This content has been medically reviewed by Dr. Melissa Huntington. You should always seek the advice of a physician before starting a new diet.
Are you thinking about starting a low-carb diet and want to know exactly that it is and how to do it? Perhaps you’re wondering why it’s a useful diet that you should undertake. We’ll go over all that and more in this post.
At its most basic, a low-carb diet is one in which you limit the number of carbs you eat in a day. Sounds pretty easy, right?
While there’s a bit more to it than just eliminating bread and pasta from your diet, cutting down on carbs from both grains and high-carb veggies is the basis of this diet.
>> You might also be interested in 5 Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting Works.
General dietary recommendations say that carbs should make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily calorie intake. For a 2000 calories per day, that would mean consuming about 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day.
In contrast, a low-carb diet typically limits carb intake to 25 percent or less of your daily calories.
The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lowers your insulin levels, which helps the body burn stored fat for energy, ultimately leading to weight loss.
It is widely believed that you will get much faster weight loss results by eating between 50 to 150 grams of carbs, instead of your usual 150+.
What Can You Eat on a Low Carb Diet?
Here is a list of foods you should and should not consume while on a low-carb diet. This list is by no means complete. It’s meant to give you a general idea of the types of foods that are low and high in carbs.
Say Yes Foods
- Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and non-gluten grains.
- Vegetables: broccoli, tomatoes and zucchini, artichoke, asparagus, bean sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, mushrooms, onion, peppers, spinach, lettuce,
- Some fruits: Watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, avocado, honeydew, peaches
Say No Foods
- Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, honey, candy, ice cream and other products that contain added sugar, like sweetened or flavored yogurt.
- Refined grains: Wheat, rice, barley and rye, bread, cereal, quinoa, and pasta.
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes (white and sweet), yams, corn, butternut squash, chickpeas, lentils, parsnips, peas, beans, beets.
- High-sugar fruits: Banana, apple, mango
- Trans fats: Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
- Diet and low-fat products.
- Highly processed foods.
Does Low Carb Work For Weight Loss?
The main benefit of eating a low-carb diet – that is, cutting out foods that are high in sugar and carbs – is weight loss. If you cut out high-carb foods, it stands to reason that weight loss will be achieved.
Just by cutting out grains and sugars, your body will burn fat more efficiently. You’ll also very likely be consuming less calories without the carbs, which will also promote weight loss.
Of course, to reap all the metabolic benefits of low-carb diets, merely cutting back on the carbs isn’t enough. You need to also keep calories in check, replace the carbs with the right ratio of fat and protein, and add some exercise.
What About Feeling Better?
Another great benefit of eating a low-carb diet is feeling better. Cutting out sugar and wheat products can have a profound affect on the way you feel, particularly if you’re sensitive to any of the foods you cut, like wheat. If you’ve ever heard of the wheat belly, cutting carbs from your diet is a great way to avoid it.
I was diagnosed with IBS in my early 20s and have found it difficult to eat a regular Western diet ever since. It sometimes feels like every food causes bloating and stomach pain. Eating a low-carb diet always helps me feel better by improving digestion.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Low-carb diets may help prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”
>> Read about all the health and weight loss benefits of a low-carb diet.
Keto vs Low Carb: What’s the Difference?
You’ve probably heard about the keto diet, as it is quite popular right now. Before you decide if keto is right for you, you should know how it differs from a low-carb diet.
The Keto diet takes low carb to a new low. To be considered keto, your carb consumption should stay under 50 grams, and more likely 20 grams. The aim is for your diet to be 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fats – or a close approximation of that.
>> Read more about a ketogenic diet here.
Cutting carbs down that low is done in order to put your body into a state of ketosis, which is where the keto name comes from.
Ketosis occurs when where your body must start burning fat instead of sugar (glucose) as a source of fuel. In order to get your body into ketosis, you must starve it of carbs. It can take a few days to a month or longer to get your body into ketosis, so your commitment to cutting the carbs must be formidable and for the long-term, in order to gain the benefits.
With a low-carb diet, you aren’t attempting to put your body into ketosis, so occasional going over your carb count isn’t going to ruin your efforts. However, keto offers an incredible fat burning potential – more so than on a regular low-carb diet.
My rule of thumb for deciding how low to go with your carb intake is to start with with low-carb – cutting down to 50-100 grams of carbs per day. If you aren’t acheiving the results you want in a few weeks, you can drop them even lower.
Ketosis isn’t necessary for everyone to burn fat and lose weight. So don’t go that low if you don’t have to.
About Our Low-Carb Recipes
This site aims to provide you with a plethora of low-carb recipes that you can use to either maintain a full-time low-carb lifestyle, or to mix and match with your regular diet to cut down your consumption of carbs overall.
Some of our recipes are lower in carbs than others. If you’re concerned about the total number of carbs in a dish, be sure to check out the nutrition information before making the recipe. Some of the recipes are suited for a keto diet, but not all of them, as some are higher in carbs than others.
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Final Thoughts on a Low-Carb Diet
You might find that this eating style is just right for you. We invite you to try our recipes and see how they can fit into your lifestyle. Even if you’re not attempting to stick with a low-carb diet, you can’t go wrong adding any of our recipes to your menu. They were built with carbs in mind, but we always strive to create recipes that are full of flavor.
Read More About a Low-Carb Lifestyle
Laura is dedicated to a low-carb lifestyle after losing 52 pounds on the keto diet. As many of us do, she struggles with her weight and has found that one of the only diet lifestyles that allows her to maintain a healthy weight is a low-carb diet. She shares her favorite low-carb recipes here that are both easy to make and full of flavor, so you don’t even miss the carbs.