The new year usually brings along more people to a low carb diet. Usually people jump right in and get rid of bread and pasta because they are trying to lose a few pounds. I myself started with a low carb diet, but quickly learn more and more about the Paleo diet and the importance of eating real food and the important of gut/digestive health on overall health. Before I get into the mistakes, I want to congratulate you on taking steps to improve your health. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight and just like I say, take it one day at a time.
EATING TOO MUCH PROTEIN
When people switch to a low carb diet they end up thinking it’s a protein free for all and eat all of the meat the want. The problem with this is that too much protein can cause excess fat storage, similar to excess carbohydrates. (Source) It’s important to figure out the right amount of protein that works for you and your needs. Typically a palm size portion of meat and each meal is a good place to start.
EATING LOW CARB “HEALTH” FOOD AND GLUTEN
Another common mistake, is relying on prepackaged products labeled as “low carb.” Admit it…when you decided to go on a low carb diet you probably stocked your house with diet soda, low carb bars, shakes, tortillas/wraps, frozen diners, etc. I know I can admit that I did the same thing many years ago…mostly because it was “easy.” Want to know the issue with these prepackaged “health” foods? Just read the label. How many ingredients does it have? If you had to go to the store and pick out the whole food version of all ingredients listed, could you? Probably not! These “frankenfoods” are also filled with artificial sweeteners that have been linked to causing cancer (aspartame) and cause digestive distress (maltitol). [Source] For more info on the dangers of artificial sweeteners, be sure to read this article on diet soda dangers before downing your next can of diet soda. This low carb “health” food also sometimes includes gluten which can be very disruptive to digestion. Check out this article to learn some of the signs of gluten sensitivity.….it may be more than you think. There are so many naturally occurring low carb options…no need to spend lots of money on fake food.
BEING AFRAID OF FAT
The new year usually brings in a new wave of low carb newbies and a lot of them are terrified of FAT. Understandably so…we were all taught to fear fat and to switch to low-fat options. Know the problem with low-fat foods? When all of the fat is removed the food tastes DISGUSTING so they have to add back flavor…which usually comes in the form of added salt and sugar.
So tell me which sounds more natural and good for you–A or B?
A) Margarine: veggie-oil blend, water, whey (milk), salt, veggie mono & diglycerides, soy lecithin, citric acid, artificial flavors, vitamin A, beta carotene (for color)
B) Butter: Cream
I don’t know about, but I’ll stick with butter! Another reason, not to be afraid of QUALITY fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil (not heated), lard and tallow) is that since you are lowering carbs this reduces your fuel source. Healthy fats act as fuel and gives you the energy you need. Not to mention slathering my veggies with butter or ghee tastes AMAZING.
EATING TOO MANY NUTS
Another common mistake is eating too many nuts. Nuts are naturally high in calories and are a dense protein source. So a handful as a mid afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner isn’t bad, but when you are downing a handful of nuts evey time you get a chance you are filling up on these dense calories and not getting a balance of other important nutrients. While, I don’t believe in the calories in = calories out mantra filling up on nuts that have significantly more inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids than Omega 3’s doesn’t sound like the best option for a healthy diet.
Another reason too many nuts could be bad is that nuts and seeds are naturally high in anti-nutrients, like phytic acid. Those help the nuts protect themselves from the elements while they are growing, but it also means that they are difficult to digest. Soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds before consuming them help break down the phytic acid and anti-nutrients making it much easier to digest. Your tummy will be happy! Learn more in the article about the problems with almond flour and how to properly soak and dehydrate nuts.
NOT EATING FERMENTED FOODS
If I was to ask you, “Do you eat lacto-fermented foods?”…..would you even know what I was talking about? Basically the lacto-fermenting process converts the starches and sugars in vegetables to lactic acid, or lactobacilli. The lactobacilli increases the digestibility of the veggies and also helps increase the good bacteria in the gut. If you’ve been struggling with digestive distress (bloating, constipation, IBS, allergies, etc.) chances are the good bacteria in your gut could be low. This is especially true if you’ve been on doses of antibiotics. Learn more about fermented foods and the naturally occurring probiotic benefits.