Congratulations on taking your first step towards a low-carb diet. You might have heard a lot about low-carb, and are curious if this is something for you? Or maybe you have been advised to switch to a low carb-diet based on a health assessment?
Perhaps you have done your online research on this topic before while feeling overwhelmed with the abundance of information that you’ve come across. It’s understandable that it may be quite a lot of info, especially on a busy day.
However, it doesn’t have to be so complicated because I’m here to help!
Let's take a quick journey back. What is your reason for considering a low-carb diet?
Do you feel;
exhausted most of the day, especially after a meal?
you have difficulties achieving your ideal weight?
you can lose your temper when you get hungry?
you are at risk of developing lifestyle diseases?
If any of the above statements relate to you, then a low-carb diet might be something worth trying. Regardless of experiencing these symptoms or not, it is very important to be accurate with a low-carb diet, especially if a medical examination shows that this would be considered as a necessary diet for a period of time
Not everybody needs a low-carb diet,
but everybody will surely experience benefits from a healthy low-carb diet.
For 20 years, I have studied, experienced, and experimented with finding the best recipes that are healthy, practical, economic, and best when combined. Even I had challenges that made me not follow official dietary advice, and this has made me be more creative.
This is why I’m so enthusiastic about sharing my knowledge with you!
What is actually a low-carb diet?
In short, all carbohydrates (carbs, sugars) have a glycemic index. Glycemic index is a unit of measurement which shows the speed and amount of impact a certain nutrient has on blood sugar level. Nutrients with a high glycemic index (GI), are nutrients that are quickly converted to glucose. The absorbed glucose should be used up for energy within a short time after the intake. The rest of the glucose can create problems afterward when it gets converted to body fat.
To measure the GI value for different nutrients, blood sugar levels were measured on a number of test subjects immediately after the food intake, and then 2 hours after. The most widely used GI scale is from 0 - 100, where 100 stands for the blood sugar level after eating grape sugar (some GI tests are instead compared to eating a loaf of white bread). The values on GI lists may differ due to food variations and/or individual responses. Normally, each nutrient is tested in an amount that has 50 grams of carbohydrates per nutrient. To show you a good example, this is equivalent to 650 grams of watermelons, 500 grams of raw carrots, or 80 grams of raisins. These tests enable us to distinguish between nutrients that are labeled as slow or fast carbs.
When being on a low-carb diet, the goal is to stick to nutrients with GI below 55. Some people need an extra strict low-carb diet with a GI limit as low as 40. To achieve ketosis (as a short-term treatment), people normally set the limit at 35.
Ketosis GI: 35 or less
Low GI: 55 or less
Medium GI: 56 – 69
High GI: 70 or more
Besides GI, it is important to pay attention to the way of combining the meals, so that the total amount of GI per meal is taken into account. This is called Glycemic Load (GL) and represents an important factor for those who need a low-carb diet to regulate blood sugar levels for medical reasons. To calculate GL, simply multiply the nutrient's GI by the total carbohydrates per meal. Many factors affect total carbohydrates in a meal:
Combination of fats and proteins.
The fiber content in food.
Preparation: cooking, frying, or if the food is eaten raw.
For example, eating carrots with fish and sauce will result in lower GL than eating carrots alone. Another example is that boiled carrots have a higher GI than raw carrots, while GL is also higher with the same amount of carrots.
You might have heard the expression “being in ketosis”. This means that the body mainly uses fat (ketones) as its primary source of energy.
Let's see how the body works. One of eight energy production steps in the body cells makes energy from either sugar/carbohydrates (glucose) or fat (ketones). Ketones are being produced from the body fat, during the fatty acids catabolism, which results in the body starting to use ketones as the source of energy. If there are any sugars available in the body, energy production will be prioritized instead of burning fat. Some processes and some body cells can utilize only glucose as energy, but the body actually produces what it needs to meet the minimum requirements.
While on a low-carb diet, you should avoid fast and medium-fast carbs, whilst with a ketogenic diet, you should largely avoid slow carbs (max 25 grams daily, and GI below 35)
Why switching to a low-carb diet?
Eating large amounts of fast carbs over a long period of time has negative effects on your health in many different ways. Before carbs can affect your blood sugar levels, it can take up to 10 years of insulin resistance (this is because the body tries to compensate for this problem by producing additional insulin, until the moment when the pancreas gets exhausted by many years of overproduction, and the blood sugar levels increase)
Fast carbs can affect the body in different ways and in different phases. They can:
provide inefficient energy production within the cells.
create free radicals and increase inflammation.
be stored as fat (metabolic syndrome).
increase the risk for a variety of lifestyle diseases.
affect blood sugar levels (pre-diabetes or diabetes).
You will be able to determine pre-diabetes and diabetes at your doctor's, by testing your blood sugar levels, after many years of insulin resistance. But what about the other phases? How about knowing if it’s the right time to prevent it before it has gone too far? At the Health Optimizing Clinic, you can get a health assessment that completely maps all the phases and challenges.
By simply following the methods you will learn from me, you will see for yourself that a low-carb diet can be fun, educational, and tasty. Studies have also shown that such a diet provides a plentitude of health benefits, including:
achieving ideal weight.
getting a better energy balance.
reducing the urge to overeat.
reducing the inflammation in the body.
stabilizing blood sugar levels
stabilizing blood pressure.
preventing heart disease.
preventing and reducing the insulin resistance and diabetes-related problems.
preventing poor memory, concentration and behavior problems.
Here you will find all the necessary info to get you started on a low-carb diet: nutrients overview and their GI, together with a booklet with recipes which will give you ideas for well-balanced meals based on GI, GL, and other conditions regarding health.
Other things to consider for a healthy diet.
Besides low-carbs, there are many factors that have an impact on how healthy a meal is. Some nutrients are difficult to digest, and can therefore create even greater problems than hyperglycemic nutrients, which can be easily metabolized. For example, A1 casein is a dairy product protein, which very few people can eat without creating measurable disadvantages for the body. If you remove the milk sugar, lactose, the proportion of A1 casein gets even greater. Many ketogenic diets available on the internet promoted large quantities of dairy products and industrial meat because they do not take into account anything other than GI and GL. Animal products should be healthy and should not consist of more than 1/3 of the meal. More about this in my other articles.
At Nina`s Healthy Kitchen, you will soon find articles about several dietary factors which are also important for health. What’s best is that all my recipes are totally optimized regarding the relevant factors. Preparing a healthy meal is an art that far surpasses just looking at the GI and GL values of the ingredients. I'm here to help you master this art!
With enough variation in the diet, the body gets a good variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Daily variation is also important to avoid intolerances. Food intolerance (immunological IgG or IgA reaction) can more easily occur if you eat the same food every day for a long period of time.
One of my greatest passions is building good habits
and preventing health challenges
A few tips:
In the beginning, be very determined to strictly follow your dietary plan. Print and hang your GI list on the fridge, while keeping a pdf version of the list on your phone. The recipe booklet should be easily accessible in your kitchen. Plan what you’re going to cook in advance. Write a shopping list and bring it to the store. Avoid being hungry while shopping, especially if you are an impulsive buyer without the strongest willpower. This will make you get through the adaptation phase faster (chronic old habits), and get into a good habits phase more easily, achieving fast and great results.
Please be patient. It takes more time for some people to see the results than for others, but rest assured that the results will come.
Do not over-complicate the process. Eating low-carbs should not be stressful, at least after getting into good habits. Your taste buds will change their preference after just one month, so the things you miss in the first month will usually not be missed at all later on.
Make it a habit to read the ingredient list on the groceries (select mainly good-quality ingredients, avoid glutamate, aspartame, etc., and look at the levels of “total carbohydrate” and “total sugar”).
Remember to drink enough water. If your new and healthier diet does not give you a sufficient feeling of satiety, drinking a large glass of water half an hour before the meal should help. Also, remember that it is not healthy to continue eating after feeling full.
If you feel tired or dizzy within the first few days of changing your diet, try taking a teaspoon of coconut oil with a little Himalayan salt on it.
If you aim to lose weight, then chart your progress with the low-carb diet. I recommend having a diary where you can write down what you eat, your goals, weight, or other things you feel you want to track.
Exercise regularly. Daily exercise is good for your body, soul, and mood. Choose the exercises you’ll enjoy. It may be a quick hike in the mountains, yoga, dancing, cycling, kayaking, weightlifting, or even activities with your children or grandchildren etc.
Get enough sleep and make sure you have a good quality sleep. Do not eat anything at least 3 hours prior to bedtime (the parasympathetic system is in digestion mode after a meal, and it recovers while you sleep. Only one mode can be activated at a time).
Avoid indulgence. Instead, find a healthy alternative to snacks in my recipe booklet.
The less activity you plan on having within the first few hours after a meal, the more careful you should be with carbs.
Start with a health assessment. To get a total assessment of the body, including the lifestyle measures which will make the biggest difference for you, it is recommended to have a health assessment at the Health Optimizing Clinic.
Do you need more help?
If you feel you need more help, I'm here for you.
I can offer private online consultations for:
helping adjust your favorite recipes to a low-carb diet
guidance regarding the questions about the low-carb diet and your needs
I will soon also offer monthly membership with:
online support (get help within 24 hours).
more recipes, with new ones coming out regularly.
videos showing easy ways to make delicious low-carb meals (in English)
The membership subscription is under construction. As an early member, you will have a unique opportunity to choose which info and recipes will come out first. This also means that there will be better opportunities for answering all your questions quickly and efficiently.
Regardless of your choices for living a quality life, I wish you a wonderful journey with a low-carb diet! You can do this!