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 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.


Featured Recipe

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 GoDelivers fresh low carb meals to your door weekly. Available throughout the USA.
The 2 Day DietEat Low carb only 2 days a week to lose weight.
17 Day DietThe 17 Day Diet is a carbohydrate cycling diet whereby you adjust your intake of carbohydrates.
Anabolic DietA low carbohydrate diet that alternates with periods of high carbohydrate eating.
Anne Collins Low Carb Diet
28-day plan in 2 phases: Phase 1 (14-days) average of 30g carbs per day- Phase 2 (14-days) average of 55g carbs per day.
Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate LivingThis book will appeal to health professionals who prescribe low carbohydrates diets to their patients, as well as dieters who want to understand the science as it relates to the low carbohydrate diet.
Atkins is a ketogenic diet for weight loss.
The New Atkins Diet PlanNew Atkins for a New You is an updated version of the Atkins Diet, which outlines how to adjust the diet in accordance with the latest thinking about diet and nutrition.
Carbohydrate Addicts
This diet is unusual in that 2 meals have no carbohydrate, and then a 3rd meal is made up of about 1/3 carbohydrates. Very much a low-carb diet – but not low enough for ketosis.
Cheat to LoseOne week of reduced carb, one week of Low Glycemic Load carbohydrates, one week of Higher Glycemic Load, and then a “cheat day”
Doctor Whitaker DietBased on the real-life experiences of thousands of patients who have been treated by Dr Julian Whitaker at his Wellness Institute. It is based on following a high protein, low carbohydrate diet in combination with regular exercise.
Fat Burning DietDieters to cycle between high carb and low carb days
Fat Flush
This detox diet is not usually referred to as a low-carb diet – but it has about the same macro-nutrient ratios as the Zone (about 40% carb).
Idiot Proof DietThere are three phases to the diet with the first being a two-week introductory phase which is very low carb and resembles the induction phase of the Atkins diet.
Hampton’s Diet
Quite similar to Atkins, but with an emphasis on healthier fats – specifically macadamia nut oil.
How the Rich Get ThinThe basic structure of the diet is high protein, low carbohydrate with the elimination of processed foods including nutrition bars.
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.
Kimkins DietA low carb and very low calorie diet that has received a lot of controversy.
Lifestyle Cut DietThe basis of the program is a low carbohydrate diet with small frequent meals because this promotes the continual burning of fat.
Lindoraa high-protein, very low carb diet based on the process of ketosis. This program is medically-supervised
Living Low CarbNot a diet book as such but more of a general guide to living a low carb lifestyle.
Metabolism B DietOffers a solution for dieters who may not realize they have the condition called “Metabolism B”, which influences their capacity to process carbohydrates.
Considered to be low-carb – as all grains are to be avoided.
New York DietA very strict low carb diet plan that eliminates alcohol, bread, sugar, coffee, fruit and dairy products.
No Grain DietThe No Grain diet is very low in carbohydrates, as it requires dieters to eliminate all grains, sugar, potatoes, and sweets.
Protein Power
This diet could also be considered low to moderate carb – with a similar ratio to the Zone Diet.
Rosedale Diet
Rosedale places emphasis on more fats and no starchy carbs.
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.
South Beach Diet SuperchargedThe diet is basically the same as that outlined in the original South Beach Diet with some extra foods allowed.
Stress Eater DietA four-week meal plan that transitions from a low carbohydrate diet to a more moderate intake of carbohydrates.
Sugar Busters
More like a moderate carb diet with a ratio of 30-40% carbs – but with a fairly low daily calorie intake.
Thermogenic DietThe basic idea of the diet is to restrict carbohydrates to some degree while emphasizing low glycemic sources and at the same time.
The Schwarzbein PrincipleThe diet involves two stages. The first stage is designed to heal the metabolism and is basically a high protein, low carbohydrate diet that is very similar to the Atkins diet.
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’.

Other Low or Reduced Carb Diets

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.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
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  • Mahy

    Hi my name is Mahy …i tried dieting ALOT but when i see chips and chocolates and all these unhealthy food i just can’t resist myself from eating them..i always say fine i am going to start tomorrow ..but i also say that again and again everyday! I tried to lower my portion of meals but i just want MORE! Plus i don’t really have the time to exercise :s
    I’m 58-60 kilos currently..i’d like tpto be 40-45 not more!

    Thank you

    • susan

      For chips eat pork rinds- 0 carbs, berries can help with sweet snacks, eat avocados, olives, and cheeses for fats. Microwave a slice of American cheese for 1 minute and it’s like bread. You have to want to do it! There are simple swaps, though.

      • http://www.everydiet.org ted

        Good suggestions. Raw almonds are great for a crunchy snack too.

    • Rosered

      Try the new book called The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas – by the 5th day you get 1 oz of chocolate a day. People are raving about the results.

  • joan

    Started out slowly a couple of weeks ago. Already I feel awesome, energy level much higher, am losing weight like never before. Amazed by how full I feel when eating enough protein. Have started exercising too. Still long long way to go but am very optimistic :)

    • June

      I started about 6 days ago and have lost 3 pounds already. I also feel great, higher energy than before, and can actually go for a walk now where before I had a very hard time. I have high blood pressure and asthma (due to chemical burn scarring on my lungs) and I do believe that this way of eating is going to be very good for me. So, way to go Joan! I wish you all the best in your new way of life. :)

      • Gemma

        What are u eating for breakfast?

  • Meredith

    I have had SUCH GOOD LUCK wit low carb. And I highly recommend Gary Taubes books on the topic of fat gain and fat loss. He has researched everything in this field since the 1800’s and puts it all together for us.

    • Louise

      No, good luck had nothing to do with it honey. It works all the time day in day out. The world must wake up to the dangers of high carb living. All the best to you!

  • Gina

    I am a gluten free vegetarian and you would think with my restricted diet I would not have a weight problem. When I analyzed my food intake I realized I was really a “starchatarian.” Lots of rice, potatotes, gluten free bagels.

    My husband and I decided to go low carb together, cutting out all the white processed starches and only allowing ourselves brown rice or oatmeal (once a day) and eating more fresh fruits/veggies/eggs and moderate amounts of dairy. It’s been a week and we’ve both lost 5 lbs. so far.

    Not only that, we feel better than we have in a long time. I’ve always had digestive problems and for the first time in forever they are GONE.

    I’ve read a good balance to start with is 30% fat, 40% carbs, 30% protein and we’ve been getting to close to that. I don’t know how long we will have success with losing weight or if we’ll plateau soon but just feeling better has been a huge benefit.

    Another thing we discovered was “Just Like Sugar.” It’s a sugar substitute that’s made out of chicory root, calcium and orange. This stuff is surprisingly good. You have to use a bit more than regular sugar or substitute but at zero calories, zero carbs and no fake chemicals, who cares?! Love that stuff.

    • Abhijeet

      Hey great work by both of you…But can u please guide me with a proper diet for my day…as such in excercise i do only walking for 30mins

  • Teri

    If I’m exercising to burn off extra carbs eaten beyond the allowed 20 net during the induction phase of the atkins diet, is it still considered that I’m taking in the correct amount of carbs to begin Ketosis/weight lose even though I’m taking in more and burning them down the the 20.

  • Leo786

    No Rice, No White Flour, No Breads, No White or Brown Sugars, No Bananas, No Milk. A lot and lots of Water Intake.

    • Susan Jordan

      Simple substitutions

      Rice= cauliflower
      flour= almond flour
      bread= microwaved cheeses
      sugars= artificial(although I just live without)
      Milk= cream, yogurts, sour creams

    • David

      Saying “NO” means you will fail in my opinion. Reducing these foods from your diet means you will succeed. Don’t fool yourself.

      • Susan Jordan

        Fail if you are weak. There are simple replacements. They have almond flours and they are low in net carbs (minus the fiber to get your final carb count). You can have berries. American cheese makes bread and crackers, just microwave for 1 minute on a paper plate, for crackers split up the slice in four pieces. Cauliflower can be rice and there are many videos out there. I don’t use artificial sweeteners and it does get tricky. Just 1 tbsp of apple juice in tea works great. You will have to learn moderation, anyways.

  • Leo786

    i would like to add Mild Weight Training alongwith Cardio (Treadmill) for 1 hour 6 times a week. Cheers

  • len hutchinson

    i am over wieght and would love to loose 15kilos with to much exersiseing as i have a damaged knee.

  • Lisa x

    Hiya i been on this diet for three weeks and it does work. I was 9stone for a 5ft girl, i felt over weight so i started on this low carb diet and i ate grill chicken breast with cup of brocoli i lost 2 stone and u can reli see the result and now i eat healthy and feel so good, also it stays of once u come of the diet x

  • Kyle

    Exactly Chopstix. The low-carb diet is a lifestyle. My doctor told me to lose the weight and then switch to a more nutritious lifestyle. I lost 37 pounds in 5 months and the low-carb and because of weight loss my cholesterol level went down. I was also eating more fruits and veggies than I had in a long time and my digestive system was working better. Protein shakes and carb-balance tortillas were my staple. I never ate anything more than a single digit worth of carbs per serving. I also ate low carb fruits that have apparently different types of carbs, so I kept losing. Watermelon, nectarines, olives, avocado, mushrooms, plums, the berry family were all good foods. Tropical fruit is not good for this diet. Apples and oranges are on the mid range so limit those. Potatoes and corn should not be eaten. Peas are bad for the diet also. You don’t want foods with high starch, high carbs and carbonated water. Always set a goal prior on how much you want to lose. Once you reach that goal, set a goal to keep it off. Never overeat again! Exercise a few times a week and never eat 3 hours before bed time. It will stay off.

  • chopstix

    Thank you for putting this up. I tried low carb diet before and it helped me lose at least 10 lbs. for 2 months, which I think is healthy because I followed it with regular exercise and cutting off “junk” foods.

    I have to say that the low carb diet made me leaner and I noticed the difference right away. The down side is, it’s very hard to maintain like any other diet. I’m starting to make it more of a “lifestyle” rather than an actual diet…like vegetarians, it’s a lifestyle.

  • Morten

    Just came across this site. In Scandinavia, a diet that consists of more than 100 g carbohydrate per day, is considered high carb. When we refer to low carb, we generealy speak of those eating 0-70 gram per day. Saturated fat is consiered very important to avoid heart dieseases and cancer, and cholesterol levels are of no importance, whether they are skyhigh or “normal”.

  • 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!

  • Shannon

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

  • 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!

  • steph

    holmes..nobody wants to eat oatmeal all day

  • Trish

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • elvis

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

  • 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

    • ImSean

      You do realize that drinking Diet Soda that you are doing more harm by the aspartame? which is the artificial sweetener included in the drink.



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