Are you interested in starting a low carb diet to help you lose unwanted body fat? Or have you already started a ketogenic (more commonly known as ‘keto’) diet, but still want to learn some new, creative, and great tips to help you achieve your health and fitness goals?
Well, I am happy to let you know that you came to the right place because today I am going to fill you in on some of my all time favourite low carb tips that I have acquired over a number of years from study and practice. I guarantee you will see results by applying some of what I am about to tell you.
So, here are 23 low carb tips for beginners. Try each of them out and let us know whether or not you found them useful in the comments section below.
1. Know Which Foods Are (And Are Not) Low in Carbs
I figured we start with an easy, but very important, tip to warm you up to the discussion. In order to follow a low carb diet you need to be familiar with which foods are low in carbs (and which foods are not low in carbs). Some low carb foods include the following:
- Fish (e.g., salmon, tilapia, haddock, etc.)
- Nuts (e.g., almonds, peanuts, etc.)
- Seeds (e.g., chia, flax, etc.)
On the other hand, some high carb foods include the following:
- Pasta (e.g., spaghetti, tortellini, etc.)
When starting your low carb diet, you will likely be spending more time researching which foods to eat. This is only because you will unfamiliar. However, with time and experience, you will find yourself doing less background work (e.g., checking nutritional labels) to determine which foods have the least amount of carbs and which have the most.
As they say, practice makes perfect, so do not give up.
2. Pack a Few of Your Favourite Low Carb Snacks When Leaving the House on an Extended Outing
Oftentimes, when leaving the house for a full day of activities, whether it be a long 12 hour shift at work or a leisurely hike and family fun day at the local park and beach, I find that when ‘on the go’ it is easier to just buy something that is quick and easy.
Unfortunately, quick, easy, and inexpensive snacks that we can order while on the road can be very high in carbs. So, be sure to pack some of your favourite low carb snacks to bring with you for your outing.
For example, a light ranch chicken wrap on a whole-wheat pita is a simple snack that can be brought with you anywhere you go. It can include a number of great low carb and healthy items, such as chicken, lettuce, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a little bit of light ranch dressing to give it a bit of flavour.
There are many more of these easy and portable snacks to consider bringing with you, but we can discuss more options another day.
3. Make your Life Easier by Using Substitutes While on a Low Carb Diet
Believe it or not, some of your favourite high carb foods can be substituted with low carb foods that taste just as good, or dare I say it,… even better!
For example, instead of your usual pizza with thick crust (which is high in carbs due to being a grain), try having a cauliflower pizza. A cauliflower pizza simply put is a pizza that has the crust made out of cauliflower. Another great alternative is to make spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti that is much higher in carbs due to it being pasta.
So, just because you are following a low carb diet, does not mean you have to give up your favourite foods completely. Considering alternatives to your favourite foods will only help you stick to your low carb diet and keep your low carb diet exciting.
4. Learn to Love Cooking While on a Low Carb Diet
Although it isn’t absolutely necessary, it is a good idea to learn how to cook and like doing it. This is important for anyone on a low carb diet because you will know exactly what you put into your meals. On the other hand, if you rely on food from restaurants, or pre-packaged and prepared foods, you cannot be entirely sure as to what was included in the meal.
Cooking was never my thing, but overtime I learned how to improve my cooking skills. Okay, I may have burned a couple things here and there, but that’s how you learn, right? So, give it a try and do not be afraid to try new things.
5. Plan Your Meals While on a Low Carb Diet
When following a low carb diet, obviously there is going to have to be some planning involved. If you do not plan out some meals, and if you get overly hungry, you will likely cave and go for the quickest and easiest meal that you can find.
This might be the TV dinner in the freezer that has been staring at you for the past week that is full of carbs. Given that it can be prepared in a whole 5 minutes, with little effort, it is a bit of a risk to us low carb diet followers when hungry.
Since we certainly do not want to put ourselves at risk of cheating and breaking our low carb diet, it is a good idea to eat regularly and know approximately when you will have your meal, so that you do not end up overly hungry. All-in-all, planning is key to following your low carb diet.
6. Keep High-Carb Foods Out of Your Home While Following a Low Carb Diet
Following from the previous tip, if you struggle with planning out your meals and tend to cave when hungry, I do have another technique for you to consider using.
When doing a full grocery order, do not purchase any high-carb foods. Why do I say this? Well, if you don’t bring high-carb foods into your home, then it makes it that much more difficult to break your low carb diet. Not having any high-carb foods in the home forces you to leave your home when you have a temptation, which most of us do not want to do for convenience.
And if the grocery store is a long distance away or if it is cold outside in the middle of winter, then it makes it even less appealing to make the journey simply to obtain something (e.g., thick crust pizza) that is contrary to your goal that you have been trying so hard to achieve.
So, basically, you want to try to make it extra hard for yourself to indulge in high-carb foods. If you stick to this tip, I am confident that in the end you will be more than pleased with the results.
7. Tell All Your Friends and Family About Your Low Carb Diet
I’m a huge fan of setting goals. Letting others know of your goals is a great idea to be able to achieve them. A part of this is because telling your friends and family will only hold you more accountable for your actions.
Also, if they know that you are dedicated to this low carb diet, they may not torment you with all the delicious high-carb foods that they tend to indulge in on the weekend.
So, after setting your goals, tell the world about them. I guarantee that you will be more likely to achieve them after doing so.
8. Weight Loss is More About Nutrition Than Exercise
Some people work out hard at the gym on a regular basis with the hopes of losing weight. However, it is more important to follow a good low carb diet than it is to exercise.
You can push yourself in the gym but if you do not have the right ‘fuel in the tank’ then you will have a hard time seeing the results that you need. Experts say that fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise.
Of course, regular exercising is important, but be sure to continue to follow your low carb diet regularly to obtain the best and quickest results.
9. Be Sure to Track Your Progress Along Your Low Carb Diet Journey
If you are extremely dedicated to your low carb diet, then, if you wish, you can certainly count your calories and carbs to monitor your progress along the way. Some practice this strategy to improve their overall results and seem to enjoy it; however, I found this was not the best approach for myself.
If you are a beginner, I do not suggest you start counting every single calorie or carb you consume on a daily basis. This can be overwhelming when adjusting to a new and intense diet.
However, I do think it is important to be mindful of your consumption and eating habits. Try less detailed and rigorous tracking methods, like whether you had the appropriate amount of meals in a day (e.g., breakfast, lunch, and supper) or if you stuck to all the foods you intended to stick to (e.g., veggies, eggs, chicken, etc.).
Once you are at a more advanced level, then perhaps try creating a journal so that you can monitor your progress more closely. Until then though try to keep it as simple as possible.
10. Variety is Important on a Low Carb Diet
Oftentimes people following a low carb diet find a few select foods that they enjoy eating and that meet the criteria for their low carb diet. However, they will eat these foods every day with little to no change.
Eating plain chicken with a salad every day for supper does not sound overly appealing to me. What do you think?
Oftentimes repetitiveness in foods results in frustration and lack of motivation. Some people simply stop the diet because they cannot stand to have the same old stuff daily.
Therefore, it is important for you to spice things up. Yes, I literally mean with different spices to give your food some flavour. But, I also mean by trying new foods and meals weekly.
Just because you are following a low carb diet does not mean your meals have to be boring. So do not be afraid to try new things. I would encourage you to research new recipes to follow that incorporate some of the main low carb foods, such as chicken, fish, eggs, veggies, fruits, etc. Time to get creative!
11. Do Not Be Deterred By Tiredness Early in the Low Carb Diet Process
As we switch our diets to less carbs, we sometimes notice that we get tired more often and more easily. This should be expected because lots of carbs in our diets help us with our energy levels. Generally, carbs are used to fuel us. So, they are important if we are involved in any physical activity, like sports, exercise, or weight lifting.
My suggestion is that you slowly adjust to a low carb diet, but reducing your carb intake per week in small increments instead cutting them out as soon as you decide you want to follow this diet.
Also, it important to simply be aware the role that carbs will play in your energy levels and commit to sticking to your diet for a few more days, as the tiredness will eventually pass you by. This is often one of the toughest parts to starting and sticking to a low carb diet.
12. Do Not Deprive Yourself of Food While on your Low Carb Diet
Some people become impatient and decide to skip meals in order to lose weight quicker. Seeing results is very important to continue to reinforce you to stay on this low carb diet; however, losing weight and being fit is a long-term game.
Do not expect to see results after a few days of following a low carb diet. And certainly do not skip meals to try to achieve results quicker. This will only make you malnourished, extra hungry, and more tired. So stick to your plan and stay committed to the low carb diet. I would suggest eating at least three meals a day, with snacks when needed.
13. Stay Hydrated at all Times While on Your Low Carb Diet
Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the process of dieting. Although staying hydrated should be a priority for anyone, when avoiding sugars and grains from your diet, it is especially important because the body can lose excess fluids.
Another important reason to drink water is that it may help with keeping your high-carb cravings at a reasonable and controllable level.
I know water can be a bit boring, so to spice it up a little try adding a lemon to give it a bit of flavour.
14. Practice Portion Control While on a Low Carb Diet
Some beginners on a low carb diet think that since they are eating less carbs, they can eat more food in general. However, this is not exactly the case. We can still overeat other foods that are not high in carbs and this can impede on our health goals.
It is important to know the appropriate portions of each food category and continue to follow these guidelines along your journey and ensure they align with your fitness goals.
15. Make Eggs Your Best Friend While Following a Low Carb Diet
Eggs are one of my favourite low carb foods to eat! Why? Well, they are high in protein and very low in carbs. Also, they taste great and can be cooked in so many different ways. And to top it all off… they are inexpensive! So be sure to include eggs into your low carb diet in some way or another.
Oh and I almost forgot, you can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or supper. Here are just a few ways I have included eggs in my own low carb meals:
- Omelettes with diced up veggies, cheese, and left over meats (e.g., ham, bacon, breakfast sausage, etc.)
- Bake them in a muffin tin mixed with peppers, so they are portable and bring them to work with you
- Put them in your smoothies for an additional great source of protein
- Scramble them and include onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese to give it some more flavor
These are just some of the ways I have tried and enjoyed my eggs. Experiment with them, and you will see there are so many uses for eggs in your low carb diet. Take advantage of it.
16. Let the Health Professionals in your Life Know that you are Following a Low Carb Diet
A low carb diet is great, but it may not be for everyone. So always be sure to let health professionals in your life know the diets that you are following. Diets can have an impact on not only your physical appearance, but also your moods.
Health professionals, like doctors, nurses, nutritionists, that are in your life should be made aware of dietary changes that you are making. Some foods may interact with specific medications that you take. So to be on the safe side, make sure to check in with the professionals that you surround yourself with to obtain their input.
17. Be Aware of the ‘Keto Flu’ and How to prevent it on a Low Carb Diet
If you are following a ketogenic diet, you may develop what is called the ‘keto flu.’ The ‘keto flu’ happens when you deprive yourself of too many carbs too quickly. This ‘flu’ is characterized by symptoms like headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, tiredness, and mental fogginess. Typically, symptoms from the keto flu can last about a week before they go away.
To help prevent the ‘keto flu,’ you can try your best to stay hydrated and obtaining enough sleep may help with some of the symptoms. You can also gradually decrease the amount of carbs that you eat so it is less of a shock to your system. Of course, another option, although not the most ideal, is to simply wait it out, just like we do with the regular flu. Always remind yourself that it will pass with time.
18. Do Not Cut All Carbs From Your Low Carb Diet
Some people just starting out on a low carb diet want to jump into the diet in a big way because they are so motivated to make a change for the better. So, they decide to cut all carbs out of their diet. This can be dangerous as carbs are used to help produce energy, including fuelling your physical activity.
The motivation to go ‘all in’ is inspiring, but the key to success is to take things slow and adjust to changes. The point is not to cut out a food group entirely, but to reduce intake in that area. This will lead to a greater change of success in the end. Always remind yourself that this is a long-term game.
19. Consider Empty Carbs in your Low Carb Diet
Not all carbs are created equal. So, sometimes counting the total amount of carbs you consume in a day is not the best metric to track. Instead consider the type of carbs you are eating.
To do this, simply be aware of the type of foods that you are eating. For example, it is much different to count carbs from veggies and fruits in comparison to junk food, like candy, chocolate bars, and fast food.
Obviously, veggies and fruits provide a greater amount of nutritional value to your low carb diet. In the end, consider the type of foods you are eating when counting your daily carbs.
20. Eat Lots of Greens on a Low Carb Diet
Try to remember that with a low carb diet, most vegetables are your friends, especially green vegetables. Most green veggies are loaded with nutrients. Give green veggies, like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, a try. If you enjoy them, try incorporating them into your low carb meal plan so you can take advantage of the nutrients they provide.
21. Do Not Go ‘Nuts’ with the Nuts While on a Low Carb Diet
I know nuts are a healthy way to enjoy your low carb diet. However, some people can go a little overboard with how many nuts they consume. Some people eat salted nuts like they are a bag of Lays chips, but this can lead to overeating. Not only are you eating salt, which in large amounts can have a negative impact on our health, but you are also consuming a significant amount of calories.
So, if you choose to have nuts in your low carb diet, just make sure that you eat them in moderation… oh and maybe pick up the unsalted bag next time!
22. Know Which Foods to Avoid (Almost Completely) Eating While on Your Low Carb Diet
There are a number of foods that you should try avoid while on a low carb diet. Here are some of the foods to consider avoiding:
- Refined grains: pasta and bread
- Sugar: candy and soft drinks
- Processed foods: processed meats, like ham and mortadella
- Fast foods:most foods coming from fast food joints, like cheeseburgers and fries
So, be sure to review ingredients when purchasing foods at your local grocery store, and try to stay away from fast food restaurants to get the most out of your low carb diet.
23. Do Not Assume That All Veggies are Perfect for Your Low Carb Diet
Not all veggies are created equally when it comes to the amount of carbs that they contain within. Veggies are certainly great to include in your low carb diet, but be careful which veggies you are including.
Starchy veggies, or generally, sweet tasting veggies, tend to be higher in the amount of carbs they possess, so be sure to limit your consumption of these foods. Some of these veggies include corn, carrots, sweet potatoes, and peas. It is certainly okay to have these veggies in moderation, but just be aware that they contain more carbs than you probably think.
I encourage you to do some research on which veggies you’d like to include in your low carb diet before you start cooking to see which have lower amounts of carbs.
Overall, I have presented you with some of my all time favourite tips for people wanting to start a low carb diet or those who are new to the low carb diet. It took me a while to learn some of these on my own, so I am happy to pass them on to you so you can benefit from my experiences.
I hope you can apply these tips to your fitness journey and see real results. Some may be harder to apply then others, but it is important to start somewhere.
I have presented you with 23 low carb tips from my journey. Now I would like to know some of your own low carb tips from your experience so far. Please let us know in the comments section below so other readers can benefit.