Important to Experiment
We are all unique and what works for one person may not for the next. It is important to do some self-experimentation and figure out what works for you.
If you have a medical condition, then make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes, because this diet can drastically reduce your need for medication!
SUMMARY: For people who are physically active or want to maintain their weight, a range of 100-150 grams of carbs per day may be optimal. For people who have metabolic problems and need to lose weight quickly, going under 50 grams per day is a good idea.
A low-carb diet isn’t just about weight loss, it is also supposed to improve your health.
For this reason, it should be based on real, unprocessed foods and healthy carb sources.
So-called “low carb junk foods” are a bad choice.
If you want to improve your health, then choose unprocessed foods: meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, avocados, healthy fats and full-fat dairy products.
Choose carbohydrate sources that include fiber. If you prefer a “moderate” carb intake then try to choose unrefined starch sources like potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats and brown rice.
Added sugar and refined wheat are always bad options and should be limited or avoided.
For more details on specific foods to eat, check out this list of low carb foods and this detailed low-carb meal plan and sample menu.
SUMMARY: It is very important to choose healthy, fiber-rich carb sources. There is room for plenty of vegetables, even at the lowest level of carb intake.
Low-carb diets greatly reduce your blood levels of insulin, a hormone that brings the glucose (from carbs) into cells.
One of the functions of insulin is to store fat. Many experts believe that the reason low-carb diets work so well, is that they reduce your levels of this hormone.
Another thing that insulin does is to tell the kidneys to store sodium. This is the reason high-carb diets can cause excess water retention.
When you cut carbs, you reduce insulin and your kidneys start shedding excess water.
It is common for people to lose a lot of water weight in the first few days on a low-carb diet, up to 5-10 pounds.
Weight loss will slow down after the first week, but this time the fat will be coming from your fat stores.
One study compared low-carb and low-fat diets and used DEXA scanners (very accurate) to measure body composition. The low-carb dieters lost significant amounts of body fat and gained muscle at the same time.
Studies also show that low-carb diets are particularly effective at reducing the fat in your abdominal cavity (belly fat), which is the most dangerous fat of all and strongly associated with many diseases.
If you’re new to low-carb eating, you will probably need to go through an adaptation phase where your body is getting used to burning fat instead of carbs.
This is called the “low-carb flu” and is usually over within a few days. After this initial phase is over, many people report having more energy than before, with no “afternoon dips” in energy that are common on high-carb diets.
SUMMARY: It is common to feel suboptimal in the first few days of lowering your carb intake. However, most people feel excellent after this initial adaptation phase.
If you want to try this out, then I recommend that you try tracking your food intake for a few days to get a “feel” for the amount of carbs you are eating.
My favorite app for this is called Cron-O-Meter. It’s free and easy to use.
Because fiber grams don’t really count as carbohydrates, you can exclude the fiber grams from the total number. Instead, count net carbs (net carbs = total carbs – fiber).
However, one of the great benefits of low-carb diets is that they’re ridiculously simple. You don’t need to track anything if you don’t want to.
Just eat some protein, healthy fats and veggies at every meal. Throw in some nuts, seeds, avocados and full-fat dairy products for good measure. Choose unprocessed foods. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!