I follow a low carbohydrate, clean diet. I believe that eating wholesome, healthy, unprocessed or minimally-processed food is very important to overall health and well-being. The more natural, whole foods you can substitute for anything processed, the better off you’ll be. While trying to lose weight, I’ve found that low carb is the way to go. Below are some common terms of what makes up our diet.
Macronutrients make up the food we eat. The three primary macronutrients are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Most foods have a mix of macronutrients, but some are primarily all carbs, all protein, or all fat.
Fat is your friend. Fat is not the enemy. People associate BEING fat with EATING fat, but this is misguided. An excess of any amount of calories, whether from carbs, protein, or fat, can cause weight gain. Fat is vital for the health of your organs, especially your brain and cells. It is also a source of energy and helps with your body’s growth and development. A fat-based diet with low carbs and moderate protein can aid in the production of ketones, which the body can use very efficiently for fuel. Not all fats are created equal; you want to eliminate trans fats in your diet as they can raise the risk of heart disease and cause a plethora of other health problems. Having too little fat in your diet, and on your body, can be dangerous. A few of my favorite fat choices are olive oil, avocados, nuts and nut butters.
Protein aids in growth, tissue repair, and immune function. It also can also be used by your body for energy and helps you to build muscle, which as we established when talking about fitness is very important to overall health and weight loss. A few of my favorite protein choices are chicken, steak, salmon, tilapia, yogurt, and cheese.
Carbohydrates are conventionally thought to provide fuel and energy for the body. However, if your body doesn’t burn the carbohydrates you consume, it may store them as fat. On a low-carb diet, we restrict carbs in order to limit the body from storing the excess calories consumed from carb sources as fat. While following a low carb or keto diet, you can still consume some carbohydrates, mainly from vegetables, which are a good source of fiber, and some fruits. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is undigestible and helps to move food through the body to aid in digestion. I never really restrict the amount of vegetables I eat, I just try to stick to lower carb vegetables like leafy greens, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, turnips, and more. I occasionally eat higher carb vegetables as well, like butternut squash, as long as I haven’t had too many other carbs that day.
There are many ways to structure your diet so as to have a good balance of the three primary macronutrients. I personally follow a 70/20/10 macronutrient ratio with 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. For me, this is my magic formula. I try to stay within this range for each meal, but it is not always possible. Using My Fitness Pal or other nutrition tracking software can help you to see if you’re eating more carbs, protein, or fat than you’d like. There is no set way to eat, some people do better with more carbs, or more protein, or lower fat; experiment with different macros to see if you feel better upping one category or another. Some people’s bodies operate better with different ratios.