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Making changes—and sticking with them—is never easy, especially when you're just starting out. Changing what or how much we eat has its own unique challenges.
When you first choose to follow a low-carb diet, you might experience carb withdrawal or crash. If you decide to follow a diet with a very low-carb phase, you may come up against other challenges along the way.
It’s important to know about possible pitfalls before you get started so you'll know how to handle them. You'll also understand the importance of giving your body time to get used to the changes you're implementing.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Low-Carb Diet
Getting through the first week on a low-carb diet is, indeed, the hardest part. Your body normally uses carbohydrates for energy, but with a low-carb diet, it has to get used to relying mostly on fat (what you're hoping to burn).
The best defense is being prepared. Follow these tips to help you adjust during the first week of a low-carb diet and beyond.
The First Three Days: Carb Withdrawal
Some people use the analogy of “food as addiction”—but that may or not be your case. However, there are some common characteristics between an excessive carbohydrate diet and addictions. For example, it's not unusual to experience cravings for carbs when you start removing them from your diet.
During the first few days, you may even experience a period of discomfort. Though the reason is unclear, there's likely a strong psychological component. Remember that it's quite normal to miss your favorite high-carb foods. You may even find yourself thinking about them often or wishing you were eating them.
During the first three days of your low-carb diet, here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you press on.
Focus on Fiber and Fat
Eating fat and fiber together produces a high degree of satiety, the feeling of being full. Foods made with flax seeds are high in both fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Salads with protein (tuna, chicken, etc.) and healthy low-carb dressing are another option that is acceptable on any low-carb diet, including South Beach, Atkins, and Protein Power.
There are many other foods that are both high in fiber and low in carb. Exploring how you can integrate them into your diet will give you a creative focus during the first few days of cutting carbs.