In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be so easy to opt for a simple, mindless meal. Takeout options, calorie-packed casseroles, and most frozen dinners are just some of the common culprits. While not particularly harmful in moderation, these and similarly fast and simple meal choices can add up to dozens if not hundreds of extra pounds on our bodies.
Some of the more popular diets designed to cut out the majority of unhealthy food choices are the ones where individuals slash the number of carbohydrates they consume. These “low-carb diets” put an emphasis on fat and protein. This helps people to feel full faster while simultaneously avoiding sugar, particularly processed sugar. While seemingly counterintuitive, low-carb diets often result in people making healthier food choices throughout the duration of the diet.
A Low What?
So, what is a low-carb diet? Generally speaking, a low-carbohydrate diet focuses on the avoidance of overconsumption of carbohydrates. When they fail to be used, carbohydrates metabolize into additional fats and lipids, avoiding the consumption of high carbohydrate foods allows an individual to avoid a diet far too high in fats. Instead, individuals choose to eat high-protein foods and lots and lots of fresh vegetables.
What to Avoid
When you decide to commit to a low-carb diet, you can expect to make some sacrifices. You probably don’t want to continue eating at McDonald’s on Friday afternoons with your colleagues for lunch, and you also want to eliminate your collection of ice cream confections decorating your storage freezer. Grains and legumes need to be eliminated, as well as bread, pasta, and most desserts. Too much fruit can also be a problem; the sugars in fruits, when not burned off through exercise and physical exertion, are also converted into fats within the body. Naturally, the occasional serving of one or two of these foods is perfectly acceptable. For example, if you attend a conference out of town and find yourself being served a predetermined meal that contains one of these sides, that’s perfectly fine. It’s all about moderation, and good choices.
Pass the Milk
If you find yourself craving fried chicken or fresh-baked cookies, consider low-carb options you can use. Ingredients like almond flour and coconut flour contain far fewer carbohydrates than typical white flour and other refined carbohydrates. These can be used to create breading for meat and vegetables without making these and other foods high in carbs. The index for where to buy almond flour and other low-carb alternatives includes most supermarkets and food stores online. Coupled with sugar substitutes, low-carb flour can help power through sweet cravings without putting your diet on hold.
Not Today, Carbs
Perhaps the best option is to simply avoid carbs altogether. Surprisingly, a significant percentage of some of the world’s elite athletes maintain a plant-based diet. And that’s no easy feat. Have you ever noticed that, upon entering nearly any American supermarket, the first thing you see is junk food? Potato chips, sodas, cookies, snacks; these are the leading food items on display near a typical American grocery store’s entrance. Perishable foods, like milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, are typically the furthest from the entrance. But if you choose to walk past those enticing snack foods, and go the extra mile to instead get to those high-nutrient, healthy foods, your body will thank you for it.
Do You Have What it Takes?
For many, the shift to low-carb eating may initially feel nearly impossible. The list of “no” foods may appear overwhelming, may appear nearly endless, but for people struggling with weight gain, or athletes, or individuals with medical needs, these changes are imperative. And they are no less important for you and me. The human body is an incredible machine, capable of incredible feats. But these feats can only be accomplished if we conscientiously maintain our health and keep our minds and our physical bodies in the condition required to maximize performance.
A low-carb diet need not be perfect. It’s okay to eat a cookie or two occasionally or eat a small portion of spaghetti on Sunday evenings, but taking care of ourselves is so vitally important. I know I’m worth it, and I can tell you, for a fact, you’re worth it too.