A low-carb diet is a dietary approach that involves limiting the intake of carbohydrates. This type of diet is typically characterized by a daily limit of 0.7 to 2 ounces (20 to 57 grams) of carbohydrates, which provides 80 to 240 calories. Some low-carb diets may restrict carbohydrates during the initial phase and then gradually increase the amount of carbohydrates allowed. A low-carb diet can be beneficial for weight loss as it activates fat burning processes, known as dietary ketosis.
This type of diet can also help reduce or normalize blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, many people find that they feel fuller for longer on a low-carb diet, meaning they don't need to eat as much. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that 45-65% of daily calorie intake come from carbohydrates. For a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that translates to around 900 to 1300 calories from carbohydrates, or 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates.
Low-carb eating patterns usually limit carbohydrates to 26% of daily calorie intake, or less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. Most advertised low-carb diets recommend limiting carbohydrate intake well below government recommended guidelines. For example, very low-carb diets contain less than 10% of the calories from carbohydrates, or 20 to 50 g of carbohydrates per day (80 to 100 calories). When following a low-carb diet, breakfast can be as simple as having a cup of coffee as many people are less hungry and may not need breakfast.
Lunch and dinner can include delicious dishes full of meat, fish, chicken, vegetables and full sauces. It's important to note that not all low-carb diets produce ketosis and that RCTs for strict low-carb diets tend to show better results compared to RCTs for more moderate or liberal low-carb diets. Low-carb diets have been used as a weight loss strategy since 1860 and more recently in 1972. If you're interested in trying out a low-carb diet, there are many resources available online that can provide you with meal plans, quick and easy recipes, medical expert weight loss tips and more.