SugarBane's Low Carb Diet Tips
Low Carb For Life
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Atkins for Life by Robert C. Atkins, M.D.
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Low Carb Diet Tips


You can have all meats, eggs, cheeses and some nuts/seeds in limited quantities, some low carb high fiber vegetables in moderate amounts and salads. The amount of vegetables and salads you can eat depends on what your daily carb limit is. Initially one starts off with very small quantities of vegetables and salads to keep their level UNDER 20 CARBS PER DAY, then after a few weeks, the amount of low carb vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, spinach, asparagus is increased. Salads are also increased as the weeks go on. Each person has to find that level of daily carb intake that is just right for them. That's the amount you can eat a day without stalling and still lose weight. Some people can eat 50 to 100 carbs a day and still lose weight, others have to keep under 20 or 30. See the Official Atkins Acceptable Low Carb Foods List here for more details on what you can have to eat.

You can get more detailed information on Atkins or other Low Carb Diet Plans by picking up one of the many Low Carb Diet Books available. 

A very good book for starting a low carb lifestyle is Jonny Bowden's book "Living the Low Carb Life: Atkins to the Zone, Choosing the Diet that's Right for You". You can find out more about it and pick up your copy at Amazon. Just click the book to the left or the text link above.

The foods you have to AVOID are all things with SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, FLOUR and anything that ends in "OSE" like Fructose, Sucrose, Dextrose etc.. In addition you can't eat any fruit (at least not at the beginning), no pasta, no bread of any kind, no grains, no rice, no potatoes, no corn and nothing that is breaded. 

The words "Sugar-Free" on product labels do not necessarily mean that the product is low carb. It could contain food starch, white flour or fruit with natural sugars. Be aware also that the FDA allows manufacturers to claim 0 carbs per serving if the manufacturer can get the actual carb count under 1. "Rounding-down" is a popular practice. You may be ingesting .9 carbs per serving instead of the "zero" you imagine. So count all zero carb servings as "1" carb unless you are absolutely certain the food has 0 carbs such as most meats. 

Also many products contain sugar-alcohols like Malitol and Glycerin. These have a low impact on blood sugar levels but some people are sensitive to these things and can stall or have carb cravings. You should read the ingredients on the label and if you are still unsure, calculate up the actual carb count using this formula:

Carb Grams times 4 + Fat Grams times 9 + Protein Grams times 4. Take this total and subtract it from the Calories listed on the label per serving. The result should then be divided by 4. Whatever number you get is the number of carbs which are coming from sugar-alcohols or fiber that are not being declared on the label. Alternately you can use this "Hidden Carb Calculator".

Finding your CCL (Critical Carb Level):

Basically you can eat all the meat, eggs and cheese you want to (pigging out is not recommended, just eat when you are hungry until you are not hungry anymore) and then restrict your veggies and salads to no more than 1 cup of regular veggies a day and 1 or 2 small salads a day for the first 2 or 3 weeks. Then increase the amount by a 1/2 cup a week for the next several weeks and stop increasing the amount when you see you are no longer losing weight. Then go back to the level where you were still losing weight and eat at that level from there on out. When you have lost what you need to, then increase your veggies and salads to your maintenance level to maintain your weight loss. If you go back to eating high carb foods you will regain all your weight and more. This is a way of life, not a diet. It requires a full time commitment to maintain your weight just like any other way of eating (be it low fat, vegetarianism, low calorie etc..).


You must drink at least 64 ounces of water per day plus and extra 8 ounces of water for each 25 pounds you are overweight. Water is necessary to keep your kidney's flushed out and to remove toxins from your body which are released from your fat cells since fat traps various toxins over the years. Water is also a necessary component of lypolysis (the breaking apart of fat cells). Without water your body can not effectively metabolize fat and your weight loss will crawl. Drink till you float. 


Many people find it helpful to take fat metabolizing supplements like CLA, Chromium Picolinate, Carnitine, Sellenium, B-Complex and others. Flax Seed Oil is high in Omega 3 which is a thermogenic compound that helps your body burn fat. By sipping a few tablespoons of flaxseed oil each day you will also be helping your body burn fat. This is why low carbers say to "Eat Meat, Drink Water, Sip Oil and Keep moving". Exercise is always important and will help raise your metabolism. Try to do as much as you can do. Check out my own comprehensive listing of  the best Low Carb Diet Supplements.

Since dieting affects the thyroid's ability to create sufficient hormone to support your metabolic needs you should have your thyroid function checked regularly. It's just a simple blood test. As many as 25 million Americans have hypothyroidism and of that number only half know they have it! That half usually finds out about it when they try to go on a diet. No one really knows why Americans have hypothyroidism, some suspect food additives which attack the thyroid, others blame environmental toxins. The bottom line is that most doctors know little about the symptoms and even fewer diagnose it. In any event, it's a good idea to take a Thyroid Health Supplement of natural vitamins and herbs which are well known for supporting proper thyroid function. The thyroid controls your metabolism, regulates your sex drive and stabilizes your moods. If you are having problems with weight (despite good diet and exercise), problems with sex and or depression you may have a thyroid problem.


Some people find they get tired very easy and have leg or muscle cramps the first week or two. This is due to the loss of potassium because it is flushed from the body with the initial water loss that comes from switching to low carb. To avoid this, take a Potassium supplement (99mg three times a day) for the first several weeks. If you take any type of potassium sparing "water pill" for blood pressure, check with your Dr first as this may not be compatible with the blood pressure medicine. If you aren't taking any BP meds then it's safe to take the potassium.

Carb Withdrawal:

During the first 3 or 4 days you will experience severe carb withdrawal which consists of fatigue, headaches, irritability, intense cravings for sweets or starches, some intestinal disturbances, mild queasiness and an increase in hunger. These will pass. Drink tons of water, eat mostly meat, cheeses and eggs whenever you are hungry and try to rest. You can take 1000 mg of L-Glutamine (an amino acid available at GNC and other health food stores) to help with the cravings for carby foods. By the 4th or 5th day the worst will be past and as you start the second week, you will feel an increase in energy, mood and your appetite will be suppressed due to ketosis.


Once withdrawn from carbohydrates the body will switch over to burning fat for fuel. When the intake of fat and protein is not sufficient it will break open the fat stored in your fat cells for fuel and this is why you need lots of water and fat metabolizing enzymes. You can measure your ketosis by buying test strips from your pharmacy. Just ask for Ketostix and check your urine with them at the same time each day. Any shade from light pink to dark purple is good. Darker is not better. Depth of reading is usually due to the fat content you've eaten or the lack of water in your system making the ketones read higher. The test strips do not differentiate between fat burned from eaten foods and fat burned from stored fat. So long as it's not beige you are doing good. NOTE: some people never reach ketosis and still lose weight fine on low carb so don't obsess. It's just another tool to help you on your journey.


Don't weigh everyday unless you can handle it. Scale weight measures water and waste in the body as well as fat so there can be several pounds of fluctuation from day to day especially in women. Weekly or monthly weighing is more recommended. Measuring is the tool of preference as muscle and fat weigh the same. But since muscle takes up less space than fat you can show a loss in inches while never seeing the scale change. So this is why it's recommended that one pick a pair of pants to use as a measure. Preferably a pair that is a size or two small so that you can see the progress as the weeks go on an eventually the pants will fit perfectly. Sometimes women only see a weight loss on the scales during one week of the month. Women lose weight at half the rate men do and generally they lose it in spurts separated by long plateaus. If you know this going into the program it makes it a lot easier. There is always an initial Whoosh of weight loss during the first 2 or 3 weeks and then after that it either plateaus for a few weeks or it slows to a crawl and then does another mini-whoosh. Many people get discouraged during the first plateau or think they are doing something wrong. This is normal. It's just the body readjusting itself and trying to find it's new metabolic setpoint. This plateau time varies depending on an individual's body and past dieting experiences. The body NEVER FORGETS. It's very common to plateau for long periods of time at any weight you previously spent a lot of time at during some other weight loss period. This is a form of metabolic setpoint memory. Eventually with exercise and proper nutrition you can get your body back on track and losing weight each time you hit these mini-stalls. Understanding why it's happening is half the battle.


Getting adequate support from both family and friends is essential but in the absence of that, you can find support and information on the internet by joining one or more of the great low carb message forums or E-mail mailing list groups. 

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It's very important (especially on this way of eating) to vary your daily diet with new and interesting foods. If you don't, you may get bored with the same old foods and be tempted to go back to your old fare. There are thousands of wonderful low carb recipes and meal ideas available. Check out the links I have to them in my resource directory under the headings: "Recipes" and "E-mail Support" (the recipe exchange lists specifically).  This site has a good collection of Low Carb Cookbooks to choose from!

Additionally, rotating through your foods will help prevent you from developing food intolerances or allergies. These happen when you eat the same thing over and over without variation and intolerances to foods can cause stalls in weight loss among other health problems.  Lastly there are many wonderful low carb food alternatives available to help cut your cravings for bread, pasta, pizza and candy/cake. Check out the best low carb products at Netrition.

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The material posted here on Low Carb for Life should NOT be considered medical advice and is NOT intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional. Please consult a medical doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications.

LowCarb4Life 2004