The most important part is to cut back on sugars and starches, or carbohydrates.
When you do that, your hunger levels go down, and you generally end up eating significantly fewer calories (1).
Instead of burning carbs for energy, your body now starts burning stored fat for energy.
According to some dietitians, it’s not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) — sometimes more — in the first week of eating this way. This weight loss includes both body fat and water weight.
One study in healthy women with obesity reported that a very low carb diet was more effective than a low fat diet for short-term weight loss (4).
Research suggests that a low carb diet can reduce appetite, which may lead you to eat fewer calories without thinking about it or feeling hungry (5).
Put simply, reducing carbs can lead to quick, easy weight loss.
Removing sugars and starches, or carbs, from your diet can reduce your appetite, lower your insulin levels, and make you lose weight without feeling hungry.
Each one of your meals should include a protein source, fat source, and low carb vegetables.
As a general rule, try eating two to three meals per day. If you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, add a fourth meal.
Constructing your meals in this way should bring your carb intake down to around 20–50 grams per day.
Eating plenty of protein is an essential part of this plan.
High protein diets can also reduce cravings and obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce the desire to snack late at night by half, and make you feel full. In one study, people on a higher protein diet ate 441 fewer calories per day (9, 10).
When it comes to losing weight, protein is a crucial nutrient to think about.
Healthy protein sources include:
- Meat: beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
- Fish and seafood: salmon, trout, and shrimp
- Eggs: whole eggs with the yolk
- Plant-based proteins: beans, legumes, and soy
Low carb vegetables
Don’t be afraid to load your plate with low carb vegetables. They are packed with nutrients and you can eat very large amounts without going over 20–50 net carbs per day.
A diet based mostly on lean protein sources and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need to be healthy.
Many vegetables are low in carbs, including:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
See a full list of low carb vegetables here.
Don’t be afraid of eating fats. Trying to do low carb and low fat at the same time can make sticking to the diet very difficult.
Sources of healthy fats include:
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- avocado oil
Assemble each meal out of a protein source, fat source, and low carb vegetables. This will generally put you in a carb range of 20–50 grams and significantly lower your hunger levels.