Consuming no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates daily is typical of a low-carb, ketogenic diet. This type of meal plan alters the way your body uses energy. Normally your body uses carbohydrates as its preferred fuel source. If you limit your carb intake to 50 grams or less per day, the body instead utilizes fat as the primary energy source. The Atkins Diet is perhaps one of the most well-known ketogenic diets. Prior to starting a low-carb diet, discuss it with your doctor. This type of program may not be appropriate for those who must limit protein intake due to kidney problems.
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Ketogenic Dieting 101
While carbohydrates sometimes get a bad rap, it's important to know they're an essential part of your diet, and many nutritious foods contain carbs. The problem comes when you get too many carbs from processed foods, like pizza, cookies and pastries, that provide few nutrients. On a ketogenic diet, your carbohydrates come mostly from nonstarchy vegetables and some fruits. The drawback of a diet containing 50 grams of carbs is that it's lower in fiber. However, ketogenic diets are safe and effective for treating obesity when used up to 24 weeks, according to a study published in the journal Experimental and Clinical Cardiology in fall 2004. You may need to take a fiber supplement until you're able to increase your carb intake to make sure you're meeting your fiber needs. Check with your health care provider.
Getting Started on 50 Grams of Carbohydrates
The first step is to create a meal plan so you'll know how many carbs to have with your meals and snacks. If you stick to nonstarchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits, you shouldn't have a problem remaining within your target range. Spread your carbohydrates out throughout your daily meals. How you allocate your carbs is up to you. For example, try having 10 grams of carbs per meal and snack if you plan on having three meals and two snacks each day. You'll need a measuring cup/and or food scale to portion your carbs for each meal. This is the only way to ensure you remain within your target range per meal.
Low-Carb Fruits and Veggies
To make things easy, familiarize yourself with 5-gram-per-serving vegetables. Nonstarchy vegetables contain about 5 grams of carbs per cup raw, or 1/2 cup cooked. You have a wide variety to choose from, including asparagus, green beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, leeks, snap peas, zucchini and summer squash. Leafy greens also contain 5 grams of carbs in the same serving.
As you did with veggies, learn the carb content of fruit. A simple way to start is to become familiar with fruits that have 5 grams or less of carbs. The serving size for fruit is 1/4 cup raw. Fruits in this category include coconut, cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, apricot, honeydew, cantaloupe and blackberry.
A Day on 50 Grams of Carbs
If you're not careful, it's easy to eat too much saturated fat on diet containing 50 grams of carbs a day. Just like with a regular meal plan, most of your fat should come from unsaturated sources. Saturated fat is only found in animal foods, so choose lean options.
Eggs are a staple on a ketogenic plan. A typical breakfast is scrambled eggs, two slices of turkey bacon and 1/4 cup of raspberries. A lunch idea is spicy shrimp with almonds, 1/2 cup of broccoli and 1/2 cup of spiral-cut zucchini "pasta." Snacks help keep your energy up and keep you full between meals. The same principles apply, so think about nutrition when making snack choices. A few snack ideas include celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter, reduced-fat cottage cheese with 1/4 cup of strawberries and cucumber slices topped with tuna and avocado. Steamed salmon with 1/2 cup of asparagus, 1 cup of salad greens and your favorite low-carb, low-fat dressing is a sample dinner idea.