Build a Strong Foundation for a Low-Carb Lifestyle with These 3 Easy Steps

How to Ditche the Diet and Build a Strong Nutritional Foundation
A Low-Carb Lifestyle Begins with
Building a Strong Foundation

Last Updated: February 7, 2019

There used to be a thread over at Low-Carb Friends that was specifically devoted to those who had decided to return to a low-carb diet.

It wasn’t really about anything. It was just a place to announce your intention of trying to lose weight again.

In a way, it was a space where you could declare your New Year’s Resolution to return home to where you knew you belonged.

It was a safe place where you knew you could shed the weight you had regained over the past few months or years without enduring judgment or ridicule.

The problem?

Achieving success with a low-carb or moderate-carb diet often takes more than just choosing to return to carbohydrate restriction.

It takes a strong, solid nutritional foundation to convert a low-carb diet into a realistic lifestyle.

Changes during the weight-loss phase have to be embraced as a permanent structure, or part of you, rather than a temporary inconvenience. Something you just put up with until your desired goal is reached.

Yet, most of these individuals had returned to the low-carb fold wearing their dieting mindset on their sleeve.
  • They believed that this time things would be different.
  • This time, they would do better.
  • This time they wouldn’t stray.
If this is your attitude as well, you might want to reconsider what you’re doing, and why.

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Weight Loss Success as Taught by the Low-Carb Community

Within the low-carb community, you’ll find a large variety of ideas about what does or does not make a successful weight-loss program. You'll be told to:
  • get rid of your fear of saturated fats
  • lower your carbohydrates
  • up your fat percentage of calories
  • don’t eat too much protein
  • pick a specific low-carb diet plan
  • follow your chosen plan exactly
  • suck it up and just endure the Atkins flu
  • ignore your cravings for carbohydrates
  • drink gallons of water per day
  • and just believe

It’s not very reassuring. You are expected to reach your weight-loss goal by using:
  • willpower
  • determination
  • a self-improvement mindset
And above all: Low-carb magic

Nutrition, if it’s even discussed at all, is only briefly addressed in terms of insulin resistance, the state of ketosis, or the familiar low-carb mantra that says to:

"Do this for your health, not the weight loss.

The reality is that the nutritional aspects of diet are placed on the back burner, while fat loss and dieting itself consumes the major focus of your efforts.

You should do:
  • Atkins
  • Protein Power
  • Nutritional Ketosis (today called Keto)
Or whatever other low- or moderate-carb fad diet is popular at the time, and nutrition will simply take care of itself.

But is that true?

Building a Strong Nutritional Foundation is the Only Way

Can you truthfully give your body everything it needs to heal by simply focusing on carbohydrate restriction, upping your dietary fats (by percentage), and/or counting your calories?

Probably not.

Not if the amount of people returning to a low-carb lifestyle every January is any indication of what works, and what doesn’t.

Obviously, those who feel compelled to return to keto didn’t turn it into a lifestyle last year.

They simply gave into their dieting mindset.

They ignored the suggestion to use solid nutritional principles for the foundation of their low-carb lifestyle, and attempted to do things in accordance with the conventional low-carb wisdom of the day.

That type of behavior almost always ends in failure because losing the weight isn’t the hard part. Most diets work as written, including low-calorie diets, if you follow them faithfully.

The hard part is maintaining those losses.

Maintenance is when the real work begins.

But Where Do You Start?

The dieting mindset tells you that you are either on or off a diet.

It tells you that the restriction you're currently enduring is only temporary, that you can return some of your favorite carby foods to your diet once you’ve reached your weight-loss goals.

While that's true, in part, provided you keep your calories low enough, the phrase occasional treat is where a lot of dieters trip and fall. 

What does occasional mean?

Step 1: Making Higher Carb Days Only Occasional Treats

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To me, occasional means:
  • holidays
  • my birthday
  • my husband’s birthday
  • our wedding anniversary
  • or going out to dinner
To clarify going out, we don’t go out to dinner very often – maybe once or twice a year – because we are gluten-free and the only place I’ve been able to eat at safely (with my degree of gluten sensitivity) has been P.F. Chang’s or ONE specific Golden Corral.

Today, we do go out to breakfast at Golden Corral every weekend that hubby doesn't have to work, but I don't splurge.

My need to be gluten free keeps me well within my low-carb limits for breakfast and there are plenty of low-carb breakfast foods to choose from there.

The first idea that you have to accept and embrace in order to successfully build a strong low-carb foundation is to accept that:

Occasional treats or occasionally eating higher carbs, higher dietary fats, and/or higher calories than your normal, everyday diet (on or off plan) doesn’t mean every other day, or even every weekend.

It means rarely.

So commit to doing that.

Root the idea out of your mind right from the very first day, that your priority, including during the holiday season, is going to be your health.

IF you do that:

Half of your weight-loss battles will have already been won.

You aren’t telling yourself never, so there’s no reason to feel deprived. You’re saving those treats and higher calorie items for very special occasions.

In fact, living that way will keep those occasions special and give you something to look forward to.

Step 2: Nutrient-Dense Foods are the Norm

Once you have embraced the idea of doing what's in your own best interest and saving treats for rare special occasions, the next step is to firmly plant your low-carb diet plan on top of a solid nutritional foundation.

Your body cannot heal from insulin resistance or repair any internal damage from decades of poor nutritional choices (or celiac disease, as in my own situation) unless you give it nutrient-dense foods.

Whether you're on or off the Atkins Diet, Protein Power, Nutritional Ketosis, or whatever diet you're doing, you still eat mostly whole foods and you still eat an abundance of vegetables.

That’s essential.

Because the best way to achieve a successful low-carb lifestyle is to begin with a diet that’s closely related to what you will continue to eat throughout maintenance.

This doesn’t mean that the Atkins Carbohydrate Ladder doesn’t have its benefits, but once you find your carbohydrate, fat, and calorie tolerance, it's time to create a way of eating that you will use for the rest of your life.

Don’t wait until you reach the pre-maintenance phase to start thinking about maintenance.

Start today.

Because if you don’t plan ahead, you might never reach the pre-maintenance phase, let alone maintenance.

The idea behind a low-carb or moderate-carb diet is to heal your insulin resistance, gain control over your cravings and appetitie, and bring your body into equilibrium.

Once you do that, you cannot return to the mindless way that you ate before or you’ll simply get the same results that you got then.

Your insulin resistance will return and so will the pounds.

The only way to secure a successful future is to start building a strong foundation for your low-carb lifestyle from the very beginning of the diet phase.

Step 3: Go in Search of Nutrient-Dense Recipes and Food Ideas

Seek out recipes you can live with for the rest of your life.

Learn how to incorporate an abundance of vegetables and whole foods into your meals. Don’t depend on overly processed, low-carb products or low-carb junk foods to sustain you.

This doesn’t mean a low-carb tortilla or low-carb flatbread sandwich is bad and can’t become part of your regular diet. But it does mean that you need to sincerely think about everything you are putting into your mouth, and why.

Is it beneficial for you to eat high-gluten breads and cereals?

It is healthy to add a few carefully chosen starchy vegetables like peas or winter squash? 

The low-carb community has some weird ideas about what is or isn’t acceptable within the parameters of a low-carb diet. The other day I heard someone make the comment on a low-carb blog that hummus wasn't a low-carb food.

Many tag sweet potatoes, oranges, carrots, and even peas as being evil, yet see nothing wrong with putting gobs of butter in their coffee, eating coconut oil or grass-fed butter off a spoon, or eating an entire brick of cream cheese in the afternoon to get their daily fat intake up.

They call that FOOD.

I don't.

Many also justify eating an entire bar of dark chocolate or sugar-free candy in the afternoon. Others will down a whole bag of pork rinds at one sitting.

The truth is, it isn’t enough to control the carb count of your food. It isn’t enough to simply up your fats and lower your protein.

None of those ideas guarantee that you are fulfilling your nutritional needs.

None of those tricks and justifications guarantee that you are giving your body enough nutrients to heal and keep your hunger and cravings at bay.

The only thing that converts a low-carb diet into a healthy lifestyle is to incorporate an abundance of nutrient-dense foods.

This means that you need to eat:
  • fresh meats, poultry, and fish
  • whole eggs
  • dairy products (if you can tolerate them)
  • plenty of fresh vegetables and salads
  • low-glycemic fruits, such as berries
  • variety of nuts
  • and healthy fats
This is whether or not you're doing low carb.

However, using healthy fats doesn’t mean that you can gulp down a couple of swigs of heavy cream right out of the bottle or eat grass-fed butter or organic coconut oil right off the spoon.

That isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t healthy. 

That is forcing the fat, which is not healthy behavior. 

So What is Healthy? 

Give your body a wide assortment of:
  • proteins
  • fats
  • carbohydrates
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • and live enzymes 
That is what your body NEEDS.

Only then, will you be able to actually achieve and maintain your weight-loss goals. 

When you begin your low-carb diet with a strong nutritional foundation and nurture that nutritional foundation throughout your weight-loss phase, you set yourself up for a lasting, healthy weight loss.

Vickie Ewell Bio


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