A low-carb diet may sound like just a diet fad with staying power, but there is serious science to back up cutting down on carbohydrates. New studies have come to light suggesting that when compared to a low-fat diet, cutting carbs actually leads to more weight loss and better health overall. So what does a low-carb diet actually entail?
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans detail that a standard diet should be made up of approximately 45-65 percent carbohydrates, around 225-325 grams per day for someone with a standard 2,000-calorie diet. In contrast, a typical low-carb diet consists of around 50-150 grams of carbohydrates per day.
While many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains do contain carbohydrates, a low-carb diet can and should still include these ingredients, since they are important for fiber intake, nutrients, and giving you the energy you need throughout the day. Instead, most people who go low-carb focus on eliminating foods like pastas, breads, sweets, and other refined carbs. Many low-carb diets are also high in protein, with many recipes containing meat or eggs.
When planning out a diet that is low in carbohydrates, Manhattan-based nutritionist and registered dietitian Shira Lenchewski suggests starting the day with your carb-heaviest meal and "trending smaller as the day goes on." Similarly, celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson front-loads his day with carbs and skips sugary snacks and alcohol at night, and when readying his clients for the red carpet, he suggests cutting out foods like rice, grains, and pasta altogether.
All in all, a low-carb diet focuses on eliminating refined carbohydrates while still allowing minimal carbohydrates from whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Now that you're armed with a bit more information about what it really means to eat a low-carb diet, see what a day of low-carb meals really looks like.