Cutting Carbs – What to Expect the First Two Weeks

lets talk about carbsAny time you make a major change in something as basic as what you eat, expect a bumpy ride. If it were easy, everyone would be walking around like a Supermodel, right? If you are counting macros and have made a decision to cut back on carbs there are some things you need to know to get you through the adjustment period during first two weeks. Please understand the importance of giving your body some time to adjust to the new change in your diet!

Getting through the first two weeks on a low-carb diet is absolutely the hardest part. Your body is used to using carbohydrates for energy and it must adjust to using mostly fat – the kind we eat and the stored stuff we want to burn and eliminate! I recommend pushing through your first two weeks before you consider any kind of “cheat” meal.

The First Three Days — Carb Withdrawal

Having excessive carbohydrates in your diet can create a period of withdrawal when you cut back. Usually the withdrawal takes the form of just missing high carb foods and obsessing over them. (Booze too! Remember it’s a high sugar carb).

 Days 3 to 5 — Watch out for Carb Crash

There is a phenomenon that happens to some people after a few days on a very low-carb diet. I call it carb crash. The theory is that it happens when your body’s glucose reserves (stored in the liver as glycogen) are used up, but your body is not yet used to running on fat as it’s primary fuel source. People tend to have symptoms such as feeling shaky or jittery, feeling irritable, feeling fatigued, or just not feeling right. Although it goes away in a few days the cure is easy — simply add back some high-quality carbs to your diet.

If you feel shaky, fatigued, or otherwise unusually bad, first check your water intake. If you are adequately hydrated, try eating a serving of low-carb fruit like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, apples, melon, peaches, and nectarines. If this makes the feeling go away, you know you are in carb crash. I suggest you modify your plan for the next few days to include a bit more carbohydrate, and monitor your reactions closely. Don’t carb-load which will be self-defeating in the long run.

Days 5 to 14 – Reward Time!

By the end of the first week of your new eating plan, you should start to reap the rewards of low carb eating. This is the stage where many people begin to experience increased energy, better mental concentration, less compulsive eating, and few or no carb cravings. Some experience it as a “fog lifting” that they didn’t even know was there. For me, I really notice that I’m not constantly battling cravings all day long and thinking about food. Every body is different, and it takes longer with some than others.

5 Tips for Cutting Carbs During the First Two Weeks


Most problems can be minimized and sometimes eliminated completely by drinking plenty of water. It also helps to flush out your system and you need more of it now than ever to help balance the new amounts of fiber in your system. How much? An easy way to remember- drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Salt helps too. Try drinking chicken or beef broth or a high quality bone broth.

Eat Fiber and Good Fat

Fat and fiber together produce a high degree of satiety. I highly recommend adding or buying foods with flax seeds, as they are high in both fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can also buy ground flax and sprinkle it on food and add it to smoothies. Some super high fiber sweet choices include raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, pears, and apples. Veggie wise think asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, spinach, and peppers. Beans, beans, and more beans for an outstanding protein/fiber combo. Good fats include avocados (high in fiber too), lower fat hard cheeses, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts) and nut butters.

Don’t Go Hungry

No one likes to be hangry – hungry angry. Do yourself and everyone else around you a favor and don’t go more than 3 hours between meals or snacks. Remember that being hungry impairs your thinking and judgment and it just doesn’t feel good all the way around. Your family and friends will thank you.

Plan Delicious Things to Eat

Nothing will make you feel more deprived than feeling like you are on a “diet” when you are trying to make this big change in your eating habits. Investigate the yummiest foods and find combinations you like. It’s time to try out some of those Pinterest recipes and remember you are in control!

Be Good to Yourself

You are making a big change and deserve all the pats on the back you can get. Try not to stress yourself out in other ways. Do whatever makes you feel good and get your mind off of food.

If you are someone who has a higher sensitivity to carbs, you will probably experience a lot of benefits of this way of eating, and it usually begins around the end of the first week. Congratulate yourself for taking the first steps of a positive change!

For help on dialing in your macros I offer Online Coaching with a specific Macronutrient Prescription to help you dial in your macros based on current caloric intake, goals, training schedule, emotional relationship with food along with stage of life for maximum results.

simple swaps to cut carbs

About Heather Valentine

Heather Valentine is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist who believes in building your best body from the inside out.

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