Diet and Recipes

10 Most Common Low-Carb Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Like the Paleo and Atkins diet, the interest in low carb diets has skyrocketed over the years.

More and more celebrities, influencers, gurus, and athletes have adopted this eating style, which is why the diet group recently became mainstream. 

But, with the increased popularity comes a lot of mistakes and misconceptions. Many people want to jump in on a diet and lose weight. However, without proper strategies and planning, they are doing more harm than good. 

To reap all the perks of a low carb diet, you will need to do more than just cut back on carbohydrate consumption. Here is a list of some of the most typical carb intake slip-ups and practical options to avoid them.  

What is a low carb Diet?

A low carb diet has been a popular slimming tactic for healthy body weight since the 1860s, published the National Institutes of Health. Recently, however, people have come up with interesting approaches to this particular diet. 

Although there is no definite consensus of a low carb diet, those who follow it need to stick to certain daily macronutrient intake. 

The goal is relatively simple, watch the protein, fat, and carbohydrate consumption. Then, limit or completely exclude foods like bread, pasta, grains, starchy veggies, etc. These are refined carbohydrates that are completely devoid of any nutrients, fiber, and bran. 

You can define the diet as:

  • Low carbs (less than 26% or 130mg a day)

  • Very low carbs (less than 10% or 20 to 50mg a day)

  • Moderate carbs (from 26% to 44%)

  • High carbs (46% or more)

To put it simply, if you eat a 2,000 calorie meal a day, with a low carb diet, you would take around 900-1,300 calories daily just from carbs. 

Note: A low carb diet is a superior approach for a quick weight loss and effective for managing diabetes complications. People can start noticing results in the first 6 to 12 months. 

What are the benefits of a low carb diet? 

Don’t let the carbohydrate restriction or multiple food limits discourage you. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when you have to think about every type of food you have to put on your plate. This diet has plenty of benefits, which is why people with diabetes and anyone who wants to lose excess fat can try it out. 

Here is why countless people have implemented the low carb diet in their daily routine. This is a list of all the benefits:

  • Fast fat burning process

  • Reduced appetite

  • Drastic reduction in triglyceride levels

  • Elevated HDL (good) cholesterol levels

  • Lowered insulin and blood glucose levels

  • Better blood pressure control

  • Managed LDL (bad) cholesterol levels

  • Therapeutic effects for the central nervous system

Even though the diet comes with many advantages, like protecting the heart from cardiovascular disease, not everyone knows how to make the most of it. Instead, they keep making mistakes, which is a real setback. 

10 Most Common Low Carb Mistakes

The low carb diet can provide metabolic benefits only to those who know how to use it. Controlling just the carbohydrate intake won’t cut it. People must recognize their mistakes so that they can turn the diet to their advantage.

Besides, losing just a little bit of weight when on this calorie diet can drastically decrease their cardiovascular risk factors. This can help protect their body from potential heart disease, increased blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. 

Here are some of the most well-known mistakes everyone should look out for in a low carbohydrate diet. 

1) Focusing too Much on Carbohydrate

There is no strict rule that tells you how many carbs you can eat, particularly with a low carb diet. But, experts believe that if you go overboard, the body won’t be able to go into ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state that fuels up the body. 

Ketosis happens when there is not enough access to glucose in the human system. With healthy nutritional ketosis, the body burns more of the stored fat to create energy instead of relying on the glucose in the system.

How to Avoid the Problem?

What you can do instead is try to eat between 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrate a day. This is considered a low carb strategy. With any low-fat diet group, whether it is a ketogenic or paleo diet, you can easily control the energy expenditure. 

Also, it’s a good idea to include a variety of different healthy foods in your meals. That way, you will provide the system with all kinds of nutrients. 

2) Overindulging on Protein 

Protein is healthy. But, when eaten in high amounts, it won’t create the results you are hoping for. As a micronutrient, protein has an important role to play in the human body. It promotes satiety and speeds up the natural fat burning process. High-quality protein foods can promote a healthy body weight and boost body composition. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

In individuals with obesity or a metabolic condition like diabetes, regular protein intake can help keep their health in check. Try a moderate protein consumption of around 0.7 to 0.9g of protein per 1 pound of your body weight. 

3) Forgetting Fiber

According to research, 95% of the U.S. population doesn’t meet the dietary fiber intake recommendation. That means only 5% of the population eats enough fiber. Plenty of factors can contribute to widespread fiber deficiency. 

What matters is that you address the problem and start a healthy low carb journey. With enough fiber in their diet, people can prevent gastrointestinal difficulties like bloating or constipation. This is a normal outcome when a person suddenly cuts back on carbohydrate consumption or has diabetes. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

To overcome constipation, focus on adding more fiber foods to your regular meal plan. Anything from chia seeds to low carb cereal can help. 

But, most importantly, focus on the varieties. Getting as much healthy fiber from various types of foods can be highly beneficial for overall health and diabetes management. Plenty of such food sources can keep your hunger under control. 

4) Avoiding Veggies

People avoid vegetables for two reasons. They either don’t have a habit of adding veggies to their diets, or they don’t find them tasty. Instead, they will opt for more comforting foods. However, this is the worst mistake you can make when on a low carb diet. 

Veggies are the very foundation of a low carb meal plan. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and more.  

How to Avoid the Problem?

You need to implement as many healthy veggies as possible. For example, throw in some onions, tomatoes, and spinach when making scrambled eggs. Or, pair them with a good salad to give color and nutrients to the plate. 

But, most importantly, veggies are an ideal substitute for high-carbohydrate grains. If you want to prevent this problem in the future, try getting creative with your meals. Make zucchini noodle pasta, instead of the actual noodles. Replace the mashed potatoes or white rice with a cauliflower puree – the options are limitless. 

5) Filling Up With ‘Allowed Foods’

When you have to limit carbohydrate consumption and stick to a strict low carbohydrate meal schedule, it’s normal to have the urge to get more micronutrients. 

You will look for whatever sources you can find to boost macronutrient intake. Anything that is delicious and packed with vitamins might seem like a healthy approach. But, if you don’t watch the caloric intake, you will quickly lose control of your blood sugar level

Remember, no matter how healthy the food is, it’s never a good idea to eat too much.

Take dairy goods, for example. They are delicious and an excellent source of nutrients and calcium. Milk has from 11 to 12g of carbohydrate in a cup. You start with a cup of milk in the morning. Then you add some strawberries and blueberries to a fruit salad. But you still feel hungry. So you eat a bowl of oat flakes, and another, and another. 

It’s easy to overeat. You will want to munch on healthy foods until you are comfortably satisfied. However, if you don’t count the net carbs, it’s easy to go overboard. You will start packing on a few pounds, and it will take a toll on your insulin resistance. In the long run, this eating habit can increase the risk of heart disease and insulin complications. 

You see, the whole point of reducing the carbs is to control the amount of insulin that circulates around the body. That’s how you manage insulin sensitivity. When you eat too much, you can increase the insulin levels and start storing more body fat. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

If you want to keep your health in check and control the diet, you will need to be completely focused on your low carb approach. You can achieve that by controlling the food portions and eating only when you are hungry. 

6) Avoiding All Fat

People think that fat is the reason behind their obesity or diabetes. So, they focus on a low-fat diet to avoid getting overweight and destabilizing their glucose levels. However, fat is a source of energy for the body, just like proteins and carbohydrates are. 

In other words, not all fats are bad. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

Experts suggest that you stay away from saturated fat and focus more on polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They supply the system with a healthy dose of nutrients and are beneficial for cholesterol management, avoiding heart disease, and boosting overall health. 

Even individuals with diabetes can consume these healthy fat foods since they help control cholesterol levels. 

7) Sticking to Packaged Meals

Packaged foods are convenient. But, these are packed with preservatives and can lead to numerous health complications. They also have high-calorie count, salt, and sugar, which are known as diabetes contributors. 

Even products like low carb ice cream or snack bars are not as healthy as they seem. Although they don’t contain sugar, they are packed with maltitol. It can drastically impact blood sugar levels. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

Make sure you don’t implement processed foods in your diet. Anyone with diabetes or blood sugar complications will have to pay close attention to products such as these. 

No matter how much you control the carbohydrate intake, you will always end up one step behind if you don’t think about the foods you eat. So, focus more on real and fresh food that won’t have a negative impact on insulin secretion or body fat.  

8) Insufficient Meal Planning

The first day of a low-carbohydrate diet is always the hardest. It’s normal to want to jump back into your old eating habits. But, to obtain all the results you are hoping for, you would need to reconsider that self-destructive behavior. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

With proper meal planning, you can put a stop to the tempting habits. Eventually, you will turn the diet into a regular routine. That way, you reduce your risk for personal sabotage, and you will stick to your goals. 

9) Skipping Exercise

The moment you start a low-carbohydrate diet, you will need an exercise strategy as well. The problem is, many people believe that with the already strict diet, there is no need to work out. But that couldn’t be more wrong. 

Exercises and meal plans, such as with the Atkins diet, are essential for a low carb regimen. They are critical if you want to start shedding the excess fat. Plus, they can help you keep your diabetes and blood sugar under control.

When you commit to a ketogenic diet, for example, you will need all the exercise you can get. Without it, you can’t expect to lose too much weight. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

For substantial and long-term results, physical activity is necessary. Try to experiment with all sorts of exercises you can before you commit to a single one. 

10) Giving up Too Early

The human body can burn the carbs on its own. But, there are still some of the carbohydrates that will remain. Since the system needs plenty of energy to function, the organs must use the left-over carbs to supply its energy sources. It is a normal biological process. 

When you start limiting the carbohydrate intake too abruptly, the body will be forced to turn to the fat to get energy. That’s why people start losing weight. However, this whole adaptation process takes a couple of days to complete. 

So, if you just started the low carb nourishment, you can’t expect to lose weight on the first day. You will have a hard time sticking to the low-carbohydrate diet. Because of the sudden change, you will feel under the weather, demotivated, and sad. This is what people refer to as the “keto flu.” 

The dull feelings last for a couple of days, and it’s normal to start craving the regular diet. This is where most people quit. But, do have in mind that the system will need around 3 to 4 days actually to adjust to the low carbohydrate regimen. For the effects to kick in, you will need another few weeks. 

How to Avoid the Problem?

Don’t give up too early. You will need to be extremely patient and stick to your healthy eating schedule.

Tips’ for a Low Carb Diet 

The low carb regimen is a very difficult regimen to follow. Luckily, with proper planning and healthy foods, anyone can achieve the results they are hoping for. Now that you are familiar with the common mistakes, it’s time to focus on a couple of things that can help you reap all the benefits of a low carbohydrate meal plan. Here are a few tips you should know about:

  • Do meal prep beforehand – When sticking to the Atkins diet or a ketogenic diet, food prep is essential. You save time and still eat healthily. So, to avoid processed foods, you should prepare your lunch or dinner ahead of time. That way, you will always have healthy food choices at your disposal, even on a busy day. 

  • Have low carb snacks with you at all times – It’s easy to munch on some chips and cookies. But, to really make the most of your keto diet, you should carry a couple of healthy snacks with you. Nuts, carrots, eggs, or yogurt can be an effective snacking strategy. 

  • Do some carb cycling – Vary the carb consumption on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis to assess your physical performance and weight loss achievements. 

  • Understand where carbs come from – Not every carbohydrate is created equal-for example, the simple carbs or dietary carbohydrate. The simple carbs are packed with easily digestible sugars. They are processed and refined, which is not healthy for the body. That’s why you should opt for carbs that are closest to their natural state, such as whole grains, fresh foods, oats, etc.

  • Don’t be too harsh on fats – Eating fat is the key to losing weight when on Atkins or keto diet. With fat, the food gets better flavor and boosts the nutrient absorption rate in the human system. These are all effective strategies when trying to get the body shape you’ve always dreamed of. So, make a healthy snack to boost your regular fat intake. 

  • Stay hydrated – Hydration is critical. For the ketogenic diet to work, the metabolism must be working at full steam. With regular water drinking (2.7 liters of water for women and 3.7 liters of water for men), people can replenish their daily intake and make the most of their keto diet.

Conclusion

Starting a new diet can be incredibly difficult, especially with a low-carbohydrate diet. With all the restrictions and food limitations, it’s easy to make mistakes. That’s why we listed the most common mistakes when starting this style of healthy eating. Now that you recognize the mistakes, you will have a much easier time avoiding them. 

Sources

  1. Brian Gilani. (, 2020). Low Carbohydrate Diet. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/
  2. Kris Gunnars. (2018). 10 Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets
  3. MS Westerterp-Plantenga. (2009). Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19400750/
  4. Diane Quagliani. (2017). Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124841/
  5. Laura Dolson. (2020). 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Low-Carb Diet. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellfit.com/top-low-carb-diet-mistakes-2242042
  6. NHS. (2020). The truth about carbs. Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/why-we-need-to-eat-carbs/
  7. Kevin Joy. (2019). Keto Diets and Heart Health: What’s the Risk?. Retrieved from: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/keto-diet-and-heart-health-perfcon
  8. Jessica Cassity. (2020). The Keto Market: New Statistics on Market Size, Value and Keto Product Growth. Retrieved from: https://www.kerry.com/insights/kerrydigest/2020/keto-market

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