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Limit (don't eliminate) Carbs

Updated: Jul 7

Carbohydrates! They so easy to love. Fries, bakery treats, sandwiches, pizza, crisps not to mention candy, ice cream, cookies and fruit.

My life to date has been a love-hate relationship with my bathroom scales. I’ve seesawed up and down, with every successful effort involving cutting back on carbs in some way.

Over the past few years, I experimented with Keto a few times following the amazing success of an overseas friend. The short version is that Keto is not for me but the experiment has revealed a number of lessons that I have incorporated into my “Everyday Dieters” approach.

Being an “Everyday Dieter” is my personal recognition that I have always had to watch my weight – and I will likely always have to. Success will only come from progressively changing my habits – I’m part way through that – combined with a daily focus on healthy choices.

The Keto Diet virtually Eliminates Carbohydrates

Many people think that eliminating carbohydrates from their diet is a rapid fix for weight loss. And it is true some may have achieved spectacular results through this approach (eg Keto dieting) it is often not sustainable in the long run for most people. A few facts about Keto first – then I’ll touch on the lessons I’ve learned that I’ve incorporated into my life.

A few Keto Facts:

  1. Keto involves having only minimal net carbohydrates in your diet – about 50g a day or 5–10% of your total energy. The focus is on fat being the source of around 70–75% of your energy.

  2. Keto has worked for a significant number of very large people. A period in a local Keto Facebook Group gave plenty of impressive visual evidence.

  3. It works because it is a long-term lifestyle change and requires commitment. It’s not a quick fix “lose 40lb in 30 minutes” type of thing.

  4. It does however require totally giving up: most fruits, carrots, starchy vegetables, rice, pasta, cereals, bread, crackers and baked goods. This represents a significant dietary shift and challenges you everyday.

Issues with Keto

Personally — restricting my fruit intake to rhubarb and berries was a step too far.

When an apple is considered a villain — my life just doesn’t feel right.

It’s also important to consider the impact of completely cutting out carbs on your gut. Some of the regular foods you’re removing may be your primary sources of fibre and certain vitamins, which are important for our overall health.

Whether it’s the reduced fibre, or the sudden and drastic increase in the amount of fat – a keto diet can upset your gut — it certainly did for me. Whether you end up suffering from constipation or diarrhea, this can cause a major upheaval.

It’s also important to remember that starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, rice and bread are not inherently bad for you. In fact, they can are a valuable source of energy for populations around the world. By demonizing starchy carbs, we do them a disservice.

As with most things in life – the answer is moderation. Moderation with respect to carbohydrates in a super-sized, fast-food world has gone out the window though. Even restaurant meals have major portion distortion.

It is true that carbohydrate portion control is the biggest component of weight issues, obesity and diabetes.

A Balanced Diet Approach

Instead of completely eliminating starchy carbs, a more balanced approach involves reducing portion sizes, choosing whole grain options, minimising added sugar and incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods into our meals. This way, we can still enjoy the foods we love while supporting our weight loss goals over the long term.

Portion control is a vital ingredient in managing our weight. By being mindful of portion sizes, we can avoid overeating.

Wholegrain foods have more fibre, vitamins/minerals and make you feel more full.

Minimising added sugar lets you still enjoy natural sweetness in your foods and diets.

Remember, sustainable weight loss is about making long-term lifestyle changes that we can maintain over time.

15 Lessons from Keto that Help Reduce Carbs

  1. It’s a Lifestyle change — embrace it. The people who make Keto work are all-in! If you cheat on Keto your body won’t reach ketosis and you won’t lose weight. The same goes for any weight management approach so choose changes you can stick with. Keto wasn’t it for me but there are other habits I’m changing.

  2. Educate yourself. Learn about the carb content of different foods to make informed choices. There are many “hidden” carbs in foods — so while on keto I was a diligent label reader. I still check food labels for hidden sugars, fibre and portion sizes.

  3. Track what you eat. Many keto followers keep a food diary (especially initially) to know exactly how many carbs they’ve had in a day. Similarly, I find success using the MyFitnessPal app to track everything I eat – it’s an information source and honesty system that helps reduce mindless eating and grazing – cos if I eat it, I have to log it.

  4. Stop totally vilifying fats. We do need some good fats in our diet — I’ve started embracing healthier options like olive oil, seeds, nuts and avocado — in moderation, of course.

  5. Berries & carrots as Sweeteners. Use the natural sweetness of berries instead of sugar to reduce the tartness of other fruits. And I treat myself to a punnet of berries instead of candy. More savoury dishes that ask for sugar – I can sometimes omit and balance the flavor with some grated carrot which it quite sweet.

  6. Artificial Sweeteners. Explore the range of nature-based artificial sweeteners. Have you tried the latest stevia or monk fruit options? Don’t like them? Well, I think any artificial sweetener is better than sugar so find one you like.

  7. Focus on Whole Foods. Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods to naturally reduce carb intake — some of the carbs in whole foods are fibre which Keto ignores. Reduce or eliminate refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, and sugary snacks with minimal nutritional value.

  8. Opt for Low-Carb Vegetables. More frequently opt for vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini over starchy options. The calorie level of these is low and can fill you up leaving more calories for other meals and snacks.

  9. Discover Cauliflower. Use cauliflower instead of pasta or rice. They don’t really have taste in their own right – they’re just a taste carrier. For me this was an easy switch – I can happily have cauliflower under my curry or bolognese, have cauliflower cheese instead of macaroni cheese and spiced roasted cauliflower.

  10. Keto Recipe Inspriration. Without having to do Keto — check out some of the keto recipe books. There may be some low-carb meals you’ll really enjoy even if you add a half potato on the side. They’ve done the hard work in terms of avoiding excessive carbs.

  11. Stay Hydrated. Drink plenty of water to help manage hunger and support overall health. Avoid sugary beverages and opt for water, herbal teas, or coffee. I find that an afternoon craving can be satisfied with a cup of tea or even a low-calorie instant soup.

  12. Plan Your Meals. On keto, I couldn’t run the day spontaneously eating whatever I wanted as I would end up eating too many hidden carbs or overdoing my protein intake. I used MyFitnessPal – not to retrospectively log my food – but to plan my daily menu. In this way, I could make sure I could keep my meal calories in check ensuring I also had snacks planned for through the day. With a meal plan — I found I thought about food less because I knew what my next meal/snack was to be.

  13. Zoodles. Use low-carb alternatives like zucchini noodles under pasta sauces or in soups. I’ve also used daikon (Chinese radish) noodles in a pad thai successfully. What makes the difference is having a good spiralizer to make zoodles easily – my fabulous one is an electric George Foreman Spiraliser.

  14. Be Mindful of Fruit Intake. Fruit still has a lot of sugar/carbohydrates so it is not an all-you-can-eat food.

  15. Prepare Healthy Snacks. Keto followers make sure they have appropriate keto snacks to hand, often purging their pantry of carb-heavy temptations. I try to maintain a well-stocked fruit bowl and vege bin and put healthy snacks at the front of my pantry.

So you can see that many of the Keto approaches can have application to a well-balanced diet. So if you think you don’t have the commitment to stick to a diet like Keto – look to embracing some of their lessons to help you on your way to a healthier life.



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