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What is Low Carb

Updated on February 20, 2016

What Exactly is Low Carb?

You've seen the latest celebrity gossip pages about it-You've heard all the hype from friends about it but what exactly is it?


Low carb has been around for actually quite some time. One of the earliest advocates of the low carb diet was the famous Dr. Atkins. However, various versions of the "low carb" diet exist under a wide variety of names.


Paleo, Atkins, Ketogenic-These are all very popular diets that offer some form of low carb approach in one way or another. They each have different limits on the types of food eaten as well as nutrient ratios etc.There are far too many different types of "diets" to list here that would be classified as a form of low carb simply because there is no true definition of what makes something low carb. We will talk a little more about this in the next section.


Meats and Low Carb Veggies!

What Makes Something Low Carb?

The definition of low carb is a bit murky at best. Some diets call for a limit of 20 grams of net carbohydrate as a popular method to determine that limit.

The net carb limit takes the total carbohydrate content of an item and subtracts the total fiber from it to give you its net carb content. The logic is that fiber has a much lower impact on your bodies blood sugar levels than starchy carbohydrates and sugars.

There are even some diets that call for limits closer to 40-60 grams of net carbohydrate a day rather than a strict 20 gram cap. What makes all of these various limitations considered low carb is their reduction in total carb content compared to typical guidelines.


For example, a 2,000 calorie diet would consist of approximately 225-325 grams of carbohydrate a day based on standard diet guidelines in the U.S. You can find info related to this featured at the Mayo Clinic here.


So in theory, you could be eating 100 grams of carbohydrate and be considered "low carb". The key difference is that everyone has a very unique physiology that reacts differently to reductions to carbohydrates.

Veggies Are Always On The Plate

Not All Carbs Are Bad!

Before you go tossing out every piece of bread and fruit in your house please read this! Not all carbs are bad. The trick as with any form of diet is to make healthier choices. When you read nutritional levels focus on foods that are high in fiber content rather than added sugars.

You can also work on making small changes like switching out your English Muffin for a slice of whole wheat toast. When it comes to fruits it is always best to eat them in their most unprocessed form possible. This is true for most foods but especially fruits. The reason being is that all the valuable fiber that helps to fill you up and slow digestion is removed when you drink them in juice form.


Variety really is the spice of life and your palate should be no different. A diet that is rich in a variety of different fruits and vegetables is the best way to lead a healthier life! Sometimes it is much easier to make smaller more manageable changes rather than jumping into a fad for a quick fix.

Deciding On Low Carb-Word of Advice

If you decide that a low carb lifestyle is right for you then good for you! You will notice I said lifestyle rather than diet..please pay attention to that distinction. A lifestyle change is the only way you are going to reach your long term goals successfully after all!


Before starting this or any other lifestyle change be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Depending on your circumstances they may run blood work to check your current cholesterol levels etc and offer you some unique advice based on your results and medical history.


Besides meeting with your doctor regular remember with low carb diets to incorporate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In general, always shoot for the most unrefined possible to ensure you are receiving the most nutritional bang for the buck from your staples.


Many people following low carb diets strive for something called Ketosis. This is basically where Ketones are produced in the body to help your body fuel itself on fat rather than typical carbohydrate sources. One of the methods to detect ketones is with test strips that measure ketones in urine that function almost like a pregnancy test. They can help determine when your body reaches ketosis and establish how much carbohydrate you can consume while maintaining your ketosis zone.



One Step At a Time

Just remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. Try to focus on manageable change that will deliver lasting results. If you have decided that a lower carb approach is right for you and your doctor has given you the go ahead then I wish you smooth sailing! Just remember to stay positive and focus on your long term goals to keep yourself going strong!


As always thanks for reading and best of luck and good health for all!

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