A low-carb diet plan should be both balanced and livable. You still need complex carbohydrates for energy and good overall health, but you can get a better idea of how many carbohydrates you should consume per day in order to make better choices. Eliminate those bad carbs, the simple sugars that become excess calories, and build your meals from lean proteins and good sources of complex carbohydrates. Include a few essential fats and you have a complete and easy low-carb plan.
Calculate Your Daily Needs
According to LifeClinic.com, about 60 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Figure out how much that is for you by multiplying your daily caloric need by 0.6. DineWise.com provides an online calorie calculator (see Resources). Once you figure out how many calories you need, figure out how many carbohydrates would be the normal amount. Then consider how low your intake should be for a low-carb diet. Your body needs complex carbohydrates in some amount; cutting out all carbs is not only extremely difficult, it’s unhealthy. Low-carb diet plans vary in their recommended daily allowance. Atkins Phase 1, for example, allows only 20 grams per day, which is extremely low. Sugar Busters, on the other hand, allows 30 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, according to BetterHealthUSA.com. Talk to your physician about a good level for your particular needs, and keep that in mind as you make your eating choices.
Cut Out the Bad Carbs
These are the real culprits of high-carbohydrate intake and weight gain; complex carbohydrates, such as those from vegetables, fruits and whole grains, contribute to your body’s energy level and overall health. Reader’s Digest website provides a quick list of those bad carbs that you should avoid while on a low-carb diet: white breads, white rice, tortillas, pastries, chips (potato and tortilla), white pasta, cookies, cakes, french fries, popcorn and pizza. Allow yourself one of these bad-carb options per day, so you don’t feel deprived. The key is that it should be a minimal amount of what you eat.
Choose Lean Proteins
Too much fat is still too much fat; a good low-carb diet doesn’t mean unlimited amounts of greasy burgers wrapped in lettuce instead of a in a bun. Choose lean sources of protein: low-fat dairy, lean ground beef, skinless white-meat chicken, pork tenderloin, and lean cuts of beef such as flank steak and strip steak. Include beans and legumes and soy products as other options for your protein intake. The National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute also recommends salmon, swordfish, herring and sardines as good sources of lean protein.
Include Complex Carbohydrates
Get the complex carbohydrates that are good for you from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Choose the greener vegetables, such as lettuce, greens, peppers, asparagus and broccoli; these are high-volume vegetables, according to Kathy Smith, author of “Feed Muscle, Shrink Fat Diet.” They provide more water and more nutrients with fewer carbohydrates. And choose fruits which are lower on the sugar-content level; berries, apples and pears are the best choices.
Get Good Fats
Though the bulk of your proteins should be from lean sources, you still need to have good fats in your body. Cook with olive oil; sprinkle flaxseed on your yogurt or cottage cheese. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s website recommends avocados, olives, nuts, peanut butter and sesame seeds as additional sources of the good fats that your body needs.