Q:

How many carbohydrates are there in a low-carb diet?

A:

Quick Answer

Most low-carb diets limit your carbohydrate intake to between 50 and 150 grams per day, depending on which diet you follow. It's important to check with your doctor before starting any low-carb program.

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Full Answer

If you typically eat 2,000 calories daily, your carbohydrate intake can range from 225 and 325 grams, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you are on a low-calorie diet or don't get much exercise, aim for a number in the lower range. A normal diet that dips below those numbers is considered to be low carb.

Calculating Your Target Carbohydrate Intake Number
Each gram of carbohydrate is equal to four calories. Divide the number of calories you want to get from carbohydrates by four to determine the number of grams. If you plan to eat 1,800 calories a day and have 45-percent of your diet come from carbohydrates, your carbohydrate intake target is 200 grams daily. Here's an example

  • .45 x 1,800 calories = 810 calories
  • 810 ÷ 4 = 202.5 grams of carbohydrate

Characteristics of Low-carbohydrate Diets
There are a number of low-carb weight-loss diets on the market that limit carbohydrates to less than 150 grams per day. These diets include the paleo, Atkins, Mediterranean, zero-carb and ketogenic, among others. For programs like the Atkins low-carb diet, for the first two weeks, your carbohydrates are severely limited so you consume less than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day. After the first two weeks, you may consume from 50 to 60 grams per day to continue losing weight.

These types of low-carb diets are often considered a fast track to weight loss, according to Women's Health magazine, and the diets have additional benefits as well. You can curb your cravings, drop water weight and stabilize your blood glucose levels when you skim refined carbohydrates, such as cakes, cookies, white bread and pastries, from your diet. However, your doctor may prefer that you modify your low-carb diet to include foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy and strong while dropping pounds. You can round out your low-carb diet with low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy and legumes like kidney beans or lentils.

For weight loss, a low-carb diet is more effective than low-fat or low-glycemic Mediterranean-style diets that limit your carbohydrates to less than 10 grams per day, states a study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study indicates that very low-carbohydrate diets increase your risk of cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure. that can lead to a stroke, heart failure and renal disease. Insulin resistance is also associated with very low-carb diets, which means that, although you may not be diabetic, your body's cells do not absorb the glucose efficiently, which causes a buildup of sugar in your blood. In addition, these low-carb diets affect your cell's receptors that help control blood sugar, regulate your metabolism, reduce inflammation and help with memory mapping.

The Role the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Play in Low-Carb Diets
The short form of the glycemic index (GI) is that low GI foods release glucose in a slow, steady manner while those higher on the list release it rapidly, as noted in a Harvard Medical School article. The glycemic load value represents a food's impact on glucose levels in real time. A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low while 20 is high.

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