The human body uses carbohydrates as its main source of energy. When you eat a carbohydrate, glucose is released into the blood cells. The pancreas sees this as a reason to produce insulin, which helps the glucose get to body tissues, where it is used as energy. By eating a low-carb diet, insulin production is reduced, and fat and protein stores are then used as alternative energy sources.
Because low-carb diets typically exclude or limit most fruits and starchy vegetables, it is important to include some low-carb fruits and vegetables in your diet for additional vitamins and minerals. Low-carb breakfast options include a two-egg omelet with sliced tomatoes, scrambled eggs with spinach and cottage cheese or a strawberry smoothie made with a cup of milk, a quarter of a cup of tofu and a half cup of strawberries.
According to Zoe Harcombe, author of "The Harcombe Diet," some foods are so low in calories and carbohydrates, they can be eaten freely. These include lettuce, leafy greens, cucumbers and celery. As these foods are also rich in vitamins and minerals, they should be eaten in abundance as part of a low-carb lunch, examples of which include a grilled chicken salad, grilled fish or a tuna omelet. Shellfish such as prawns can be eaten with a full-fat mayonnaise dressing, or you could opt for a salad made with abundant leafy greens, cucumber, tomatoes and boiled eggs and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.
According to Cynthia Sass and Liz Vaccariello, who wrote the "Flat Belly Diet," eating a small amount of monounsaturated fats with each meal will help reduce belly fat. A study by Penn State researchers, presented at the American Heart Association's EPI/NPAM 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, found that monounsaturated fats such as canola oil and high-oleic canola oils can reduce belly fat when used in place of other oil blends. Use these oils to cook low-carb dinners including grilled fish or lean steak with salad, Mexican-style burritos or a spicy bean goulash for a vegetarian choice.
Some low-carb snack choices include string cheese, nuts, a boiled egg or cottage cheese spread on celery sticks. Plenty of water should be consumed on a low-carb diet, as many people find that constipation can set in when switching to a low-carb diet that contains a high percentage of meat. Water and fresh leafy greens will help to keep your bowel movements regular.
Avoid all drinks that have a high sugar content and fruit juices. For a low-carb alternative, add the juice of a lemon or lime to a bottle of carbonated water. Alcoholic spirits are low-carb, most wines are fairly low-carb, but regular beer should be avoided.
- The Harcombe Diet: Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight; Zoe Harcombe
- EurekAlert!: Monounsaturated Fats Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk
- Flat Belly Diet; Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.