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Getting Started on a Low-Carb Diet

Six Steps for the Beginner

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Updated July 06, 2014

low-carb pyramid

Laura Dolson's Low-Carb Food Pyramid

Image © Karen Struthers

So you’ve decided to reduce the carbohydrate in your diet. Now what? It’s time to think ahead a bit so you can have your best chance of success. Here are six steps to give you a strong start.

1. Become Informed

Read about various low-carb diets, or zero in on one. Ideally, read one of the books and become familiar with the principles. Above all, don’t fall for the common myths about eating low carb – such as that there are no vegetables or fruit, that it can’t be healthy, that it has to be boring, etc. Like other ways of eating, low-carb eating can be healthy or not, balanced or not, and there is certainly no reason for it to be boring. Rest assured that science is on the side of cutting carbs – perhaps not for everyone, but for many of us.

Resources:

Also, see the tab at the top of the page, "Getting Started".

2. Start Making Easy Changes

While you are learning about low-carb eating, you can start to make some changes towards reducing unhealthy carbs in your diet. Choose one or two things to change at a time. You may be surprised that some results can be achieved with less effort than you thought.

3. Decide on an Approach

There is no one low-carb diet. The popular plans span a range of carb levels and food choices, though essentially all of them cut out most sugars and starches. Again, the best thing to do is to read one of the books – go to your library and browse, and zero in on something that looks doable to you. Essentially all of the popular books can be purchased used online for very little money.

Alternatively, if you just know you’re not the kind to read a book and follow someone else’s idea of a diet, the “No White Diet" works for many people. Basically, you just stop eating food with sugars, white flour (pasta, bread, cake, donuts, etc), white rice, and potatoes (some include milk). This effectively cuts back on the carbohydrate in your diet, especially the high glycemic types. Just realize that there are also white foods, such as tofu, cauliflower, and onions, that are low in carbs and good for you!

Another option is use my Low-Carb Food Pyramid as a guide. Many people have written to me to report that following these simple guidelines allowed them to be successful.

Popular Diet Resources:

4. Get Familiar with What You Can Eat

It’s easy to fall into thinking a lot about what you can’t eat, but much more productive to focus on what you can eat. At first, it's probably best to keep it simple - for example, you can just eat the same dinner as before, substituting vegetables for the starch.

”What You can Eat” Resources:

5. Plan Your First Week

Nothing stops a new eating plan faster than getting to the fourth day and realizing you have no idea what to snack on, or fix for dinner. Planning a full week of menus and snacks gives you a buffer period when you don’t have to worry about it.

Resources:

6. Get Support

Inevitably, things you didn’t think of will come up. The first two weeks of a diet change can be difficult. The temptation when trying something new is to chuck it overboard at the first obstacle. To be successful, you must accept that unexpected “speedbumps” will happen, and make a commitment ahead of time to work through them. This is the time to get advice from others who are ahead of you on the road.

Resources:
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Low Carb Diets
  4. Low Carb 101
  5. Getting Started on a Low-Carb Diet

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