12 Steps to Start a Low-Carb Diet

Consider these 12 helpful tips when switching to a low-carb diet.
Steps 1-6

How Do I Begin?

Switching to a low-carbohydrate diet requires more than just swapping meat for pasta, and eggs for your morning bagel. The following tips, suggestions, and advice will help ease the transition from a high- to low-carbohydrate diet.

1. Make every carbohydrate count. When you eat carbohydrates, reach for complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and pasta, legumes, nonstarchy fruits, and vegetables.

2. Pick produce that triggers lower glucose response. Fruits and vegetables with the lowest glycemic index include apples, apricots, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumber, grapefruit, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, plums, spinach, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Moderate-GI produce includes cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, orange juice, peaches, peas, pineapple, yams, and watermelon. High-GI fruits and vegetables include bananas, beets, carrots, corn, potatoes, and raisins.

3. Read labels. Food labels are required to show how many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving. By reading labels carefully, you can track how many carbohydrate grams are in all the foods you eat.

4. Skip the soft drinks. Soda, sports drinks, sweetened juices, and other soft drinks are chock-full of low-quality carbohydrates. When you're thirsty, choose diet sodas, sugar-free iced tea, or seltzer water with a splash of lemon instead.

5. Think ahead when dining out. You can eat in restaurants when you're on a low-carbohydrate diet. Pick a restaurant whose menu doesn't revolve around bread or pasta -- a seafood restaurant is an excellent choice. Second, plan your day's diet around the restaurant meal. If you've got your heart set on a hunk of French bread at dinner, go light on carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch. Third, when you place your order, don't be afraid to ask the waitress to leave off the bun or breading. You're paying for the meal, after all, and it should be served the way you like it.

6. Stock your kitchen with low-carbohydrate foods and snacks. Fill the pantry and fridge with nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish, lean meats and poultry, dairy products, and low-carbohydrate snack bars.

Continued on page 2:  Steps 7-12