Generally speaking the fewer carbs the more effective. Faster weight loss without hunger. More rapid and powerful reversal of type 2 diabetes. But also more restrictive and possibly more challenging.
Here are three examples of how a low-carb meal can look, depending on how many carbs you eat per day (the yellow stuff is delicious herb butter).
20-50 grams per day(this meal: 16 grams)
50-100 grams per day(this meal, including
sweet potatoes: 37 grams)
Here’s the way we define different levels of low carb at Diet Doctor:
- Strict low carb <20 gram carbs per day. This is a ketogenic diet (if protein intake is moderate).
- Moderate low carb 20-50 grams per day
- Liberal low carb 50-100 grams per day
For comparison a regular Western diet can easily contain 250 grams of carbs or more in a day, most of them bad refined carbs, including sugar.
The above numbers refers to digestible carbs, and discount the fibre. You can deduct them from your carb counts, i.e. eat all the natural fibre you want, from vegetables for example.
Another word for digestible carbs, with the fiber deducted, is “net carbs”.
However, don’t be fooled by the label “net carbs” on processed products, like chocolate bars. That’s usually just a way to trick you, and these products are often full of sugar alcohols with negative effects, including for your weight and blood sugar. I’d suggest not eating anything with the words “net carbs” printed on it.
An effective low-carb diet should be based on real food. Learn more
How to choose
Some people need to eat very few carbs for a maximum effect – a strict low-carb diet. This includes many people with big weight issues, diabetes (mainly type 2) and food or sugar addiction, for example.
Others – less carb intolerant people – do great on a more liberal low-carb diet. This also minimizes the risk of any side effects.
A third group of healthy, lean, active people may not even need to eat low carb at all, as long as they mainly eat unprocessed slow carbs.
If you want to start doing low carb I’d suggest starting out on a strict version, just to experience the power of it. Later, as you hopefully approach your weight and health goals, you can try adding more carbs to see how much you tolerate.
Low-Carb Recipes – marked strict, moderate or liberal
A Quick Guide to Ketogenic Diets (strict low carb)
LCHF means low carb, high fat. It’s the only way to successfully do a low-carb diet long term.