are responsible for the majority of energy production. Still, if you mostly consume simple carbs, then you may end up trapping yourself in a vicious cycle that doesn’t support your health goals or your metabolism.

Fast-digesting carbs like white bread, soft drinks, and sweet pastries are nutrient-poor. Whereas, 'good' carbs - slow absorption carbs - like beans, lentils, sweetcorn, pumpkin, oats and barley contain nutrients that support your metabolism and weight loss.

Personalized Low Carb Diet

If you regularly consume more sugary foods (fast-digesting carbs), you may see that they give you a spike in energy. This is why you might find yourself feeling tired and hungry again. Your blood sugar levels rise quickly and then drop just as fast.

Reaching for more food that contains fast-digesting carbs to boost your energy may seem like a quick fix, but it can actually cause more harm than good. The reason is, it creates fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and keeps you stuck in a cycle that's not good for your health. So, it's better to find alternative sources of energy that won't have this effect on your body.

This whole process happens on a daily basis for many people, and we see it as high Lumen levels. These levels indicate that your metabolism is using the carbs you consume for energy rather than stored fat reserves. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to be able to burn through your fat storage, but this cannot happen if you constantly supply your body with high levels of sugar, this might lead to weight gain and may put you at risk for chronic conditions.

“The big change for me was having that immediate understanding of what was going on inside my body and reacting to that. That was key for me to keep going because I’m part of the process every day”
Nevine, 59, Canada

The benefits of nutrient-dense and slow-absorption carbs, according to Lumen experts:

  • Provide fuel for your muscles to power through workouts
  • Allows your body to reach maximum energy
  • Stabilizes blood glucose levels
  • Promotes bowel health and regularity thanks to insoluble fiber sources
  • Take a breath measurement to see whether your body has shifted energy from carbs to fat-burn mode

Getting into the Mindset for a Low-Carb Diet

Now that you have decided a low-carb diet meal plan could be beneficial for you and your metabolism, it is time to create your diet plan! If the idea of this overwhelms you, there is no need to worry - we have already done it for you.

Download this free 7-day free low-carb diet plan full of tasty recipes! When creating your plan, think: low-carb foods like eggs, seafood, lean meats, nuts, and olive oil. Opt for foods that are nutrient-dense and benefit your body, because carbs are what your body typically uses for energy.

Low Carb Diet Foods

Try to incorporate foods high in vitamins like B vitamins, such as leafy green vegetables, cabbage, spinach, peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, chickpeas and kidney beans that support sustained energy throughout the day. Everyone’s body and its needs are different. This is what makes a personalized meal plan essential, if it is balanced and sustainable for you specifically, that is what matters!

Be sure to check food labels before purchasing at the grocery store because you may discover some foods have more carbs than you were expecting!

Tips for sticking to a low-carb diet plan

While following a low-carb diet plan may have many benefits, no one said it would be easy! Some people don’t crave carbs as much, but at the same time, other people do.

Use daily health goals to keep you on track. It is important to remind yourself why you decided to eat this way in the first place - this alone can be a great source of motivation. 

"When I started focusing on my body's rhythms and how it wanted to eat, and when it wanted to eat, even when it wanted to work out, my health turned around and the weight came off."
Carolyn, 52, North Carolina

If your goal is metabolic flexibility, which we think for most of us it is, then aim to have more carbs earlier in the day so your body can use them to power your day. Based on how our bodies burn energy, we need more of it in the first half of the day so we can work, move around, and just overall function. Consuming carbs in the morning is also another way to increase the ability to wake up the next day in a state of fat burn. This is when we want to get our carb servings in.

Being able to track what your body is using for energy and being able to see consistent feedback can help reassure you that you are indeed taking the right steps toward living a healthier lifestyle.

Lumen experts recommend:

  • Enjoy your carbs earlier in the day for a steady release of energy
  • Prioritize more filling and nutrient-dense slow-absorption carb sources
  • Keep yourself hydrated to help you feel satiated
  • Always have a low-carb diet food menu on hand for ideas in a pinch
  • Use an app to log your food so you can keep track of your carb intake
  • Find a support group, like this community, or find a diet buddy following a low-carb diet. Having someone to share your journey with can help keep you motivated and accountable.

Low Carb Diet Planlow carb diet foods

How to exercise on a low-carb diet plan

While following a low-carb diet plan for weight loss can indeed help you lose excess weight, exercise is also an important component of overall health, and it should accompany any diet.

Typically, your body will turn to carbohydrates for energy when you exercise. If there isn’t ample storage, then your body will have to burn stored fat instead. This is ideal for efficiently dropping weight, and while you cannot spot-reduce fat, if you are consistent with your exercise regimen, you may see an improved appearance over time. Being able to track how efficiently your body is burning its fat storage can give you an idea of what is happening during your exercise process.

On the other hand, because you might not feel your usual energy levels, you may experience greater fatigue. Keeping yourself motivated when it comes to completing your workout sessions is important to keep yourself moving and enjoy the benefits of physical movement or exercise. Low-intensity exercises like yoga, walking, swimming, rowing, or low-impact aerobics are great ways to incorporate movement into this diet. 

Tips from our Lumen experts:

  • Measure your breath before a workout to see if you have enough fuel to perform
  • Perform your workouts earlier in the day when you naturally have more energy
  • If you eat meal post-workout try make it high in protein to help your body refuel
  • Drink plenty of water and electrolytes during your workouts
  • Limit your carb intake in the evening and give yourself 2-3 hours before bed to finish eating to avoid discomfort when going to sleep

Exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better blood sugar control. Secondly, it can promote weight loss and help maintain muscle mass. Additionally, regular exercise can increase energy levels, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance overall mood and well-being. So, incorporating exercise into your low-carb diet plan can help you achieve optimal health and fitness.

To wrap up

In conclusion, transitioning to a low-carb diet can be challenging, but with the right mindset and strategies, it is possible to make it a sustainable and long-term lifestyle change. By planning ahead, diversifying your food choices, and seeking support from friends, family, or a healthcare professional, you can successfully adhere to a low-carb diet and reap the many health benefits it offers.

Remember to be patient and kind to yourself throughout the process, and celebrate your successes along the way. With dedication and perseverance, you can make low-carb living a rewarding and enjoyable part of your life.

*you might be intrested to learn more about carb cycling in this guide: Carb Cycling for Weight Loss - A Beginner's Guide >>

Sources

Krebs, N. F. (2010, March 20). Efficacy and Safety of a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet for Weight Loss in Severely Obese Adolescents. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892194/

Macedo, R. (2020, August 23). Low-carbohydrate diets: Effects on metabolism and exercise - A comprehensive literature review. PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33183532/

Mansoor, N. (2016, February 14). Effects of low-carbohydrate diets v. low-fat diets on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26768850/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, Marcg 22). Carbohydrates: How carbs fit into a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, November 15). Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831

Lumen Editorial Desk & Reviewed by: Marine Melamed, R.D. Nutrition at Lumen

Marine is a registered dietitian with a passion for well-being, health and metabolism. She started her career as a clinical dietitian, opened her private practice to accompany patients from various backgrounds in their health journey, and is now providing nutrition support for Lumen’s customers.