What is the Easiest Way to Go Low Carb?

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
Here's the secret for making
Low-Carb Diet easy to do.

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January always brings a rush of folks to the low-carb fold. Some of them are new and are interested in the quick fat-loss claims that ketogenic diets are known to produce. They want to see if they can lose weight as quickly themselves. Others have come back to Atkins Induction for a second or third time because it worked so well for them in the past.

Stories that second-timers tell vary in the details, of course, but most of the stories have the same thread running throughout the tale:

Something stressful popped up in your life, and you didn't know how to handle the challenge without eating all of your favorite foods.

Ketogenic diets work. There is no doubt about that. Maybe, not as quickly as you were hoping, but restricting carbohydrates is one of the easiest ways to lose weight because carb deprivation eliminates the hunger that is so typical on low-calorie diets.

Even so, making a low-carb diet work takes a strong mental attitude adjustment. You have to want to change your lifestyle, but the easiest way to go low carb takes more than desire.

Whether you are brand new to a low-carb lifestyle or you have been around the block a time or two, this can be the year that you decide to finally take back your health.

Pinterest Image: Lettuce Salad with Lots of Grated Cheese, Ham, Peppers, Dried Cranberries

Why Do Low-Carb Diets Fail?


If you go into the new year with the misconception that Atkins Induction is a weight-loss diet, you've already lost the game.

Starting a low-carb diet won't do you any good if you have no intention of sticking with it long-term. Successful fat loss requires you to transform the way that you think as well as the way that you eat -- permanently.

And it's the permanency, rather than the ease, that most people stumble over.


Another major challenge is food addiction.

Unless you're coming into a low-carb diet already eating mostly whole foods, the pleasure centers in your brain have been exercised plenty by the food industry to make you desire a certain ratio of salt to sugar to fats in your food, so you'll receive the ultimate eating satisfaction.

Anything short of the intensity you get from eating processed foods won't give you the same degree of pleasure and comfort that high-carb foods do.

A simple roasted chicken thigh and a hefty portion of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, even smothered in real butter, won't give you the same lift and excitement you'll get from a chocolate chip cookie or piece of cake. Not because the cookie or cake is loaded with sugar and carbs, as most low-carb dieters believe, but because of the specific combination of:
  • sugar
  • salt
  • fats
  • dairy
  • wheat 
These ingredients get you hooked on a particular food and keep you screaming for more.

Food manufacturers have invested billions of dollars in food science technology to find the exact recipe for their products that will keep your cravings alive. When paired with the habitual way the subconscious mind works, along with human nature's drive for instant gratification and entitlement, the greater majority of low-carb dieters don't have a chance of breaking free.

Ignorance keeps you enslaved.

But you don't have to be among those who fail to make the transformation happen.

Instead, you can use the knowledge of how the food industry has programmed you to eat to your advantage and rise above that subconscious programming. All you have to do is use the following tip for making low-carb eating easier, and tweak your low-carb diet to fit into the eating style that you're already familiar with.

Here's how:

The Secret to Making a Low-Carb Diet Easy to Follow


Trouble starts when you think of Atkins Induction, Atkins 20, or Keto as something special that you have to endure to shed the pounds.

A low-carb diet is not special. In fact, it's not even different. It just looks that way because everyone around you is eating abnormally, which makes it appear that you're the one who's being unrealistic. You're not. Society has traveled so far away from reality, that it doesn't even remember what a healthy diet is.

Protein foods, vegetables, and healthy fats are not temporary inconveniences. They are the backbone of a nutrient-dense diet that you can use as the foundation from which to rebuild your life.

Salad: Assorted Greens, Tuna, Tomato Wedges, Pepper Strips, Black Olives, Cucumber Slices
People who say low-carb diets are unhealthy
have never looked at what low carbers eat:
protein foods, nutrient-dense vegetables, healthy fats.

For that reason, you don't need special foods or even low-carb recipes to make a low-carb diet work. Low carb is as easy or as challenging as you want to make it.

The easy way is nothing more than eating like you're used to eating but cutting out the carbs.

Doesn't sound much like a secret, does it.

The easiest way to go low carb is to simply cook what you normally would and then adapt it to fit within the protocol of the low-carb diet you're following. 

That way, you're not giving up all that much. You're not making dramatic changes to your menu. You're just tweaking your current lifestyle to be more healthy.

How do you do that?

Come along, and I'll show you:

How to Cut the Carbs Out of Dinner


Several Hamburger Patties on the Grill
Secret to Atkins success?
Eat normally.
Just remove the carbs!
I'm going to start with dinner because dinner is the easiest meal to show you what I mean by just cook normally.

If you'd typically make burgers once a week for dinner, fine. Make them. But eliminate the carby bread and eat your burger with a knife and fork.

While there are low-carb breads you can experiment with, save them for later on after you've adjusted to eliminating the carbs. Low-carb bread is tricky to make, and a lot of recipes use vital wheat gluten, which will backfire on you if you happen to be sensitive to wheat, but don't know it.

Do you have tacos and burritos a lot? No problem. Skip the corn and flour tortillas, save the refried beans for the kids, and eat a taco salad or toss your burrito filling into a bowl and eat it that way instead.


Go ahead and garnish it with some healthy guacamole, a little sour cream, and homemade salsa. Once topped with a few whole black olives, you've got a masterpiece that's fantastic enough to serve to guests.

Chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp fajitas also work well served on top of a salad.

Roasted chicken is a staple at our house. I simply season it with seasoning salt, granulated garlic powder, and dried rosemary.

When hubby has a hankering for spaghetti, I cook up the sauce with extra hamburger or sausage, along with some sliced mushrooms and onions, and then spoon it over green beans or broccoli instead of pasta.

You can make meatballs, too, if you like. Instead of bread crumbs or oatmeal, you can crush up a bag of pork rinds, available in the chip isle at some grocery stores or online at Amazon, and use those to replace the crumbs.


Once cooked, you won't be able to tell those pork rinds are in there. Meatloaf can be made the same way. Just crush up the crumbs and use them to replace the bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or oatmeal in your favorite recipe.

Chicken-vegetable soup is made similar to chicken noodle. You leave out the noodles and just toss in additional veggies. Shredded cabbage makes a great soup filler.

When I was on the Weight Watcher's Old Exchange Plan, I used to add a couple of tomato bouillon cubes to the pot, available in the Mexican section of the grocery store, instead of chicken broth. You can also leave the meat out if you want and just make a veggie soup to use for breakfast or as a side dish.

Chili can be made without the beans. In fact, originally, that's how it was made: chunks of chuck roast, lots of chili and onions, but no beans.

However, if you're in the Ongoing Weight Loss Phase of Atkins 20, doing Atkins 40 or Keto. and you feel like you really need to eat those beans, Eden canned organic black soy beans are available at the heath food store, Amazon, Vitacost, or other places online.

Black soybeans are super low in carbs due to their high fiber content. These beans can be made to taste almost exactly like traditional black beans by tossing them into the crockpot and letting them cook some more.

Additional dinner ideas are fried cabbage or sauerkraut with slices of spicy sausage or all-beef hot dogs that don't have carby fillers. We get the Hebrew National brand, or whatever brand of kosher dogs Costco has, and then serve them without the buns.


Dip the dogs in mustard or smother them on your plate with chili-con-carne and onions. Add a little grated cheddar cheese on top and you'll never miss the bread.

Many grocery stores also stock polish-sausage type dogs that are very low in carbs. We use these a lot as well.

You don't have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, either. Many low-carb dinners can be made in a jiffy. Try making a nice enchilada casserole by rolling your chicken enchilada filling inside turkey deli meat and covering the rolls with a green enchilada sauce mixed with a little sour cream.


At 2 net carbs per quarter-cup serving, you won't have to feel left out, especially since Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce has even fewer carbs than traditional beef gravy.

Creamed eggs with bacon pieces or a well-seasoned sausage gravy made with butter, heavy cream, and cream cheese can be served over vegetables instead of biscuits. Low-carb cream sauce is simply alfredo sauce without the Parmesan cheese.

For casseroles, follow your recipe, but leave out the carby stuff like pasta or rice. Instead, toss in extra meats and vegetables to replace the missing ingredients.

Half a cup of mashed potatoes contains 12 carbs, too much for Atkins Induction or even the Keto Diet, but you can whip up lightly steamed cauliflower to resemble mashed potatoes as the following video shows:




Grated raw cauliflower can also be sauteed in a pan to make a healthy batch of faux fried rice:




If you don't want to go to all that trouble of grating the cauliflower, you can now purchase cauliflower rice in the frozen aisle of the grocery store, or you can use shredded cabbage in your stir-fry recipes instead of rice. Shredded cabbage also makes a nice sub for pasta in Alfredo recipes.

I've even made sweet potato casserole using whipped pumpkin instead of potatoes. 

I'm not as creative with vegetables as I'd like to be. That's one of the areas I'm going to be exploring more thoroughly in the future.

How to Slice the Carbs From Lunch


Salad Topped with Tuna
Turn your daily sandwich into a salad instead.
Subway and other sandwich shops do this all the time.
Why not just do it for yourself?


If you normally take a sandwich to work, okay. A low-carb diet requires you to eliminate the bread. Take your luncheon meats and cheese and stack them together with the meat or cheese on the outside and the lettuce and tomato in the middle.

The mayo or mustard is fine. So is the pickle. Some people put the lettuce on the outside, but I haven't had much luck eating a sandwich that way.

Alternatively, you could roll the luncheon meat up like a tube, with the filling inside, for easier handling.

Lay the luncheon meat out flat, spread with chicken salad or some other sandwich filling, and roll it up. You could also just chop everything up and toss it all together over lettuce, turning the whole thing into a salad. This works for cabbage as well as lettuce.

I tend to eat lots of salads, myself.

Usually eat lunch at your desk or the computer?

Deviled eggs are easy to manage, and so are stuffed mushrooms. You can also eat your chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad out of a bowl. Mix in a little cream cheese and a few olive slices, and you've kicked your lunch up a notch.

If you're in the Ongoing Weight Loss Phase of the Atkins 20 plan, doing Atkins 40, or Nutritional Ketosis, or even Keto, toss in a few chopped nuts as well.

For a change of pace, add meats and vegetables to shredded cabbage or bagged broccoli slaw, then toss with a cole slaw dressing or oil-and-vinegar dressing. A bit of soy sauce and hot sauce really perks this up, too.

If you're rather have finger foods, you can also top sweet pepper squares, cucumber slices, or zucchini rounds with that chicken, egg, or tuna salad. Leftover chicken legs also make a great lunch idea.

The point is to keep your choices easy until eating low carb becomes more of a habit, so don't over think what you eat.

Got a microwave nearby?

Leftovers from dinner make a great hot lunch, especially in the winter time. In fact, you can purposely fix too much for dinner, so you'll have enough for lunch the next day.

If you don't have a microwave, get yourself a thermos that keeps hot foods warm and carry a thermos filled with taco soup, spicy chili, or a low-carb stew. This is the one that we have. We bought it from Amazon several years ago.

It keeps soups and thin stews super warm all day long. In fact, when hubby hasn't had time to eat, the soup is still nice and warm when he gets home several hours later.

You'd be surprised what tastes good cold or at room temperature, though. Hot wings, jalapeno poppers, chicken strips, and cauliflower salad put together in the same way you'd make a potato salad are all good cold choices for lunch. Just use cauliflower or broccoli instead of the potatoes. Add some meat, and you've got a main dish salad that's a great switch-up instead of lettuce.

How to Eliminate the Carbs From Breakfast


My Egg Scramble: Ham and Eggs with red peppers, green onions, and cheese
Egg Scrambles are faster to make than an omelette
or even a quiche. At our house, these egg
masterpieces are on the menu regularly.

If you're used to eating a bowl of cold cereal, a piece or two of buttered toast, and a large glass of orange juice or milk, then yes -- you're going to have to revamp what you call breakfast.
Typical American breakfast foods are out, at least initially, but don't panic.

The trick to eating a healthy low-carb breakfast is to stop thinking of breakfast, lunch, and dinner in terms of having to eat certain foods. Anything you eat for lunch, dinner, or a snack will make an easy, acceptable breakfast.

Most of the time, low-carb diets are associated with eggs and bacon, sausage, or ham. They contain almost no carbs and lots of healthy fats. While these foods make an adequate breakfast, egg scrambles are quicker and easier to make. All you have to do is eliminate the toast and juice that carb them up.

Bacon is a great side dish, but you don't have to eat bacon and sausage for breakfast when time is short. Simply toss a few leftover vegetables into your scrambled eggs instead, and you're good to go.

If you don't have leftover veggies, dice up some green onion, sweet red pepper, and maybe a bit of Canadian bacon or ham. With or without the grated cheese on top, which you can grate up ahead of time the night before like I do, egg scrambles are quick and easy when mornings are rushed.

I can have them on the table, from start to finish, in less than 15 minutes.

If you eat eggs every single day, it won't take long before you're sick of them, however, so breakfast tends to be the one place that just eliminating the carbs you'd normally eat doesn't work as well as it does for lunch and dinner.

But that doesn't mean you have to eat a boring breakfast. You'll just have to find new ideas or start eating low-carb foods for breakfast that you normally wouldn't think of.

For that reason, I'm going to devote the entire next post to what you can eat for breakfast on a low-carb diet.

How to Ditch the Carbs During Snacks



On Atkins Induction, it is recommended that you eat one or two snacks per day if you're hungry.

Snacks are not mandatory, however.

In fact, they are only included in my 3-day and 7-day Atkins Induction menus to help make your transition from a carb-filled diet to 20 net carbs more manageable. 

Each time you eat, the body has to release insulin to get the nutrients into your cells, so the fewer snacks you have, the quicker your overall insulin level will fall and the faster your hunger level will return to normal.

However, insulin levels are not really something you have to worry about. Atkins Induction is set up to get you into the state of ketosis quickly, so your body can begin burning fatty acids for fuel instead of glucose. Your insulin level will automatically drop as a result of eating this way.

A low-carb diet is for life, so it really doesn't matter how long it takes for your excess body fat to come off. The point of moving to a low-carb diet is to permanently change how you eat. Give yourself time to adjust, and the weight loss will happen once your body is comfortable ditching the fat.

Anything you eat for a meal can be eaten for a snack.

But keep in mind that the purpose of a snack is to tide you over until you can have a meal.

A snack should be much smaller than what you'd eat for a meal, except maybe breakfast if you're not used to eating that much early in the day.

Here is where it's important to know your plan.

For example, Atkins Induction doesn't allow you to eat plain yogurt on Induction, even low-carb yogurt, but the Keto Diet does. If you're in the Ongoing Weight Loss Phase of Atkins 20 or doing Atkins 40, low-carb yogurt makes a great snack. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, try:
A small salad with a bit of meat or cheese on top also makes a nice snack, as does:
  • a cup of soup
  • some leftover vegetables
  • cole slaw
  • a couple of cheese sticks
  • ham slices stuffed with cream cheese or rolled around a dill pickle
A little tuna salad, leftover bacon (is there such a thing?), or a deviled egg also makes a nice snack. If you want to really feel pampered, add a little bit of heavy cream to an ice cold diet root beer for a faux root-beer float.

How to Make Atkins Induction Work for You


Breaking the on-and-off dieting cycle isn't difficult if you ease into your low-carb diet by tweaking what you normally eat, but you do have to get your mind in the game. Look at the process as stepping toward a nutrient-dense diet that eliminates the excessive carbohydrates that contribute to fat gain, rather than a temporary weight-loss plan.

Once you have immersed yourself in this new way of eating, you can branch out to experiment with low-carb breads and cereals or try your hand at making an easy sour cream gravy.

In the meantime, you can use this same eliminate-the-carbs technique to adapt high-carb recipes to be more healthy as well.

What you don't want to do is settle for foods you don't like. That's the quickest path to failure.

To fully transition to a low-carb diet, you'll have to come up with a whole new list of favorite foods and recipes, but you don't have to do that right away. Start with what you enjoy eating right now that's almost legal and find delicious ways of taking the carbs out of those dishes.

Beef Stroganoff, for example, doesn't have to be served over noodles. You can simply make it thick enough with beef, onions, and mushrooms to call it a stew.

If the family loves Chicken Cordon Bleu, you can use a low-carb alfredo sauce over the chicken bundles rather than a nutritionally-depleted starch-heavy canned soup.

Chicken tenders can be dipped in beaten egg or mayo and then rolled in a combination of crushed pork rinds and Parmesan cheese instead of flour or bread crumbs.

A low-carb diet is only as restrictive as you make it. There are an infinite variety of ways to turn low carb foods and ingredients into a lifestyle without feeling deprived.

But you have to start by making a list of your favorite foods. 
While some things might not have a low-carb equivalent, most dishes actually do.

Over the years, creative people have come up with ways to make pancakes out of cream cheese, muffins out of flaxmeal, french toast out of pork rinds, and Egg McMuffins and hamburger buns out of an egg-based bread that Dr. Atkins invented in the early 70s.

However, the secret to making low carb work isn't found in duplicating the diet you used to eat.

The whole idea of a low-carb diet is to transform your current unhealthy eating pattern into something more nutritious you can comfortably live with for the rest of your life. It's about cutting down on nutrient-depleted grains and starches and replacing them with healthier food choices than you were eating before.

It's about changing the way you look at what you're eating and seeing the value in making healthier decisions most of the time.

A low-carb diet isn't about perfection.

It's about learning how you react personally to the foods you eat and making the necessary adjustments in your eating pattern that will keep you feeling your best. Instead of nurturing your emotional attachment to food, it's better to look at food as simply fuel and find non-food ways to pamper yourself instead.

If you feel good while eating low carb, you won't be tempted to quit when weight loss slows to a crawl or an unexpected challenge rises up to confront you.

Also, give yourself the time you need to adjust to this new way of eating, and you'll quickly discover that sitting around mourning for the foods you can't eat anymore are a thing of the past.

Why mourn foods that sapped your energy and made you fat?

Better to clean out your pantry of all of the junk, commit to a healthier life, and stop over-complicating the diet. Keto is simply real food minus the carbs.

Is there a favorite food that you need help converting to low carb? Let's talk about it in the comments below.

Simple Low-Carb Recipes and Food Ideas

Armadillo Eggs
Orange-Ginger Pork Chops
Taco Salad with Homemade Salsa
What Can I Eat on Atkins Induction?
What Can I Eat on a Low-Carb Diet?
7-Day Ketogenic Menu for Atkins Induction



Comments

  1. Thank you for this, I like your approach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. And thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Delete
  2. These are good tips. One of them reminds me of my hubby. He doesn't like rice. But he likes Chinese food. So he has them substitute veggies for rice.
    I also like the black bean idea.
    Your article reminds me that eating can be a creative act and craft. One of the reasons I like Korean food is because of the attention to detail in preparing the dishes. Same for Japanese food. How you arrange the food and how it's cut up can make the food more enjoyable. In the west we've become conditioned to slapping stuff on bread. Eat and run.
    There's a movement toward advanced food prepping. You dice,cut,chop for a week in advance. It appears from your article you've done this naturally while you shop.
    Things have declined so much that people just want quick and easy. So the manufacturers give them junk. Then when they want to lose weight they "junk" their way out of it.
    Thanks for this article. It re-inspires me once again.
    You're waking people up and it's a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your wonderful insights. I love to cook, including all of the chopping and dicing you talk about, but the vertigo doesn't always cooperate. I tend to live a bit in both worlds.

      Delete

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