With all the crazy diet fads swarming the internet, it can be hard to find a concise answer as to how many carbs in a low carb diet!
Some diets count total carbs, some watch their sugars, some stick to low carb foods, then there’s impact carbs (what the heck does that mean?) So I put this article together to help solve the mystery of how many carbs in a low carb diet there are!
Below I’ll answer keto vs. low carb vs. high carb — based on information gathered from various medical sites (linked below) — no personal opinions or hearsay nonsense.
After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how many carb in a low carb diet work for you. Use this table of contents to skip to the section you’re looking for:
How Many Carbs in a Low Carb Diet?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a low carb diet consists of 20-60 grams of carbohydrates, or 80-240 carbohydrate calories.
How many carbs in a low carb diet will depend on what exactly works for your body! For example, how many carbs should I eat a day to lose weight is totally different than how many carbs per day to lose weight for a woman without diabetes.
How Many Carbs For Ketosis?
A keto diet is less than 50 grams of carbohydrates or 200 carbohydrate calories.
That said, many following atkins or keto count net carbs as opposed to total carbs. Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber — the number you’re looking for if you’re wondering how many carbs for ketosis.
This is because the function of carbohydrates vary depending on the type of carb you’re eating — for example, soluble fiber is a complex carbohydrate that can improve blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar. Whereas sugar is a simple carbohydrate which quickly spikes your blood sugar and can have negative effects.
If you decide to go the net carbs route, be leary of products flaunting “net / active / impact carbs”, as there’s no legal definition for these terms. Unfortunately, this often means manufacturers are adding sugar alcohols or ingredients that may affect your blood sugar.
A great example of this is the very popular carbquick mix, which boasts 2 grams of net carbs on the front, and 16 grams of total carbs on the back.
Personal note: I count total carbs. As a diabetic, I’m constantly testing my blood sugar, and this works best for me in keeping healthy levels. If you’re wondering how many carbs per day for a diabetic, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor!
How Many Carbs Per Day According to American Dietary Guidelines
As a frame of reference, The American Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming 45-65% of your caloric intake in carbohydrates — which may seem high to us, but according to the Institute of Medicine, most people exceed this “how many carbs per day” recommendation!
Heck, I sure was before I knew how to count my carbs!
How Many Carbs in a Day Based on Calories vs Grams
As mentioned above you can figure out how many carbs in a day based on percentages, grams, or calories — here’s a little clarity on exactly what that means:
Grams + Calories
Each gram of carbohydrate or protein provides 4 calories, while each gram of fat has 9 calories — so if your goal is to eat 30 carbohydrate calories at each meal, you’d eat under 8 grams.
Percentages are based on the caloric percentage of the food you eat. To make it easy, say your goal is to eat 50% of your caloric intake in carbohydrates — that means half the food you eat would be carb calories.
How Many Carbs Should I Eat a Day
Figuring out how many carbs should I eat a day has taken testing, time, and advice from doctors. Knowledge is also a big part of it — you can’t eat low carb foods, if you don’t know which foods are low in carbs and which aren’t.
For those interested in switching to low carb foods, identify your goal: whether it’s health, weight loss, or more energy — write it down, and talk to a health professional to see if eating low carb will help you achieve your goals.
Then start learning about eating low carb. It’s actually really simple, just get the basics down and you’ll be golden.
How to Track How Many Carbs Should I Have a Day?
There are quite a few ways to track your daily carb intake — it boils down to personal preference. I will say this: many studies have found that people who journal are twice as likely to lose weight compared to those who don’t.
Sufficed to say, journal will help you stick to your how many carbs in a low carb diet goal. Whether it be an app on your phone or a good old pen and paper. Once you’ve established how many carbs should I have a day, pick the method that you’ll most likely stick to.
I use a printed low carb meal plan with my goals and daily carb intake (I like to see it all in one place). Others prefer apps such as My Fitness Pal. These are mobile and super convenient — I will say all the data used is user uploaded, so it’s common to find errors. Just be aware, you can easily make adjustments for this.
Still Wondering How Many Carbs Should You Have a Day?
If you’re new to low carb eating, and are looking for a better understanding of how many carbs should you have a day, check out some of these resources:
Low Carb Diet Tips
How many carbs in a low carb diet depends on you and your body’s needs — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stick to! Here’s a list of 13 low carb diet tips to help you get and stay on track!
Low Carb Foods
Knowing how many carbs in a low carb diet is only as useful as knowing how many carbs are in various low carb foods. Great news is, there are a ton of delicious options to choose from. Check these ultimate guides to get you started!
Low Carb Food List Printable
I suggest printing out this low carb food list — put it on your fridge until you’ve cemented what is and what isn’t low carb!
Low Carb Recipes
Believe it or now, there are low carb recipes for almost every high carb food you love — you just have to know where to look! Check out my tasty collection.
I hope this article helped shine light on how many carbs in a low carb diet there are! Although there’s no nifty how many carbs to lose weight calculator, if weight loss is your goal, you may be shocked at the impact of cutting out some high carb foods!
Again, if you’re wondering how many carbs in a low carb diabetic diet or any other health related questions, it’s important to consult with your doctor!