Low Carb Diet Plan

The Low Carb diet plan is exactly as it sounds — it limits carbohydrates, one of the three nutrition macronutrients, instead emphasizing protein and fat. There are many types of low-carb diet plans. Each has different guidelines for what foods to eat and how much of the diet should be carbs.

The main purpose of a Low Carb diet plan is weight loss, although some also might go onto the diet for the purposes of controlling Type 2 diabetes or metabolic conditions. You might also want to follow a Low Carb diet plan because you simply enjoy eating foods higher in protein and fats than carbohydrates.

There's no fixed definition of what is or isn't a Low Carb diet plan, and the total amount of carbs consumed daily will vary based on goals and preferences. Some examples of Low Carb diet plans are the Keto Diet Plan, Atkins Diet Plan, a Low-Carb Paleo Diet Plan, a Zero-Carb diet plan, and a Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet Plan.

One of the basic steps of any Low Carb diet plan, however, is to reduce the intake of high-carb foods such as grains, potatoes, sugary drinks and high-sugar junk foods. Studies have shown that Low Carb diet plans can help the heart, especially those who ate diets that were high in vegetable sources of fat and protein.

Another benefit of a Low Carb diet is the reduction of body fat. Your body digests carbs and turns them into blood sugar, which the body uses for energy. By eating fewer carbs, your body uses stored fat for fuel instead.

Staple Foods on a Low Carb Diet Plan

So what are considered the core foods of a Low Carb diet plan? In a nutshell, it's nutrient-rich foods that are high in protein and/or fats.

Low Carb Friendly Foods and Snacks

In general, a Low Carb diet plan will focus on proteins and non-starchy vegetables. Low Carb-friendly foods include:

Low Carb Friendly Meats and Proteins

Low Carb Friendly Fruits and Vegetables

Low Carb Friendly Dairy Products

Another Low Carb-friendly food group is nuts and seeds, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pistachios.

Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet Plan

The ingredients to avoid on a Low Carb diet plan are highly processed sources of fats and protein, and eating a smaller proportion of carbs.

Common sources of carbohydrates are:

Complex carbs are digested more slowly than refined carbohydrates. If you do eat carbs on a Low Carb diet plan, make sure they're whole grain and not refined, such as those in white bread or sugar.

Benefits of the Low Carb Diet Plan

Getting rid of highly processed foods and refined sugars, such as that found in junk food, is almost always beneficial. Because no food group is entirely excluded in a basic Low Carb diet plan, it gives a wide range of options, making it easier to stay committed to the diet.

One of the benefits of feeling satiated (which is easier when eating proteins and fats) in a diet like the Low Carb diet plan is that it lessens the need for calorie counting and watching portion sizes, although it can be helpful to many to track everything that is eaten.

Studies have shown that Low Carb diet plans can jump start the weight loss process. In the short term, Low Carb diet plans will outperform Low Fat diet plans, although over the long term that advantage disappears. Low Carb diet plans that emphasize healthy sources of nutrients can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Downsides of a Low Carb Diet Plan

Some nutrition and health experts advise against eliminating entire categories of food from your diet. A sudden and drastic reduction in carbs can cause some temporary side effects, such as headaches, cramps and constipation. Too few carbs, and your body can go into ketosis, where it instead breaks down stored fat. This isn't necessarily bad, but some nutritionists advise against going without carbohydrates for a long time.

Nutrition on a Low Carb Diet Plan

The first step in dieting to lose, maintain or gain weight is to calculate your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) based on your current weight and exercise level. If your body burns 2,000 calories a day, then consistently eating fewer calories than that will help you lose weight, and eating more calories will cause you to gain weight.

A typical Low Carb diet plan might see a limit of 0.7 to 2 ounces (20 to 57 grams) of carbohydrates. That amount of carbs would provide 80 to 240 calories. By comparison, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends carbs are 45% to 65% of total daily calories. That would be from 900 to 1,300 calories a day. As you can see, a Low Carb diet plan is a pretty significant restriction in carbs.

Most people will lose weight if they reduce the number of calories they eat and increase exercise. One of the side benefits of a Low Carb diet plan is that eating more protein and fat can increase satiety, which leads to feeling full longer, which helps you eat less.

Less restrictive Low Carb diet plans might call for only limiting carbs to 100 grams per day, and a maintenance plan might limit them to 150 grams.

Browse Diet Plans