Many people, when confronted with the idea of going on a low carb diet, either because they need to for diabetes or other health issues, or because they are trying to lose weight, approach low carb foods with the idea of finding ways to eat the way they did before they went low carb. What I mean is that we are constantly seeking ways to have our cake and eat it too, such as with low carb sugar options or low carb noodles. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it can be quite self defeating if you expect to enjoy things the way you did before your low carb diet. Here are some important things to remember when it comes to low carb snacks and dieting.
1. All Carbs Are Not Created Equally
This is the most important thing you can learn about low carb snacks: all carbs are not created equally. Ten crackers that equal 30 carbs are going to do a whole lot less for you than a serving of yogurt with the same number of carbs. When possible, aim for whole grains over refined grains, even if the carbs are the same, and look for more natural, unprocessed alternatives on all foods you eat.
2. Pair Carbs with Protein and Fiber for Long Lasting Energy
Protein and fiber can help slow the absorption of sugars, so when they are paired with carbs, they will help stabilize the impact of those carbs on your blood sugar, slowing the process and allowing those carbs to gradually enter your bloodstream as sugar. This will not only help prevent blood sugar spikes, but also give you longer lasting energy as the sugar in your low carb snack is slowly let out over time.
3. Quality Is More Important Than Quantity
This goes hand in hand with the premise that not all low carb snacks are created equally. When you count carbs, nearly every bite you take must be important. That’s not to say you can’t have treats, but don’t waste the small amount of wiggle room you have on empty calories that will leave you hungry and craving immediately afterward. Pair your sweet with fiber or protein to make it last longer. A great example is ice cream. I can eat ice cream with sugar and not see the spikes I would by having say, a candy bar. The protein in ice cream helps balance it out. Pay attention to what you eat to help you stay satisfied and on track with a low carb diet.
4. Graduate Carb Amounts from Morning to Evening
Something most low carb dieters will notice is that they can eat a particular food in the morning, and have that same food again at night with completely different blood sugar results. Insulin resistance is at its highest earlier in the day, so save up higher carb foods and fruits for later in the day to help keep blood sugar stabilized. This means you might be able to enjoy a small bowl of cereal if you save it for an afternoon snack or a dessert after dinner. That same cereal could wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels in the morning, which brings us to the last on our list, number five.
5. Trial and Error Go Farther Than “Expert Advice”
The best way to know what you can and cannot eat is by trial and error. Yes, advice, reading and information can help you on your low carb path, but the only way to know what works for you is to try it, and test it. Keep a food journal and record your reactions to each food, along with the serving size. While one person can eat an apple with no issues, another will find that same type of apple spikes their blood sugar too high. Know what works for you and expand on that knowledge.
Low carb snacks are essential to maintaining stable blood sugar throughout the day, but you need to eat the right kinds of carbs with helpful protein and fiber, choose quality snacks at the right time of day, and know how each food affects you individually.