Low-Carb Diet: The Ultimate Guide for Beginner's - Dr. Axe

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Low-Carb Diet: A Beginner’s Guide


Low-carb diet - Dr. Axe

Made famous by the Atkins diet and other similar weight-loss plans, low-carb diets are most well-known for shedding pounds fast. Despite what might initially come to mind when you think about low-carb diet plans or what you may have been told about why low-carb diets are bad for you, research suggests that a balanced low-carb diet poses few health risks if done right.

In fact, certain low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet, have been shown to not only be very effective for weight loss, but also for improving other health markers, such as blood sugar levels as well as neurological health, hormonal balance and more.

What Is a Low-Carb Diet? The Basics

A low-carb diet is a diet that limits carbohydrate foods — such as foods with added sugar, grains, starchy vegetables and fruit — and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat.

Low-carb diets are nothing new and have been used in the medical community for a variety of purposes for more than a century.

What are the benefits of a low-carb diet? Based on decades of research, low-carb diets have been linked to benefits including:


  • fast weight loss
  • reduced hunger
  • better control over insulin and blood sugar
  • enhanced cognitive performance
  • lower risk for heart disease factors
  • reduced risk for certain types of cancer

You may be wondering: How do low-carb diets work? Why do I feel better on a low-carb diet?

The low-carb diet plan is effective because it causes glucose (sugar) stores to quickly run out, and when your supply becomes low enough, your body turns to fat for fuel as a backup source — whether it’s fat coming from your diet or your own stored body fat.

Additionally, while many of us follow a high-carb, low-fat diet loaded with processed foods, added sugar and extra calories, the low-carb diet plan eliminates many of these harmful ingredients and prioritizes nutritious, whole foods instead.

How many carbs on a low-carb diet should you eat? How many carbs should a woman eat daily to lose weight fast?

Although these amounts can vary quite a bit depending on which type of low-carb diet plan you follow, most involve restricting carb intake to less than 30 percent to 40 percent of total daily calories.

Different Types of Low-Carb Diets

People can mean many different things when referring to low-carb diets, which creates some confusion about what a low-carb diet might actually look like. There are several unique plans available, each of which varies based on how many carbs in a low-carb diet are included, plus the amounts of other nutrients in the diet, such as protein or fat.

Finding the best low-carb diet plan for weight loss or better health all comes down to deciding what works best for you. Whether it’s a high-protein, low-carb diet plan; a high-fat, low-carb diet; a low-carb vegetarian diet; or even low-carb vegan diet, there are variations out there for nearly everyone.

High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet

Generally speaking, people who are not intentionally controlling their protein take usually get about 15 percent to 25 percent of their daily calories from protein foods.

If you choose to follow a low-carb, high-protein diet, your diet will be roughly distributed as 30 percent to 35 percent protein, 20 percent or less carbohydrates and about 45 percent to 50 percent fat. With every meal you’ll want to incorporate one to two palm-sized portions of protein, such as fish or meat.

The main difference between high-fat and high-protein diets is the amount of protein — in the form of meat, fish, eggs, etc. — that someone eats. Higher-fat diets like the keto diet call for more healthy fats in the form of butter, oil and fattier cuts of meat, while higher-protein diets still include fats but less of them.

Similarly, carb cycling is a type of diet plan that involves eating more carbohydrates on certain days of the week, but doing the opposite on the other days: cutting carbs very low in order to achieve easier weight loss.

High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet

A ketogenic diet — one form of a low-carb, high-fat diet — is an eating pattern that strictly eliminates almost all sources of glucose in order to put the body into “fat-burning mode,” also called nutritional ketosis. The ketogenic diet goes by several different names, including the “no-carb diet” or “very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet.”

Ketogenic diets have been used by doctors to treat patients with epilepsy and metabolic conditions since the 1920s. They have well-documented benefits, including helping treat epilepsy and promote rapid weight loss.

Some research has also found that a very low-carb diet for diabetics could also be useful for stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing diabetes risk.

Plus, not only have studies over the past century shown that the keto diet can reduce the amount of seizures patients suffer from, but it can also have positive effects on body fat, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, hunger and neurological health.


When you’re following a traditional ketogenic diet, you consume around 75 percent of your daily calories from healthy fats, 5 percent from carbohydrates and approximately 20 percent from protein. In general, ketogenic diets typically limit daily net carb intake to just 20–30 grams, which is calculated by subtracting the number of grams of fiber from the total number of carbs.

While the low-carb keto diet is a great fit for the right type of person, many people still experience great results when eating a modified keto diet that is a bit higher in carbs. This is called “keto-cycling” or “carb-cycling” in which people boost carb intake on certain days of the week.

Compared to high-protein diets, the ketogenic diet is considered “moderate protein.” It’s important not to overconsume protein on the keto diet because this can interfere with your ability to produce ketone bodies for energy and enter nutritional ketosis.

Low-Fat, Low-Carb Diet

Many people think that you need to follow a low-carb, low-fat diet to lose weight and improve your health. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, although dietary fat is often associated with body fat, filling up on healthy fats can actually be incredibly beneficial for overall health.

Monounsaturated fats from foods like olive oil, in particular, have been linked to reductions in body weight, blood sugar levels, triglycerides and blood pressure. Meanwhile, polyunsaturated fats found in ingredients like nuts, seeds and fish may help improve several aspects of heart health.

Ideally, you should get a good amount of healthy fats in your diet from foods like fatty fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. These foods can help amplify the results of the low-carb diet plan to promote better health.

Low-Sugar, Low-Carb Diet

Just like on a low-carb diet, a low-carb, low-sugar diet minimizes consumption of starches and sugars to propel the body into fat-burning mode. Both diets focus on reducing added sugars from foods like candies, sweetened beverages, refined grains and processed foods.

Instead, these diets emphasize healthy fats and high-quality proteins from nutritious whole foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals.

Related: Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Dieting Approach to Losing Weight


1. Fast Weight Loss

When it comes to losing weight, calorie counting is crazy, but shifting your attention to the types of foods you eat and focusing on mindful eating can make all the difference.

Low-carb diets have a reputation for producing fast weight loss without feeling hungry or needing to count calories. In fact, many people experience weight loss following a low-carb diet even if they’ve tried “everything else” and never got the results they were looking for.

A 2014 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that after comparing the two in overweight adults, low-carb diets were more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction compared to low-fat diets, as demonstrated by 148 participants following both types of dietary plans over 12 months.

Why are low-carb diets, especially the keto diet, so effective for shedding excess pounds, even in people who normally struggle to lose weight? When we eat foods with sugar and carbohydrates, the hormone insulin is released as a reaction in order to elevate blood glucose (sugar).

Insulin is often called a “fat-storage hormone” because one of its jobs is to signal cells to store as much available energy as possible. This energy is initially stored as glycogen from the glucose found in carbohydrates, since glycogen is our “primary” energy.

By eliminating carbohydrates from the diet and keeping the body’s glycogen stores low or almost empty, we can prevent insulin from being released and storing fat. Less insulin circulating around our bloodstream means that the body is forced to use up all of its glycogen stores, then reach into fat stores tucked away in our adipose tissue (body fat) for ongoing fuel.

2. Better Cognitive Function

Fat and carbohydrates usually have an inverse relationship in someone’s diet. Most people keep protein intake somewhat steady, but normally the more carbs and sugar people eat, the less healthy fats they consume.

This is problematic because we need healthy fats for proper brain function, mood control and hormone regulation. While initially a sugary or high-carb meal might make you feel awake and alert, quickly after you’ll likely come crashing down and might feel tired, grumpy and irritable.

Sugar is addictive and has dramatic effects on the brain, especially when it comes to increasing cravings, anxiety and fatigue. On the other hand, certain kinds of healthy fats, including cholesterol, act like antioxidants and precursors to some important brain-supporting molecules and neurotransmitters that control learning, memory, mood and energy.

Your brain is largely made up of fatty acids and requires a steady stream of fats from your diet in order to perform optimally.

Recently, a 2012 report published in The Journal of Physiology found evidence of strong metabolic consequences of a high-sugar diet coupled with a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive abilities. These effects were due to the association of consuming high amounts of glucose and insulin action, which control brain-signaling mediators.

As one might expect, the unhealthy diet that was high in sugar but low in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids was associated with lower cognitive scores and insulin resistance.

Research suggests the ketogenic diet is especially therapeutic when it comes to protecting cognitive health. Researchers believe that people with the highest insulin resistance might demonstrate a lower cerebral blood flow and, therefore, less brain plasticity.

This is because insulin is a “vasodilator” and increases blood flow to promote glucose delivery to the muscles and organs, including the brain. This vasodilator function is stopped when someone develops insulin resistance over time from a high-sugar and high-carb intake, resulting in a decrease in perfusion of brain tissues and activity.

In certain studies, improvement have been observed in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients fed a ketogenic diet, marked by factors including improved mitochondrial function. A European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study pointed to emerging data that suggested the therapeutic use of ketogenic diets for multiple neurological disorders beyond epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, including headaches, neurotrauma, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism and multiple sclerosis.

3. Reduced Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Heart Disease

A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that low-carbohydrate diets are more effective at reducing certain metabolic and heart disease risk factors than low-fat diets are, plus at least equally effective at reducing weight and other factors.

The study investigated the effects of low-carbohydrate diets (≤45 percent of energy from carbohydrates) versus low-fat diets (≤30 percent of energy from fat) on metabolic risk factors by conducting a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Twenty-three trials from multiple countries with a total of 2,788 participants were included in the analyses.

The results showed that both low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets lowered weight and improved metabolic risk factors. But compared with participants on low-fat diets, people on low-carbohydrate diets experienced a significantly greater increase in “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and a greater decrease in triglycerides.

They also experienced a lower reduction in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol than the low-fat diet group. However, keep in mind that higher cholesterol levels have not been proven to contribute to heart disease!

These findings were true despite that reductions in body weight, waist circumference and other metabolic risk factors were not significantly different between the two diet groups. They suggest that satisfying lower-carb diets, which are higher in fat, can help beat heart disease factors just as well as diets that are harder to stick with and prone to leaving people hungry.

Benefits of a low-carb diet - Dr. Axe

4. Lower Risk for Type-2 Diabetes

Researchers point out that despite the growing rates of type 1 and 2 diabetes and the accelerating cost of the resources needed to monitor and treat diabetic patients, the medical community generally hasn’t been successful at reducing either the number of people affected or the severity of the complications. While prescriptions for diabetes medications continue to climb, there’s a simple, effective, low-cost strategy that is proven to work with diabetes: Reduce the amount of sugar and starch in the diet.

Researchers from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension at SUNY University of Brooklyn point out that a high-carbohydrate diet raises postprandial plasma glucose and insulin secretion, thereby increasing risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity.

Many studies have shown that a low-carb diet is a natural diabetes treatment and effective tool in the prevention of patients with type 2 diabetes. It can also help lower risks for diabetes complications and related risk factors like obesity or heart disease.

A growing body of evidence shows that although a diet high in “healthy carbs” like whole grains is still recommended to many sick patients, low-carbohydrate diets are comparable if not better than traditional low-fat/high-carbohydrate diets for weight reduction, improvement in the dyslipidemia of diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well as control of blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion.

In a 2005 study published in the Upsala Journal of Medical Science, for two groups of obese patients with type 2 diabetes, the effects of two different diet compositions were tested with regard to glycemic control and body weight. A group of 16 obese patients with type 2 diabetes was put on a low-carb diet (1,800 calories for men and 1,600 calories for women) that consisted of 20 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 50 percent fat.

Fifteen obese diabetes patients were put on a high-carbohydrate diet to serve as the control group. Their diet consisting of the same calories for men and women included approximately 60 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent protein and 25 percent fat.

Positive effects on the glucose levels were seen very quickly in the group following the low-carb plan. After six months, a marked reduction in body weight of patients in the low-carb diet group was also observed, and this remained one year later.

5. Help Fighting Cancer

Research shows that a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar contributes to free radical damage and actually feeds cancer cells, possibly helping them proliferate faster. Because low-carb diets dramatically cut down sugar and lower intake of grains and processed foods, they might act like a natural cancer treatment, causing immunity to improve as oxidative stress goes down.

Studies indicate that carbohydrate intake influences prostate cancer biology, as demonstrated through mice that have been fed a no-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (NCKD) experiencing significantly smaller tumors and longer survival times than mice fed a Western diet. The mice fed the equivalent of the standard human Western diet had higher serum insulin, which was associated with significantly higher blood glucose and tumor tissue growth.

In the process of cutting off the supply of energy to cancers, healthy cells are luckily preserved since they’re able to use fat for energy. Cancer cells, on the other hand, thrive off of glucose and cannot metabolically shift to use fat.

6. Fewer Cravings

One of the biggest benefits of a low-carb diet or the keto diet is that eating more healthy fats and proteins in place of sugar and carbohydrates is super satisfying, since it effectively helps turn off ghrelin, the “hungry hormone.”

According to studies, insulin negatively regulates ghrelin, and high-density lipoprotein may be a carrier particle for increasing circulating ghrelin. In other words, carbs spike insulin quickly, which leads to cravings for more food later on as blood sugar drops and ghrelin increases.

Fats and proteins, on the other hand, are known for switching on the body’s satiety hormones and allowing you to go longer comfortably between meals without needing to snack.

According to a report published in the Journal of International Studies of Obesity:

Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that have been recognized to have a major influence on energy balance. Leptin is a mediator of long-term regulation of energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss. Ghrelin on the other hand is a fast-acting hormone, seemingly playing a role in meal initiation. As a growing number of people suffer from obesity, understanding the mechanisms by which various hormones and neurotransmitters have influence on energy balance has been a subject of intensive research. It is now established that obese patients are leptin-resistant.

To get off the roller-coaster of insulin highs and lows, you need to gain control over your primary appetite hormones. The easier way to do this is to keep appetite-boosting sugar low and include quality proteins and fats with every meal, especially in the morning with breakfast, which sets the tone for the entire day.

Ketones that are created by the body during the ketogenic diet have also been shown to help curb hunger and to make intermittent fasting keto easier. In studies conducted on average weight adults, consumption of exogenous ketone supplements has been shown to lead to suppression of ghrelin, reduced hunger and less desire to eat.

7. Better Digestion

Less sugar means better digestive function for most people, since sugar feeds “bad bacteria” that can thrive in the gut. The result of a diet too high in sugar and carbs can mean the development of candida virus, IBS and worsened symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.

Plenty of vegetables, quality proteins and healthy fats, on the other hand, can act like fat-burning foods that also help nourish the digestive tract and reduce bacterial growth.

Research from a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Gastroenterological Association showed that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) report symptom improvements after initiating a very low-carbohydrate diet (VLCD). When participants with moderate to severe IBS were provided a two-week standard diet, then four weeks of a VLCD (20 grams of carbohydrates a day), the majority reported improvements in abdominal pain, stool habits and quality of life.

8. Better Hormone Regulation

You’ve already learned about the positive effects that a low-carb diet can have on insulin and appetite hormones, but going low-carb appears to also help balance neurotransmitter function in some people and thus improve mood.

When researchers from the Discipline of Psychiatry and School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide compared the hormonal and psychological effects of a low-protein, high-carbohydrate (LPHC) diet and a high-protein, low-carbohydrate (HPLC) diet in women with a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) over the course of 16 weeks, they found a significant reduction in depression and improvement in self-esteem in those on the low-carb diet.

All participants attended a weekly exercise, group support and educational program and completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale at the beginning and end of the study. The HPLC diet appeared to help balance hormones naturally and was associated with significant reductions in various depressive symptoms, enhanced feelings of well-being and higher likelihood of having better compliance with long-term treatment of obesity.

Foods to Eat

On a high-protein, low-carb diet, your diet should be rich in healthy fats, high-quality proteins and non-starchy vegetables. Here are a few examples of the top low-carb foods to eat on a low-carb diet plan.

1. Healthy Fats

  • MCT oil
  • Cold-pressed coconut, palm fruit, olive, flaxseed, macadamia and avocado oil
  • Butter and ghee
  • Avocado
  • Lard
  • Chicken or duck fat

2. Quality Proteins

  • Grass-fed beef and other types of fatty cuts of meat, including lamb, goat, veal, venison and other game
  • Organ meats, including liver
  • Poultry, including turkey, chicken, quail, pheasant, hen, goose, duck
  • Cage-free eggs and egg yolks
  • Fish, including tuna, trout, anchovies, bass, flounder, mackerel, salmon, sardines, etc.

3. Non-Starchy Vegetables

  • All leafy greens, including dandelion or beet greens, collards, mustard, turnip, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio, romaine, sorrel, spinach, kale, chard, etc.
  • Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower
  • Celery, cucumber, zucchini, chives and leeks
  • Fresh herbs
  • Other low-carb veggies, including asparagus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, radishes, jicama, green beans, wax beans, tomatoes
  • Avocado (technically a fruit)

4. Full-Fat Dairy

  • Full-fat cow’s and goat milk (ideally organic and raw)
  • Full-fat cheeses

5. Snacks

  • Bone broth (homemade or protein powder)
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Extra veggies (raw or cooked) with homemade dressing
  • 1/2 avocado with sliced lox (salmon)
  • Minced meat wrapped in lettuce

6. Condiments

  • Spices and herbs
  • Hot sauce
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Unsweetened mustards
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Stevia

7. Drinks

  • Water
  • Unsweetened coffee (black) and tea
  • Fresh made vegetable juice
  • Bone broth

Related: What Is the Slow Carb Diet? Potential Benefits for Weight Loss & More

Foods to Avoid

On a low-carb diet, you should limit your intake of sugars, refined grains, processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. Here are a few of the specific foods that you should limit or avoid when following a well-rounded high-protein, low-carb diet plan.

1. Sugar

  • White, brown, cane, raw and confectioner’s sugar
  • Syrups like maple, carob, corn, caramel and fruit
  • Honey and agave nectar
  • Any food made with ingredients such as fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose and lactose

2. Refined Grains

  • Wheat, rice, quinoa, bread, pasta, cereal
  • Corn and all products containing corn, including popcorn, tortillas, grits, polenta and cornmeal
  • All types of products made with flour, including bread, bagels, rolls, muffins, pasta, etc.

3. Processed Foods

  • Crackers, chips, pretzels, etc.
  • All types of candy
  • All desserts, like cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream
  • Pancakes, waffles and other baked breakfast items
  • Oatmeal and cereals
  • Snack carbs, granola bars, most protein bars or meal replacements, etc.
  • Canned soups, boxed foods, any prepackaged meal
  • Foods containing artificial ingredients like artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, etc.), dyes and flavors

4. Sweetened and Caloric Beverages

  • Soda
  • Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, etc.)
  • Sweetened teas or coffee drinks
  • Milk and dairy replacements (cow’s milk, soy, almond, coconut, Lactaid®, cream, half and half, etc.)
  • Fruit juices

Related: What Is the Boiled Egg Diet? Benefits, How to Follow, Risks & More

Low-Carb Meal Plan and Sample Menu

A healthy, low-carb diet meal plan doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless. Check out these simple low-carb diet recipes and meal plan for seven days for some inspiration to help transform your diet:


  • Breakfast: veggie omelet with tomatoes, bell peppers and spinach
  • Lunch: Teriyaki Salmon with sautéed kale and mushrooms
  • Dinner: grilled chicken with broccoli and cauliflower rice


  • Breakfast: full-fat, plain yogurt with blueberries, walnuts and cinnamon
  • Lunch: veggie burger with lettuce bun and side salad
  • Dinner: Mediterranean Grilled Lamb Chops with asparagus


  • Breakfast: Crustless Spinach Quiche
  • Lunch: taco salad with ground beef, tomatoes, lettuce, avocados, bell peppers and salsa
  • Dinner: herb-roasted turkey breast with Brussels sprouts


  • Breakfast: coconut chia pudding with unsweetened coconut flakes and almonds
  • Lunch: Eggplant Rollatini with mixed veggies
  • Dinner: baked grouper with zucchini fries


  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs and tempeh bacon
  • Lunch: chicken lettuce wrap with cauliflower fried rice
  • Dinner: Lamb Stew with garlic roasted broccoli


  • Breakfast: High-Fat, Low-Carb Pancakes
  • Lunch: stuffed bell peppers with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley and cheese
  • Dinner: baked chicken with grilled cabbage steaks


  • Breakfast: smoothie with Greek yogurt, almond milk, blueberries, cinnamon and vanilla
  • Lunch: Gluten-Free Baked Meatballs and zucchini noodles
  • Dinner: Greek salad with spinach, feta, black olives, cucumbers, onions and chickpeas

Shopping List

Filling your fridge with low-carb diet foods makes it easier than ever to stick to your diet and keep your carb consumption under control. Check out this simple, low-carb diet food list, and stock up on these healthy ingredients next time you hit the supermarket:

  • Grass-fed meat: beef, goat, venison, lamb, veal, organ meats
  • Free-range poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, goose, etc.
  • Wild-caught fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines, etc.
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Fruits: avocado, berries, lemons, limes, melon
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, leafy greens, celery, asparagus, Brussels sprouts
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, lard, MCT oil, butter, ghee
  • Full-fat dairy: cow milk, goat milk, hard cheeses
  • Herbs/spices: basil, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, rosemary pepper, etc.

Tips When Eating Out

Wondering what to eat on a low-carb diet when you’re at restaurants or out and about? Here are a few tips to stick to your low-carb diet menu when dining out:

  1. Check out the restaurant’s menu online prior to arriving to plan out what you’ll order in advance.
  2. Enjoy a light, low-carb snack before eating out to curb cravings and prevent overeating.
  3. Skip the pasta, pizza or rice, and select protein-based entrees instead.
  4. Substitute non-starchy vegetables in place of fries for a tasty, low-carb side dish.
  5. Ditch the burger buns, and opt for lettuce wraps.
  6. If available, ask for rice, pizza crust or potatoes made from cauliflower to keep your carb count low.
  7. Look for meat that is grilled rather than breaded.
  8. Pay attention to sauces and condiments. Some are high in sugar and can crank up your carb intake.
  9. Choose low-carb drinks in place of sugar-sweetened beverages like juice or cocktails.
  10. Instead of dessert, enjoy a cup of unsweetened coffee or tea to help round out your meal.

Risks and Side Effects

Is a low-carb diet dangerous? A balanced high-protein, low-carb diet can be healthy and nutritious, plus associated with a number of impressive health benefits.

However, there are several potential side effects that you may want to be aware of.

Overall, there seems to be a lot of variability when it comes to how low-carb dieting and changes in moods and energy levels — with some people feeling great and others struggling a bit initially. This is why it’s important to pay attention to how you feel as you change your diet and make adjustments as necessary.

Self-reports, along with data from certain trials, indicate that very low-carb diets or ketogenic diets might increase symptoms like fatigue, keto diet constipation, brain fog and irritability in some people — side effects that have been nicknamed “the carb flu” or “keto flu symptoms.”

However, this is usually the case when cutting back carbs dramatically to just about 5 percent to 10 percent of total calories. Most low-carb diet side effects usually clear up within one to two weeks of changing your diet, after your body adjusts.

Obviously, reductions in the desire to be physically active, experiencing brain fog and being cranky are pretty counterproductive for people looking to feel healthier and lose weight, so these effects are something to monitor.

If you’re feeling very sluggish and moody or have “brain fog” and can’t think clearly, try reintroducing some carbs several days a week until you feel better. Experiencing the benefits of low-carb diets can take some trial and error, plus a good amount of patience.

Final Thoughts

  • The low-carb diet plan is a type of eating pattern that limits the consumption of carbohydrates from foods like sugar, starches and grains. Instead, it emphasizes healthy fats and protein foods rich in important nutrients.
  • Is a low-carb diet healthy? Many studies have found that following a nutritious, low-carb diet results in improvements in blood sugar control, weight management, heart health, brain function and more.
  • There are several different types of low-carb diets available, each of which varies based on the amount of carbs consumed and the other macronutrients included.
  • You may be wondering: How many carbs should I eat on a low-carb diet? Depending on the type of plan, it can vary quite a bit. In general, however, most low-carb diets limit carb consumption to less than 30 percent to 40 percent of total daily calories.
  • Although there are many low-carb diet benefits and risks to consider, it can be a good option for those looking to reduce hunger levels, lose weight and improve their overall health.

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