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The Ultimate Guide To Starting Low Carb

Starting a low carb diet can be confusing, it takes much of what people have preached as diet dogma for years and turns it 100% in the other direction. Initially when just learning about how to eat low carb it can make your head spin.

I am here to tell you do not get discouraged, follow a few simple rules outlined in the below quick start plan and you will be on your way to getting started eating low carb. By taking baby steps easing into low carb and learning as you go serves a couple purposes and we will discuss those below.

Low Carb - Start Here!


First, you have to know yourself and your mind.  If you are the type of person that needs to ease into things then to get started on a low carb diet you should do the following:

Starting Option #1) Cut out sugar from your diet.  Start reading food labels and understand what exactly is in your foods, at this point do not worry about exactly how many carbs just look at how much sugar content is in the food and limit that to as low as possible

Starting Option #2) If you are the type of person who does better by just jumping in feet first then start by eating less than 20 net carbs for the first two weeks. Cut sugar and wheat from your diet as well.

The Promise Of Low Carb

Low carb is one of the easiest ways to lose weight.  Most people who start low carb find the following to be true:

  • Lose weight quickly
  • Feeling full and not overly hungry like a calorie restricted diet
  • Gain energy and experience a mental clarity

Fat Is Your Friend

For many years everyone preached low fat is the way to eat and the key to weight loss.  I am here to tell you this is not true.  If you are eating low or lower carb you need to increase your calories from fat to make up for the reduction in carbs.

There are numerous benefits to eating a high fat diet (yes you need to eat the right kinds of far, I will explain this later in the article).  Many people that start lowering their carbs and eating more of the right kinds of fat report higher mental clarity, improvement in many skin issues and less felling of constantly hungry.

What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a state you body enters when you have restricted carbs for a period of time, in layman terms it is where your body turns from burning carbs to burning fat for fuel.  Ketosis can be tested for with strips but personally I do not think this is needed.  Some other symptoms of Ketosis is strong breath almost metallic tasting, strong mental clarity and less hunger pains where you almost feel full all the time.

What Type of Side Effects From Going Low Carb?

When you first give up wheat and sugar you can often experience symptoms that are flu like, this is known as the "low carb flu." This is normal, the best course of action is to not eat carbs, tough it out for a day or two and it will go away.  If you eat carbs, namely sugar or wheat it will often last longer and potentially get worse.

Go Low Carb With Minimal Stress

The #1 way to successfully go low carb is to clean out your pantry of all trigger foods.  If you are the type of person who gets stressed, comes home and eats a bag of Oreos having Oreos in your house probably isn't a wise move.  

Purge your pantry of all foods that are going to derail you from your long term goals.

Review and print our low carb shopping list to ensure you have healthy low carb food items to construct your diet around.

If your family isn't taking the low carb journey with you request they help you avoid high carb treats.  The first two weeks while your body adjusts to this new way of eating is where you will likely get sugar cravings the most.  Once you get past that point you may not even have the desire to eat the old high sugar foods you are used to.

Pro Tip

Having abnormally high levels of stress can make you not lose weight even if you are doing everything else correctly.  If you have everything else dialed in in your eating and activity but have a lot of stress that may be the cause.  

To reduce stress you should do the following:

  • Spend more time outside walking, this can help reduce stress while increasing your activity level
  • Avoid stressful situations (duh),  many people think handling endless amounts of stressful situations is a badge of courage, what they don't understand is it increases the risk of health issues.
  • Learn to meditate, even for 5-10 minutes per day can do wonders for you and your weight loss goals.

What Can You Eat?

​Many recipes you find online are clones of food you ate before going low carb, if you are looking to lose weight and improve your health these low carb treats should be saved for occasional special occasions.  If the become a consistent part of your diet your weight loss will often stall and this will be a source of frustration for you.

For breakfast you should have as near zero net carbs as you can.  This will keep your fat burning continuing throughout the day until lunch time.

Sample Breakfast:  2 eggs cooked in butter, a sprinkle of cheese with some bacon, sausage or any other meat (i.e. leftover burger, chicken etc..)

Try to avoid snacking and eat larger meals if you find yourself hungry, but sometimes you may want a snack, check out our list of 50 fantastic low carb snacks.

Sample Lunch:  Protein of some sort, large salad, handful of nuts

I often go to the salad bar at work and make a big ass salad, throw on some tuna fish, green peppers and mushrooms, then use red wine vinegar and fresh cracked pepper for dressing.

Sample Dinner:  Protein of some sort, steamed broccoli and a couple slices of cheese

For more extensive meal ideas and recipes follow Lowcarbr on Pinterest.

Pro Tip

Avoid meats that have breading, the breading will often have a lot of carbs even though you may think it doesn't.  Also watch bbq sauce it usually has sugar, brown sugar or large amounts of honey that really add up the carbs.

For your first two weeks keep your carbs under 20 net carbs, avoid wheat and sugar.  

After your first two weeks most people can slowly raise their net carbs.  I would go from 20 net carbs to 30 net carbs.  Each week after this raise them by 10 carbs per week until you get to the 60-100 net carb range.  Remember just because you are getting additional net carbs, they should not come from sources with sugar and wheat.​

What Should You Avoid?

Obviously you should avoid eating foods high in carbs, white potatoes, bread, pasta, rice etc.. Later on if desired you can add back in some carbs (we will talk more about this later).  You should also avoid too much dairy or alcohol, both can stall weight loss.  If you do decide to drink a little alcohol check out our article about rum.​

Any Negative Side Effects Of Going Low Carb?

People react to changing diet in different ways.  Aside from the low carb flu we discuss above some people get headaches, this is often just at the beginning as your body adjusts from eating a lot of wheat and sugar to eating no wheat and minimal sugar.

Another potential side effect many people notice is a slight metalic taste in their mouth, this is often a sign of ketosis and nothing to worry about.​

The main thing to understand is all of these side effects are temporary, if you notice anything long term do more research and/or talk with a medical professional to ensure it isn't something more serious.​

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