Low carb diets are super-effective for weight loss and really healthy too but did you know there are a few different types of low carb diet? Each one is popular and effective but varies in what you can and cannot eat. Here are the main differences so you can decide which one is right for you!
Low carb diet – the moderate approach
A moderate low carb diet allows you to eat around 100-150 grams of carbs per day. That’s the equivalent of around six slices of bread, two large potatoes or three cups of cooked rice. This might sound like a lot but most people eat more than double this number of carbs.
Keeping your carb intake to around 100-150 grams per day means you just have to eat less bread, rice, potatoes and pasta and don’t have to eliminate them completely. One easy way to do this is to eat half as much rice, for example, and make up the balance with vegetables such as cauliflower or zucchini.
If you are currently eating a lot of carbs, switching to a moderate low carb diet, “The Easy Low Carb Diet“, should produce slow and easy weight loss without making you feel like you are on a super-strict diet. If you only have a little weight to lose or want to maintain your current weight, this is a good approach.
Low carb diet – the strict approach
Also known as a ketogenic diet, a strict low carb diet will limit you to around 50 grams or less of carbs per day. That’s about two slices of bread or a cup of cooked oatmeal. Because carbs naturally occur in a lot of foods, lowering your carb intake to this level means you’ll have to make some big changes to your diet. Most meals will need to be free from bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and fruit and will, instead, consist mostly of protein and non-starchy vegetables – grilled chicken and a big green salad for example.
A strict low carb diet will produce very rapid weight loss although a lot of that initial weight is water. Cutting your carbs so low can also cause some side effects until your body gets used to it including dizziness, irritability, weakness and fatigue.
However, once you get used to keeping your carbs so low, you’ll soon start feeling energetic and any cravings you had will totally disappear. This usually takes 5-10 days.
Ketogenic diets are a little controversial and some experts think they are not very healthy but, the reality is, they are completely natural and some nationalities eat like this all the time and have fewer diseases than carb-eating westerners. Those first few days can be tough though and often cause people to quit their diet before they see any benefits.
Paleo diet – the selective carb diet
In the Paleo diet, you can eat carbs but your intake will naturally be low because you are not allowed to eat any grains or processed food. That means no bread, rice, pasta, cookies, cakes, or breakfast cereals. In place of grains you can eat fruit and vegetables in abundance which is where you get your carbs from.
The Paleo diet is all about imagining you are a caveman out hunting and gathering food. If you could catch it, pick it off a plant or pull it out a tree, you can eat it. If, however, it’s in anyway manmade, it’s off the menu.
This means that you cannot eat anything processed – even if it’s low in carbs. That means no diet soda, low carb bread, or reduced sugar cookies. This is good news if you care about your health as well as your weight.
The Paleo diet is low in carbs by default which is why it makes it onto our list. It’s a good diet for weight loss and health because it naturally limits not only carbs but artificial additives and processed food too – including the worst ingredient for health and weight loss; sugar.
So which diet is right for you?
Most people only need to limit their carb intake to between 100-150 grams per day to lose weight and get healthy. But, if you want faster results, cutting back to 50 grams a day will get it done but you will experience some side effects at the beginning of your diet. If you don’t want to count carbs but still want to eat less, the Paleo diet is a very good choice providing you are happy eating like a caveman and basing your meals on foods you could have hunted and gathered yourself.
There ARE other low carb diets but most fit in to one of these categories. Ultimately, the best one for you is the one you can stick to that produces the results you want.