I’ve helped quite a few people get started eating a low carb/paleo diet over the last year. I see these three mistakes the most often.
1. Not enough food. This is so hard for folks to overcome, given the calories in/calories out mantra that we’ve all grown up with. I’m going to say it again: how much you eat is irrelevant. It’s what you eat that matters. If you don’t eat enough food to be satisfied at every meal, you are only hurting yourself. Eating less food will not make you lose weight faster. What it will do is make you give up and switch back to easy, carb rich comfort foods. Please, eat a full 3 meals a day. Get up and cook some breakfast, or cook it the night before(which is what I do every night). Have a big lunch. Have a bigger dinner. For the love, Eat!
2. Not enough variety. The trap folks fall in to when doing Atkins or any other low-carb diet is what I call the “bacon and eggs trap.” They end up eating bacon and eggs like 3 times a day every day. If you do this you will fail. I eat bacon (or sausage) and eggs probably 5 times a week… for breakfast! For my other meals I eat loads of different things. Here’s a sampling:
- Cole slaw
- Green beans
- Bell Peppers
- Hot Peppers
- Collard greens
- Yogurt (NOT low-fat or reduced fat)
- Okra (fried with soy flour)
- Celery (good with cream cheese)
- Black soy beans (with salsa)
- Whole milk
- Hamburgers (loaded with no bun)
- Hot dogs
- Pork Chops
- Salad dressings
- Soy sauce
- Dill relish
- Soups of all kinds
- Chinese take-out (the non-breaded stuff)
- Buffalo Wings (non-sweet sauces)
- Cocktail Smokies (w/non-sweet sauce)
This is just a quick list of the first things that popped to mind. There are many more. You can eat anything on that list until you’re stuffed. Please do.
3. Not enough fat. This is another unfortunate side-effect of a lifetime of low-fat dietary indoctrination. When you eat paleo or ultra-low-carb, you must eat plenty of fat. If you don’t eat enough fat, it will 1). slow down your weight loss, and 2). make you feel like crap because you don’t have enough energy. After a couple of weeks on paleo, your body is running on fat. If you eat too much lean meat you will starve your body of energy. When you’re at the grocery store picking out some steaks or some ground beef for hamburgers, don’t get the lean stuff. Go for the highly marbled prime rib. For hamburgers go for Ground Chuck (80:20 meat to fat ratio) instead of lean ground beef. You will enjoy your food so much more, and you’ll feel better.
A final thing that people misunderstand is what low-carb/paleo dieting is all about. It’s wrong to think of this diet lifestyle as simply a way to lose weight. That’s certainly one of the wonderful side-effects. But, the real reason to eat this way is that it makes you more healthy. The weight loss is happening because you’re no longer damaging your body with large quantities of simple sugars and irritants like gluten. When you eat this way, your body will find it’s natural equilibrium across the board. Not only in weight, but in all measurable health factors.