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5 Ways to Eat Low-Carb

Low-carb diets have been shown in study after study to have positive results for weight loss and improvement in overall health. But did you know there is more than one way to eat a low-carb diet? Find some of the most popular ways to eat low-carb below.
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One of the most popular ways to eat a healthier diet is to cut back on carbs. Carbs are not necessarily bad on their own (unless you have something like a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance), but when we eat carbs, our body transforms the protein into glucose, which is a simple sugar. If you eat a high-carb diet, filled with processed foods, not only will you have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight, but you will also consume fewer nutrients.

Low-carb diets have become extremely popular over the last few years because of their success in weight loss, nutrient boosts, and life-changing results. But there are many ways to eat low-carb. Find some of the most popular low-carb diets below:


A ketogenic diet is one of the most popular forms of low-carb. A ketogenic diet is low in carbs and high in fat. It seems surprising that this diet can boost weight loss efforts, but the weight loss occurs as a result of how the body reacts to an extremely low-carb diet. When carb intake is low, insulin levels drop significantly. This triggers a metabolic state called "ketosis." In ketosis, the body releases fatty acids from the body's fat stores and converts that into usable fuel. This triggers weight loss and causes the body to convert fat into glucose, rather than turning carbs into glucose like it normally does. In addition to causing weight loss, many ketogenic eaters report feeling less hungry when they follow this eating plan.

Basics of Ketogenic Diet
  • Less than 50 grams of carbs per day
  • 50 percent or more of calories from fat
  • High protein foods with every meal

Low-Carb, High-Fat

The low-carb, high-fat diet, sometimes abbreviated LCHF is similar to the ketogenic diet, except that typically, the diet focuses even more on adding nutrient-rich foods to the diet. In most versions of this diet, the emphasis is placed on eating a lot of seafood, meat, vegetables, dairy, berries, and nuts. Just like the ketogenic diet, carbs are replaced with fats to trigger weight loss. This diet was popularized in Sweden and other Nordic countries.

Basics of LCHF Diet
  • High amount of protein
  • Fish and seafood emphasized
  • 40 grams or less of carbs daily
  • Vegetables, nuts, and berries consumed regularly
  • 50 percent of calories from fat

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet was one of the earliest low-carb diet plans. On this diet, dieters eat almost no carbs while eating unlimited amounts of protein and fat. Critics of this eating plan state that eating massive quantities of protein and fat causes long-term health problems, but there is little data to back these claims. However, the diet is focused mainly on weight loss, rather than health, which is never ideal for an eating plan. The Atkins diet has four phases, which are outlined below:

Atkins Diet Basics
  • Phase 1: Eat fewer than 20 grams of carbs daily for two weeks
  • Phase 2: Eat the above and add in nuts, fruit, and vegetables.
  • Phase 3: Eat the above and slowly introduce carbs once you reach your goal weight.
  • Phase 4: Eat as many carbs as you like until you start to gain weight, then cut back so that you are no longer gaining additional weight and remain at your goal weight.


The paleo diet is hugely popular today, largely thanks to its well-documented success. The paleo diet is similar to other low-carb diets but offers a few differences in that the dieters try to only eat foods that were available during the paleolithic era before the agricultural revolution changed how humans ate. The idea behind this diet is that our bodies are still evolved to eat like our ancient ancestors and by following the dietary principles of ancient people, we provide our bodies with the optimal, most usable nutrients.

Although the paleo diet isn't specifically low-carb, since massive grain production and carb consumption is a relatively new way to eat, the paleo diet tends to remain low-carb. Studies suggest that the paleo diet is one of the easiest to follow for optimal health, resulting in weight loss, blood sugar reduction, and reduced risk for heart disease.

Basics of a Paleo Diet
  • No processed foods
  • No added sugars
  • Low or no dairy
  • No legumes
  • A large amount of seafood and meats
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Tuber vegetables
  • Fruit

Zero Carb

The zero carb diet involves eating as few carbs as possible. This is extremely difficult to do and may not be healthy long-term, as vegetables and fruit contain carbs and are definitely necessary for optimal health. A zero-carb diet is best used when only done for a short period, and only when recommended by a doctor. Most people will be unable to sustain a zero carb diet for more than a few days without negative effects.

Basics of a Zero Carb Diet
  • Meat with every meal
  • Unlimited fat
  • Zero plant foods
  • Salt and spices optional

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is popular in the medical community (which still shuns saturated fats for the most part). Not all Mediterranean diets are low-carb, but it is easy to adapt the Mediterranean diet into a low-carb version. Studies have found that individuals who follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have lower rates for cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Basics of a Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet
  • Limited grains
  • Seafood above land-based meats
  • Olive oil over butter
  • Liberal vegetable intake
  • Fruit and seeds allowed

Everyday Low-Carb

You don't have to eat extreme or even slightly weird when you are eating a low-carb diet. In fact, you may already be eating a low-carb diet and not even know it. Most people who are working toward better health naturally reduce their intake of carbs (which typically shows up in the modern diet through processed foods), so you may already be living a low-carb lifestyle.

The average low-carb diet limits the intake of high-carb foods, like potatoes, grains, sugar, processed foods, and junk food. Carb intake is first identified as "low" when it dips below 150 grams per day. However, many dieters find it is safe to dip to 30 grams of carb intake per day without any adverse side effects. If you have never tried restricting carbs before, gradually cut them out. If you cut them out suddenly, you could shock your system which may make you feel poorly, tired, and lethargic.

Differing levels of carb restriction will have different effects, as outlined below:

  • 150 grams daily or less: Works for individuals who simply want to maintain their weight, or who exercise frequently (more than an hour a day several days a week)
  • 100 grams or less: Slow weight loss over time. This form of weight loss is often considered healthiest and will have the least amount of negative effects on the body.
  • 50 grams or less daily: Will speed weight loss. In most cases, this level of carb restriction is not advised for long-term eating, but it can be useful to drop past a weight loss plateau (unless you are already at a healthy weight, in which case further weight loss can be dangerous).

What is the Best Low-Carb Plan?

There is no specific low-carb diet that is right for everyone. For example, a breastfeeding mother may find that restricting carbs limits milk supply. A man who exercises frequently may find he needs more carbs than a man who exercises less. Someone who wants to lose weight rapidly may choose to restrict carbs more than a person who wants to lose weight slowly. Only you and your doctor can determine the best low-carb eating plan for you. But in general, the average American eats far too many carbs which lead to weight gain, sluggish performance, and increased health risks. Restricting carbs is one easy way to travel toward better health.





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