How to Start a Low-Carb Diet A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

Going low-carb diet isn’t just about indulging in more steak. Let’s delve into why adopting a low-carb diet can be a wise choice for your well-being. I’ll even guide you on what foods to embrace or limit when you embark on a carb-cutting journey that prioritizes health.

Perhaps you’ve witnessed your neighbor’s remarkable weight loss journey through a low-carb diet plan, or you’ve caught wind of a celebrity shedding post-baby pounds or preparing for a role using the same approach. These stories can make a low-carb diet seem like the ultimate answer to your weight loss aspirations.

But let’s not get too carried away. Does it genuinely deliver the desired results? Well, yes, but not necessarily with superiority over low-fat diets. According to a meticulous review published in the esteemed BMJ journal in 2020, both low-carb and low-fat diets exhibited comparable outcomes in terms of weight loss and blood pressure reduction after six months. Surprisingly, low-carb diets proved to have a lesser impact on reducing LDL (aka the “bad” cholesterol) when compared to their low-fat counterparts. However, they did seem to positively affect raising HDL (aka the “good” cholesterol), which was not observed in low-fat diets.

Benefits of Adopting a Low-Carb Diet

Benefits of Adopting a Low-Carb Diet Review-Itis
Benefits of Adopting a Low-Carb Diet

Weight loss takes the spotlight as the primary motive behind people diving into the realm of low-carb diets, according to the insights shared by Cassie Bjork, RD, and proud owner of Redefined Weight Loss. Bjork adds that a delightful bonus of slashing carb intake is the noticeable reduction in sugar cravings. Since carbs transform into sugar within our bodies, curbing their consumption can effectively diminish those relentless yearnings while aiding in shedding those extra pounds.

However, let’s wait to jump to conclusions. It’s crucial to understand that mere carb reduction does not guarantee automatic weight loss. Achieving balance in your meals holds paramount importance, ensuring that your body receives the necessary nutrients to maintain optimal health and a gratifying sense of fullness.

 Amy Gorin, M.S., RDN, and the brilliant mind behind Plant-Based with Amy in Stamford, Connecticut, emphasizes that a low-carb eating plan only sometimes translates to weight loss. Regardless of your dietary path, it remains imperative to ensure that your food choices provide a well-rounded array of nutrients, including protein, fat, carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, to fuel your body effectively. Additionally, Gorin advises against consuming excessive calories that could ultimately lead to weight gain. Let’s avoid going overboard with burgers and cheese, shall we?

Now, let’s uncover the secret to responsibly commencing a low-carb diet. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t entail an endless parade of cold cuts, steaks, and cheese. Nor does it demand demonizing carbohydrates altogether—you can still revel in their delightful flavors. The specific carb allowance per day varies significantly depending on the program you choose.

Here at EatingWell, we advocate for obtaining approximately 40 percent of your daily calorie intake from carbs while maintaining a low-carb approach. This equates to a minimum of 120 grams of carbs each day, ensuring a harmonious balance in your diet and securing all the vital nutrients your body craves. It’s a more practical and enjoyable alternative than excessively stringent low-carb diets that can become challenging and devoid of pleasure. Remember, your culinary choices should bring you sheer delight.

Nevertheless, if you embark on a low-carb diet to manage diabetes, I strongly recommend collaborating with your healthcare practitioner and/or a registered dietitian. These professionals possess the expertise to determine the ideal daily carb intake tailored to your needs and provide comprehensive guidelines on effective carb counting. Trust them to guide you on this remarkable journey towards improved health.

Essential Principles of a Low-Carb Diet

Essential Principles of a Low-Carb Diet Review-Itis
Essential Principles of a Low-Carb Diet

Let’s know the world of carb-conscious eating and unravel the mysteries of which foods harbor these sneaky carbohydrates. With this knowledge, you can construct your plate confidently and precisely.

Grains like bread and rice claim a top spot on the carb scale. Starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn, as well as legumes like kidney beans, follow suit as substantial carb sources. Let’s remember fruits and milk, which also pack a carb punch. On the other hand, non-starchy vegetables, including leafy greens, broccoli, and bell peppers, do contain some carbohydrates, but they generally don’t contribute significantly to the carb intake of most individuals. Now, let’s clarify a crucial fact: proteins such as chicken, fish, seafood, beef, and eggs, along with fats like butter and oil, do not contain carbs.

Maintain a well-rounded diet by incorporating whole grains, dairy products like plain yogurt and milk, and a generous assortment of fruits and vegetables. Amy Gorin, the brilliant mind behind Plant-Based with Amy, emphasizes the importance of including these wholesome options in your diet. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables offer a wealth of fiber, which not only keeps you satiated but also holds the potential to reduce cholesterol levels. It’s a win-win situation, my friend.

Instead of bidding farewell to all carbs, Gorin advises us to focus on reducing the consumption of unhealthy carb sources such as added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Visualize cookies, soda, and sugar-laden cereals bidding adieu to your pantry. Instead, choose to sweeten your oatmeal with the natural goodness of fruits. Consider indulging in a dollop of almond or peanut butter on a delectable sweet potato during dinner as a replacement for brown sugar. It’s all about making smart swaps and savoring the results.

An important detail often slips our minds: incorporating good fats into our meals. Cassie Bjork, the astute owner of Redefined Weight Loss, points out that many individuals mistakenly associate a low-carb diet with consuming copious amounts of steak.

However, they tend to overlook a crucial component—ensuring an ample intake of healthy fats. Bjork enlightens us by stating, “Healthy fats not only keep you full, but they also serve as a substitute for some of the carbs you used to consume.” Remember, my friend, healthy fats are your allies in curbing hunger and preventing those regretful encounters with granola bars and snack mixes. Avocado, nuts and seeds, and olive oil are prime examples of the valuable contributions of healthy fats.

So, as you embark on your carb-conscious journey, let your plate be a reflection of your newfound wisdom. Arm yourself with the knowledge of carb-containing foods, savor the delights of whole grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, and be sure to incorporate those beneficial, healthy fats. Your path to success lies in these mindful choices, leading you toward a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

Creating an Effective Low-Carb Diet Plan

Creating an Effective Low-Carb Diet Plan Review-Itis
Creating an Effective Low-Carb Diet Plan

It’s time to master the art of strategic carbohydrate distribution throughout your day, my friend, as advised by the wise Amy Gorin. Carbs serve as the primary source of glucose, which fuels your brain and keeps you sharp, ensuring you remain at the top of your game and avoid that dreaded brain fog sensation.

Now, according to Gorin’s expert recommendations, let’s craft the perfect plate. A well-rounded meal should consist of four essential components:

  1. We have the star player: protein. Think succulent chicken or delightful salmon.
  2. Remember to include a healthy fat that adds both flavor and nourishment to your plate.
  3. Be sure to incorporate either a fruit or a nonstarchy vegetable brimming with vitamins and minerals.
  4. Complete the ensemble with whole grain or a starchy vegetable, adding a wholesome touch to your meal.

If you’re reducing your carb intake, Gorin suggests slightly adjusting the portions. Opt for a sensible half-cup portion instead of a full cup of brown rice. Similarly, select a small sweet potato rather than indulge in a massive one. By making these mindful adjustments, you can still enjoy the flavors and benefits of these carb-rich options while aligning with your low-carb goals.

Remember, my friend, a strategic approach to your carbohydrate consumption will keep you energized, mentally sharp, and ready to conquer the day. So, go ahead and build that balanced plate, incorporating proteins, healthy fats, fruits or nonstarchy vegetables, and just the right amount of whole grains or starchy vegetables. Your body and mind will thank you for the well-thought-out choices you make.

Counting Carbs

Counting Carbs Review-Itis
Counting Carbs

If you’re seeking carb-counting insights for a specific daily target, here are some general guidelines to consider.

  • Milk: A serving typically contains 12 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Starchy Delights: Grains, beans, and starchy veggies generally contribute around 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
  • Carb-Free Champions: Meats, fats, and oils triumphantly claim zero grams of carbs.
  • Nonstarchy Gems: Nonstarchy veggies like broccoli and kale shine with approximately 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

A food diary app (e.g., MyFitnessPal or Lose It!) can assist in monitoring your daily carb intake. Initially, it may feel tedious, but with practice, you’ll develop a natural sense of how to distribute carbs in your meals, making it second nature and enabling you to eventually stop counting.

Maintaining a Healthy Balance on a Low-Carb Diet

Maintaining a Healthy Balance on a Low-Carb Diet Review-Itis
Maintaining a Healthy Balance on a Low-Carb Diet

While embarking on a low-carb diet can contribute to long-term weight loss, it’s crucial not to venture into excessively low territory. Remember to include carbs from nutritious sources such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. To explore delightful alternatives, give our 7-day healthy-carb swaps dinner plan a whirl, where the spotlight shines on vibrant vegetables instead of starchy carbs.


A low-carb diet can be a suitable option for certain individuals. Yet, be cautious not to excessively reduce your carbohydrate intake, as it can result in fatigue, mental fogginess, and feelings of dissatisfaction. Before fully embracing a low-carb diet, take the time to conduct thorough research.

Familiarize yourself with high-carb foods that can be substituted with lower-carb alternatives, and discover ways to achieve your goals while experiencing contentment and relishing the pleasures of eating.

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