How Many Carbs Should You Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?

Boy Eating CarrotsReducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet is one of the best ways to lose weight.

It tends to reduce your appetite and cause “automatic” weight loss, without the need for calorie counting or portion control.

This means that you can eat until fullness, feel satisfied and still lose weight.

Why Would You Want to do Low-Carb?

For the past few decades, the health authorities have recommended that we eat a calorie restricted, low-fat diet.

The problem is that this diet doesn’t really work. Even when people manage to stick to it, they don’t see very good results (1, 2, 3).

An alternative that has been available for a long time is the low-carb diet. This diet restricts your intake of carbohydrates like sugars and starches (breads, pasta, etc.) and replaces them with protein and fat.

Studies show that low-carb diets reduce your appetite and make you eat less calories and lose weight pretty much effortlessly, as long as you manage to keep the carbs down (4).

In studies where low-carb and low-fat diets are compared, the researchers need to actively restrict calories in the low-fat groups to make the results comparable, but the low-carb groups still usually win (5, 6).

Low-carb diets also have benefits that go way beyond just weight loss. They lower blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides. They raise HDL (the good) and improve the pattern of LDL (the bad) cholesterol (7, 8, 9, 10).

Low-carb diets cause more weight loss and improve health much more than the calorie restricted, low-fat diet still recommended by the mainstream. This is pretty much a scientific fact at this point (11, 12, 13).

Bottom Line: There are many studies showing that low-carb diets are more effective and healthier than the low-fat diet that is still recommended all around the world.

How to Figure Out Your Need For Carbohydrates

There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a “low carb diet” and what is “low” for one person may not be “low” for the next.

Woman Holding Salad

An individual’s optimal carb intake depends on age, gender, body composition, activity levels, personal preference, food culture and current metabolic health.

People who are physically active and have more muscle mass can tolerate a lot more carbs than people who are sedentary. This particularly applies for those who do a lot of high intensity, anaerobic work like lifting weights or sprinting.

Metabolic health is also a very important factor. When people get the metabolic syndrome, become obese or get type II diabetes, the rules change.

People who fall into this category can’t tolerate the same amount of carbs as those who are healthy. Some scientists even refer to these problems as “carbohydrate intolerance.”

Bottom Line: The optimal carb range varies between individuals, depending on activity levels, current metabolic health and a bunch of other factors.

Guidelines That Work 90% of The Time

Girl Eating Sandwich

If you simply remove the unhealthiest carb sources from your diet, wheat (including whole wheat) and added sugars, then you’ll be well on your way to improved health.

However, to enjoy the full metabolic benefits of low-carbohydrate diets, you also need to restrict other carb sources.

Even though there is no scientific paper that explains exactly how to match carbohydrate intake to individual needs, I have personally found these guidelines to be very effective.

100-150 Grams Per Day

This is more of a “moderate” carbohydrate intake. It is very appropriate for people who are lean, active and simply trying to stay healthy and maintain their weight.

It is very possible to lose weight at this (and any) carb intake, but it may require you to count calories and/or control portions.

Carbs you can eat:

  • All the vegetables you can imagine.
  • Several pieces of fruit per day.
  • Some amount (not a lot) of healthy starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes and healthier grains like rice and oats.

50-100 Grams Per Day

This range is great if you want to lose weight effortlessly while allowing for a bit of carbs in the diet. It is also a great maintenance range for people who are carb sensitive.

Carbs you can eat:

  • Plenty of vegetables.
  • Maybe 2-3 pieces of fruit per day.
  • Minimal amounts of starchy carbohydrates.

20-50 Grams Per Day

This is where the metabolic benefits really start to kick in. This is the perfect range for people who need to lose weight fast, or are metabolically deranged and have obesity or diabetes.

When eating less than 50 grams per day, your body will get into ketosis, supplying energy for the brain via so-called ketone bodies. This is likely to kill your appetite and cause you to lose weight automatically.

Carbs you can eat:

  • Plenty of low-carb vegetables.
  • Some berries, maybe with whipped cream (yum).
  • Trace carbs from other foods like avocados, nuts and seeds.

Be aware that a low-carb diet is NOT no-carb. There is room for plenty of low-carb vegetables (full list here). Personally I had never eaten as many veggies as when I first started on a low-carb diet.

Important to experiment

We are all unique and what works for one person may not for the next. It is important to do some self-experimentation and figure out what works for you.

If you have a medical condition then make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes, because this diet can drastically reduce your need for medication!

Bottom Line: For people who are physically active or want to maintain their weight, a range of 100-150 grams per day may be optimal. For people who have metabolic problems, going under 50 grams per day is a good idea.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

Shocked Woman Eating Bread

A low-carb diet isn’t just about weight loss, it is also supposed to improve your health.

For this reason, it should be based on real, unprocessed foods and healthy carb sources.

So-called “low carb junk foods” are a bad choice.

If you want to improve your health, then choose unprocessed foods: meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, healthy fats and full-fat dairy products.

Choose carbohydrate sources that include fiber. If you prefer a “moderate” carb intake then try to choose unrefined starch sources like potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, rice and other non-gluten grains.

Added sugar and wheat are always bad options and should be avoided, unless perhaps on special occasions.

For more details on specific foods to eat, check out this detailed low-carb meal plan and sample menu.

Bottom Line: It is very important to choose healthy, fiber-rich carb sources. There is room for plenty of vegetables, even at the lowest end of the carb range.

You Will Become a Fat Burning Beast

Woman Celebrating Successful Weight Loss

Low-carb diets greatly reduce your blood levels of insulin, a hormone that brings the glucose (from the carbs) into cells.

One of the functions of insulin is to store fat. Many experts believe that the reason low-carb diets work so well, is that they reduce your levels of this hormone.

Another thing that insulin does is to tell the kidneys to hoard sodium. This is the reason high-carb diets can cause excess water retention.

When you cut carbs, you reduce insulin and your kidneys start shedding excess water (14, 15).

It is common for people to lose a lot of water weight in the first few days on a low-carb diet, up to 5-10 pounds.

Weight loss will slow down after the first week, but this time the fat will be coming from your fat stores.

One study compared low-carb and low-fat diets and used DEXA scanners (very accurate) to measure body composition. The low-carb dieters lost significant amounts of body fat and gained muscle at the same time (16).

Studies also show that low-carb diets are particularly effective at reducing the fat in your abdominal cavity (belly fat), which is the most dangerous fat of all and highly associated with many diseases (17).

If you’re new to low-carb eating, you will probably need to go through an adaptation phase where your body is getting used to burning fat instead of carbs.

This is called the “low-carb flu” and is usually over within a few days. After this initial phase is over, many people report having more energy than before, with no “afternoon dips” in energy that are common on high-carb diets.

Adding more fat and sodium to your diet can help with this.

Bottom Line: It is common to feel suboptimal in the first few days of lowering your carb intake. However, most people feel excellent after this initial adaptation phase.

Take Home Message

If you want to try this out, then I recommend that you try tracking your food intake for a few days to get a “feel” for the amount of carbs you are eating.

My favorite app for this is called Cron-O-Meter. It’s free and easy to use.

Because fiber grams don’t really count as carbohydrates, you can exclude the fiber grams from the total number. Instead, count net carbs (net carbs = total carbs – fiber).

However, one of the great benefits of low-carb diets is that they’re ridiculously simple. You don’t need to track anything if you don’t want to.

Just eat some protein, healthy fats and veggies at every meal. Throw in some nuts, seeds and full-fat dairy products for good measure. Choose unprocessed foods. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

You can find more info on this page, including a meal plan, sample menu, recipes, common mistakes, etc: The Ultimate Guide to Low-Carbohydrate Diets.

126 Comments

  1. Good article! 20 pounds down for me on my low carb diet!

    Although my only personal caveat is eating too much animal protein and fat is not good for you long term from what I know… not trying to restart that argument… just sayin’ since I am being an advocate…

    Also there is an Atkins program for vegetarians.

    Low-carb-4-life yo! :p

    • “Although my only personal caveat is eating too much animal protein and fat is not good for you long term from what I know”

      What series of studies show this? Does this make any sense with what we know of our own ancestry? Is there any other omnivore or carnivore for whom “too much animal products” cause either short term or long term health problems?

      I’ve just never encountered any evidence – either in medical studies, anthropology or in nature that supports this assertion. It’s just fear-mongering, unless you’ve got something hard you could point me to.

      “Also there is an Atkins program for vegetarians.”

      I’m sure Atkins Inc is willing to do anything for a buck. Or a third party has started a group.

      However, in his book, Atkins says that vegetarianism can be done on low carb but vegetarians rarely stick with it. Eggs, tofu, and cheese (and even this is limited in early weight loss phases) and more eggs get very boring very quickly.

      I’ve come to believe that long term sustainability diet means either choosing to embrace the animal kingdom as a major food source or accept that long term decisions have been made to be higher carb. That doesn’t mean that vegetarians can’t look to higher quality proteins and understand the impact of carbs on their system. It just means they don’t get both ways long term, that is, be super picky about their food and get optimal human nutrition.

      • The Walrus says:

        The reason animal products are becoming a problem in diets is not exactly the fact that it is an animal product at all. Having carnivore or omnivore ancestry doesn’t matter. The issue at hand in this age is the amount of hormones, antibiotics and the base protein that is being fed to your typical farm raised animals.

        Even sea products have become an issue with increased metal levels (mainly mercury) but this varies from place to place and where the fish are caught. We’re even starting to feed animals soy based protein… soy is known to have toxins and in excess is bad for us. Now almost every product has some sort of soy base in it… just like the common issue with corn syrup in everything.

        Even vegetables have pesticides and other things that are harmful to us, but that’s not as terrible as the other stuff you’re getting into your body from animal products. I’m not advocating being a vegetarian, but eating with caution and reducing the intake of some things is extremely important.

        My biggest suggestion is to completely avoid dairy products… A lot of problems actually come from the heavy amount of dairy we’re consuming which in this age has become poison due to the treatment the milk gets and not all cows are 100% grass fed either… The main protein in milk is L-cysteine, when this gets boiled in a pasteurizer it completely destroys the conformation of that protein and takes into a radical state.

        When you are consuming that milk, radicals are quite dangerous and in fact lead to cancer cells since they’re constantly trying to bind with other things and are highly reactive. That’s just one example of how it damages the body. I’ve heard some new studies about how milk does not even provide calcium to the body, but stuff like that is usually hidden or covered up really quick due to industry pressure.

        • Hi. Thanks for your comments, they are very helpful and I like it that you have a strong suggestion too, but may I know what your credentials are?

          Just to have a perspective, thanks!

          • Melissa says:

            Right, because if they have no degree that teaches about fats they are inaccurate? LOL. Do the research yourself, you don’t need a PhD in science to find out the truth.

        • According to my doctor, fatty meats and dairy products (whole milk, creams, butter, cheese, etc.) raise your bad cholesterol levels which makes you at risk for a stroke or heart attack.

          • That’s true. My triglycerides are extremely high and the doctor told me yesterday that I can’t eat any fat at all. Zero. When I asked about carbs, she said there wasn’t much connection between carbs and cholesterol. This contradicts one of the articles I came across but all other sources confirm what she said.

        • To Walrus: Not to pick on you but your comments are false. Dairy products have gotten a bad rap these past few years but lately there have been various good studies showing that people that eat dairy products tend to lose weight more than those that don’t, and all the bad side-effects of dairy products were greatly exaggerated.

          Furthermore, your statement that boiling L-cysteine “radicalizes” it is completely untrue (I am a biologist/chemist.) Your enthusiasm is great, but don’t fall for all the fake hype out there.

      • This is a REALLY late reply.

        But I had heard of Atkins for years, but thought “High fat? That’s crazy”.

        Then my brother lost over 100lbs on it 6 years ago.

        I still thought “Yeah, he lost weight, but what other ways is he hurting his body?” Also, I was vegetarian, and knew I could not stay with such a restrictive diet (some can, but I knew I could not). I did not research it, I just assumed it was bad.

        Then my blood sugar tested high Oct 2012. Doc wanted me on medication, but I asked to try diet first. On my own, it was easy to see that if carbs raise blood sugar, and I want to lower blood sugar… eat less carbs.

        I started out fine. But realized I really would have to stop being vegetarian if this was going to work for me for basically the rest of my life. Bacon and chicken came back, and that makes this dietary change possible for me.

        So far, have lost 75 lbs, blood sugar is completely normal, and lipids are great. They were fine a month before I started low carb, but are even better now.

        It certainly works for me.

  2. Hi,
    Been following your excellent work, congrats.

    Please, when you refer to 50g a day of carbs these are only available carbs or should I count fiber too?

    E.g.: Brazilnuts (28g): Carbs = 3g (Dietary fiber = 2g; Sugars = 1g).

    Should I count 3 or 1g?

    Thanks,
    Regis

    • I would count net carbs (net carbs = total – fiber). In this case, it would be 1 gram of carbs, not 3.

      • Thank you.

      • Joyce Wang says:

        Hi, thanks for making this so clear. I have read a lot of blogs about what really works to lose weight but all of them read like latin to me until this one! Thanks so much for the clarity!

        One question i have is… grams of carbs, does that mean grams of carbs in the pasta, not grams of pasta, is that correct? But how would we know how much grams of carbs is in the food that we eat?

        For example, if I make my own bread at home and eat a slice, how do I know how many grams of carbs I am eating?

        • You are right… it means grams of carbs in the food, not grams of the food.

          There are many websites that list carbs, protein, fat and calories for different foods. If you google “[name of food] nutritiondata” (like “pasta nutritiondata”) then you will find the correct amount of carbs.

          It’s also a good idea to use a nutrition tracker like Cron-O-Meter: http://cronometer.com/ – It is free and easy to use, it helps to use a tracker like this for at least a few days to get a feel for how many carbs you are eating.

          • I just searched for the Cron-O-Meter on my iphone and it is 2.99. Is it by chance called something else?

          • I didn’t know they charged for the mobile app, but the online version is definitely free.

            I’m sure you can find other calorie counters that are free for the iPhone that work just as well.

          • Joyce Wang says:

            Thanks for your reply! What is your view on kids taking on this healthier eating habit? How young can I start my children on this way of eating?

            It’s just unheard of for kids to not eat bread, rice, pasta, cereal, oats, etc so I wanted to double check with you first.

            Since there is very little wheat and sugar in our household, our toddler ends up eating very little of these types of foods.

            She is energetic, smart and very quick but she is a bit on the small side in terms of size while both of us are not considered short. That’s why I wanted to double check with you and see if perhaps you would still recommend more carbs for growing children?

            Sorry I know you are not writing for children but I am afraid to bring this question to doctors or parenting communities as they will just call me crazy. Thanks a lot!

          • Hey Joyce.

            I don’t think children should be put on a low-carb diet unless absolutely necessary. But eating “real food” is a good idea for everyone.

            Eating some starchy carbs like root vegetables and even some non-gluten grains like rice and oats is very healthy, it’s mostly the processed stuff that should be avoided.

          • Joyce Wang says:

            Oh I just wanted to add that I do offer a lot of carbs to my toddler such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, I just almost never give rice, bread, pasta, oats, etc.

          • Sounds fine. No physiological need for grains in the diet, although some of them (like rice and oats) are perfectly healthy for people who can tolerate carbs.

        • You should only have about 240 calories from 60 grams of usable carbs if you want to lose weight, and your BMI is greater than 25.

          • Joyce Wang says:

            Hi Kris, thank you very much for confirming. I don’t give her a low carb diet, I do give her lots of root vegetables but do try to minimize refined carbs, could that be making her smaller? I’m not too sure. But I just wanted to confirm with you that there is no benefit that I am really missing out on bread, pasta, rice, oats, etc as long as I’m giving her root veggies. Thanks so much!

            Me on the other hand, I am confused as to what exactly I can eat for the “fat” portion? How many eggs do you recommend for an adult per day? And how much meat is healthy for a mid 30s woman that exercises mildly at the gym three times a week?

  3. I’d go easy on the whipped cream.

    What’s your position on things like cream and whey causing an insulin spike, even in the absence of milk sugars/carbs? If they do, adding cream or having whey shakes could really sabotage an otherwise solid low-carb meal plan.

  4. JustMEinT says:

    http://diagnosisdiet.com/all-meat-diets/ Found this and as you had a question about meat, figured it may be of interest. I do so enjoy your site and pass along your valuable information. Thanks.

  5. Nolefan says:

    Hi Kris! I’m a new Mom and I was wondering if you could point me to some legit resources on how a low carb diet might affect nursing mothers. Thanks!

    • Not sure about that one. Have heard of many people doing low-carb throughout pregnancy/breastfeeding without any sort of problems, but you should definitely check in with your doctor just to make sure.

  6. Thank you SO much for this easy to read article, especially with the citations.

    My husband wants to lose 15 lbs before September, and he of course thinks the only way is to do a low calorie, low fat diet. I told him let’s just do low carb, but he was being very adamant that he doesn’t know how to do it, that he doesn’t know the difference between protein and carbs and is unwilling to learn.

    So, if I wanted him to go that route, then I have to be responsible for his food intake (ok put the pressure on!)

    And that if he doesn’t lose weight he will be upset. (more pressure!)

    But I know that if he does low calorie, low fat, he will be ornery and pissy. So, of course the low carb method is the way to go.

    No sugar, only very rarely sprouted bread, otherwise no wheat AT ALL. Occasional rice, and occasional potatoes. Otherwise, no grains.

    Lots of veggies from our garden, and some fruit from our orchard. Otherwise, no sweets at all.

    So far in 5 days he has lost 3 lbs. Only 12 more to go before mid September. I swear, he is unwilling to take responsibility for the low carb diet himself. Very frustrating. When I did give him half a baked potato filled with butter, sour cream, cheese, salt and pepper, and fresh chives from the garden, he said he didn’t think that would help him lose weight. Well, the potato may not, but since it was only half, and loaded with healthy saturated fats, I told him it was ok. He was shocked when he lost 3 pounds. It works!

    He doesn’t want to eat breakfast, so I told him if that is the case, he has to put coconut oil and raw cream in his coffee, and drink that (for the saturated fats and protein) and then I will be ok with it.

    I hope it keeps going. I would be ok with him losing 3 lbs per week. That would be awesome if it keeps up, because it proves that eating healthy fats are GOOD for you, and that carbs for the most part are bad.

    Thank you!

    • If he doesn’t want to put in the work and take responsibility for himself, then he has no right to get upset with you. Let him try his low cal/low fat diet and see where it gets him! I just don’t understand people that want something, won’t do anything about it, then get pissed at others for their failings.

  7. London Lady says:

    For the benefit of your UK readership I just want to point out that our nutritional data shows net carbs so you don’t deduct fibre from the total carb figure. I wouldn’t want our UK low carbers to effectively deduct twice and then wonder why they gained instead of lost! Love your site Kris – and I share links to your articles whenever I can. You say what I’m thinking but far more succinctly.

  8. Suzanne says:

    If you are post-menopause with metabolic syndrome, 50 grams of carbs a day can actually make you gain weight. There are those of us (50+ small, sedentary women) who actually do not lose ANY weight at all even on low-carb. And no, we don’t cheat either.

    Fruit is definitely out of the question here, as are rice and potatoes. I do find it a bit hard to understand that you constantly recommend fruits as they contain mostly sugars and very little nutrition. Berries would be the better recommendation I think, especially for someone who is addicted to sugar.

    • Wouldn’t say that I particularly recommend that people eat fruit, just that there isn’t any reason to remove them unless you’re on a very low-carb, ketogenic diet.

  9. Hi Kris,

    I’m curious.

    Why do you recommend that people “choose carbohydrate sources that include fiber” ?

    Fiber has only been proven to prevent constipation. I think it’s overrated. What’s your take on this?

    Etienne

    • Hey Etienne.

      I agree, fiber is probably overrated. But there are some studies showing that fiber feeds the good bacteria in the gut, which can have a positive impact on health and produce nutrients like the short chain fatty acid butyrate.

      Plus carbs that include fiber tend to be healthy for other reasons, because the fibrous carbs are usually the unrefined varieties that also include more nutrients.

  10. Jeanne Draper says:

    Kris
    Thanks for all your good work and information you send out to us. I was wondering how you count carbs? Are you just looking at starchy carbs? Or are you counting all carbs, like in the veggies and fruits too? Since I know you include fruits in your food plans.

    • This includes all carbs, including the ones in fruits and vegetables.

      However, you can pretty safely ignore foods like leafy greens. Their carb content is negligible.

      • How can leafy greens be more or less carb neutral? I am really battling to keep my net carbs under 50, and kale can do me in. If I eat two cups of kale – my typical serving size – I end up with 18 grams of net carbs.

        Please explain.

        • When I look up Kale I get 6 grams of carbs per cup (12 grams for two cups): http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2

          Try going by weight instead of volume, the volume of greens can be deceiving.

          • Profwood1 says:

            AHA! I was wondering whether or not to count greens by weight or volume. Thanks a lot! I’m doing low carb along with weight watchers ( lifetime member) and go to the gym a lot for weight training, yoga and step aerobics. I also walk on my treadmill and hike.

            These activities earn me extra food points. The WW program says to eat at least half of your activity points to keep out of starvation mode. How do I go about converting extra calories/food points to extra carbs? For example, I earn 12 points plus for my step aerobics class and have to eat 6 of them.

            That’s easy to do on the regular program, just check the food lists for food points, but how many carbs are allowed for those 6 points plus?

            One WW point plus equals about 40 calories. How many calories equal an extra carb gram?

  11. Great read again, thanks. I have been following a LCHF lifestyle for over five years now and find it works so well for me. My daily carb intake is around 50 carbs.

    All the best, Jan.

  12. I’ve been an IBS sufferer most of my life and am just wondering how this will affect my condition – not having fibre. I used to eat potato and white rice, but have decided to cut out all “visible” fibre and go the ketone way. Day 2 done and dusted.

    I used to drink Ensure as a breakfast meal, but found that it would sabotage my whole day’s carbs… 18g in one “meal”!! All my favourite veggies have carbs, like broccoli… Are there any other vegetables I can try that still have fibre but a low carb count?

    • You shouldn’t worry about the small amounts of carbs in vegetables. It’s best to eat plenty of low-carb vegetables.

      You can find a list here: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/whatveg.htm

      • Thanks Kris!

        However, I notice that Carrots appear as a low carb veg and a high carb veg. From experience I think it should be a high carb veg? Right?

        Or does it matter if vegetables are consumed raw or cooked?

        When you add a low carb veg on the Cronometer, it still measures the carbs. So if I am eating to go into Ketosis, do I just ignore the small carbs or maybe delete them from the list? Otherwise the Cronometer shows that I am consuming more than 20g of carbs per day…

        Eg. Broccoli is quite high in carbs if you may only eat 20g a day, also that is making eating nuts for me rather difficult as they also contain great amounts of carbs. (peanuts not included – mostly cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, almonds)

        • Okay, here’s what you can do.

          Go into Cron-o-meter, then click the “Profile” tab at the top, go down to “Nutritional targets” – then click “Carbohydrates” and there should be a setting for “Net Carbs” – click the checkbox to the right under “Visible” so that Cron-o-meter shows you the net carbs.

          This should detract the fiber grams from your total carb number and you should see “Net Carbs” under “Carbohydrates” in your report under the “Diary” tab. This is your true carbohydrate number, that is total carbs – fiber (fiber doesn’t get absorbed like other carbohydrates).

          I wouldn’t be restricting carbs like broccoli if I were you. You’d get more benefit eating more vegetables, even though your carb intake goes slightly higher.

          Regarding the carrots, personally I’ve never had a problem with them, but I suppose your mileage may vary. You’d need to eat quite a bit for it to be a problem, although people on a ketogenic diet may need to be careful with them.

  13. Nice article Kris.

    I agree that low carb diets are great for weight loss as they do typically cause a spontaneous reduction in calories and a reduction in hunger. However, a problem I have with most studies comparing high carb/low fat diets with low carb/high fat diets is that they fail to control for protein. Typically, eating higher fat and lower carb leads to consuming more protein, which leads to more satiety, more LBM retention, and higher TEF.

    Most research that I’ve seen that controls protein and calories, and only manipulates the carbs and fat, the advantage of low carb diets tend to become nill.

    Like you said, one has to find the optimal intake in their specific situation, being sure to account for all factors (activity level, body composition, insulin sensitivity, etc.).

    Jake

  14. So I found your article over on Reddit (in the /r/keto subreddit) and wanted to say that this is awesome. Your articles are easy to read and I can easily show family and friends who aren’t scientifically minded how the low carb diet works.

    Having said that, I am on a ketogenic diet (20-35g of carbs/day) and I have noticed that some people report issues with being kicked out of keto if they eat too many carbs in one sitting even if they stay within their daily limits. Have you done much research on how glucose spikes can effect ketosis?

    I’ve also seen it anecdotally noted that certain types of artificial sweeteners (like malitol) will kick people out of ketosis too. I’ve been told that most artificial sweeteners are linked with health issues, but that some (like stevia) are actually linked to improved health. Do you have any articles noting different types of artificial sweeteners and their effects?

    Thanks again!

    • Hey Shay, thanks a lot!

      Eating a lot of carbs in one sitting can definitely kick you out of ketosis, but if it’s just one meal then you should be back in ketosis the next day. I doubt 20-35 g would be enough though, especially if it’s coming from whole foods like vegetables. Not aware of any studies that deal with this specifically.

      I’ve also seen some anecdote about artificial sweeteners reducing ketones in the blood, but I’m not aware of any actual study. Many artificial sweeteners are linked with health issues, but most of the studies are observational in nature so it definitely isn’t proven.

      If I were to sweeten something, I’d use either Stevia or Erythritol. I’ve written about both before:

      http://authoritynutrition.com/why-is-stevia-good-for-you/
      http://authoritynutrition.com/erythritol/

      Haven’t written anything on artificial sweeteners per se yet, but it’s something I plan on covering some time soon.

      • Hi, I use Splenda daily in my coffee and am still in ketosis. I bought the test strips to check the ketones to help me out with this.

        I also ate some candy last night with sugar alcohols, which made 3 pieces, one net carb. When I checked this morning it didn’t kick me out of ketosis :)

        Down 13 pounds in 3 weeks!!!!

  15. Hi Kris,

    I have been on Low Carb since October and I take a Fiber supplement, but I still have constipation issues. Any suggestions?

  16. Thanks! This was exactly what I needed. This is probably the simplest explanation I’ve ever read about how and why low-carb diets work. Your guidelines are also extremely focused and helpful… I’ve been at it for 2 weeks and I’m seeing very good results! Thanks again!

  17. I have been tracking carbs for over 3 months now. The first month I lost 12 pounds. Now I’ve creeped back up to only having lost 7 pounds. It’s frustrating. I use lose it app to track DAILY and avidly everything and my carbs have not creeped back up. They’ve stayed between 30-60 grams. You say calories don’t matter. I eat when I need to and I work out HARD 6 days a week. What else could be my problem?

    • If you work out hard, it could be muscle. Don’t forget that muscle weighs more than fat, and it could be building under your fat. If you see yourself gaining weight, or maybe you seem to have hit a plateau, try measuring yourself instead and weighing yourself less. I also work out hard and am doing low-carb and I noticed I was stuck at a certain weight for a while, but I also noticed my muscles were getting huge, so I measured my waist once a week and sure enough I was still losing. If you do work out, don’t rely on the scale, that’s my only advice.

  18. If I am working out daily, how many carbs can I eat to have the energy to work out but still lose? 48 years old, small framed woman and losing weight is very difficult, but when I get my carbs around 30 I find I don’t have much energy to work out. Someone told me you can get a “fat lock” if you eat too few carbs and still try and work out. Have you heard of anything like that?

  19. Great information and I am putting this to good use! Would you have a formula or suggestion as to how much protein should be consumed per day?

  20. I really appreciate your writing. I had heard of a ‘low carb’ diet but never really practiced it – I had tried other diets but always was disappointed for the most part. I started this low carb (usually under 40-50 grams per day.

    I had to have more than a few Fritos with my guacamole and occasional so called low carb spaghetti with my sauce, I did have ONE Oreo cookie at the pool of my apt. – I couldn’t refuse a woman’s offer- I am weak in that area) but have lost 32 pounds since August 2nd, this year.

    I drink a lot of crystal light. I avid a lot of things and find that I don’t really miss them. I eat a lot of stuffed bell peppers. I do have a handful of mixed nuts occasionally.

    I plan on this way of eating from here until I check out. I am 64 and have to lose weight because of a blown knee- Later, George.

  21. If I was to do a low carb diet of under 50g to get my body in ketosis, once I am at my target weight would I put it all back on again as soon as I started eating a moderate amount of carbs a day?

  22. I really want to try this but I am so confused about what to watch, other than carbs? Should I stay at 50 carbs and 1200 calories and what about fat? I want to see weight loss but don’t want to have to worry so much about counting calories or fat. I love cheese and I love the skin on chicken, I am so confused!

  23. I’m currently in college and work a lot, I’m 5’2 and weigh 140 right now, I would really like to weigh between 115 and 120. How many carbs should I eat a day to lose weight the fastest? I just want to feel better about myself, and get healthier. Any quick low carb suggestions? I know coffee has carbs, but is it an okay carb to have? Thank you.

  24. Hi. My husband and I are going to start a low-carb diet here shortly and I just had a quick question. My husband wants to lose quite a bit of weight while I can only lose a maximum of about 5 lbs. Would it be safe for me to go below 50 carbs with him, or should I stay a bit above that?

  25. Hey, thanks for the article. I started low carbing around 2 months ago and have seen some great results so far. I’m around 20-30 a day which is probably still pretty low. I am a male, 62 in around 245 lbs… do you think I could up my carb intake a little bit or should I stay around that number?

  26. Wanted to know if it is okay to eat sugar free Jello?

  27. Loved your article. It sums up all the diets like Atkins, south beach or paleo. I have lost 30 pounds on a low carb diet. I do high intensity workouts and sometime feel dizzy, but the moment I up my carbs a little I feel bloated. Any tips?

  28. I have been on induction carbs (20-25 daily) since August 23rd, and lost 26 lbs in the first 8 weeks. However, I have stopped losing anything, and I’m sure this is more than a plateau… can you stop losing weight if you don’t “up” the carbs?

    I thought you could stay on ultra low carb until you hit your goal weight? I would like to lose 20-30 more lbs… Should I move up another 20 carbs a day or so?

  29. Hi Kris,
    I am a 25 year old female looking to lose about 15 lbs before my wedding next July. I have always had trouble losing weight and have been attempting to stay on a low carb diet for a few years now. I used to weigh 160 lbs and managed to get down to 125 at my lowest 2 years ago (but this was through eating a very low calorie and low carb diet). I ended up gaining back 20 lbs and now I cannot seem to get under 146 lbs and I continue to bounce back and forth between 146-149 lbs (I am 5’4 tall). I would love to get down to 130, which I think is the healthiest weight for me.

    I have been eating high fat dairy (commonly snack on cheese), butter, meat, fish, eggs but have included flax bread (net carbs on the package read 1g per slice because of the high fibre content). Do you think this “low carb” bread is hindering my weight loss? Is it possible that I am eating too much cheese? My lack of results is making me skeptical about this diet but maybe I am not doing something right? Even with the full carb count of the flax bread I have been eating, I stay under 40g of carbs.

    I also was wondering if making whey protein shakes with unsweetened almond milk might be a good breakfast option?

    Any advice is appreciated!

    • Hey Nicole, too much cheese can definitely stall weight loss for a lot of people. Another commonly problematic food is nuts, because it is so easy to eat an immense amount of calories.

      I think you will find some answers in this article here: http://authoritynutrition.com/15-reasons-not-losing-weight-on-a-low-carb-diet/

    • Janis Jenkins says:

      Nicole,
      Wheat is very very problematic and actually dangerous for everyone. Read Wheat Belly and/or Grain Brain. Modern wheat is GMO and nothing like original wheat. It causes blood sugar to spike higher than if one ate a spoon of white sugar.

      So, it might be your bread that’s causing your weight loss to stall. It causes problems in all systems, causing the abdomen to swell and toxic to the brain.

  30. I need to lose weight in 2 weeks really fast.

  31. Erika Berkson says:

    Hi Kris,
    So Just to clarify, whenever you refer to carbs in your article, you are speaking of net carbs, correct? I’ve been mostly staying under 80 net carbs using the Daily Carb app, but I’m not seeing dramatic weight loss by any means. I am eating a piece of Ezekiel bread in the morning, but that’s pretty much it as far as wheat goes (except for the rare occasion). Either way, whatever I eat, I’m counting the net carbs. Any thoughts on why I’m not losing weight more quickly?

    Thanks,

    Erika

  32. What about if you are trying to lose weight but maintain the muscle you just worked so hard to obtain? I am 5’4, 128 lbs, 20% BF. My goal is to get down to 16 BF and my macronutrients are 120 protein / 180 carbs / 40 fats.

    Will the significant carb intake burn fat while shedding weight?

  33. If you are choosing a diet plan I recommend this a lot. I am in the US navy and when I went to my boot camp for 2 months I ate a low carb diet, 150 carbs a day and lost 15 lbs with a little bit of exercise. It is the easiest way to stay on a diet and eat what you want and lose weight!

  34. Trihardchik says:

    I have been gluten and mostly grain (some rice and quiona) free since February. I have lost about 20 lbs. I count calories/carbs/fat and protein. I usually eat between 150 and 200 grams of carbs per day. I do exercise about 2 hours/day, six days per week. The fruit I eat is mostly berries (maybe a few grapes, mango, or apple a couple times per week).

    Just the carbs in the vegetables is at least 100 grams per day. This seems almost impossible to me. 1 serving of carbs is 15 grams. If someone was restricting to 20 grams per day, that would be equal to one piece of fruit, 1/2 cup of sweet potato, or 1/4 cup of rice. How can anyone be full/satisfied on that? How many ounces of protein and grams of fat would you need to eat per day to not feel hungry or unsatisfied? Hmmmmmm.

  35. How do you feel about sugar alcohols? Should we deduct them from the total carbs as well as the fiber?

  36. How about maltitol? I’m looking for low carb bars that I can grab and go?

  37. Very good article. I have been eating less than 20 g of carbs a day for 4 months (as of today) and have lost 47 pounds! It does work! 35-40 pounds to go!

  38. Did you find out if Maltitol has to be counted as carbs or can be deducted?

  39. Excellent and interesting explanation of the low-carb diet! This is the first time I haven’t seen skim or 1% fat milk recommended over whole milk for weight loss. I’m 61 and learned years ago that, never having liked the taste of whole milk, I could tolerate FF milk much better. I thought I was doing my body a favor by sticking to skim!

    Also, I am currently on an antibiotic for a sinus infection and have been taking acidophilus to try to ward off a yeast infection. The yeast was starting to win out, and then I realized that I was shoveling in Christmas carbs. Seemed like the perfect time to go low-carb.

    I’m overweight, have leg edema and haven’t been drinking enough water. Since decreasing my carb intake and increasing my water intake, symptoms of the yeast infection have significantly reduced. This low-carb plan is, I think, the healthiest way to lose weight!

  40. Is milk acceptable?

  41. Jakelong69 says:

    This is a great diet. I have been eating very little carbs, probably 5 to 10 a day, and I dropped about 90 lbs in 4 months. Everybody I knew looked at me and only the people I had seen on a day-to-day basis could recognize me.

  42. Hi. I bought the app you suggested for 2.99 but when I try to create an account it just brings me to the website which is small and hard to read. I’m on an iPhone which is why I bought the app to be able to track with. I created a username and profile on the website but the app doesn’t recognize it when I try to log in using the same info. Any ideas?

  43. I take approximately 350-450 grams of carbs. I want to gain weight by building muscle and losing fat and I am doing a low fat diet but high in protein and carbs. Please tell me, is it okay?

    • A high-carb, high-protein diet can work well for gaining muscle, but you also need to eat some fat (at least 20% of calories) or testosterone levels may go down.

      It depends on a lot of things if this kind of diet would be appropriate for you. If you are metabolically healthy and exercise a lot, then it’s probably okay, but this amount of carbs would be way too much for most people.

  44. Thank you so much.

    According to my diet, which type of milk and cheese should I take?

    (1) Soy milk.
    (2) Skimmed cow milk.

    (1) Milk cheese.
    (2) Tofu (soya cheese).

    So… as I told you I want to take foods that are high in protein and low in fat, so please tell me and also tell me which type of cooking oil is best for me like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc.

  45. I still can’t tell if maltitol sugar alcohol must be counted or can be deducted from the carb count. Do you know?

    • There are mixed opinions on maltitol. It looks like it does have a fairly high glycemic index (about 36 – not very high, but high compared to other sugar alcohols) and can raise blood sugar levels, so I would avoid it.

      There are better sugar alcohols out there, such as xylitol and erythritol. These don’t need to be counted.

      • Jennifer says:

        Kris,

        Thanks for the information! It is helping me a lot! Question: What about Truvia for a sweetener? I compared it to Stevia and it’s basically the same but wanted your thoughts…

  46. Hi. About 4 years ago I went on a low carb, high protein diet. I am a 30 year old male, at the time I weighed about 95kg (I still went for an analysis and they said taking my age and height of 5.11 into consideration, a good healthy weight is 80kg).

    For a month, I cut out all carbohydrates and even fruits – any source of sugar. My diet consisted of boiled eggs, red meat, chicken, fish, mostly any vegetable, cheese occasionally, peanuts for snacks and lots of water. I also exercised 3 times a week by going for short jogs for roughly 15-30 minutes.

    I noticed immediate weight loss, and after 3 weeks to a month, I was allowed to introduce natural sugars slowly back into my diet whilst still avoiding carbs completely. If I can remember correctly, in 2.5 months I lost all 15 kgs. It was amazing how quickly and effectively it worked.

  47. Hello,

    I have always subscribed to the calories in vs. calories out approach to weight loss but have never been able to lose that last little bit of pudge on my stomach and my dimply thigh fat (yuk)! I am thinking that a low-carb lifestyle may be the way to go, but after so many years of counting calories it is hard for me to shift my way of thinking.

    Of course I have to monitor my carb intake, but should I also be tracking calories so that I don’t go over my carb limit and calorie limit, or should I just track carbs? There is so much conflicting information on the web – some articles even say you can eat as much fat and protein as you want.

    I am skeptical that eating so much fat that you take in 3000 calories a day is a good way to lose weight (unless you do crazy amounts of exercise or live in Antarctica)! Previously when I wanted to lose weight I’d aim for 1400-1500 calories a day. I do a lot of strength training in a week but very little cardio (something which I have just never been able to make myself do).

    Please can you clarfy the calorie counting issue for me? Thanks for all of the great information!

    V

  48. Great article and information. I would just like some clarification. I am trying to stay between 50-100 grams of carbs per day. Is that 50-100 grams of net carbs per day?

  49. Yes that is 50-100 net carbs. You need some carbs because you need the dietary fibers.

  50. What about red wine?

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