Low Carb

How Low Carb is Low Carb?

How few carbs are there in a low-carb diet? It depends. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

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).



Under 20 grams per dayStrict low carbStrict low carb is also called “keto” or “ketogenic“.
(this meal: 6 grams)


20-50 grams per daymoderate low carb(this meal: 16 grams)


50-100 grams per dayLiberal low carb(this meal, including
sweet potatoes: 37 grams)

Our definition

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.

Here’s a two-week guide to a strict low-carb diet.


Low Carb for Beginners

Low-Carb Recipes – marked strict, moderate or liberal

A Quick Guide to Ketogenic Diets (strict low carb)


How to eat LCHF4.5 out of 5 stars5 star71%4 star14%3 star8%2 star2%1 star2%736 ratings73611:18 How to Do an LCHF Diet – Dr. Eric Westman4.6 out of 5 stars5 star78%4 star12%3 star5%2 star1%1 star1%107 ratings1071:00:45The 5 common mistakes on LCHF4.7 out of 5 stars5 star84%4 star9%3 star2%2 star1%1 star1%118 ratings11809:25


LCHF means low carb, high fat. It’s the only way to successfully do a low-carb diet long term.

Low Carb Made Easy How to Lose Weight Low-Carb Recipes Low-Carb Success Stories


  1. Allison
    Where could i find a list of all the grams of the carbs that I can eat on this diet? If I want to do a strict low carb diet and can not pass the 20 grams allowed daily how would i know?
  2. Ian
    There is a free app called 'Carbs & Cals'. This may be of use in resolving your dilemma.
  3. Lynda
    What about high cholestrol? I did this lchf duet and lost 15 pounds but my cholestrol has skyrocketed!
    Reply: #4
  4. You can find some interesting reading here:


    What about high cholestrol? I did this lchf duet and lost 15 pounds but my cholestrol has skyrocketed!

  5. Elizabeth
    I am a mother of 6. I am 5'3" and 159 lbs. I also, breastfeed my 6 month old. I have been on this for 2 weeks. I lost 10 lbs. but have actually stopped losing weight. I am stuck at 159. I walk every other night carrying my baby around 3-4 miles but still not losing. I am eating 24 carbs- 35 carbs a day. Drinking around 120 ounces of water a day. Any advice?
    Replies: #16, #23
  6. rick
    I have been doing low carb for 5 years. I lost weight and kept it off but I wanted to lose more and couldn't. I tried the 5-2 diet and lost another 10% of my body weight. Two days a week (not in a row) you have less than 600 calories a day. The other 5 days you eat your normal (low carb) diet. Now I am "fasting" only one day a week to maintain this new lower weight.
  7. Vandna
    If I am doing LCHF Liberal diet, then what should be the consumption of Fat and Protien?
    Reply: #8
  8. Hi Vandna!

    That's easy :)
    (Values below are per day)
    * Liberal LCHF is 50-100 grams carbs
    * Protein is approx 1 gram protein per kg body weight (your target weight)
    * Fat is the rest

    If I am doing LCHF Liberal diet, then what should be the consumption of Fat and Protien?

  9. Manon
    I don't eat meat or dairy. I don't like meat and diary is not working for my body.
    I do eat eggs and fish.
    My mainfood is kinda coconutbased. Coconutoil, flakes, coconutmilk (organic) and coconutyogurt (also organic). My morningcoffee is filled with coconutoil and coconutmilk. Eating a lot of seeds (chia, sesam, pumpkin, sunflower and flax) in my coconutyogurt or salads.
    Breakfast is mostly eggs or a coconut/chia/rasberry smoothie. Lunch a big veggie salad when i'm on the road or some kind of veggiesoup. For dinner veggie's with fish/shelfish or mushrooms/portobello's as "meat".
    Lovely veggie curry's with cauliflowerrice or veggie pastasauce with zucchini pasta. Eggplant lasagna a.s.o., everything with lots of coconutoil/Oliveoil.
    Never thought this would be so easy even though I'm kinda limited in my foodchoices. Feeling so much better, lost some weight but was not overweight.
    My skin looks better without grains and sugars.
    Did not find anyone else who eats LCHF this way...
    Are there any? Please respond!
    Reply: #10
  10. Ana
    Hi Manon!
    I do eat meat and dairy but most of the time I eat exactly like you describe. I love coconut products, vegetables and nuts and seeds. I wasn't overweight but I have lost a bit too. I find I feel so much better so I am happy about it.
  11. tina
    I do not like meat either so this has been a challenging thought for me when I think about starting this. Can you post a list of what you do eat on a daily basis?
    Reply: #14
  12. Paul Lawrence
    Hi all, I have been on the low carb diet now for over 6 weeks and have only lost 4 kilos. I started at 92 kilos and now weigh 88.7 and have been stuck on this weight for the last three weeks.
    That said, I have noticed a distinct difference in my waste size (sides only) as I am fitting into jeans and shorts and shirts of smaller sizes. This obviously does make me feel good apart from the general well feeling from beign on the diet.
    May I ask if anyone else has the same experience with slow weight loss?
  13. Linda McPherson
    Paul Lawrence...I have had the same experience, I may have lost 5 pounds but my pants are loose now and I can zip them without struggling. However, years ago I did the EAS Bodybuilding challenge. During that process I went from a size 12 to a size 6 but never lost a pound. I started at 151, ended at 151. I was walking 3 mi/day and was not very disciplined about my gym work. That diet was similar to this in that I had reduced my carbs to about 80-90 per day and increased my protein. So, it's my belief that the scale is less important than how you look and how you feel. I also believe that your body will adjust to the weight it SHOULD be rather than what we force it to be. So maybe you are supposed to be around 88 k and you will continue to trim down as your carb (fatty) weight turns into protein weight (muscle). I'm not an expert, and I've only done two systems but this has been my experience. If it works...it works.
  14. Manon
    Hi Tina!
    My morningritual is usually 2 decaf coffee filled with coconutmilk (around 25 ml in each cup) and in each cup a big tablespoon of extra virgin coconutoil. This is at 6 pm. My job starts at 7 pm.
    At work I usually have some green tea and lots of water (like 3 half liter bottles in the morning)
    When I started this way of eating, I needed 2 hardboiled eggs at 10 pm, otherwise I could'nt make it till lunch. I work till 1 am, and eat lunch at home.
    Sometimes coconutyoghurt with seeds and nuts (and some organic coldpressed olive oil to make it fatter) sometimes a salad with olive oil (made with spinach, avocado, cucumber, tomato, pickles, sauerkraut, a.s.o)
    Since a week or two, I found out that my body can handle oopsiebread! (With a little creamcheese in the batter) so I can eat them with coconutoil (used as butter and peanutbutter (wow, that taste so good!!)
    For dinner I also make big salads, with sauteed mushrooms as meat, canned tuna or sardines a.s.o. Veggie pastasauce with zucchini pasta, veggie curries with cauliflowerrice, salmon with broccoli and cauliflowermash (with coconutoil) stuffed portobello's with peppers, spinach, garlic and pine nuts made in the oven, and so on and so on. Everything with lots of olive oil!
    Now that I am "fat addapted", my two morning coffee's fill me up till lunch and I have only 2 meals a day.
    I hope this will help you out a little, otherwise, let me know.
    Just don't be afraid of the fat! It makes me feel sooo much better then I could imagine!
    So start, use google to find recipes and just try things to find out what works for you! Good luck! Manon
  15. Manon
    Oops..6pm is ofcourse: 6am a.s.o.
  16. E
    If you're breastfeeding, you need to eat enough calories to nourish your baby and yourself!!!!
  17. Jkeeling
    Not enough calories! I am newly diagnosed diabetic and the hospital nutritionist recommends 45 carbs per meal! My friend had lost 85 pounds on 84 carbs per day total. You are starving yourself and your body is holding on to the calories you get. Add more!
  18. Frances
    Hi Elizabeth,
    Sounds like you might be a bit overweight, but while you're breast-feeding it's probably not a good time to be thinking of dieting. The most important thing is to eat healthy, unprocessed food as far as possible and enjoy being a mother!
  19. Cathy
    I am 46 years old, 5'2" & weigh more now than I ever have, even when I was pregnant. I need to lose at least 40 pounds. What level do you recommend I start with?
  20. Rhonda
    Why don't the recipes have nutritional data per serving?
    Reply: #22
  21. C.H.
    I have sustained 3 pregnancies and have breastfed for 40 months and counting (cumulatively) on a low-carb diet. In fact, the only reason I was able to have children in the first place was due to my diet change, as I had been diagnosed with infertility via PCOS 9 months prior. I wouldn't recommend IF during those times, but if you otherwise do well on a keto diet, you should have no problems. I am nursing my third beautiful 4-month-old daughter as I type this with my free hand!
  22. Hi Rhonda!

    They have...

    If you hover your mouse over the symbol for "Strict/Moderate/Liberal Low Carb" on the pictures for all our recipes then you will get the nutritional facts.

    The amount of displayed carbs is net carbs (Total amount of carbs - fiber).

    Why don't the recipes have nutritional data per serving?

  23. angela mccray
    I read here about that its called... How do I know if I’m stalling/plateauing?!


  24. Colleen
    I've been a vegetarian ( no eggs, but yogurt, & a little cheese) for over 12 years.
    I just went low-carb a month ago because I'm hypothyroid and I tried dieting and using an app for over a year and didn't lose a pound!
    In the past month my stomach has shrunk immensely and I've lost about 10 pounds.
    It is more difficult not eating meat and I try to limit cheese because I am lactose intolerant.
    I use almond milk or coconut milk and low-fat cheeses.
    I'm following a diet called Metabolism Miracle where you can slowly add some more carbs in later ( after 6-8 weeks), so right now I'm in the strict to moderate stage.
    Because of this diet I had to start eating eggs and a little more cheese. Even though it makes it more challenging there is no way I will ever eat meat ever again.
    It's a little more work but totally doable and totally worth it. I feel so much better. I was very addicted to carbs and sweets and I'm not craving them, which shocks me.
    For sweets I make coconut oil chocolate and low carb brownies.
    I just found this website and it's awesome thanks for having it!!!!
  25. Melissa Roach
    I'm 63 and have been on a low carb (less than 30 a day) and have lost very little weight. Would love some suggestions or ideas of what I may be doing wrong.
    Replies: #26, #27
  26. Hi Melissa!

    You probably have read our best tips regarding losing weight, but if not just follow the link below.


  27. Barbs
    Melissa I'm the same age as you and chased the same 6 to 7 lbs up and down the scales for months. I was only eating one meal a day on most days and under 20g of carbs so in effect I was fasting for 20 plus hours a day. It wasn't until I bought Dr Jason Fung's book The Obesity Code and started watching his video's on here that it all clicked into place for me. I believe that our bodies have a weight set point. Dr Fung talks about this in his book. Last week for the first time I incorporated 2 x 48 hour fasts into my working week (I can't seem to fast at weekends just yet) and finally the scales went below a certain figure I hadn't seen in a long time.
  28. Robyn
    Am I right in thinking that most of the Apps (fat secret, my fitness pal etc,) count total carbs rather than net carbs? If so, how do we calculate net carbs for veg etc?
  29. Sean
    Hello all! Obesity and wt loss resistance is an epidemic in America and becoming a major problem all over the world. I love the fact that you are all making the shift from the avg American diet to a healthier more balanced diet. For over 40 years now we have been duped into thinking sat fats and cholesterol are the problem and the simple fact is they are the answer! However, the major problem that keeps us in wt loss resistance and a multitude of chronic, non-infectious, degenerative diseases is cellular inflammation. We cannot get rid of the inflammation with a regular detox, I.e. colon cleanse, liver, gall bladder, juice fast, etc. You have to get to the source and the cell to get well. Find someone near you who does True Cellular Detox and your life will be change forever like mine was!!!

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