Base meals around lean protein and low-carb vegetables.
Low-carb diets can be an effective method for dropping fat and losing weight, or they can just be a way of reducing your consumption of processed sugars and starches. Going low-carb can be tough though, as it requires dedication, discipline and a change in your approach to eating. When transitioning to low-carb eating, it's vital you do it in the correct, healthy way.
Reduce your carbs gradually. Going from a typical high-carb diet to a low-carb one overnight will leave you feeling lousy and make you less likely to stick with it. Start with simple steps such as ditching your breakfast cereal in favor of eggs or yogurt. Once you've mastered this, move on to reducing carbs at lunch, by switching from a sandwich to a salad. Continue to make small changes over time.
Be patient at the beginning. It can take two to three weeks for your body to adjust to a low-carb diet, according to nutritionist Mark Sisson. This can cause lethargy and mental fog, which is your body's reaction to changing its main energy source from carbs to fats. Realize that the first couple of weeks might be hard going, but stick with it.
Increase your fat intake slightly. When choosing a low-carb plan, it's critical you choose one that includes heart-healthy fats, advises the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you try to reduce carbs and fats, you'll feel tired and lack energy. Add in small amounts of nuts and seeds as snacks, eat oily fish a couple of times per week and drizzle a little olive oil over your vegetables.
Pick your proteins carefully. Choose lean meats and plant-based protein, advises the Harvard Medical School. Have a serving of protein at each meal from chicken or turkey breast, cottage cheese or reduced-fat regular cheese, low-fat low-sugar yogurt, fish, soy or lean and extra lean red meat.
Add low-carb vegetables to each meal. Low-carb doesn't mean no-carb, and vegetables are a good way to ensure you still get plenty of fiber and micronutrients when cutting down your consumption of grains and sugars. Asparagus, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, bell peppers, beets, spinach, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, artichoke and okra are all good choices.
Count your calories. Low-carb diets don't automatically guarantee weight loss, so track your calorie intake so it's in line with your goals. If you're moderately active, multiply your body weight in pounds by 15 to 16 to find your maintenance calorie intake per day. Eat this amount to maintain your weight, slightly more if you wish to gain weight and slightly less for weight loss.
Getting a friend or family member on board can help you stick with a low-carb diet. Look for family-friendly low-carb recipes so that the whole household can eat together.
Talk with your doctor or consult a qualified nutritionist before switching to a low-carb plan, and seek medical assistance should you feel unwell at any point in your diet.