A Complete Low-Carb Diet Guide for Beginners


A low-carb diet limits or restricts the intake of carbohydrates. There is no strict consensus on what defines a low-carb diet. Some consider it to be one where daily carb intake is between 50150 g, above the level where most people will generate sufficient ketones and a very low-carb diet where daily intake is below 50 g.

Almost every food has some amount of carbs. For example, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice has 1 g of carbs. These carbs have a great influence on our health and bodies. So, by knowing our daily net carb limit, we can keep our bodies in check.

In this tutorial, we will discuss details that can help beginners practice a low-carb diet, in brief.

Calculating the Total Carbs

In this section, let us consider reviewing how to calculate the total carbs we intake in a day −

Net carbs (Amount of carbs digested by your body) are calculated as −

Net carbs = Total carbs – Fibre

In case of non-digestible sugar alcohols such as erythritol −

Net carbs = Total Carbs – Fibre – Sugar Alcohols

Some people strictly keep a tab on their carbs intake and the range varies from 20-50 g while some people don't count their carbs at all. Start with a 20 g daily carb limit and then gradually increase the amount. If you want to monitor your results in numbers then tracking daily net carbs can do wonders. Follow what suits you and your lifestyle.

The Ketogenic Diet for Low Carbs

Here the ketogenic diet deserves a mention. Some, of these low-carb diets, are Ketogenic as they limit carbohydrates intake to 20–50 grams daily to induce nutritional ketosis resulting in increased production of ketone bodies. These ketones replace glucose as the dominant source of energy. The body in a state of ketosis can also treat the most complicated of epilepsy issues in children.

A Low-carb diet is effective for treating obesity, insulin resistance, type 1 or 2 diabetes, or a seizure disorder.

The reason that a low-carb diet produces rapid weight loss to other diets is increased fats and protein satiety which lower your blood sugar level which in turn reduces hunger and overall food intake. On a low-carb diet, minimize sugar and starches intake and replace it with adequate protein and natural fats. Additionally, carbs should be limited to unprocessed food and high-fiber fruits.

Most Popular Low-carb Diets

Low-carbohydrate diets restrict the range of carbohydrates humans consume on an average basis.

Here is a list of diets considered quite effective in cutting carbs −

  • Ketogenic diet −This diet replaces carbohydrates with fats and adequate proteins. The Ketogenic diet limits daily carb intake to 20-50 g.

  • Atkins diet −This low-carb, high-protein diet is divided into multiple phases. During the first phase, carb intake is limited to 20-40 g per day, depending on which plan you choose. Your intake gradually increases but does not exceed 100 g per day.

  • South Beach diet −This low-carb diet includes lean meats and heart-healthy fats and high-fibre vegetables.

  • Paleo diet −This diet tries to imitate the eating patterns of hunter-gatherer ancestors. The diet includes meats, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Dukan diet −It is a restrictive low-carb diet that is rich in protein and low in fats.

  • Mediterranean diet −It is a low-carb diet that favors fatty fish over red meat and extra virgin oil over fats like butter, unlike a traditional low-carb diet.

  • Low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) −It includes unprocessed foods and emphasizes meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, and berries.

Foods to Eat on a Low-carb Diet

A low-carb diet includes a variety of foods. You can consider eating meats, vegetables, or fruits as part of a low-carb diet. We are listing down a few foods for your reference here −

Low-carb Vegetables

Spinach Broccoli
Green beans Carrots
Parsnips Turnip
Tomato Cauliflower
Peas Capsicum
Onion Cucumber
Radish Pumpkin
Zucchini Eggplant
Mushroom Cabbage

Low-carb Fruits

Blueberries Strawberries
Blackberries Plums
Kiwi fruit Cherries

A balanced low-carb diet should also include moderate amounts of −

  • Starchy vegetables

  • Higher-carb fruits

  • Whole grains

  • Legumes

  • Dry wines

  • Dark chocolate

People following a low-carb diet may also consider limiting portions of the below food items −

  • Sweet snacks

  • Refined grains

  • Diet and low-fat products

  • Highly processed foods

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages

Going Low-carb

Nearly all foods contain carbohydrates, so we cannot cut out carbs entirely from our diet.

Some manufacturers have started low-carb versions of high-carb food like lower-carb potatoes, bread, wraps, chocolate bars, etc. These products are not low in carbohydrates but lower in carbs than the original version of the product. Going too low on carbs can create health problems. Start with small changes instead of drastically making any change that can do more harm than good.

Are Carbs Bad?

Carbs are not entirely bad. A type of micronutrient, carbs are essential for the human body. It acts as a source of energy. It all comes down to quantity. Not too much, not too little.

When you have too much of it, then it can add up and cause problems like −

  • Overeating − Our body digests high-carb meals quickly, and therefore you will be hungry soon after and have cravings for more sugar.

  • Lose nutrients − Carbs do not have as many nutrients as other foods. Thus, you will have a deficiency in nutrients and it'll create health issues.

  • Lifestyle diseases − Overeating carbs over a period may lead to weight gain and cause problems like diabetes, fatty liver, PCOS, thyroid issues, and hypertension.

Conclusion

Low-carb diets may be a healthier option for those suffering from obesity and type-2 diabetes, but reducing carbohydrates alone will not improve your overall health. Eating a well-balanced diet and doing enough exercise can help our overall well-being.

Updated on: 27-Feb-2023

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