Low Carb Diets

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

low-carb-dietDue to extensive publicity, low carb diets have become increasingly popular.

However there is considerable ambiguity over exactly what is low carbohydrate. Many companies have seen low carb popularity as a brand to be exploited.

Low Carb – A Definition

All food is made up of three primary macro nutrients – carbohydrates (or sugars), proteins, and fats. Low carb implies that the percentage of carbohydrate (by calorie) is low – but lower than what?

  • High Carb 50-70% (USDA Food Pyramid)
  • Moderate Carb 40-50%
  • Low Carb 25-39%
  • Very Low Carb 0-25%

However it is common to find that any diet less than 50-60% carb ratio is called a low carb diet.

Depending on one’s sensitivity to carbohydrates, a moderate carb ratio may be better than a high carb ratio.

By definition, the lower the carb ratio – the higher the fat and protein ratio. Generally speaking a low carb diet will also tend to be a high protein diet.

Find high protein and low carb recipes here.

Carb Tracker App

low-carb-app

Low Carb Diet Assistant

For those following a low carb diet, tracking your daily carb intake is essential.

In order you ketosis to take place a very limited amount of carbs can be consumed each day.

The Low Carb Diet Assistant iPhone App makes counting carbs easier. It basically does all the work for you using its huge database of foods.

It also tracks your carbs and tells you exactly how many grams you can eat each day, which makes sticking to the strict eating routine a bit easier.

iTunes

Popular Low Carb Diets

The following diets are generally all ‘lumped’ together under the definition of ‘low-carb’. However they actually are made up of little or no carbs – to some that are moderate carb.

Diet to Go Delivers fresh low carb meals to your door weekly. Available throughout the USA.
17 Day Diet The 17 Day Diet is a carbohydrate cycling diet whereby you adjust your intake of carbohydrates.
Anabolic Diet A low carbohydrate diet that alternates with periods of high carbohydrate eating.
Atkins Atkins is a ketogenic diet for weight loss.
Fat Burning Diet Dieters to cycle between high carb and low carb days
Ketogenic Diet A diet that is high in fat with moderate protein and virtually no carbohydrate. This diet will put the body in a state of ketosis, where ketones rather than glucose are used for energy.
Living Low Carb Not a diet book as such but more of a general guide to living a low carb lifestyle.
South Beach Diet The South Beach Diet has an induction phase that is very low carb, but beyond this the diet is not really low carb at all. Effort is made to consume only low GI (Glycemic Index) and un-refined carbohydrates.
Zone Diet Dr. Sears Zone Perfect diet has a ratio of about 40% carbohydrates (moderate). However many refer to it as a ‘low-carb diet’.

The Low Carb Industry

The surging popularity of low carb diets caused an entire food industry to appear seemingly overnight. An entire line of foods now bear the catchy name “low carb”.

What’s unfortunate is that a lot of these foods are very processed, and are not rich in nutritional quality. Clever marketing has come to the fore, with terms like “Smart Carbs” and “Net Carbs” appearing on many products.

The craze began to decline towards the end of 2004 but continues to be popular.

It Doesn’t Work For Everyone

Some people respond very well to low carb eating and lose weight quickly. However, some do not. It really depends on your genetic make-up and how you process carbs based on it.

A low carb diet is just one of the many viable methods a person can use to lose weight or stay slim.

    References:

  • Foster, G. D., Wyatt, H. R., Hill, J. O., McGuckin, B. G., Brill, C., Mohammed, B. S., … & Klein, S. (2003). A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(21), 2082-2090. link
  • Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Henkin, Y., Shahar, D. R., Witkow, S., Greenberg, I., … & Stampfer, M. J. (2008). Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(3), 229-241. link
  • Boden, G., Sargrad, K., Homko, C., Mozzoli, M., & Stein, T. P. (2005). Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Annals of internal medicine, 142(6), 403-411. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: December 10, 2014. Disclaimer
  • ELIZABETH TURBERVILLE

    HOW MUCH CARBS CAN YOU EAT A DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT AND CAN YOU EAT BACKED POTATOS AND SALADS TO AND RANCH DRESSING TO.

  • holmes

    drink diet soda and eat oatmeal all day for 3 months

    2 packets in the morning right when you wake up

    eat it through out the day

    2 when you go to sleep

    with alot of exercise i went from 193 to 147-150 in 3 months

    try it out

  • elvis

    is this for real ? why should I restrict energy food ?

  • e5z

    > elvis: is this for real ? why should I restrict energy food ?

    Because what do you think your body burns for energy if you stop eating sugar? Duh.

    Sadly, this doesn’t work with other diet plans, so everyone assumes you must be weak, miserable, and starving on low carb, too. When actually, you’re full and bursting with energy and health for the very first time in your life.

    > ELIZABETH TURBERVILLE: HOW MUCH CARBS CAN YOU EAT A DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT AND CAN YOU EAT BACKED POTATOS AND SALADS TO AND RANCH DRESSING TO.
    Read the Atkins book. It starts at 20g and goes up to 200g or so. The rules are very specific.
    Salads and ranch dressing are fine. Baked potatoes aren’t. Everything you used to put ON the baked potatoes? Encouraged. Yum.

  • Robin

    Low carb diets work the best, and Atkins is a pretty good standard.

    The primary cause of fat gain is Insulin, which is always triggered by carbohydrate intake. Insulin tells the body to store energy, in muscles and – more commonly – in fat tissue.

    >Holmes, I can understand you would think your diet works the best, sicne if it gave me results I would approve of it. However it doesn’t sound particularly healthy, and I’m guessing that with a low carb diet you would need half of the exercise you did (which I’m assuming was boring low intensity cardio?).

    Low carb means that you will be constantly burning fat – stored or from diet – for energy, this means that you would still lose weight even if no exercise was involved.

    And Green Vegetables are gods in this diet, since you can scoff as many as you want.

  • Greg

    Low carb diets are tough, especially south beach and others that require you to cut out fruits, breads, desserts, chips and other snacks. I think the best diets are ones with weight training built in to help your body burn more calories instead of just cutting carbs and calories. I use low carb chocolate to help curb my cravings and stay on my diet and meal plans.

  • Trish

    Do low carb diets work w post-mnopausal women? seems more difficult now to lose weight even with increased exercise

  • steph

    holmes..nobody wants to eat oatmeal all day

  • Shannon

    Trish, I’m periomenopausal, post hysterectomy, and I’ve been using low carb & exercise since Sep 08. I’ve been successful with getting 60lbs off and keeping it off. Never felt better. And didn’t know the menopausal symptoms had me feeling sooo bad!

  • Shannon

    Oh, and you dont’ have to go very low carb to achieve good results. Moderate carb works well.

  • Glenn

    I just started my diet. I want to lose 55-60 pounds by Christmas. At my doctors urging I need to do this. So am I right in lowering carb intake, like eating salads, green, veggies and some fruits? Am I starting at the right place????

    • ted

      Hey Glenn, yes but you want to also increase your protein intake because this will keep you from feeling too hungry which could lead to slip ups.. Best of luck!