How to Lose Weight on a High Carb Diet
Are you still thinking that carbs make you fat? And you could never lose weight on a high carb diet?
Maybe you have tried the different high fat, low carb diets (Atkins, Paleo, Keto,…) with little to no success. Maybe you lost weight on these diets but it didn’t last or you don’t feel really healthy.
Today, I would like to shine a light on the myth that carbs are bad for you. You will learn which carbs to avoid and which carbs are good for you, how to lose weight on a high carb diet, and why this diet is the best for long-term weight loss and health.
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The only thing that matters for weight loss
See, you can lose weight on any diet, but not every diet is healthy. The key is to eat less (300-500 less) calories than you burn. Or burn more calories with additional exercise. Let’s say you burn 2,000 calories a day and eat a high fat, low carb diet containing 1,500 calories. You will lose weight. But, if you eat a high carb, low fat diet with the same amount of calories you will also lose weight!
The questions I have regarding effective weight loss are: Which diet provides fast weight loss, which diet is the healthiest, and which diet is the easiest to maintain in the long run as a lifestyle?
And: Why did I lose weight fast without trying (or counting calories) by eating over 70% carbs in my diet?
The myth about carbs
Many individuals who want to lose weight jump to the conclusion that they need to avoid carbs. But there are carbs in fruits and vegetables that should not be avoided. Here’s the thing: There are complex carbs and simple carbs; you can’t put them into the same category.
Complex carbs are carbs that are surrounded by fiber, which causes the food break down slower, so it won’t spike insulin levels like simple carbs (whole wheat, whole grain,…). Rather, it fuels your body with lasting energy.
Simple carbs don’t contain any fiber, break down quickly, and have similar effects as sugar. Most often these simple carbs are mixed with lots of fat (like in donuts).
So, when I am talking about the high carb diet, I refer to vegetables, fruits, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. And you will see below that this diet is actually better for weight loss and health.
The best fat loss diet
The National Institute of Health conducted a study about a high fat and high carb diet. The study was done on obese and diabetic patients and you can read all details of the study here.
“In a recent study, restricting dietary fat led to body fat loss at a rate 68 percent higher than cutting the same number of carbohydrate calories when adults with obesity ate strictly controlled diets. Carb restriction lowered production of the fat-regulating hormone insulin and increased fat burning as expected, whereas fat restriction had no observed changes in insulin production or fat burning.” (source)
Just to point out the scientific evidence again: Restricting fat produced 68% higher weight loss than restricting carbs.
This would explain why I lost weight rapidly without even trying (no calorie counting or portion control) on the plant based diet.
The healthiest diet
The vegan diet is indicated as the most healthy diet concerning body weight, nutritional intake, and nutritional quality (source). Research also shows that the vegan diet is the only diet that people average a normal BMI. And if you have health concerns like type 2 diabetes you might be interested in this study: A vegan diet was compared to the diabetes diet suggested by the American Diabetes Association and both diets led to weight loss and health improvements BUT:
- Diabetes medication was decreased 0.96 percentage points in the vegan group and 0.56 points in the ADA group
- Body weight decreased 6.5 kg in the vegan group and 3.1 kg in the ADA group
- Among those who did not change lipid-lowering medications, LDL cholesterol fell 21.2% in the vegan group and 10.7% in the ADA group
There are many additional health benefits related to the low fat vegan diet that you can read here. I also wanted to point out that your brain’s main source of energy is glucose, a component of carbohydrates.
The easiest diet to lose weight
In my opinion, the easiest diet to help you lose weight is the one you can stick to long term. If you are planning on doing a certain diet for 30 days and after this period you go back to old eating habits you will most likely gain the weight back. You need to focus on a complete lifestyle change.
Going vegan cuts out a big food group that contains animal fat (saturated fat), cholesterol, dioxins, hormones, and more (no, you will not be protein deficient). To me this was a lifestyle change because there were multiple factors that motivated me to stick to the diet long term:
- I realized it is the healthiest diet out there and I was simply done neglecting my health
- It helps save the environment
- It saves animals, my wallet, and is a simple style of eating (which saves me energy)
Because there are motives other than just weight loss, I believe the vegan diet is the easiest diet to maintain as a lifestyle.
How to lose weight fast on a high carb diet
I just want to clarify that you can’t just eat lots of carbs and think you’ll lose weight. As I have mentioned before, you need to create a caloric deficit in your diet. You can use a fitness tracker to see how many calories you burn and then eat between 300-500 calories less per day. Check out these free vegan meal plans to get started:
- Best frugal weight loss meal plan (1200-1400 calories)
- 8-day Plant based meal plan on a budget (1700 calories)
- High protein vegan meal plan (2200 calories)
If you have no clue how many calories you burn I would simple start with the 1700 calorie meal plan or the 2200 calorie meal plan if you are a man. If you don’t see desired results go ahead and try the meal plan with less calories. Please don’t go under 1200 calories per day as this will cause health issues.
Here are some tips:
- Eat 6-10 servings of fruits and veggies per day
- Include 2 servings of legumes daily
- Eat at least 1 tbs of flaxseed daily
- Consume at least 2 cups leafy greens daily (in a smoothie or salad)
- Focus your grains mostly on oats, brown rice, quinoa
- Whole wheat pasta and bread are not bad, but whole foods are preferred
- Leave out oil if possible
- Lower salt intake
- Leave out added sugar if possible
- Drink lots of water
- Exercise or go on walks
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My weight loss journey (15 pounds down)
Since moving to the states in March 2016 I slowly started to gain weight. When I reached almost 150 pounds I knew my lifestyle is pretty messed up. I fell into terrible eating habits and I would describe it more like an addiction. I was constantly craving burgers!
To some of you 150 pounds body weight is not much, but I have a university degree in sports and have never been that heavy. To me personally that was embarrassing (especially if you have to get new bigger clothes).
I started my weight loss in August 2017 with the 21 day fix program. This is a program where you measure your portion sizes with containers and make sure you get the right amount of food from each food group. You can read more about it here. Back then I was not a vegan, but you can definitely do the 21 day fix with vegan food groups.
With the portion control program I was able to lose 10 pounds in about 30 days. I also worked out and made sure to drink lots of water. It was certainly not easy, especially the first 3-6 days, but it got easier with time. Here are some hacks to make the 21 day fix easier.
I did change my lifestyle because the 21 day fix is all about clean eating. So I definitely got used to eating clean food more often. BUT it was hard not to fall back into my old eating habits.
In February 2018 my husband and I watched different health documentaries and were interested in the health benefits of the plant based vegan diet. I read the book “How not to die“ by Dr. Greger and was impressed by how many studies backed up these health claims.
After I did my own research, we tried out the vegan diet and I immediately started to lose more weight without even trying. After I lost 5 pounds while eating a diet containing 70% carbs I actually had to make sure I ate enough so I wouldn’t lose more weight! I did not plan on losing more weight, but it just happened automatically. The vegan diet is more dense without all the calories, therefore you feel full faster.
Today, we still eat a vegan diet because it is so easy to lose weight, keep it off, and it is simply the healthiest diet out there. I have put together this vegan quick start guide with all the recipes I cook on a regular basis. With it you will also learn how to use the recipes for weight loss, how to get all your nutrients, and all recipes are under 30 minutes, budget (Aldi) friendly, and simple.
Helpful Weight Loss Resources:
Cronometer.com: This is a free tool that will help you track your food intake and calories. Cronometer also shows you all the vitamins and minerals you consume which is great to make sure there are no deficiencies.
The vegan quick start guide: This guide will give you easy recipes under 30 minutes to start a vegan diet without feeling overwhelmed. All recipes are low fat and budget friendly. The guide contains a example meal plan with a rundown of the nutritional value plus many health and weight loss/muscle gain tips.
From A to Vegan: If you want to go all in, I highly recommend this comprehensive vegan starter kit to learn everything about a healthy, balanced vegan diet. It will help you with weight loss, more energy, and all around better health. It comes with recipes, meal plans, printables, tracking sheets, and more. You can head over to get more information here.
Vegan weight loss guide: Based on scientific methods that reverse and prevent common diseases, this guide will help you lose weight and find a healthy lifestyle in a non-restricting way. It provides vegan recipes that fuel and fill you, promote weight loss, without counting calories or starving. See what’s all included here.
At Home Workouts: Cardio workouts and light weight training are great to lose body fat, burn more calories, and feel better all together. If you don’t know where to start I personally enjoy the workouts from Beachbody. I stream their workouts and simply pick the one for my needs. I have been doing their workouts for years now and it is the easiest way to include fitness into a busy lifestyle. For cardio workouts I suggest Hip Hop Abs (dancing), 21 Day Fix (for anyone), or YouV2 (beginner, or elderly).