Robb Wolf has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. As a former research biochemist, Wolf has authored two New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Selling books, The Paleo Solution and Wired to Eat. He is also the host of top ranked podcast, The Paleo Solution Podcast, which covers Paleo nutrition, intermittent fasting, training, and fitness.
Below, Wolf explains the differences between a low-carb and keto diet, and how you can get started on a low-carb diet with ease. Read on for his top tips for easy kitchen swaps, low-carb recipes, and more.
What is a low-carb diet?
A low-carb diet is exactly how it sounds: a way of eating that is lower in carbohydrates than the typical Western diet. Although the exact numbers are a bit arbitrary, most scientists studying nutrition put the number somewhere between 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day. Your carbs will come mainly from vegetables, but can also include modest amounts of low glycemic-load carbs, such as berries and melon.
Why should someone try a low-carb diet?
- It’s effective at helping with fat loss
- It can help reverse diabetes and cholesterol issues
- It’s very satiating and can help you power through your day longer without getting lightheaded or “hangry,” or feeling the need to snack or nap
What is the difference between a low-carb diet and keto diet?
Low carb is more liberal with the amount of carbohydrates you consume. As I mentioned before, this is around 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day. On a ketogenic diet your carb intake is 25 grams or less per day. Other than that, both diets should include whole, real foods!
What is the best way to start a low-carb diet?
If you’re going from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to low-carb, it’s a good idea to slowly lower your carb intake rather than just dramatically cut it. Your body is used to running on glycogen from carbohydrates, but with a low-carb diet, your body will transition much of its energy production from burning carbs to burning fats. So, if you go cold turkey on your main energy source, you’re more likely to feel lethargic or dizzy, or have flu-like symptoms.
Another way to avoid this “low-carb flu” is to be sure to supplement electrolytes appropriately (sodium, magnesium, potassium).
What are the easiest swaps you can make to get started on a low-carb diet?
I always default to recommending whole foods, so I would say just start using more sweet potato and fruits as your carbs as you decrease the other sources. Cauliflower or broccoli rice are also great substitutes for a base or side dish. But if you’re really craving a carb-y treat, try baking keto breads, making tortillas with almond flour or cassava flour, or baking something sweet with Lily’s Dark Chocolate and some xantham gum.
What are your favorite low-carb recipes for breakfast?
I tend to only eat two meals a day. And while one of those is at the standard breakfast time, it usually doesn’t look like your standard breakfast. I’m talking some meat left over from dinner, plus something fermented, and maybe some olives!
I typically skip it.
Chicken, fish, or meat is normally on the menu, but I round this out with a lot of veggies, squash, and a bit of fruit. I tend to make my breakfast about the same size each day, as I feel better with this approach. Plus, recent research suggests eating more of our calories earlier may have metabolic and weight loss benefits. I adjust the size and composition of my dinner based on my activity that day. If I did two hours of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it’s a big dinner! If I sat on my backside writing most of the day, I adjust accordingly.
What are the differences in low-carb eating for men and women?
Although there is not yet a significant amount of research on the physiological differences between men and women on low-carb diets, there may be some differences. That said, these differences may have less to do with being male or female and more to do with individual variation. Work from the Weizmann Institute in Israel suggests that there are massive differences in how one person reacts to food relative to another. All that said, two areas appear to be critical for women to properly address in any type of dietary change: adequate protein and electrolytes. Calorie restriction plus adequate protein intake—although perhaps not a walk in the park—does not register as a huge stress to one’s body. Low calories and low protein? The body goes into stress mode. Complicating this picture is the tendency for people to unduly restrict sodium intake. In yet another ironic twist of the medical establishment doubling down on bad advice, recent research suggests most people would be healthier and feel better by adding sodium to a largely whole, unprocessed diet.
What are your go-to products that make low-carb eating easy?
Just about any cut of meat can be fantastic if properly prepared. Tender cuts like ribeye benefit from gentle, brief cooking; otherwise, this prized cut can turn into the culinary equivalent of shoe leather! Salt, pepper, garlic powder—done! Conversely, a tough cut like a rump roast may benefit from long, slow cooking with Mexican seasoning or even curry powder.
What do you love most about Thrive Market?
Convenience! With two kids, Jiu-Jitsu, pets, and work, life can be pretty hectic. Being able to have our staples delivered to the door cuts out just one more of life’s stressors.
What made you switch to online grocery shopping? How has Thrive Market changed the way you shop?
All the balls in the air means lots of driving around running errands, getting to meetings or the gym, picking up and dropping off the girls … so being able to have one of those errands cut out is ideal. Not to mention, getting groceries at a discounted price is always a plus.
What are your favorite products that you always order, and how do you use them?
Our Wolf Pack staples include: anything from Wild Planet, Primal Kitchen Chipotle Mayo, and apple cider vinegar.
For the apple cider vinegar: Our good friend Jackie Cox, who is the CEO of a local medical clinic, shared an amazing recipe for salad dressing. It’s one cup of olive oil, one-fourth cup of apple cider vinegar, a clove of garlic, and a lot of salt—a teaspoon or more is fine. Blend these ingredients; dress a large salad and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving. The flavor is amazing and the acid from the vinegar breaks down the greens, which not only improves digestion but makes for amazing flavor.
Crack open a can or two from Wild Planet—sardines, salmon, mackerel, you name it—and throw it in a bowl with avocado, something fermented, and a dollop of Primal Kitchen Chipotle Mayo … mix and call it a meal!