Low Carb Clean Eating – How To Do It

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Ever wonder if Low Carb Clean Eating is for you? It’s worth taking a look at!

So as most of you know by now, I’ve switched to Low Carb Clean Eating. I’m still eating clean, but I’ve reduced the number of carbs I eat significantly.

With this change, I’m getting a whole new set of questions coming to me on a daily basis. Questions such as, “how many carbs do you eat per day?” and “do you count net or total carbs?“.

Well, I’m not one to leave you guys hanging. So here’s exactly what I’m doing, as well as descriptions of the two different approaches to counting carbs.

Low Carb Clean Eating nutrition label

WHAT I’M DOING:

Please understand that this approach is one that I have chosen with my doctor. You should consult your doctor as well. But doctors aside, this is what I am personally doing. It may or may not be the correct approach for you. It is entirely possible that you may need more or fewer carbs than I do. The trick is to experiment with different levels of carbs until you find the level at which you thrive. Again, this is a good number to figure out with your health care provider.

That being said, there are many low carb programs out there that will give you a certain number. And since my number is basically the same, I don’t have any issues with sharing that number here.

My magic number is: 25 total carbs per day.

NET CARBS VS. TOTAL CARBS:

You may have heard that some low carb eaters count total carbs while others count net carbs. What’s the difference?

A nutrition label that shows you How To Count Carbs For Low Carb Clean Eating

Total carbs – The number of carbohydrates in any given food. It’s the first arrow shown here. (“Total Carbohydrates”) This is what I count when I count carbs.

Net carbs – The number of carbs left over after you subtract the fiber. So in our example here, you would subtract the 2 g of fiber from the total carbs for a net carb result of 3 g.

WHY DO PEOPLE COUNT NET CARBS?

People do this to ensure they get enough fiber while eating low carb and also because fiber, generally speaking, does not affect your blood sugar negatively. In fact, it often helps keep things stable.

HOW MANY CARBS SHOULD YOU EAT?

The number of carbs you eat per day on a low carb clean eating plan will be purely a personal thing. Unless your doctor gives you a specific number like mine did, it’s probably a good idea to play around with this a little.

It’s possible to lose weight too quickly with low carb eating and it’s also possible to stall your progress. I’m sure there are even those who have gained a little weight with low carb eating. Rare, but it’s possible. The trick is to find YOUR magic number.

SO WHERE DO YOU START?

If you read the Atkins books, they will tell you to eat 20 net carbs per day. I’m not a medical professional of course, but this sounds like sound advice for somebody just getting started. Using net carbs will make the transition to lower carb eating much easier. But keep in mind that there are Low Carb Clean Eating folks who enjoy 50-150g of carbs per day. It’s all very individual (unless you follow a ketogenic eating plan, which is very specific and more strict.).

As for me, I jumped in, cold-turkey, with 20 total carbs per day, and then adjusted up to 25g of carbs because it’s what I needed to do to get my blood sugar back under control. But please, don’t do what I do just because it sounds good. Remember to question what you read on the internet. Do your research. Figure out what’s best for you and your body. Talk to your doctor. Do this safely.

(So in that case, definitely do what I did…. talk to your doctor!!!!)

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’LL MAKE?

For me, the biggest change I made for Low Carb Clean Eating was giving up grains. Bread, pasta, rice…. even quinoa…. gone. Sugar also had to go. Even the clean stuff. I had to look around for a brand of stevia that I could actually tolerate, which was definitely not easy. But I did find that after a while, that aftertaste I had from it disappeared. Now I don’t taste it at all. As with most things, you have to give your palate some time to adjust. Thankfully, mine did. But I did find that the best way to do that was to use liquid stevia (not powdered) and add it to hot liquids at first. Then I moved on to colder stuff and even baked goods.

Now I’m not saying that stevia is the right sweetener for you. I’m saying it’s the right sweetener for me. So again, do some research and experimenting to find what works best for you and your body.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Was this switch easy? No. And the truth is, I slip sometimes. We all do when we start something new. It’s normal. But I find that my slips are becoming further and further apart, and I notice that when I do slip, most of the stuff I “cheat” with tastes like cardboard now. So it really does take some time to make a full switch. It’s not something you do overnight. You have to continue trying! You can’t throw in the towel every time you mess up. That mentality is the “diet mentality” and it never lasts. So if you go the Low Carb Clean Eating route, do it with your eyes wide open. Expect mistakes and plan for how you will deal with them. And most importantly, always come back to your eating plan. No matter how badly you think you messed up, and no matter how long you’ve been “off the wagon”. Come back. Again and again until you forget to fall off. It will eventually become just the way you live. And guess what? Even then you’ll mess up!! And that’s okay! What matters is coming back. And that’s as true for any type of healthy eating as it is for low carb and/or clean eating. It’s true for any lifestyle change you truly want to make. Nobody is perfect. So learn to navigate those imperfections and your success rate will significantly increase.

 THE CARB FLU:

If you’ve never heard the term before, I promise, it’s a thing. As real as detox is when you first get back to eating clean after a bender. It’s not fun and you do have to prepare yourself for it. But the good thing is, it doesn’t last long, and then suddenly you’re feeling great! It’s something many low carb eaters experience, and it really is a little like the flu. You feel lethargic, tired, have cravings, and feel generally yucky. But I promise, it doesn’t last.

KETOSIS:

If you read any low carb literature at all, you will undoubtedly come across the term, “ketosis”. It’s a huge topic in low carb eating. But it’s also very controversial. Most mainstream doctors will have a hissy fit if you tell them you are trying to reach ketosis. And this is usually because they associate it with ketoacidosis. An issue that can arise for diabetics. So if you talk to your doctor, brace yourself for that reaction. You will most likely get it.

Because I do not want to come across as advocating either for or against ketosis (do your research!!!), I will simply refer you to a fabulous book I read on the topic. It’s called Keto Clarity (amazon affiliate link). It’s absolutely fantastic and I fully intend on sending my previous doctor a copy.

GETTING ENOUGH WATER:

I can’t stress enough how critical it is to drink water when you eat low carb. Your body will naturally get rid of more water as a result of this way of eating. So it’s essential to your health that you ensure you are getting enough water. Do whatever you have to do, but make sure you drink enough. As with any amount of dehydration, you can damage your health considerably if you don’t.

IN CONCLUSION:

There is a lot to consider if you think low carb clean eating is right for you. There is also a certain amount of experimentation to figure out what will fit you best. And while I certainly do not believe that low carb eating is right for everyone (that’s just silly!), I do think that it’s great for a good number of people out there. So again, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian. Then go for it! The only way you’ll figure out what works for you is if you jump in and do it.

NEED A LOW CARB SHOPPING LIST TO GET YOU STARTED?

Find it here.

P.S. – YOU CAN NOW FIND ALL MY NEW LOW CARB RECIPES AT THATSLOWCARB.COM.

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20 Comments

  1. Thank you! I’ve started this as of Jan 1 & am all over the place trying to figure stuff out. I’m glad that’s natural. What kind of doctor are you working with? Is it a GP or special dietician? Just so I can find one here in Nashville that’s open minded. When my doc (knowing full well I’m a clean water) recommended I eat egg beaters & turkey bacon I about came unglued… So maybe a holistic dietician? Thoughts? Thanks again! PS – last night I had spiralizrd zucchini as pasta with my low carb meatballs I make (actually came about bc my man needed to go gluten free) DEE-LISH!!!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Michele – Yes, a holistic dietitian is probably the best of both worlds. I’m fortunate enough to have a regular medical doctor who specializes in holistic and natural medicines. It’s the best of both worlds because she starts with the natural stuff and only prescribes western meds if it’s absolutely necessary.

  2. Eater not water – stupid autocorrect!!!

  3. Great post! Do you still eat fruit? Would you share what you eat on a typical low-carb day?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Carrie – I will occasionally eat berries because they are the lowest carb fruit. But I don’t eat them daily. I am working on a low carb meal plan at the moment. I hope to have it up by next month. 🙂

  4. I am really looking forward to seeing what recipes you come up with as I am also trying to adapt my lifestyle to a lowcarb/higher fat/clean eating way of life. Good luck on your new journey. =)

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Lori – Thank you! Try the cashew chicken I just posted a couple days ago. Delish!

  5. Great article. I had a doctor tell me once that the biggest downfall with low carb for women is they do not get enough calcium because dairy is usually one of the things that gets either completely cut or reduced significantly. Calcium is needed for the bones, especially for women that are peri or post menopause. I think also, a lot of people don’t know that the liquid stevia is made with either alcohol or glycerite. There is nothing wrong with either unless you have a personal need to not have alcohol. I have used both, and except for the fact that the glycerite one is a little thicker in consistency, I could not tell a difference in taste.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Deborah – If people do this right, the calcium should be there in the leafy greens. That’s how vegans get their calcium too. I’m slowly starting to realize through research that we don’t actually need dairy to get enough calcium and our bodies actually accept it better from other sources. I’m still researching this of course, but that’s what I’ve found so far. I love milk, but it doesn’t love me any longer. 🙁 As for the stevia, I’m okay with the small amount of alcohol. It’s not different than using vanilla extract, which I often put in my coffee. The amount is so minimal, it doesn’t bother me. But I can see where some people might be concerned if it’s something they have to avoid. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  6. I love carbs, especially whole-wheat pasta so I eat a lot of it before I go jogging.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Agness – I’ve heard of people doing that. My body would never forgive me if I did that. I think each person is different. You have to do what works for you! 🙂

  7. great article! I’ve been VLC for over 2 weeks now eating high fats, mod protein, and about 20-45 grams total carbs a day. No weight loss yet. I also have hashis and am a little worried about t3 to t4 conversion being low carb. I am working with a ND tho. Just wondering what your thoughts are. How long it takes to be a fat burner? Thanks!!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Lisa – It’s different for everyone. There is a great group on FB called “I Love Low Carb”. I’m a member there. They have a lot of knowledgeable people there who can probably answer that question far better than I can. I don’t mean to put you off, but I’m just learning about this lifestyle myself through trial and error. I would rather refer you to people who are more likely to actually have a good answer for you.

  8. After you subtropics the fiber from the total carbs there is some left over, what are these carbs?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ashley – Those are the carbs some one would use to add up the total carbs for the day.

  9. Subtract! Haha. Not subtropics!

  10. great article! Going low carb/no sugar has definitely been the biggest factor in meeting my fitness/health goals. I applaud you for mentioning the notion of questioning all things on the internet; so many people take info at face value.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Liz – So true! Anybody can put anything on the internet!

  11. Bonnie Thorpe says:

    At last! A real, living person I can identify with on low-carb. I joined several web based diet programs, which left me hanging, sometimes. I now realize that LC is not a diet, instead it is a different style of eating and cooking! I enjoyed your blog today and what you say makes sense. I am looking forward to your web site and real motivation, bc you are experiencing what we go through when a different lifestyle. Thank you!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Bonnie – Thank you! Yes, it’s been a difficult change for me personally, but that’s mainly because I’ve had so many other things happening in my life. Tough to focus on food when life is crazy. But more and more, I’m eating low carb and seeing wonderful results on many levels. I’m also publishing another blog with all my low carb recipes. Hope you’ll check it out! https://www.ThatsLowCarb.com.

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