Getting Started on Low-Carb: Online Resources

I’m not an expert, a medical doctor, a nutritionist (etc. ). So I am sharing my personal journey and the resources I found helpful in losing more than 85 pounds over the last year and a half.

But my experience is only mine. We are each our own experiment, and I think there is variation in how different people respond. Also, except for my thyroid cancer, I am basically healthy, so my body may have reacted more easily to the change in diet. If you are on a lot of medication (particularly diabetes medication) check with a doctor before radically changing your way of eating.  However, realize that many doctors are not up on low-carb science, and many counsel against it. You may need to do a lot of research to have an informed and productive discussion with an uninformed (on this issue) doctor. The following sites will get you started.

I  will add resources to this page as I find them, so check back. These are resources I have personally found useful. I don’t want to overload this page… too much information being more confusing than helpful. You can also check out the book resources page.

One warning before you jump into the Internet world of low-carb eating:  Sayin’ don’t make it so. Just because a food company or website or book publisher says something is “low-carb” doesn’t mean it is. Companies will do anything to get you to buy their product. Low-carb is a trend, so food companies are jumping on it, just like the co-opted the words “healthy,” “natural,” “gluten free” and  “organic.” But their definition of “low-carb”  may not be truly low-carb. The same goes for cook-books. You will have to decide what your carb limits are, and then make sure the foods you eat and recipes you use comply.

Internet Resources for the Ketogenic Way of Eating This website has a paywall for some information, but plenty of free stuff to get you going. The intro to weight loss page is a great place to start. Also, their what to eat page has a guide to food

Linda’s Low Carb Recipes. Need recipes? You’ll find them here.

Low Carb Faqs (and much more):  This site contains the forums listed directly below, along with faqs, recipes, and tips. I found it useful when starting out.

Low Carber Forums: Folks here will answer just about any question you can think of and give plenty of moral support, plus there are scores of recipes and success stories to keep you on track, along with discussions of related health info (cholesterol, diabetes, etc.) They include a broad range of approaches and perspectives.

*Watch out for Facebook keto groups that are filled with sugar substitutes and dessert recipes. While David and I enjoy the occasional keto dessert, we’ve found that for us, avoidance is the best policy.

Counting Net Carbs versus Whole Carbs?  Definitions: The whole carb count is the total number of carbs in a food item. The net carbs count is calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber.  For example, a cup of sliced avocado might have 12 whole carbs, of which 10 carbs are from fiber. So the net carb count is 2. Obviously, with some high fiber foods, using net carbs means that you will have a wider selection. However, some experts say that some amount of fiber carbs can affect blood sugar. Also, different experts have different opinions on how many carbs to aim for, and whether those should be whole or net. You will have to experiment with your food choices. I started strict, then eased off a little, and I basically stay between 20 whole carbs and 30 net carbs a day. The article linked above goes into more detail about net versus whole carbs. The site has lots more info on it.

Counting Macros. Macro-nutrients the categories of foods we eat: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. While some low-carb people count their proteins and fats (and, less commonly calories), I have not done so. For me, counting carbs alone has given satisfactory results. I eyeball protein (2 smallish portions per day — each portion is about the size of a hamburger). But if eyeballing is not giving you the results you want, try counting macros. This site helps figure out how grams you should be taking in of proteins, fats, and carbs, depending on height, weight, gender, activity level, etc.

Beginner’s Guide This site has a ton of useful info, including recipes and forums.

The Opposition

I’m also going to share a couple of links to “the opposition” (below).

The mainstream medical establishment has a long history of failing to recognize any benefits of a low-carb diet. This mistake is so long-standing and ingrained that I think they have backed themselves into a corner where they can’t or won’t admit it. I think there are a lot of well-meaning people advocating all manner of dietary approaches, but there are also people whose advocacy is based on pride or greed. There is also an argument that “Big Food” and “Big Pharma” have an interest in keeping the status quo (lots of drug-taking, junk-food-consuming sick people with diabetes. You should be aware that there is strong opposition to this way of eating in some parts of the medical community.

Studies can be cherry-picked any which way to show whatever you want them to show. And many of them are deeply flawed in design and duration. Nutrition and health are by definition multi-variable, and even the best double blind peer-reviewed studies show only statistics, not effects on individuals. I think we are all our own experiments, and that for a subset of the population,  a low-carb approach is beneficial.  You know what you’ve done in the past. You know whether it has worked. Only you can figure out whether it makes sense to try something different.

I believe in reading all sides of a story before making a decision. Here are two examples of opposition to the low-carb way of eating . These focus on the Atkins diet. Note that the original version of the Atkins diet was sometimes promoted or interpreted as  permission to gorge on humongous steaks and pounds of bacon. No responsible current low-carb sites promote gorging, whether its on kale or pork-chops! Also note that the current Atkins corporation and sells highly processed food products, which my personal way of eating completely avoids. The corporation bought the Atkins name, and while it promotes low-carb eating, the company is separate and distinct from the late doctor who came up with the plan.

The Wikipedia entry on the Atkins diet makes no attempt to be objective, but is revealing about mainstream medicine’s position.

This link, to a 1974 American Medical Association article, takes issue with many aspects of a ketogenic diet. The site on which this article was reprinted was founded by Dr. Michael Greger, who advocates a plant-based diet with no animal products. Dr. Greger appears to be an animal rights advocate and nowhere on this site or his other sites did I find information about his actual clinical experience with patients. (During his “Animal Rights 2002” convention speech, he said, “The future of the animal liberation movement depends on our ability to unite with other social justice movements, and corporate globalization is the key bridging issue we’ve been waiting for all of our lives.”)  You should be aware of opposing opinions and studies, and I am including a link to this site because this is about as oppositional as it gets. (Reading some of these sites sometimes reminds me of toddlers in a playground, each shouting “No, YOU’RE a doo-doo-head” more loudly than the other.) Obviously, the AMA article I’ve linked to here is very old, but it neatly summarizes the main points of the “opposition.” Also, Dr. Greger’s website contains other articles lambasting low-carb, as well.