How often do low carbers eat non-low-carb foods?

How often do low-carb fans eat non-low-carb foods?

We recently asked our members this question and got 2,278 replies. Here are the results:


As you can see, one in three members eat it daily, while more than half only eat non-low-carb foods once a week or even less often. I think that’s pretty impressive actually.

What ARE low-carb foods? Check out our low-carb foods guide.

To quickly and effortlessly get into the habit of healthy eating, take the Two-Week Low-Carb Challenge.

Earlier surveys

The Biggest Fears on Low Carb – and the Solutions

Does Low Carb Work?

How Much Weight Do People Lose on Low Carb?


  1. Bob Niland
    I have a feeling that many people who consider themselves low carb are not as low carb as they imagine. Your next survey could ask them what their net carb intake is per day, but many won't know that.

    Recent readings for HbA1c and triglycerides (TG) might be more informative (if concordant). Readings much above 5.0% and 60 mg/dL, respectively, indicate not low carb.

  2. BobM
    Bob, that's not totally true. My readings:

    June 25, 2014 (about 6 months into low carb):
    HBA1C 5.4
    TGs 113
    Fasting glucose (taken at a different time, but around this time: 103

    June 2, 2015 (after about 1.5 years of low carb, done by a different facility):
    HbA1C 5.6
    TGs 120
    Fasting glucose 92

    September 18, 2015 (taken while on a 5 day fast; I hadn't eaten for 4.5 days when I had the test done)
    HbA1C 5.4
    TGs 156
    Fasting glucose 62 (Yes, that's 62; let me repeat that, it's 62)

    (Yes, you read that correctly -- I had not EATEN for 4.5 days when the September 18, 2015 test was taken. I had cream in my one cup of coffee, one cup of tea, water and bone broth per day for 4.5 days.)

    After almost two years of low carb, my HbA1C is basically flat, but my fasting blood sugar keeps going down. My TGs are all over the map (as are all of my other "cholesterol" tests too). I've lost about 50 pounds and about 7 inches off my waist (maybe more) during this time.

    As for net carb intake per day, I have no idea. And, to be honest, I don't care. I used to weigh everything and count calories when on low fat and I got sick of it. I keep my fat intake as high as possible, when I eat (won't eat today until dinner tonight). I have been adding resistant starch to my diet to correct IBS-like symptoms, but I did this after those tests. Other than resistant starch, I keep my carb intake as low as I can. I do, however, "splurge" periodically and will do this weekend (we're traveling to a local city and will have to eat out). I will still endeavor to eat as high fat and with as few carbs as I can. But if I go off a bit (even have -- heaven forbid! -- pizza with its evil wheat*), I'll simply come home and fast for a few days, then after fasting pick up my LCHF diet where I left off.

    * I do think wheat is bad for me, but I also don't live in a bubble. I will eat pizza periodically.

    Reply: #7
  3. dom
    What do you think about resistant starch in foods like kidney beans and other cases such as cooled and reheated pasta and potato? Is there a case for eating those?
    Reply: #5
  4. Lizzie
    You would have to refine the data a bit more to find out how and what those foods are. Technically, an apple is not exactly low carb, but when eating a whole foods diet you may sometimes add certain ingredients like fruit, or nut flour, or heaven forbid a little sugar to sweeten a dark chocolate mousse. Personally one of my breakfast favourites is American pancakes made from eggs, white cheese like quark or preferably something fatter, almond flour and some grated apple and cinnamon, fried in butter and served with creme fraiche, butter and some berries. That's a treat mind you. I think, everyone to their own, and the Dr had a great post the other day about not punishing yourself. If you crave something sweet or carby every so often, fine, but don't make it a habit. Stick to your guns people, those who've made the change know their bodies and their limits, without guilt or counting or sugar hangovers!
  5. BobM
    Dom, I've been experimenting with resistant starch, but try to keep to low carb "foods" such as potato starch and green plaintains. I've currently been having (on the days I eat enough meals anyway) two tablespoons of potato starch and one small piece (about 1/4) of plaintain. (Today, I'm fasting until dinner and will have 1 tablespoon of starch.) I think it's helped, but it's hard to tell. I do have more vivid dreams, which is unusual because I used to never remember my dreams, and this supposedly is a side effect of resistant starch intake. I will eat some cooked and cooled white rice and cooked and cooled potatoes, but those are much rarer -- maybe biweekly or monthly. There is evidence that RS actually reduces insulin resistance in people with blood sugar control problems, but I haven't done enough analysis to know what these people were using (i.e., is there a difference between potato starch and a lot of cold white rice? I assume there is, but don't know).

    I've also been adding fermented foods to my diet, and I try to have a fermented food every time I have resistant starch.

    I do seem to have fewer IBS-like symptoms and I have more substance when I go to the bathroom. Whether that's due to resistant starch or the passage of time (as these IBS were decreasing before resistant starch), I can't tell. I'm going to continue a while longer with RS and then go off it for a while just to see what happens.

    I was also trying RS to cure what happens after I fast for a day or more, which is shortly after I begin eating, I have to go to the bathroom to release all the water I've take in. That occurs for a while, about 12 hours or so. RS has seemed to help with that, but not too much. It may just be me, as my wife has some similar symptoms after a long fast, but for a much shorter time period.

  6. Fiona
    My husband and I have followed the LCHF principles for more than 10 years. We followed the basics as laid down by Dr. Lutz where he allows 8 bread units a day. So we do enjoy a single slice of bread that is thinly sliced, from a small loaf made with 5 ingredients (wheat flour, salt, water, lard, yeast) from a local bakery we are fortunate to have that uses a fermentation process for making their breads. The rest of our carbs come from veggies that are non-starch veggies - just one carrot and one parsnip in a week between the 2 of us.

    As a member, I missed that survey - so wonder how I may have answered those questions as we definately eat a slice of bread most days.

    Following these principles we returned to a normalised weight that remains steady and my husband reversed his diabetes diagnosis.

  7. Bob Niland
    re: Bob, that's not totally true.

    OK, let me clarify:
    Readings much above 5.0% (HbA1c) and 60 mg/dL (TG), respectively, usually indicate not terribly low carb. What I consider low carb is really borderline keto.

    I consider your HbA1c to be slightly elevated, and the TG to be just plain high. The HbA1c may be discordant with the TG. According to various sources, it can be confounded by phenotype response to lipids, anemias (take note vegetarians), blood/loss/donation/transfusion, excess Vitamin C, renal or liver disease and G6PD.

    Unless you are actively losing weight, that TG might need to be looked into.

    For some context here are some prominent HbA1c targets:
    8.0% ADA “less stringent”
    7.0% ADA “reasonable goal”
    6.5% ADA “more stringent”
    5.2% Perlmutter (Grain Brain)
    5.0% Davis (Wheat Belly)
    4.7% Bernstein (Diabetes Solution)
    “More stringent” is ADA-speak for “our grain and sugar industry sponsors don't want you to even be aware of the possibility of going lower”.

    It's actually difficult to find a chart of A1c vs. all-cause-mortality, but here's one:

    Although observational, the low data points are probably not confounded by diet, because it's not easy to get below 6.5% unless one is on some sort of a low carb diet. The curve, by the way, is U-shaped. Mortality heads back up down below about 4%, as going that low usually involves some unrelated pathologies. So what's the sweet spot? Somewhere under 5%, I'd guess, but 5.0 may suffice.

  8. Fay
    My glucometer is telling me that my 90 day eAG is 6.0 mmol/L which gives me an estimated DCCT HbA1c of 5.4%. As my HbA1c at diagnosis was an off the chart 13%, I'm more than happy with that.

    If people want to eat lowER carb or have cheat days or concoct supposedly low carb cupcakes etc with artificial sweeteners, thickeners and additives - it's their lives.

    I believe that I developed diabetes because I didn't realise that I had a processed carbohydrate intolerance. I realise it now, because although my BG is massively better, I can't manage even half a bag of crisps however hand-cooked and premium they might be, without nausea. :(

    I'd rather have great BG numbers and improved health than crisps though.

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