5 Important Habits for Maintaining a Low-Carb LifestyleArticle posted in: Nutrition
One of the biggest criticisms about following a low-carb lifestyle is that it is tough to maintain. And it certainly can be challenging, as carbs (even those in fruits, legumes, non-starchy vegetables and whole grains) are restricted. But low-carb diets are popular because they work. You lose weight, and, as long as you follow the guidelines we’ve laid out on the South Beach Diet, they’re safe.
Ready to try a low-carb meal plan? Check out five tips to maintain a low-carb lifestyle and get started:
1. Learn to Cook.
To kick off our tips for leading a low-carb lifestyle, we’ve got one of the most important for weight loss—cooking and eating on your own. Americans love carbs, and restaurants cater to their crowd. While it’s certainly not impossible to order foods that align with our low-carb diet plan, your options in everyday restaurants may be limited. It’s in your best interest to be familiar with the Proteins, Vegetables and Healthy Fats listed on the South Beach Diet Grocery Guide and prepare meals with no surprise or excess ingredients. While you’re on the plan, you’ll prepare breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks each week. On DIY Days, The Palm has dozens of low-carb recipes to inspire and guide you.
2. Understand What You’re Eating.
You could be at risk of for deficiencies in micronutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins B and C if you don’t eat a wide array of nutritious foods. Take a multivitamin, enjoy a nutrient-enriched shake daily, and be sure you include your daily three servings of non-starchy vegetables. It’s important to add variety to your meal plan—this includes switching up the meals and snacks you choose to include in your daily plan. Stay away from eating the exact same thing each day and mix it up by incorporating in an array of proteins, healthy fats and non-starchy veggies.
3. No Two Diets Are Alike.
Your friend Susanne might be following a low-carb diet that encourages bacon. And lots of it. Your friend Sean might be eating MCT oil with every meal. We don’t live in an information bubble: There are millions of diets out there. The South Beach is designed to deliver about 50 grams of “net carbs” (total grams of carbohydrates minus grams of dietary fiber) per day.
Here at South Beach, we also want you to enjoy a variety of healthy fats from both plant and animal sources. And, while we like MCT oil for its quick energy and ability to keep you feeling full, one tablespoon of MCT oil contains about 100 calories, so be careful not to overdo it. MCTs are a form of saturated fat. MCT oil supplements must be counted as a Healthy Fat, not consumed in addition to your daily allotment.
4. Be Prepared for Cravings.
You’ll get the munchies, just like on any weight loss meal plan. You’ll want chocolate cake on your birthday. You will need a glass of wine after a bad day. Again, the point of the South Beach Diet is to be realistic so you maintain a healthy weight for life. Cheating happens—and diets fail—when you deprive yourself of what you want for too long. So have a small piece of chocolate birthday cake. Enjoy a four-ounce pour of a dry wine. Moderation is key. On a daily basis, have alternatives to the off-limits snacks you’re craving at the ready. These two-ingredient Parmesan Chips > are the perfect salty snack, and his Chocolate Avocado Pudding > satisfies your sweet tooth.
5. Expect Criticism.
Whether it’s your overly concerned mom or that coworker who just can’t seem to keep his opinions to himself, people will question your diet and may be quick tell you why it’s not “healthy.” Here’s what you tell them: “Low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to be safe and effective solutions for managing weight, and improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk.” (Those are words right out of South Beach Diet’s Registered Dietitian Courtney McCormick’s mouth.) And the South Beach Diet Plan is a low carb, healthy fat diet. You aren’t striving to reach ketosis, as you’re consuming up to 50 grams of net carbs per day. Plus, if you’re varying your diet and taking a multivitamin, you’re getting all the vital nutrients your body needs.