It’s an old idea that if you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread): For 150 years or more there have been an infinite number of weight loss diets based on eating less carbs. What’s new is that at least 17 modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
Obviously it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat less calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later a normal person gives up and eats, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
The main advantage of low carb diets is that they cause you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, avoiding it may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to eat a suitable number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.
A 2012 study also showed that people on a low carb diet burned 300 more calories a day – while resting! According to one of the Harvard professors behind the study this advantage “would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity”. Imagine that: an entire bonus hour of exercise every day, without actually doing it.
Bottom line: A low carb diet reduces your hunger and makes it easier to eat less. And it might even increase your fat burning at rest. Study after study show that low carb is the smart way to lose weight and that it improves important health markers.
Don’t be hungry. The most common mistake when starting a low carb diet: Reducing carb intake while still being afraid of fat. The problem is that carbs and fat are the body’s two main energy sources. It needs at least one.
Avoiding both carbs and fat results in hunger, cravings and fatigue. Sooner or later people can’t stand it and give up. The solution is to eat more natural fat until you feel satisfied. For example:
Meat (including the fat)
Coconut oil, etc.
Always eat enough, so that you feel satisfied, especially in the beginning of the weight-loss process. Doing this on a low carb diet means that the fat you eat will be burned as fuel by your body, as your levels of the fat storing hormone insulin will be lowered. You’ll become a fat burning machine. You’ll lose excess weight without hunger.
Do you still fear saturated fat? Don’t. The fear of saturated fat is based on obsolete theories that have been proven incorrect by modern science. Butter is fine food. However, feel free to eat mostly unsaturated fat (e.g. olive oil, avocado, fatty fish) if you prefer. This could be called a Mediterranean low carb diet and works great too.
Eating when hungry also implies something else: If you’re not hungry you probably don’t need to eat yet. When on a LCHF diet you can trust your feelings of hunger and satiety again. Feel free to eat the number of times per day that works best for you.
Some people eat three times a day and occasionally snack in between (note that frequent snacking could mean that you’d benefit from adding fat to your meals, to increase satiety). Some people only eat once or twice a day and never snack. Whatever works for you. Just eat when you’re hungry.