If you want to lose weight and get healthy, low-carb is the way to go. After more than two decades as a weight-loss transformation expert, I can tell you that there’s no more effective way to take off pounds.
Yet embarking on a low-carb journey can be tough, especially when you don’t see that extra weight coming off right away. I often receive emails from patients who say: “I feel good, but I’m not losing any weight! What’s up with that?”
If you’re experiencing the same frustration, know this: When your body gets totally healthy and you ditch the sugary high-carb foods that cause blood sugar swings, inflammation, and gut damage, you will eventually begin to lose weight naturally. You just need to give your body time to flip its fat-burning switch to “on” so you become a natural fat burner. The magic will happen!
In the meantime, if you’ve been eating low-carb for a while and feel you still haven’t “taken off,” here are some troubleshooting tips. The first tips focus on what you’re eating, and the last few are all about your lifestyle.
ARE YOU …
- Eating too much fruit? Eating too much fruit is easy to do. You push all the junk off your plate in your new eating regimen and replace it with an overload of fruit. Just because fruit is natural doesn’t mean you can go to town. Fruit has fructose, and although some fruit can be very nutritious, consuming too much high-carb fruit can create havoc in the insulin department. A good serving size is a closed handful of berries or chopped fruit, and half of a larger piece of fruit like a grapefruit or a large apple.
- Eating too many nuts? Just because nuts are on the low-carb “yes” list, doesn’t mean it’s time to scarf! A nut serving size is a closed handful. Period. Not half a bag. Nuts will pile on the pounds if you crunch away on them mindlessly. Also, many nuts have an off-balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which won’t help you move toward health.
- Keeping foods on the “no” list in your kitchen? I think you know where I’m going with this. Don’t keep chips and cookies and other high-carb stuff in your pantry or fridge for a rainy day. Donate, or, better yet, toss them. No need to explain this one.
- Indulging in low-carb treats too often? I’m super glad you’re eating foods with healthy ingredients. Bravo! And if you want to eat low-carb packaged cookies, breads, treats, and sweets once in a while, go for it. Just don’t make it routine or the pounds will start creeping on. Low-carb pancakes, breads, muffins, and cookies are totally yummy, but make sure you’re aware of how much you’re actually eating.
- Skipping the fat? Many people have ingrained in their minds that fat is evil. Some fats may be, but healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado oil are anything but evil. Adding the right quantities of fat to your diet actually helps you lose fat. Try it; you’ll see.
- Eating too much healthy fat? Again, quantity is an issue here. I love coconut fats, olives and avocados, animal fats, nuts, and nut butters. They feed our bodies deep nutrition. But when I first started eating low-carb, I downed too many coconut chips and nuts, and was way too liberal with my drizzle oils. When I adjusted the quantities, I adjusted my weight.Here’s a good guideline: A serving size is no more than two teaspoons of fats and oils (including coconut oil, coconut butter, and drizzle oils like olive and avocado oils), or a closed handful of coconut chips, olives, or nuts. Count one-half of an avocado as a serving. Full-fat coconut milk is best, and one-third of a can is a serving size.
- Not measuring your food properly? You probably don’t need to think about portion control all the time, but you should get used to glancing at your food and making sure you’re not getting three times what your body needs. Figuring out how much food you actually need is a real eye-opener for most people. In addition to the guidelines for fats that I outlined above, here are some additional rules of thumb. Protein should be the size of the palm of your hand. You can fill the perimeter of your plate with non-starchy veggies. And if you need some starchy or dense carbohydrates, a good serving size is one to two cups, depending on your needs.
- Falling into an automatic eating habit? After you start feeling and looking better, you may start to relax a little too much and fall into some of your old patterns. Remember why you started this new lifestyle in the first place and make sure that you’re eating low-carb as a rule, not an exception. When you realize you’re having a gelato or a martini one too many times, be intuitive about it. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and shift back to the plan.
- Not completely letting go? Letting go of a lot of foods may be pretty easy, but clutching onto that one food or drink you struggle to let go of may be making it hard for your body to dump the weight. People commonly hold onto drinks and snacks with artificial sugars. These foods and drinks are destructive to your weight loss (and health) efforts. It’s time to let go!
- Not getting enough sleep? Sleep deprivation causes you to gain weight, while decent sleep helps you to lose weight. Not sleeping enough causes you and your body systems (including important hormones) to become sluggish and inefficient. When your body slows down, you gain weight.
- Not organized? If you don’t get organized with meals and pantry updates and planning ahead with regard to what you’ll eat at holiday parties, birthday bashes, etc., you’re asking for trouble. Have lots of “yes” foods on hand at all times. Remember, a starving body can convince you of almost anything and can even rationalize the benefits of a Twinkie! Avoid setting yourself up for grabbing foods on the run that are surely going to keep you from achieving your healthy weight.
- Expecting results too quickly? If you expect results fast or even at a moderate pace, you may be disappointed. For some people, it takes a while for weight to normalize. A low-carb diet is by no means a quick-fix diet. It’s a lifestyle diet that leads to forever results. Trust me on this one. It will happen.
- Not managing stress? If you or anyone you know is thin yet still has that “tire” around the waist, chances are it’s a cortisol tire. Too much stress means too much cortisol is released, giving you a middle-aged gut no matter how old you are! If your goal is weight loss, make stress management part of your plan.
When you get a handle on all of the above, the magic will happen. Be patient and trust that your body will do what it needs to do.
One final tip: As you dial in your low-carb strategy add a few mini-fasts each week to boost your weight loss efforts!
Keep thinking big and living bold!
** Article written for MindBodyGreen