How to Effortlessly Lose Weight Eating a Low-carb Diet. Do you have trouble losing weight? Or would you like to lose faster? You’ve come to the right place. The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering, and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually, almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. Get ready for effortless weight loss. The bottom line? Your weight is hormonally regulated. All that’s necessary is reducing your fat-storing hormone, insulin, and you’ll effortlessly lose excess weight. Below is a practical step-by-step guide to doing exactly that.
1. Choose a low-carb diet
If you want to lose weight, you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread). It’s an old idea: For 150 years or more, there has been an infinite number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most efficient way to lose weight.
It’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simple 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 will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting.”
The main advantage of the low carb diet 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, while avoiding them may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to have an appropriate number of calories you don’t need to bother counting 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 exercising.
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 shows that low-carb is the smart way to lose weight and that it improves important health markers.
2. Eat when hungry
Don’t be hungry. The most common mistake when starting a low carb diet: Reducing carb intake while still being afraid of fat. Carbs and fat are the body’s two primary energy sources, and it needs at least one of them.
Low carb AND low fat equal starvation. 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:
- Full-fat cream
- Olive oil
- Meat (including the fat)
- Fatty fish
- Coconut oil, etc.
Always eat enough, so that you feel satisfied, especially at 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 insfat-storinge 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 old 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. It 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 low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet you can trust your feelings of hunger and satiety again. Feel free to eat as many 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 best for you. Just eat when you’re hungry.
3. Eat real food
Another common mistake when eating a low-carb diet is getting fooled by the creative marketing of particular “low carb” products. Remember: An effective low-carb diet for weight loss should be based on real food, like this:
Real food is what humans have been eating for thousands or (even better) millions of years, e.g., meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, butter, olive oil, nuts, etc.
If you want to lose weight, you’d better avoid individual “low-carb” products that are full of carbs. Creative marketers are doing all they can to fool you (and get your money). They will tell you that you can eat cookies, pasta, ice cream, bread and plenty of chocolate on a low-carb diet, as long as you buy their brand. They’re full of carbohydrates. Don’t be fooled.
How about low-carb bread? Be careful: if it’s baked with grains, it’s probably not low carb. But some companies still try to sell it to you as a low-carb option.
Low-carb chocolate is usually full of sugar alcohols, which the manufacturer does not count as carbs. But roughly half of these carbs may be absorbed, raising blood sugar and insulin. The rest of the carbs ends up in the colon, potentially causing gas and diarrhea. Furthermore, any sweeteners can maintain sugar cravings. Here are three examples of what to avoid:
- Atkins’ fairy-tale cookies
- Julian Bakery’s high-carb low-carb bread
- The Dreamfields pasta fraud (that finally resulted in an 8 million dollar fine!)
These three companies are not unique. There are thousands of similar companies trying to trick you into buying their “low carb” junk food, full of starch, sugar alcohols, wheat flour, sweeteners, and additives. Two simple rules to avoid this junk:
Don’t eat “low carb” versions of high carb stuff, like cookies, bars, chocolate, bread, pasta or ice cream – unless you are SURE of the ingredients (perhaps from making it yourself).
Avoid products with the words “net carbs” on them. That’s usually just a way to fool you.
Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally, the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be concise).
Less moderation, more quality. Forget about the failed “everything in moderation” diet motto of clueless dietitians. It’s terrible advice and Americans who eat a more diverse diet gain more weight.
Don’t eat everything in moderation. Eat as much healthy food as you can, whenever you are hungry. Eat as little unhealthy garbage as you can. If possible none at all.
4. Eat only when hungry
On a low-carb diet, you should aim to eat when hungry. And if you’re not hungry? Don’t eat it. Nothing slows down weight loss more than frequently eating a lot of food that you do not need. It’s so important that it’s worth this section of its own.
Unnecessary snacking can be a problem on LCHF too. Some things are easy to eat just because they’re tasty and readily available. Here are three common traps to watch out for on LCHF:
Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking as it satisfies. The problem is if you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the TV in the evening… without being hungry. Be careful with that. Or lots of cream with dessert, when you’re already full and keep eating because it tastes good. Or another common culprit: loads of heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
Nuts. It’s effortless to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are. A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip: Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch, preferably choose a small bowl instead. I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.
LCHF baking. Even if you’re only using almond flour and sweeteners snacking on baked goods and cookies usually provides additional eating when you’re not hungry, and yes, this will slow down weight loss.
Do you have to eat breakfast? No, of course not. Don’t eat if you’re not hungry. And this goes for any meal.
On a strict LCHF diet, the hunger and urge to eat decreases a lot, especially if you have excess weight to lose. Your body may be happily burning your fat stores, reducing the need to eat. If this happens, be happy! Don’t fight it by eating food you don’t want. Instead, wait for the hunger to return before you eat again. It will save you both time and money while speeding up your weight loss.
Some people fear that they will lose control if they don’t eat every three hours, thus making them eat thousands of calories and blowing their diets altogether. So they obsessively snack all the time.
This obsessive snacking may be necessary on a diet high in sugar/processed carbs to control hunger cravings, but it’s usually completely unnecessary on an LCHF diet. Hunger will only slowly return, and you’ll have plenty of time to prepare food or grab a snack.
To lose weight quickly and sustainably: Eat when you’re hungry – but only when you’re hungry. Forget the clock and listen to your body instead.
5. Measure your progress wisely
Tracking successful weight loss is sometimes trickier than you’d think. Focusing only on weight and stepping on the scale every day might be misleading, cause unnecessary anxiety and undermine your motivation for no good reason.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. It’s especially true if you’re coming off an extended period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
Losing fat and gaining muscles means excellent progress, but you may miss this if you only measure your weight. Thus it’s smart to also track the disappearance of your belly fat, by measuring your waist circumference. Here’s how to do it:
- Put the measuring tape around your middle, like in the picture above, slightly above your belly button (to be exact: at the midpoint between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone, at your side)
- Exhale and relax (don’t suck in your stomach)
- Make sure the measuring tape fits snuggly, without compressing your skin
I suggest measuring your waist circumference and weight before starting your weight-loss journey and then perhaps once a week or once a month. Write the results down so that you can track your progress. If you want, you can measure more areas: around the buttocks, the chest, the arms, legs, etc.
Note that your weight can fluctuate up and down several pounds from day to day, depending on fluid balance and stomach contents: Don’t worry about short-term changes, instead follow the long-term trend.
If you can, try to check other important health markers when starting, like these:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar (fasting blood glucose or HbA1c)
- Cholesterol profile (including HDL, triglycerides)
These tags are almost universally improved on a low carb diet, even before significant weight loss. Re-checking these health markers after a few months can be great for your motivation as they’ll usually show that you’re not just losing weight, you’re gaining health too.
6. Be persistent
It usually takes years or decades to gain a lot of weight. Trying to lose it all as quickly as possible by starving yourself doesn’t work well long-term, that’s just a recipe for “yo-yo dieting.” To succeed, you need something that works long term.
It’s common to lose 2-6 pounds within the first week on a strict low-carb diet, and then on average about one pound per week as long as you have a lot of weight remaining to lose. It translates into about 50 pounds per year. Every 5 pounds of fat loss roughly equals 1 inch lost around the waist.
Young males sometimes lose weight faster than this, perhaps twice as quickly. Post-menopausal women may drop at a slightly slower pace. People on a stringent low-carb diet may lose weight quicker, as well as those who exercise a lot (a bonus). And if you have an enormous amount of excess weight to lose you could start much faster.
As you get closer to your ideal weight, the loss may slow down, until you stabilize at a weight that your body feels is right. Very few people become underweight on a low carb diet – as long as they eat when hungry.
7. Avoid eating fruit
This piece of advice is controversial as the fruit has an almost magical health aura today. People may believe that fruit is nutritious, but unfortunately, fruit contains a lot of sugar – around 10% by weight (the rest is mostly water). Just taste an orange or grape. Sweet, right?
Five servings of fruit per day are equivalent to the amount of sugar in 16 ounces of soda (500 ml). Contrary to what many people believe, the sugar is more or less identical (about 50% glucose, 50% fructose).
Sugar from fruit can shut down fat burning. It can increase your hunger and slow your weight loss. For best results avoid fruit – or enjoy it occasionally as a treat. Bottom line: Fruit is candy from nature.
Isn’t fruit natural? Most people believe that fruit is natural, but today’s fruits in the grocery store have very little in common with what fruits looked like before they were cultured. There’s way more sugar in fresh domesticated fruits.
8. Avoid drinking beer
Beer contains rapidly digested carbs that shut down fat burning. That’s why beer is sometimes referred to as “liquid bread.” There’s a good reason for the term “beer belly.” Here are smarter alcoholic options for losing weight:
- Wine (red or dry white)
- Dry champagne
- Hard liquor like whiskey, cognac, vodka (avoid sweetened cocktails – try vodka, soda water, lime instead)
These drinks hardly contain any sugar/carbohydrates, so they’re better than beer. However, large amounts of alcohol might slow weight loss somewhat, so moderation is still a good idea.
9. Avoid artificial sweeteners
Many people replace sugar with artificial sweeteners in the belief that this will reduce their calorie intake and cause weight loss. It sounds plausible. Several studies, however, have failed to show any positive effect on weight loss by consuming artificial sweeteners instead of plain sugar.
Instead, according to scientific studies, artificial sweeteners can increase appetite and maintain cravings for sweet food. And one recent independent study showed that switching drinks with artificial sweeteners to water helped women lose weight.
It could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear.
Furthermore, artificial sweeteners can maintain an addiction to sweets and lead to snack cravings. And the long-term effects of consuming artificial sweeteners are unknown. Studies are claiming to show the beverage industry usually funds neutral or positive impacts of sweeteners.
By the way, Stevia is marketed as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners. That’s marketing talk. There is nothing natural about a processed super-sweet white powder like Stevia.
If you’re having trouble losing weight, I suggest that you avoid sweeteners entirely. As a bonus, you’ll soon start to enjoy the natural sweetness of real food, once you’re no longer adapted to the overpowering artificial sweetness of junk food and “diet” sodas.
10. Review any medications
Many prescription drugs can stall your weight loss. Discuss any change in treatment with your doctor. Here are the worst three:
- Insulin injections, especially at higher doses, are probably the worst obstacle for weight loss.
- Other diabetes medications. Insulin-releasing tablets (e.g., sulphonylureas) often lead to weight gain.
- Cortisone as an oral drug is another common culprit (e.g., Prednisolone). Cortisone often causes weight gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g., more than 5 mg Prednisolone per day). Unfortunately, cortisone is often an essential medication for those who are prescribed it, but the dose should frequently be adjusted, so you don’t take more than you need. Asthma inhalers and other local cortisone treatments, like creams or nose sprays, hardly affect weight.
These other medications can also cause problems:
- Neuroleptics/antipsychotic drugs can often encourage weight gain.
- Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants.
- Some contraceptives often contribute to slight weight gain, especially those that contain only progesterone and no estrogen.
- Blood pressure medication in the form of beta blockers can cause weight gain.
- Epilepsy drugs may cause weight gain.
- Allergy medications, antihistamines can cause weight gain, especially at high doses.
- Antibiotics can lead to a temporary weight gain by disturbing the gut microbiota and increasing the amount of energy we absorb from food. This is still speculative for humans, but it’s another reason not to use antibiotics unless you genuinely need it.
11. Stress less, sleep more
Have you ever wished for more hours of sleep, and less stressful life in general? Most people have stress, and lack of sleep can be bad news for their weight.
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. It can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
You should also make an effort to get enough good sleep, preferably every night. Strive to wake up refreshed of your own accord, independently of the alarm clock. If you’re the kind of person who always gets brutally woken up by the alarm ringing, you might never be giving your body adequate rest.
One way to combat this is to go to bed early enough for your body to wake up autonomously before the alarm clock goes off. Letting yourself get a good night’s sleep is another way of reducing stress hormone levels.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, comes hand in hand with sugar cravings. It also hurts self-discipline and makes it painfully easy to give in to temptation (it’s no coincidence that induced sleep deprivation is a standard interrogation technique). Similarly, sleep deprivation weakens your resolve to work out.
Do you have trouble sleeping even if there’s ample time for it? Here are six tips from an expert:
- Stick to the same bedtime every evening. In the long run, this will help your body prepare for sleep at that time.
- Don’t drink coffee after 2 pm. Just don’t – and remember that it takes time for caffeine to leave your body.
- Limit your alcohol intake to three hours before bedtime. While booze might make you woozy, it worsens quality of sleep.
- Limit exercise in the four hours before bedtime. Physical activity can make you wound up and make it difficult to go to sleep for several hours afterward.
- Get 15 minutes of sunlight every day. It’s good for your circadian rhythm (your “body clock”).
- Finally, make sure that your bedroom is dark enough, and stays at a pleasant temperature. Sleep well!
Many may find the above guidelines challenging to follow, perhaps because of a lack of time (or the equivalent – small children!). But stressing less and sleeping more doesn’t just feel right. It also plays a part in helping you get leaner.
12. Eat less of dairy products and nuts
Can you eat as much as you like, and still lose weight? Yes, it tends to work just fine with a low-carb diet, as appetite regulation happens effortlessly.
However, even though a low-carb diet makes it easy to eat just enough, there are foods classified as low-carb which become a problem in more significant quantities. If you find yourself having a hard time losing weight on a low-carb diet, you could try to be more careful with dairy products (yogurt, cream, cheese) and nuts.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss.
What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Therefore, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairies such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
Exempt from all these dairy-product warnings is butter, which is almost pure fat. Butter may be consumed in moderation as desired.
Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s effortless to scarf down large quantities unwittingly. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight. For someone following a strict LCHF diet with 20 grams of carbs per day allowance, this means that consuming 100 grams (which happens in a flash!) will have filled their daily quota. Peanuts tend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them in the clear either.
So, for those of you having trouble losing weight: use nuts sparingly. When in a situation where nuts are an absolute must, know that the most harmless ones carb-wise are macadamia nuts (usually around 5% carbs), or Brazil nuts (4%).
13. Supplement vitamins and minerals
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function correctly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? Perhaps our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels. After all – if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
On the other hand, reliable access to vitamins and minerals could perhaps mean decreased hunger levels and decreased cravings, thereby promoting weight loss.
The above is, of course, speculation. But there are well-performed studies which suggest it might not be far from the truth.
A lack of vitamin D is probably the most common deficiency in northern countries such as Canada, or most of the US. Three recent studies indicate that, when compared to a placebo, a vitamin D supplement can decrease your fat weight or waist measurement.
In one of the studies, 77 overweight or obese women received either a supplement of 1000 units of vitamin D or a placebo, every day for three months. Those who took the vitamin D supplement decreased their body fat by 6 pounds — significantly more than the placebo group, who hardly decreased their fat weight at all.
A study from 2010 involved around a hundred women with weight issues, separating them into three groups. One group received a daily multivitamin supplement, the other a daily calcium supplement, and the last group only a placebo. The study went on for six months.
Unsurprisingly, the results showed that nothing had happened to the weight of the women receiving calcium or the placebo. However, the group which took the multivitamin lost more weight and improved their health markers. Among other things, their basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories when at rest) increased.
Furthermore, another earlier study found that subjects decreased hunger levels by taking multivitamin supplements during starvation diets, compared to a placebo.
Nutrient-dense, good food is undoubtedly the foundation of weight loss. But an adequate amount of vitamin D can be challenging to ingest via food. In the case of a lack of sun (such as during the darker months of fall and winter), it’s wise to supplement for multiple health reasons – and perhaps even for your weight.
If you’re overweight and not entirely sure that your diet provides enough nutrients, it may be worthwhile to take a multivitamin pill. Unfortunately, they still contain only minimal doses of vitamin D, so you need both for the full effect.
14. Use intermittent fasting
There are many things to consider before moving on to this tip, but don’t let this fool you. It’s one of the most effective weapons available to lose weight. It’s perfect if you are stuck at a weight-loss plateau despite “doing everything right” – or to speed up your weight loss.
This super weapon is called intermittent fasting. It means precisely what it sounds like not eating, during a specified time interval.
Probably the most famous option is fasting for 16 hours (including sleep), which is usually easy to do on an LCHF diet. It only requires trading breakfast for a cup of coffee (or some other non-caloric fluid) and having lunch as the first meal of the day. Fasting from 8 pm to noon – for example – equals 16 hours of fasting.
Of course, there are many other versions of intermittent fasting, but this method (16 hours of not eating with an 8-hour eating window) is the one I recommend as a first option. It’s efficient, easy to do and does not require counting calories.
You can do a 16:8 fast as often as you like — for example twice a week, or on weekdays only or every single day. The more often you do it, the more effective it is. In fact, on an LCHF diet, some people spontaneously fall into this habit, as their appetite is reduced.
There are many other options. The more extended periods are harder to do but more efficient. Here are two more common options:
Fasting for 24 hours (often dinner to dinner) once or twice a week. Useful and can be surprisingly easy to do, especially on an LCHF diet.
The 5:2 diet. Eat as much as you need to feel satisfied five days of the week and then eat calorie-restricted on two days (500 calories per day for women, 600 calories for men). I don’t recommend this as it requires calorie counting and more planning, but some people still find they enjoy it.
Doesn’t advice on intermittent fasting contradict the information to eat when hungry? Yes, it does, somewhat.
I recommend eating when hungry as a first option, and I recommend always eating until you feel satisfied at meals. But if this is not effective enough, then intermittent fasting is the compelling addition. Remember – and this is crucial – that between fasting periods you’re still supposed to eat until satisfied.
Intermittent fasting is not the same thing as obsessively counting calories and starving yourself 24-7. Starving yourself is a recipe for misery and failure. Intermittent fasting is about eating all that your body needs… while still allowing it sometimes briefly to rest from constant feeding.
What’s acceptable to drink during fasts? During a fast, you can’t eat, but you should drink. Water is the drink of choice, but coffee and tea are also great options. During longer fasts, it can be wise to add a little salt too, or drink bouillon.
Anything you drink should ideally be zero calories. But it may be acceptable to cheat by adding a small amount of milk in your coffee or tea – if you need it to enjoy your drink.
So what should you eat when you are not fasting? Well, if your goal is to lose weight I suggest following all the tips above, including eating an LCHF diet. Combining this with intermittent fasting is a great combination.
15. Exercise wisely
Do you wonder why this weight-loss advice doesn’t show up until number 15 on the list? It’s because few things are so overrated for weight loss as exercise is. It’s a myth. Sorry. Studies show that if you start exercising, you’re going to need at least one hour of tough workouts every single day to lose weight noticeably.
The effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 15 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to exercise for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the basement-level windows of your house.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already taken care of steps 1-14, you should have a rested and recharged body which is already happily burning fat. In this case, increased activity will accelerate your weight loss, and act as a nice bonus. You’ll be burning even more fat from the very first step.
For example, you could take long walks (golf), cycle, dance, or play any sport you’re happy and comfortable with.
Exercise also burns the body’s glycogen stores, which are mainly carbohydrates. It means that after a workout, you can eat a little more carbs than you otherwise can permit yourself, without detrimental effects on insulin or fat storage. Also, don’t forget that the non-weight-related health effects of exercise are quite impressive.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. It means lifting weighty things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do higher levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
As a final bonus, exercise can both make you feel and look better.
16. Achieve optimal ketosis
Warning: Not recommended for type 1 diabetics, see below.
We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.
So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low-carb. Its because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. It tends to cause you to want to consume fewer calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.
How do you know you’re getting the maximum hormonal impact from your low-carb diet? You do that by achieving what’s known as “optimal ketosis.”
Ketosis is a state where the body has an extremely high fat-burning rate. Even the brain runs on fat, via ketone bodies. These are energy molecules in the blood (like blood sugar) which become fuel for our minds after being converted from fat by the liver.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s proof that your insulin is deficient – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
17. Get your hormones checked
So you’ve followed the previous tips, implemented significant lifestyle changes and established that neither medication nor vitamin deficiency is an issue. You’ve even tried being in optimal ketosis for a while (ensuring low insulin levels). And you still can’t hit the average weight mark?
If this applies to you, it’s high time to consider the possibility that hormonal imbalances are the cause of your troubles. There are three common problem areas:
- Thyroid hormone
- Sex hormones
- Stress hormones
Your doctor can quickly arrange for you to take a blood test to determine if you have any deficiencies in your thyroid and sex hormones. Talk with your doctor about correcting any weaknesses you may have.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
18. Consider weight-loss pills (if desperate)
It sounds like a dream. Keep living like you already do, take a pill a day, and effortlessly lose your excess weight. It’s why weight-loss pills is a billion dollar industry. So do they work? Yes. But they’re not very efficient. Many drugs result in a modest weight loss (a few pounds on average) at the expense of significant side effects.
Prescription-Free Supplements is another option. The internet is full of claims of magic supplements that can make you thin. Unfortunately, the only thing they’ll make thin is your wallet. This is true even if they were once mentioned on Dr. Oz – you know that’s an entertainment show. Any prescription-free supplements for sale that are not dangerous or illegal (like steroids) are likely to have a small or negligible effect on your weight.
It’s true even for the vitamin supplements mentioned in tip #13. The effect is small, but in that case, it’s also safe – maybe even healthy – and dirt cheap, making it a potentially smart bonus.
There are also prescription free “carb blockers” out there that are supposed to stop the body from absorbing carbs we eat. The effect tends to be relatively tiny though, even in studies funded by the companies selling the products. It’s definitely at least ten times more effective to not eat the carbs in the first place (it’s also free).
Final Thoughts on Eating a Low-Carb Diet
Each of us has a different degree of carbohydrate tolerance. As we age, that tolerance tends to decline, which can result in “rollercoastering” blood sugar levels, mainly if we keep with the same high-carb diets. In some cases, a person may develop insulin resistance or creep closer to pre-diabetes.
Plans that seek to help you find your optimal carbohydrate level usually advise reducing carbohydrate to a reasonably low level and then gradually adding starch back until some or all of the following occur:
- Cessation of weight loss
- Weight gain
- The return of carb cravings
- Less ability to control your blood glucose
- Poor concentration or low energy
- Blood tests that reveal that your triglycerides have risen
- High blood pressure
That said, regardless of the plan you are following, always listen to your body and consider adjusting your eating if you are experiencing adverse effects; you may also want to consult with your physician and a dietitian.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions on any of the content on my site, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions and the sharing of ideas.
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" How to Lose Weight" - Diet Doctor, https://www.dietdoctor.com/how-to-lose-weight (accessed January 28, 2018).
Shai, Iris, et al. "Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet." The New England Journal of Medicine. 359:229-241 (July 17, 2008)