Low Carb Diet Plan
First I need to provide a disclaimer for this low carb diet plan. I am a layman, not a medical doctor nor a nutritionist. Before starting on any diet plan, you should make sure you are healthy enough to do so. Ideally, you should work with a nutritionist and have plenty of tests done to insure you are healthy. Some special areas of concern for low carb diet plans are making sure you have healthy kidneys and a healthy liver. Eating a high protein, low carb diet can put a strain on these organs. With that in mind, unless you are a heavy drinker, prescription drug user, have chronic kidney infections or have any kind of chronic health condition, you probably don't have anything to worry about, but get a check up and a clearance from your doctor just to make sure you are ready to make the change to a low carb diet plan!
The plan I used was adapted from a low carb diet plan my friend shared with me. She went on the Ideal Protein Diet and lost all her excess weight and is managing to keep it off. Unfortunately, I was not able to enroll in a program that would cost me in the neighborhood of $80-100 per week, so I took her basic plan and adapted it, while reading up and learning everything I could about low carb diet plans and how they affect the body.
Let me just say that it was the easiest low carb diet plan I have ever attempted. Apparently, being in ketosis is a natural appetite suppressant, so I had no problem with cravings. Sometimes I would actually forget to eat, which is crazy! The premise of the diet, is to put your pancreas at rest, thereby "resetting" it so that when you wake it up, it will function more efficiently, and without the hyper-insulinemia that causes so many of us problems. So far, I can say that the premise has worked for me. I have been on maintainance for two months so far and I feel better than ever. I've stayed within three pounds of my lowest weight, varying a little each day, but not much. I am more in control of my eating. I am in touch with how my body reacts to sugars and am able to counteract my tendency to eat too many high sugar carbs. I have learned how to use the low carb-protein foods featured below to keep me on track when I'm craving sugars, and I have learned how to have some cheat foods now and then and even whole days where I just eat what I want. I've learned how to balance these days with "clean eating" days, to keep my pancreas from going into overdrive and triggering a carb binge. As soon as I get time I will set up a page describing my maintainance plan. It is VERY IMPORTANT to phase off of this low carb diet plan very gradually in three distinct phases, in order to slowly wake your pancreas back up without triggering a binge.
Forbidden foods for the weightloss phase: First of all, you must restrict your carbs to between 20-30 grams per day and these must not come from any forbidden foods such as: Rice, pasta, potatoes, legumes, breads, root vegetables, peas, corn, artichoke, avocado, beets, carrots, chick peas, olives, parsnips, pumpkin, winter squash, yams, fruits or fruit juices, alcohol, soda, nuts or dairy products. Some low carb diet plans allow dairy, but the plan I'm following does not.
Animal Protein once per day: You can choose from any of the meat, fish, poultry or seafood choices except bacon, hot dogs and any pre-prepared foods that are cured or cooked with sugar or corn syrup products. (While on vacation I made an exception with hot dogs a couple times.) Also, you can find Eskay sugar free bacon and I use this sparingly to "kick-up" my normal salad as a special treat...but not regularly. You should choose dinner as your protein meal and eat around 6-8 ounces. Once in a while I will change up my low carb diet plan and have protein at my middle meal, such as on a Sunday, but really, anytime that it just makes sense to eat a bigger meal in the middle of the day. You can substitute 2-3 eggs for your protein.
Vegetables: Avoid all starchy vegetables in the forbidden category. Brussels sprouts, green beans, eggplant, palm hearts, snow peas and tomatoes should be eaten only occasionally, 2-3 times per week. I will note that later on in the diet, because my garden was full of green beans, tomatoes and eggplant, I began eating these vegetables fairly regularly, either marinated and grilled or seasoned with a touch of olive oil.
Salads: You should have at least one to two leafy green salads per day on this low carb diet plan. There are days when I don't get this in, usually days when I'm on the road or working without breaks. During these times, I am forced to have a meal replacement bar for lunch and can't get in my salad. I have some special meal bars by Quest that have 17 grams of fiber and these would be a good choice for any day but especially days when you don't get in a salad.
Seasonings: Many people recommend the Walden Farms zero calorie dressings but I think they taste horrible and artificial. I'm more flexible in this catagory. The main thing is to avoid salad dressing with sugar or corn syrup. Unfortunately, I like my dressing to taste a little sweet and all the store bought ones either have sugar or taste artificial. I've come up with some recipes for homemade dressings that have made all the difference in the world as I strive to stay on my low carb diet plan.
Fresh Cilantro and Lime Dressing (this one will stay good in the frig for weeks!)
Avoid any vinegars that have sugar added, or that are more than 1-3 grams of carbs per serving. Examples would be some of the very rich balsamics and basamic glazes, rice vinegar, etc...
Use seasonings and especially fresh herbs to kick up your veggies and meat. The fresh herbs are also really healthy, containing tons of anti-oxidants!
Vitamins and Supplements: Here's where I have to get really serious with you. Because you are restricting your diet severely when you follow a low carb diet plan, you MUST take supplements to keep your immune system up and to keep your electrolytes balanced while following a low carb diet plan. Seriously, people have passed out and some even died from electrolyte imbalances. The two most common causes of an imbalance are low sodium or low potassium. To combat this you should use sea salt liberally on this diet.
As long as I take my supplements, I don't have any problem sleeping. Another thing you should add is some dietary fiber. I usually drink the odorless, flavorless variety in a glass of water after my morning shake or in my shake.
Water, Water Water: The process of gluconeogenesis can cause dehydration (the loss of water and sodium from cells). To combat this, in addition to liberally using sea salt, you need to aim for drinking 64 ounces of water per day. I carry a 32 oz. water bottle and try to refil it once each day. If I'm getting through one full and AT LEAST half of the second, that would be the minimum amount of water that is needed. This is not as difficult as it seems since you will naturally be more thirsty than normal and if you're not, you're probably out of fat burning mode. It's better to sip all day than to chug once in a while, and room temperature water goes down easier than really cold water. If you feel a headache coming on, you need sodium. If you feel light headed, you're either dehydrated or need potassium.
|Nature's Way Coconut Oil||
Coconut Oil: This natural saturated fat is actually your friend on a low carb diet plan. It can help get the fat burning engine started, so I recommend having a teaspoon per day in the mornings. I put it in my coffee or meal replacement shake. The benefits of coconut oil are more than I can cover here but you can research it yourself to see.
Meal Replacement shakes and bars: You will have two shakes and one bar per day on this low carb diet plan. It is recommended to have the shake for breakfast. Have a salad and veggies for lunch and supplement with another meal replacement shake or bar. For dinner you will have 6-8 ounces of meat (don't bread or fry anything---sometimes I cook my Tilapia in olive oil, which is essentially frying, just don't bread it!) along with veggies and a salad. Before bedtime you can have your last meal replacement supplement. Having this shortly before bedtime is actually a good time, according to my low-carb resource books. These are guidelines but they can be tweeked. Sometimes I have my bar at lunch and a shake at dinner. If you are working out that day or working hard (such as gardening, yard work, etc..) you can have an extra bar. There are some guidelines for choosing meal replacement foods. There are so many to choose from and they are not all ideal for your weight loss program. Many are high calorie supplements for body builders and people like Michael Phelps whose metabolisms are so robust, they can't get enough calories in regular foods. That being said, I'm going to give you a general rule of thumb and some ingredients to avoid while following a low carb diet plan. Avoid aspartame (Sweet 'n Low), corn syrup or corn syrup solids, cane syrup, sugar, etc... That being said there are some really good pudding shakes that do contain some corn syrup solids. I use these sparingly...not more than once per day. Often, the more desirable protein shakes taste bland or worse. I've tried many of the varieties and have added links to help you get to the best ones.
Generally you should shoot for shakes that don't have more than 125 calories per serving (many call for 2 scoops, but if you half that will find that these shakes fit the number requirements), no more than 5 grams net carbs (total carbs minus the fiber and sugar alcohols), and at least 15 grams protein (20-25 grams is best). (I don't concern myself with the fat...but less than 4 grams of fat would also be a good bench mark.)
For the bars, you should restrict to no more than one if you are not working out or working hard and no more than two if you are. As a benchmark, you should aim for a bar that has 200 or less calories, around 10 grams fat or less, 10 grams net carbs or less (the less the better), and around 15 grams of protein or more.
I am not offering anything here that I have not personally tried and can recommend. If you see any products that you would like me to try and offer here, just let me know in the comments part of each link. This is where you can offer you opinions and advice about the products and give me suggestions on things to try. I feel very good about these products because I have tried everything and can personally recommend them. I truly believe that it is the "high tech" foods that I have been adding to my diet that has made all the difference. They are what helped me to take the weight off and they are what is helping me keep it off.
Before going to any of these sites I would like to give you some suggestions on where to get products that you can start with while waiting for your orders, or just to get your feet wet before committing to an order. For most places it will be best if you order at least the minimum order so that you can save on shipping. In the meantime, if you would like to make less of a commitment to products, until you have time to see if the diet works for you, here are some suggestions for products you can buy locally.
For shakes you can try Wal-Mart's Muscle Milk Light. It is very close to the Ideal and tastes great, both the premixed and the powder. You can also try Pure Protein High Protein bars (the "Revolution" bar or the S'mores flavor are best). Look for the ones that fit my benchmarks listed above. Not all the varieties do, but they are delicious and a great bar to start out with, if you just want to start your low carb diet plan with locally bought products. These bars can also be purchased at Wal-Mart.
Now for the links to higher tech foods for low carb diet plans.
Nature's Best IsoPure Low Carb Protein Powder
This definitely has the lowest carb to highest protein ratio. It tastes great but the nutritional information is for 2 scoops (a body builder's serving). I use only one scoop with 6 oz ice/water which makes the numbers ideal for dieting purposes. It whips up into a really nice shake. The only problem with this is the smallest container is 3 lbs, which has 20 regular servings (40 for diet purposes). The good news is it's a little less than $1 per serving.
These are links to the delicious aspartame-free pudding shakes from Diet Direct. They are delicious and easy to use because they come in packets. The net carbs are 6-7 grams, a little higher than the ideal. They come in boxes of 7, and cost around $1.75 per serving. These shakes are a must for your low carb diet plan, if only to provide some delicious variety to the more high tech protein shakes.
Make sure you choose the aspartame free pudding shakes. All the flavors are delicious!
This is another great pudding shake with much better numbers than WonderSlim, but not quite as good in the taste department. This is a great addition to your low carb diet plan.
|Extend Snacks Extend Shakes|
Remember these should only be eaten once unless you're working out. Then you can have two.
NO SUGAR ALCOHOLS, NO SUGAR, NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, NO GLYCERINE, NO JUNK INGREDIENTS AND NO SOY PROTEIN. You can actually read the ingredients in these bars because there only 10-12 ingredients! There are delicious and filling! Once you've tried them you will be sold! They are simply the healthiest, best tasting and most satisfying meal replacement bar on the market.
I've tried most of the flavors and I can tell you, every one of them is delicious! I like the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the Chocolate Brownie the best. These bars have all the right things: no sugar, tons of fiber and lots of very healthy ingredients. Although it has 24 carbs, 19 of those are dietary fiber, bringing the net carbs to a lean 6, and a robust 20 grams of protein. This is one of those bars to use regularly. If you haven't had time to have your daily salads, always choose this bar to fill in the fiber. I have used this bar as my desert choice while on maintenance, it's just so healthy, so filling and absolutely satisfies my need for something chewy and sweet! They are completely worth the price!
We all know that dealing with our weight can bring up all kinds of issues. For these things we need more than just a low carb diet plan. We need a relationship. Here's a link to a book that can help you put a right perspective on your relationship with food and how it affects all other relationships.
Many people purchase ketone test strips to try and verify whether or not they are in ketosis. I don't recommend these strips because of my personal experience with them. Although I exhibited all the signs of being in ketosis and continued to lose weight, the test strips would hardly ever show ketosis. What you are aiming for is eating just the amount of carbs that keep you in ketosis. Generally this will be 20-30 grams, depending on your size and activity levels. I have heard this from more than one person and have therefore come to the conclusion that using the test strips are not a good idea. There are many symptoms that you can observe to determine whether or not you are in ketosis. Here are just a few of them:
Ketone breath, which imparts a sweetish smell, does not cause bad breath so much as a different breath odor. Try drinking more water, and remember this is a great sign you are changing your metabolism, burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. As long as you drink enough water, the bad breath caused by ketosis usually lasts only a few weeks.
Ketosis is a natural appetite suppressant! Believe it or not you may "forget" to eat a meal, but DO NOT do that. Never go six waking hours without eating.
Increased Energy!!! Once you have hit ketosis, usually on the third or fourth day you may get a huge burst in energy! During the first days of induction, you may also experience a slight light-headedness. Remember to eat your veggies and protein and use sea salt liberally, and oh, don't forget to drink your water!
Thirst. This symptom is actually great because the more water you drink the more efficiently your body will be able to burn fat.
Different taste in your mouth. Some people call the taste sweet, others say it is "metallic". It is caused by your tongue tasting ketones in the saliva. I have become annoyed by cooking odors...just another weird symptom that I attribute to ketosis.
Different odor of your urine and/or sweat. This difference is another symptom of ketosis.
If you still feel that you would like to try the test strips, here are links to a couple different brands of strips. They are equally useful. You can also find these at your local drug store or Wal-Mart, if you prefer not to wait.
Click here to get my take on the rationale behind a low carb diet plan.
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