A low carb diet for beginners – Nutrition Kitchen HK

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Protein

Protein is probably the most important nutrient for ensuring that most of your weight loss comes from fat, as it allows your body to spare lean muscle mass during a calorie deficit. Most people get it wrong and don’t know that adequate protein consumption is required for your muscles to recover from exercise.

However, protein is not just for the purpose of maintaining lean mass, it also provides satiety. If you’ve ever tried to gobble down lots of chicken breast, you probably found that you couldn’t consume much. As a result, you don’t digest as many calories as if you chose to eat other sources of protein.

Finally, protein has a higher thermic effect than the other two macronutrients, meaning your body burns more calories trying to digest protein than with carbs or fat. That being said, don’t abuse this fact by eating platefuls of meat, thinking it’s calorie free, but keeping your diet high in protein will ensure you are adding to your calorie expenditure.

The general recommendation is 1g per pound of body weight. The requirement will mostly be less than this, especially if you have a higher body fat percentage, but 1g/kg is probably a good place to start off given the other benefits from its intake.

 

Fibre

When you start your diet, you’ll likely feel hungry and often not full after meals, especially if you haven’t been throwing vegetables into the mix. Fibre is an indigestible nutrient that provides satiety that you should definitely include in your diet, but that’s not all. Fibre also helps digestion and is similar to protein in that it has a thermogenic effect that will help increase your calorie expenditure. Furthermore, vegetables are a tasty addition to meals and add colour and flavour that gives you the assurance that you are getting enough micronutrients as well.

The general recommendation is a minimum of 10g of fibre per 1,000 calories of daily intake.

 

Fat

Don’t be fooled by its name and think eating fat makes you fat. Fat is a key macronutrient you have to ensure you’re getting enough of as it’s required for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, a regulator of hormones, and a requirement for healthy brain function. Fat also plays a pivotal role in providing satiety in the diet, as it takes a longer amount of time to digest.

The general recommendation is to get at least 0.6g per kilogram of body weight.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have been scrutinised quite frequently in recent years, often with unsupported claims, the major blame being that carbs inherently cause fat gain and cause many health issues.

To be frank, no single macronutrient will cause a sudden increase in the risk of health issues, and many studies have found that it is actually excessive calorie intakes resulting in being overweight that leads to a lot of the health issues the carb-critics talk about.

The role of carbohydrates is to provide energy to our bodies while also replenishing depleted glycogen stores that are used up during exercise. Thus it serves as an important macronutrient, particularly when you are lifting frequently in the gym (and we assume you are doing so in order to lose body fat while maintaining lean mass), to ensure your workouts are high quality, and your energy levels optimal. 

Next time someone tells you to cut carbs for whatever reason, do some reading to see if what they are saying is in fact true before you take that advice.

The general recommendation is to eat your rest of calories as carbohydrates.

 

Calories

This brings us to the most important aspect to consider when dieting - calories. Calories are what matters in the end, and if your calorie expenditure is less than your calorie intake, you can be certain that you won’t be seeing any weight loss, let alone from fat. To ensure your fat loss journey is successful, you need to keep your calorie intake at a deficit from your maintenance level and keep it that way until you are satisfied with where you end up.

The general recommendation is 11x body weight in pounds. You should be losing 0.5-1.0% of your body weight weekly with your target based on how aggressive you want to be.

 

An example:

Using the above recommendations for an average adult male of 75kg, calorie intake would be 1,815kcal. Protein intake would be 165g (660kcal), fat intake would be 45g (405kcal), and the rest (750kcal) would be made up of 188g carbs, of which at least 18g of fibre should be included!

 

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