“About 10 million Americans are following low-carb diets” says Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., professor and Chair of nutrition and food management at Oregon State University, Corvallis. However, anyone who has ever diligently followed an extremely low carb or no carb diet meal plan like the Adkins diet, South Beach Diet, and other ketogenic diets, knows that all of these diets eventually reintroduce a small amount of carbohydrates. While the specific rules and procedures may vary, many plans suggest cutting carbs down to the bare minimum for the first few weeks, then reintroducing them gradually over time. If you’ve already lost the weight you were hoping to lose in your diet plan, it could be time for you to reintroduce carbs back into your life. Here are some tips:
- According to MayoClinic.com, a diet should consist of about 45% carbohydrates and the bulk of your carb intake should come from “good” or “healthy” carb sources. Other resources, like The American Diabetes/Dietetic Associations, recommend more carbs, like a daily allowance of 150-240 grams of carbs, which composes about 60% of total target calories. Healthy carbs include brown rice, bulgur, whole grain bread, steel cut oats, fruit, and beans.
- Prepare yourself for slight weight gain when you reintegrate carbs after your low carb meal plan. “You will gain some weight” even if you’re transitioning from absolutely no carbs to very minimal, healthy carbs, predicts Lona Sandon, R.D., assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Just stay on track and make sure to limit your carb intake to healthy carbohydrates, as listed above.
- Stay away from unhealthy carbs, when you’re transitioning into the last phases of a low carb diet. Stay away from white bread, white rice, and white pasta, and, of course, avoid candy, baked goods, soda and snack foods.
- Even if you’re feeling discouraged, keep in mind that reintegrating healthy carbs is a necessary part of the dieting process.
When transitioning from no carb to low carb diets, you may feel tempted to fall back into old habits, eating white pasta or baked goods. Instead, try to eat some of these low carb meals for weight loss success:
- Rather than having carb-y cereals for breakfast, try drinking a protein shake with almond milk or fruit.
- You could also try having eggs and a piece of whole wheat toast for breakfast, which would give you a healthy dose of protein along with a “good” carbohydrate.
- A salad with a cut of meat makes a great, filling and low-carb dinner. Try making a spinach salad, then serving your salad with peanuts and sunflower seeds for a serving of protein, then grilled chicken breast for an additional protein source.
- Get familiar with cooking meats and fish, which make great entrees for a high protein and low carb diet. Broil salmon in honey and soy and serve with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes or edamame.
- For dessert, make a yogurt and fruit parfait instead of indulging in cookies and ice cream. You can curb your chocolate craving by garnishing your parfaits with cocoa powder or making a low-fat version of chocolate whipped cream.
- If your chocolate craving still isn’t satiated, try making some chocolate covered raisins and putting them in your trail mix as a snack. This will give you a healthy dose of chocolate mixed in with some protein sources, like almonds or cashews. Just don’t overdo it on these fatty items!
If you are introducing carbohydrates back into your diet after a harsh couple of weeks or even months on the ketogenic or Adkins diet, keep these low carb meal ideas in mind for a healthier, more successful transition.