Lower Carb diet

Lower Carb diet

People may choose to reduce carbohydrate intake for a number of reasons. Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes should strive to balance the need for taking in enough carbohydrates to produce energy while limiting carbohydrate consumption to regulate blood sugar levels. Still others seek to control carbohydrate intake as a way of following a balanced diet that includes healthier foods. Whatever the reason, several strategies can be used to make sure the carbohydrate reduction produces the desired results without leading to a loss of essential nutrients.

 Method 1 of 2: Reducing Your Carb Intake
  1. Learn what foods include carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come in multiple varieties, but when it comes to diet, most people are concerned with processed (simple) versus naturally occurring (complex) carbs. You will find naturally occurring carbs in grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, seeds, and legumes.[1] These complex carbohydrates resist digestion more than simple, refined carbohydrates such as those found in flour and sugar.[2]

    • Sources of simple carbohydrates include white breads and pasta, cake, candy, cookies, and sugar-sweetened beverages.[3]
    • Generally speaking, complex carbs are better because their sources additionally include vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutritional value, whereas simple carbs do not. The fiber content in complex carbohydrates also alleviates some of the negative impact on blood sugar.
  2. Avoid or minimize processed grains. White bread, white rice, and flour provide relatively little nutritional value and increase the amount of simple carbohydrates in your daily diet. For fiber intake, stick with small amounts of whole grains. These will cause fewer fluctuations in blood glucose levels as well.[4]
  3. Avoid sugar and sweets. Desserts, pastries, sugary beverages, and other confectionery treats may taste wonderful, but they tend to provide little in the way of nutrition, and they increase the amount of carbohydrates in your diet significantly. Opt for servings of fruits or frozen fruit desserts that are made with no extra sugar if you feel the need for a treat.

    • When something does call for a sweetener, use alternative sweeteners if possible.
  4. Watch the starch. While you do want to eat more vegetables, limit your intake of white potatoes, corn, and other starchy foods. A five-ounce russet baked potato has 30 grams of carbs, for instance.[5]

    • Substitute with other root vegetables that contain fewer carbohydrates, and increase the amount of dark green vegetables that you consume at each meal. They tend to have few if any carbs while providing the benefit of a lot of nutrients.
    • Other starchy, high-carb vegetables include beets, peas, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and some winter squashes.[6]
  5. Select meat, fish, and poultry. Many low-carb diets replace the missing carb calories with high-protein calories. Many red meats have very little in the way of carbohydrates and offer the benefit of plenty of protein. Fish and poultry are also good options that provide nutrients and are filling, which will help to satisfy your body’s craving for more carbs.
  6. Broil and bake instead of frying. When preparing meats and vegetables, avoid battering and frying those foods. The flour used for the coating contains plenty of extra carbohydrates that your body does not need. To add flavor, use plenty of herbs and spices while broiling, and use an egg batter/crushed bran flakes combination to bake chicken and fish and enjoy a crispy coating.
  7. Limit portions. Learn the difference between a sliver and a wedge of cake or pie, and get an idea of how much is actually in a single serving. Limiting portions will make it easier to enjoy more of the foods you like without taking in a lot of carbs. It can also be beneficial to weigh foods prior to cooking. For instance, it can help to weight out 4-6 oz of raw chicken before cooking to ensure the proper portion size is being consumed.

Method 2 of 2: Using Strategies to Help Maintain a Lower Carb Intake

  1. Calculate the number of carbs you want to eat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45-65% of your daily caloric intake for a standard diet.[7] Based on a 2,000-calorie/day diet, this means approximately 900-1,300 calories each day from carbs.[8]

    • Lower carb diets typically mean reducing carbs to between 240-520 calories each day, which equates to 60-130 grams of carbohydrates.[9]
  2. Consult your doctor or dietitian. Before making any big changes to your diet, consult your doctor or a dietitian regarding the safest way for you to do so. Current blood work results, existing kidney conditions, and other factors can all contribute to the healthiest way for you to cut back on carbs.[10]
  3. Check labels. Once you know your target for carbohydrates, remember to check labels for the food you buy. Try to balance options in order to adequately reduce carbs to your desired amount.

    • In addition to grams of carbs and calories from carbs, you may also see carbs listed as “servings.” Each serving of carbs is equivalent to 15 grams of carbs. However, you won’t see fractions or decimals of servings, so each serving isn’t exact. Typically, if a food has 8-22 grams of carbohydrates, then it will be listed as one serving.[11]
  4. Use the glycemic index. This helpful guide makes it possible to determine how many carbohydrates are found in a number of different foods both raw and processed. The index provides a per serving count of carbohydrates, making the process of carbohydrate counting much easier. Using the index allows you to plan for a healthy amount of carbs at each meal while avoiding the chance of taking in too many carbohydrates at a single setting.[12]

    • For more information on how to use the Glycemic index, check: How to Eat Foods Low on the Glycemic Index.
  5. Consider dietary changes you can maintain. You’re better off skipping fad diets that you can stick with only for a month or two before burning out on them. Many high-protein, low-carb diets can simply feel too restricting for long-term adoption. Instead, make changes in your diet that you will have an easier time maintaining.[13]
  6. Stay aware of potential complications. The additional fat from many high-protein sources can lead to additional problems when cutting carbs, such as higher cholesterol, which in turn raises the risks of heart disease.[14] High long-term carbohydrate restrictions can also lead to vitamin or mineral deficiencies, bone loss, and gastrointestinal disturbances.[15]

    • Severely limiting carbohydrates (anything less than 20 grams each day) may also lead to a body process called ketosis.[16] This is when your body does not have enough sugar (glucose) to produce energy, and your body begins
      • breaking down stored fat to operate.[17] Side effects can include nausea, headache, and physical and mental fatigue.[18]