Getting Started

Most people have been cutting their fat and reducing their calories for so long that they simply can’t imagine increasing their intake of saturated fats or following a low-carb diet.

Initially, you may still crave carbohydrates while your body converts from burning carbohydrates to ketosis (burning fat). After a few days of lowering your carb intake, your blood sugar will stabilize, insulin levels will be greatly reduced, and your weight and cravings for carbohydrates will start dropping.

Every once in a while, you may miss carbs, but as you get used to this new way of eating, you’ll think about it less and less. You will be content, satisfied, and never hungry, and not nearly as obsessed with food as you used to be.

My choice between always being hungry on low-calorie or low-fat diets versus never being hungry on a low-carb diet was an easy one for me.

Preparation

Before starting a low-carb diet, you need to be pre-pared. Being prepared includes everything from shop-ping, clearing out the junk food from your pantry, knowing what to eat and what to avoid, and document-ing your vital signs.

Almost everyone regrets not taking measurements and/or pictures before starting a low-carb diet, so please take this step. Having your “before” weight, measurements, blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood glucose ensures that you can compare your success outside of just the scales.

Ideally, you will document your measurements and blood work every 6 to 12 months so you can have something to compare against. The reason for this is to be able to compare your success with your cholesterol numbers, say, six months from your start date, in order to see how far you’ve come. You could even take note of smaller successes, say, once every month.

Once you start losing weight, several of your friends may start making comments such as, “But I bet your blood pressure or cholesterol level is high”. Having these numbers will allow you to demonstrate your success not just visually to your friends but also scientifically.

These are the things you should document:

Weight

You should weigh yourself on a scale that you’ll have easy access to, and remember to weigh yourself at the same time of each day. Generally most people choose to weigh themselves each morning before breakfast, as your weight won’t be influenced by water weight or any other factors at that point.

Body Fat Percentage

Generally, we talk about losing weight, but our ultimate goal is to lose fat. Many of the new scales today will provide you with this number, though if you’d like a more accurate result, then skin fold calipers are more accurate while DEXA scans or hydrostatic weighing are the most accurate—though they are rather expensive. An inexpensive way to check your body fat percentage is to simply use a tape measure and plug in the numbers into a body fat percentage calculator online.

Waist and Hip

Of greater importance than overall fat is something called “visceral fat” or “abdominal fat”; this is the fat that is around the organs and in our liver. You should measure your hips and waist, because some weeks you may not be losing fat but instead be losing inches off your waist and hips.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure often responds well to a low-carb diet. If your blood pressure is high, you might want to track your blood pressure at home. If you are taking blood pressure medication, be sure to tell your doctor about your diet, as it’s very common to need to change the amount of medication you will need. This is very important!

Blood Glucose

Your blood glucose after eating will be lower if you are eating fewer carbohydrates. Whether you are diabetic or not, you will want to measure this. If you are taking any medication for blood sugar, inform your doctor about the change in your diet.

Blood Lipids

Expect to see HDL, or “good” cholesterol, go up and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, go down.

 

Shopping Advice

No special low-carb foods are needed. You can find nearly everything at a supermarket or grocery store in the meat, cheese, dairy and produce departments, or at your local farmer’s market.

Watching carbs to lose weight or stay healthy should not cost you a fortune, which is why including high-priced foods in your diet is not necessary. There are countless less costly, yet delicious, options that are low in carbs. So let’s get started on saving you money on the most delicious, low-carb foods!

We all know that packaged food is costly. Begin with home-cooked meals with dishes consisting of tender meat and fresh vegetables. Prepackaged junk foods will only shrink your wallet in exchange for growing your waistline.

You may want to consider purchasing foods that are in season, like fruits and veggies when they are in season as they will taste better and will be cheaper. When produce is flown in from other countries, it is usually more expensive. By purchasing vegetables in season you can freeze them, allowing you to have your favorites all year around for less!

It’s even possible to spend less on meat. While the ex-pensive beef tenderloin is a tasty cut of meat, the chuck and sirloin cuts are also delicious meals at a much reduced price. They contain streaks of fat run-ning throughout the meat, a thing that makes them tender, juicier and super delicious. They are best suit-able to slow-cooking, as well as soups, stews, braises, and roasts.

In the same respect, protein that is priced right helps stretch your dollar, as well. Try looking for sales on meats and freezing them. There is more to controlling carbs than meat. Break the repetition of your dinner meat by including some eggs. Besides, you can prepare them in any way you like: poached, scrambled, omelet, or no-crust quiche, the options are limitless! Additionally, if you plan menus for your low-carb meals and know what you’re going to eat ahead of time, then you can shop once a week or even once a month, freezing leftovers where appropriate. This will help with those pesky impulse purchases in addition to ensuring that you only have foods that you’ve planned for in advance!

You can save on snacks, too. Get low-carb snacks, including shakes and nutrition bars, for a cheap price during store specials. Try to buy these in bulk. Under-stand websites that offer items that you regard as your favorites, and sign up for their newsletters to catch their sales. Don’t fail to check for coupons in newspaper circulars, as well.

Furthermore, make dishes that can serve as double recipes, so you can have dinner for one or two other nights. Likewise, make meals that can serve double-duty, like lunch the next day. Use your low-carb leftovers to stretch your dollar.

By planning your recipes and meals for the week, you can save time, money, along with willpower to not give in to urges for your old habits, too!

I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations, if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, and cereals. If you have other people living in your household who also consume these goods, perhaps consider having a locked pantry so you cannot access these naughty goods until you’re either deep enough in ketosis to not be tempted or have enough willpower to say no.

Fiber Doesn’t Count

By the way, when you’re looking at labels to find out how many carbs something has, don’t forget to sub-tract the fiber. “Net Carbs” are the total carbs minus the fiber. Fiber doesn’t count. It is a carb, but you can’t digest it. That’s what fiber means: an indigestible carb. So, it doesn’t have any effect on your insulin. It doesn’t put sugar into your bloodstream; it just passes right through you.

For example, a stalk of broccoli has 8 grams of carbs; but 5 grams are fibers. So, a stalk of broccoli really has only 3 grams of carbs. That’s what some labels call “net carbs” or “effective carbs.”

What to Eat

This is merely a shortlist to get you started. You will find much more inspiration on the many low-carb websites, blogs, and books listed in the resources section.

When buying foods, always read the labels and always buy full-fat products. Never buy the low-fat, reduced fat or even zero-fat products. These products contain added sugar to replace the flavor removed when the fat was removed. Also, be sure to check the labels of products such as bacon, beef jerky, soup stocks, and deli meats as they often contain added sugar, fillers, or nitrates.

Below I’ve included a list of grocery items you can rotate through as a low-carb dieter.

Fats & Oils

  • Butter

  • Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

  • Fresh lard from naturally raised animals

  • Extra Virgin, cold pressed, unfiltered Olive Oil

  • Cold pressed nut oils for salad dressings

  • Coconut milk

Fruits

  • Avocado & coconut

  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries

  • Cantaloupe & red grapes (these are higher in carbohydrates, so watch how many you eat)

  • Canned organic tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste]

Canned Protein

  • Sardines, herring, mackerel in water or olive oil

  • Tuna and wild salmon in water

  • Chicken, turkey, and beef

  • Smoked herring

  • Clams & oysters

Condiments & Spices

  • Pickles

  • Black and green olives

  • Green or red salsa

  • Canned green chilies

  • Sauerkraut

  • Taco enchilada sauce

  • Horseradish and wasabi powder

  • Tamari sauce and miso

  • Fish sauce and toasted sesame oil

  • Olive oil mayonnaise

  • Clam juice, fish broth, chicken broth, and beef broth

  • Mushrooms, fresh or dried

  • Pure vanilla

  • All the herbs and spices your heart desires

Protein

  • Any and all cuts of Beef

  • Any and all cuts of Pork

  • Any and all cuts of Poultry

  • Any and all cuts of Lamb or mutton]

  • Organ meats

  • Fresh Eggs from poultry

  • Fish and Shellfish

Frozen Foods

  • Green beans, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower

  • Whole cranberries, blueberries

  • Meats, poultry and fish

Preserved Protein

  • Sausages and bacon

  • Beef Jerky – watch out for added sugar

  • Pemmican, pork rinds

  • Pickled eggs, herring

Cheese & Dairy

  • Most cheeses, such as: triple cream brie, white cheddar, jarlsberg, gouda, parmesan, Monte-rey, mozzarella, stilton, or Havarti

  • Cream cheese, full fat ricotta, or cottage cheese

  • Cultured yogurt

  • Heavy cream]

  • Half and half

  • Sour cream

Nuts & Seeds

  • Raw almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews

  • Dry roasted almonds and macadamia nuts

  • Hazelnuts and Brazil nuts

  • Raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Vegetables

  • Dark, leafy greens, such as kale, mustard greens, collards and chard

  • Salad greens like romaine, iceberg, and spinach

  • Summer squash, such as zucchini, crookneck, and patty pan

  • Peppers, like green and red chilies

  • Alliums like red and yellow onions, scallions, shal-lots, and garlic

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprout

  • Green beans, snow peas (not sweet peas)

  • Green and red cabbage, Napa cabbage, endive, escarole

  • Celery, cardoon, artichokes

  • Eggplant, asparagus, cucumbers

  • Turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga

  • Mushrooms, fresh or dried

  • Fresh herbs

  • Seaweed

What to Avoid

“Few people have ‘old age’ as a cause of death on their death certificate. Today we die of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis, diabetes, and so on. And we accept these conditions as normal causes of death. They aren’t – and neither are ill-health, pain and discomfort that make our later years a misery.

“Do you practice ‘healthy eating’, consuming your ‘five portions of fruit and vegetables’ per day and shunning fats in favor of complex carbohydrates? Then you could be doing exactly what is most harmful to your health and helping to support one of the world’s biggest most lucrative industries – the healthcare industry.” – Barry Groves, author of Trick and Treat: How ‘Healthy Eating’ is making Us Ill.

Below are the following things you should avoid and the reasons why.

Industrial Vegetable/Seed Oils

  • Damages cell membranes

  • Are too high in Omega-6 fatty acids

  • Suppresses the immune system

  • Can cause cells to become cancerous

  • A major cause of macular degeneration

Industrial vegetable/seed oils include: canola, corn, soybean, “vegetable”, peanut, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, grape seed, and margarine.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

  • Fructose is a major contributor to insulin resistance

  • Must be metabolized by the liver

  • Contributes to non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

  • Causes a rise in serum glucose

  • Zero nutrition]

Grains and Brans

  • Complex carbs are still carbs – they are broken down into glucose

  • High in carbohydrates

  • Low in nutrition

  • Gluten is a cause of many gastrointestinal disorders

  • Bran damages the lining of the intestine and colon

Processed Foods

  • Not natural

  • Contain many additives and preservatives

  • Almost always contain added sugars and fake fats

  • Made with the cheapest ingredients possible

  • Low nutrition

Sweeteners

  • Agave syrup, Honey – high in fructose

  • Maple syrup – raises blood glucose and insulin

  • Splenda (increases insulin production by 20%), Sugar Twin, NutraSweet, Aspartame

  • Sucrose

  • Corn syrup

  • Sugar alcohols – erythritol, maltitol, those ending in –ol (however, etythritol and xylitol don’t seem to stall certain people, so if it works for you then go for it!)

High Sugar Fruits and Juices

  • Contain fructose

  • Cause a spike in serum glucose

  • Cause a rise in serum insulin

  • Relatively low in nutrition]

Starchy Vegetables

  • Complex carbs are still carbs – they are broken down into glucose

  • Cause a rise in serum glucose

  • Cause a rise in serum insulin

  • May include if carbs are kept within a maximum limit per meal

Non-Fat and Low-Fat Dairy

  • Contain too many carbohydrates

  • Contain bad fats and synthetic ingredients

Unfermented Soy

  • Physic acid inhibits absorption of minerals in the gut

  • Phytoestrogens and isoflavones are toxic to estrogen sensitive tissues

  • Protease inhibitors block the enzymes needed for protein digestion

  • Goitrogens inhibit thyroid activity]

  • Exhibit carcinogenic effects

Additives and Preservatives

  • Sodium benzoate

  • Casein

  • Sodium nitrate and nitrite

Manufactured protein sources

  • Soy isolate (although this does lower bad cholesterol)

Electrolytes

Traditional low-fat or low-calorie diets cause the body to store water. If you are following one of these diets, the addition of salt will cause your kidneys to store even more water, putting you at risk to have high blood pressure.

On a low-carb diet, your blood sugar will start to stabilize after 3-4 days, and your kidneys will begin to re-lease all this extra fluid, and you will no longer store this extra water. While it’s great to get rid of the excess toxins from our body more quickly, it comes at a cost. As the excess fluid leaves, it takes with it sodium and potassium. This can cause fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, dizziness, and cramping. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you have an imbalance of electrolytes.

Sodium

Ensure that you are adding sea salt to each of your meals. Since your blood sugar levels will stabilize, you will not be retaining the extra water and no, you will not get high blood pressure from the salt.

Potassium

Supplements can be purchased in 99-100mg dosages from your local pharmacy. I suggest taking between 2-4 tablets per day. If you’re on blood pressure medication, ask your doctor if it’s okay to take potassium.

Magnesium

Your blood glucose after eating will be lower if you are eating fewer carbohydrates. Whether you are diabetic or not, you will want to measure this. If you are taking any medication for blood sugar, inform your doctor about the change in your diet.

 

Food Substitutions

  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • French Fries
  • Flour
  • Ketchup
  • Pancakes
  • Ice Cream
  • Sorbet
  • Pie Crust
  • Spaghetti
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Lasagna
  • Pizza
  • Stevia
  • Coconut, almond, or hemp milk (unsweetened)
  • Mashed Cauliflower
  • Grated Cauliflower
  • Sliced Turnips or Zucchini
  • Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, or Protein Powder
  • Tomato Paste, Water, and Stevia
  • Protein powder, Eggs, and Water
  • Heavy Cream, Coconut Milk, or Almond Milk
  • Frozen Fruit, Coconut Milk/Almond Milk, and Stevia
  • Ground Almonds
  • Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini
  • Mashed Cauliflower Instead of Potatoes
  • Eggplant or Zucchini Lasagna
  • Cauliflower, Zucchini, Almond FLour, or Eggplant

Sample Meal Plan

While there is an endless supply of different variations to a low-carb meal plan one can find and learn online, it is imperative to at least start off knowing a few basic meal plan ideas to kick start your low-carb dieting efforts. I have provided some ideas for each meal category to get you started. It is important to expand your low-carb dieting meal variations. Have a look at some of the links and cookbooks provided in the resources chapter of this book for more cooking ideas.

Monday 

Breakfast: Omelet with bell peppers and mushrooms, fried in butter or coconut oil

Snack: Sugar-free Jell-O with whipped cream

Lunch: Cheeseburger (no bun), served with zucchini “fries” and salsa

Snack: Pork rinds

Dinner: Chicken breast, served with roasted vegetables and a small salad

Tuesday

Breakfast: Bacon and eggs

Snack: Pepperoni sticks

Lunch: Leftover burgers and veggies from the night before

Snack: String cheese

Dinner: Salmon with butter and parmesan-roasted asparagus

Wednesday

Breakfast: Protein shake: 2 scoops of Low-carb protein powder, 1 tsp of flax/chia seeds, 2 tsp blueberries, and coconut/almond milk or water

Snack: Broccoli or cauliflower with no-sugar added full fat ranch

Lunch: Shrimp salad with olive oil

Snack: No crust, low carb pumpkin pie with whipped cream

Dinner: Grilled chicken with bacon- and onion-fried cabbage

Thursday

Breakfast: Turkey egg cups (Place slices of deli turkey in a muffin tin, crack an egg open in each one and add desired spices and cheese, bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes)

Snack: Minimum 85% dark chocolate (check the labels to make sure the carb count is low and has about 5 net carbs for 4 big squares)

Lunch: Tuna salad with olive oil, full-fat mayonnaise, and salt and pepper

Snack: Jalapeno poppers (stuff jalapenos with cream cheese and wrap them with bacon, bake at 350 degrees until bacon has reached desired crispiness)

Dinner: Steak and mushrooms fried in butter and caramelized onions

Friday

Breakfast: No-crust spinach and ham quiche

Snack: Cucumber subs (cucumbers sliced length-wise with cream cheese and desired meat on top)

Lunch: Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach on the side

Snack: “Cheese crisps” (Grated hard cheese mixed with desired spices and baked on wax paper for a few minutes until melted, let harden)

Dinner: Meatballs with spaghetti squash and low carb tomato sauce

Saturday

Breakfast: Protein powder pancakes: 2 eggs, 2 scoops of protein powder mixed, add just enough water to form dough, and fry like a pancake. Feel free to add in some cocoa powder or cinnamon

Snack: Handful of walnuts or almonds

Lunch: Pork chops with vegetables

Snack: Fat bombs (Coconut oil, peanut butter, cocoa powder, butter, and artificial sweetener are melted together and frozen to make delicious ready-to-go treats!). View this recipe online at lowcarbcoach.com

Dinner: Low-carb Shepherd’s Pie: ground meat base, vegetables, cauliflower to replace the potato with butter on top

Sunday

Breakfast: One-minute flax muffins (flax seed meal, baking powder, sweetener, cinnamon, egg, and a bit of oil or butter are mixed together and microwaved for a bit over a minute on high. Add desired low-carb toppings or additional flavors to spice it up!)

Snack: Pizza bites (mushroom caps filled with diced pepperoni, tomato sauce, and cheese, baked until cheese is bubbly)

Lunch: Bacon-wrapped chicken, served with a big salad with full-fat, no sugar added dressing

Snack: Peanut butter cookies (100% natural peanut butter mixed with 1 egg and cinnamon and sweetener to taste are baked by the rounded spoonful).

Dinner: Slow-cooked pork tenderloin, served with mashed cauliflower drizzled with butter and complemented with garlic