Hello, friends! How is it going?
It has been an exciting month so far for me. Launching my website, and getting my coaching certification done – I couldn’t be more thrilled doing what I truly love. Plus, I get to experiment with my own nutrition, now that I have this deep knowledge. Today I would love to share some of my experiences with low-carb nutrition.
Nutrition is a subtle area
Since you already know a little bit about me, you might remember I was a carb junkie. Seriously, I could go for days just drinking black coffee, and eating a dessert for my lunch and dinner. Maybe a piece of toast as a snack. That would be it! Holy smokes. How did I survive?! No wonder I had terrible acne, high blood pressure (in my early twenties!), sleep problems, digestion problems, hormonal problems, and other not so wonderful things. I was constantly hungry, only had the energy for short periods of times, and did not exercise. While I did not have significant problems with weight, I was skinny fat.
Medically, they now call it MONW, or metabolically obese normal weight. It means that you might look lean, but have a significant amount of fat and little or no muscle. Sadly, I didn’t think it mattered at the time, nor was I happy with how I looked (despite consistent compliments from friends, family, and opposite gender). All I cared about was that number on a scale, and it didn’t matter that I felt crappy. Compliments don’t matter when you feel terrible. And if someone was to suggest I try a low-carb approach, I would give them a stink eye.
Keto and low-carb nutrition are the best for weight loss. These concepts are at the core of a primal lifestyle. The theorized nutrition of a “caveman” aligns well, nearly identically to these dietary guidelines.
How to Make Low-Carb/Keto/Primal Nutrition Work for You
Fast forward, after introducing Paleo, Primal, and Keto into my life, I can say I finally figured it out! Doh. Keto did not work for me for a year. Imagine how frustrating it is. You have a goal in mind, you give up your (still!) favorite carbohydrates, you work out, you think you are doing everything right. And you still do not have enough energy, and not losing your body fat. No, I do not have an obsession with having my 6-pack abs to show off. I have a strong desire to bring my body to the most natural, lean, energetic state.
To be honest with you, I struggled. I would give up and go eat a bunch of French fries once a month, and then start over again. I have made all the mistakes below and still could not figure it out. Why, or why I am not in ketosis, and why is my body not a fat burning machine. Instead, my body is a carb needy, energy depleted, I-don’t-want-to-do-it-anymore broken piece of equipment. It took a lot out of me to keep trying, tweaking my diet, doing research, and starting over again. Need I say I traveled for 20 hours a week for a year then? Add marathon training, CrossFit workouts, and sleep deprivation. Man, oh man, I wish I could have figured out all pieces of the puzzle then.
Keto and Low-Carb Nutrition Rules
It rules! I promise. As it was discussed before, your brain does not need many carbs to function. Such a small amount that the body can produce everything it needs from proteins and fats (a process called gluconeogenesis). I have such clarity of mind now, that I wish I had when I was a student. You fuel your body with good fats, it burns fat. If you fuel your body with carbs, it burns carbs. You burn the type of fuel you provide to your body. Carbs cause a deeper craving for more and more, and it will store them in the form of fat. Makes sense?
Please keep in mind that any specific fitness and nutrition goals you have in mind for yourself matter. My goals are to get stronger, leaner, run longer without replenishing carbs (burning fat), and reduce carb cravings. Ta da! Just a year later….
My body fat definitely went down a few percent. Good 5-7 percent. I can lift double of my previous weights. I can run a 2-minute faster mile than before. I do not have to eat 6 times a day, just 2 times is enough. I am happy with where I am now, finally. And I also finally stopped thinking about 4 main food groups like bread, bagels, pita chips, pizza. That’s a win, right?
So, let’s take my personal story and learn from the mistakes I made….Shall we?
Mistakes People Make Trying to Lose Weight on Keto or Low-Carb Diets
1.Too Many Carbs. Not Enough Fat. Too Much Protein.
The entire purpose of Keto is to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. By upping your fat intake (coconut oil, avocados, butter, fatty fish, etc.) and reducing carbs, your body will start producing ketones in the liver. They are only produced when your glucose and blood insulin are low. Ketones are the main source of energy for your body, so if your net carbs are higher than you can store, your body first have to burn carbs, then it will get to your fat to be used as energy source.
Some people are scared to increase their fat intake when switching to Keto, and increase their protein instead. This is one of the show-stoppers. Your carbs need below (under 50 grams a day, depending on body and activity levels), and your fat should be high ( 70, even 80% of your diet depending on exercise and daily food intake). Adjust protein based on your training and goals.
Also, remember this: your body does not appreciate you stressing. Cortisol will affect your blood sugar levels, immune responses, and how your body responds to stress (cortisol will start causing your muscles to desire sugar your body craves when stressed). Your appetite will increase, and you will vacuum-clean your pantry by eating everything in sight to satisfy carb cravings.
Exercise, take a walk, a bath, or call a friend. Eat a high-fat, low-carb snack instead of chips or chocolate bar. Take a breath, and remember -you are in for a long run, so do not give in to a temporary indulgence.
Don’t worry or obsess about your macros. It helps to start Keto/low-carb by logging what you eat (or sharing it with your coach), but then you will get a hang of it.
2. Water and Electrolytes
I will never tire to repeat it, even to myself. You need replenishing water way more than in any other way of eating. You also may need to add electrolytes because flushing out all the water your drink might deplete you of potassium and sodium. Just do not reach out to your favorite Gatorade…Stay low-sugar, low carb with coconut water, or LyteShow ( my favorite electrolyte supplement).
You’d think a glass of red wine (4-5 grams of carbs) is Keto-approved. A bit of a wine lover, I found out after a glass you may want to have a second one. And maybe then the Carb Monster will demand a snack. And then…you are out. Out of ketosis, of course. Disappointing.
Even though alcohol has to be burned first, it has plenty of extra calories you don’t need. It provokes mindless snacking and prevents your body from burning fat as the main source. Have you met a lean athlete that drinks and snacks? I have not yet. If you absolutely must have a drink, stick with the non-carb ones (vodka, rum, tequila), or have “a” glass of good dry wine. Remember, while in ketosis, be careful. Alcohol affects your body more and you have much less resistance, so you will become very goofy before you know it 😉
4. Wrong Exercise
Hello, cardio queens and kings! We have talked about effects of chronic cardio here.
If you are looking for a rapid fat loss, if you are not very fit, your best bet will be walking 2-5 hours a week at aerobic heart rate (use this formula here). If your goal is to lean out, you can add a sprint session and 2-3 weight training workouts. But paaaalleeeease, please promise me you won’t be spending hours on the treadmill, or worse, doing hours of weight lifting exercises. Chronic cardio will make you more hungry, cause chronic inflammation, and will disable fat burning mechanism. Instead, opt-in for HIIT training, sprints, and brief but intense workouts. No more suffering at the gym for hours!
5. Quitting too early
Being patient is hard, but it is absolutely worth it. I quit doing it many times, but I was so curious about where my low-carb journey is going to bring me. I encourage you to try again if it was hard the first time. The quality of living is incredible. Plus, low-carb and Keto nutrition are the best in terms of their anti-aging properties – reduced inflammation, balanced insulin, human growth hormone, and wonderful looking skin. Who would turn this down?!
How to fix these mistakes going low-carb?
- Do not obsess about your macros or calories. Follow basic guidelines, and the rest will be fine. Calories can be adjusted, focus on the right foods first.
- Focus on positive aspects of everything you do, big and small.
- Drink lots of water! Replenish electrolytes.
- Limit consumption of alcohol, the less you drink the more rapid the results.
- Exercise smart. Remember quality vs quantity. Vary your workouts!
- Stay patient, celebrate small wins, look forward to big ones.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things: reducing the amount of dairy you eat, eliminating food, trying new combos etc. We
are all different, and some of us don’t do well with all foods.
Good luck. I am here to help if you have any questions. Make sure to check out the cheat sheet/tracker to keep yourself accountable!
Have you had any experience with low-carb nutrition? How did you feel?
Author: Anya PerryAnya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.