We are well past the point where anyone can call the low carb diet movement a “phase” or “fad.”
After not only years but decades of results, a variety of off-shoot low carb diets, and a lot of nutritional studies coming out showing more evidence than ever backing the idea that these diets can be healthy and a great way for overweight individuals to start shedding the pounds.
There are many reasons for this, but this also leads to a common question: how many carbs can you actually have in a day?
Read on to get this answer and learn a lot more!
What’s A Good Daily Carb Count if You Want to Lose Weight?
There’s going to be a bit of a range here, but we’ll explain why that is and break it down even further so you can really understand it.
Keep in mind that each person is going to be a little bit different, and there’s a huge difference in how carbs are used by the body if a person eats a bunch then sits at an office job for 4 hours as opposed to someone eating carbs and then running a marathon.
For the average person looking to go low carb to lose weight the following numbers are important:
50 to 200 grams of carbs a day for moderate results based on weight/daily calorie burn
50 grams of carbs for serious weight loss
20 to 30 carbs if you need to go ketogenic (or have the discipline to choose to)
Generally speaking those dieters who go to the lower level of those ranges do better than dieters who eat more carbs. There are exceptions, but this is a really good general rule of thumb.
Why Does Low Carb Work So Well?
There are multiple reasons why cutting back on the carbs has worked for so many dieters.
For one, a gram of carb tends to hold two grams of extra water with it. So a pound of carbs also equals two pounds of water.
That early surge in weight loss early on when a person goes on a low carb diet for the first time is water weight, but in fairness if a person is carrying around 10-15 excess pounds of water losing that bloat and weight isn’t bad at all.
That early victory can help encourage the dieter to keep going to burn more fat, as well.
Another reason is that many sugars and sweets are carb based. Same with mindless snack foods like chips and pretzels.
Cutting out soda, candy, chocolate, pretzels, and chips gets rid of a lot of junk food and temptation – and plenty of calories at the same time.
This alone is a big deal for many people looking to lose weight.
Huge amounts of carbs can also cause kicks in insulin spikes in some people, encouraging the body to store fat instead of burn it.
A low carb diet (learn more) may not completely prevent those from happening, but that type of diet greatly reduces those instances.
That means your body spends more time burning fat and less time storing it. That’s definitely a big deal when trying to lose weight.
Finally, many people report fat/protein satiating them more & longer than carbs (which can cause bursts of hunger).
That means they are not only eating better calories for weight loss purposes, but just eating less in general to stay full.
The Type of Carbs to Eat
Not all carbs are created equal, and multiple tests have shown that!
Now that being said, staying in that low carb range is still the most effective option but for some people even switching from a “bad carb” (for weight loss purposes) to a “good carb” can make a lot of difference.
White processed flour and/or sugar. Sodas, sweets, candy, snack cakes, white bread, white rolls, white pasta, chips, and other similar types of food.
Grains, even whole grains. Rice, wheat, whole wheat pasta, tortillas, taco shells, potatoes & other starchy vegetables, etc.
Beans, leafy green vegetables
Generally leafy green vegetables are always great and most low carb diets love beans with the exception of the ketogenic diet which is renowned for results but also one of the strictest ones out there – making it harder to adhere to for the majority of people out there.
Someone eating 100 grams of carbs in sugar is going to be worse off than someone eating 50 carbs in rice and 50 in beans.
That person will still have a harder time losing weight than someone who eats green leafy vegetables for carbs and that’s it.
The total number of grams is what you want to focus on here, but when given the choice make sure every gram of carbs you eat really does do the most good work for your body!
Popular Low Carb Diets
There are many options for people looking for a good low carb diet to lose weight.
While the Atkins and Paleo diets are probably the two most widely known examples there are actually many other diets that fall under the low carb tree of eating plans.
Tim Ferriss in “The 4 Hour Body” introduced the Slow Carb diet and helped rekindle more mainstream interest in the ketogenic diet which had been around for decades but has never received more attention than it is now!
These diets all focus around low carb eating plans but there are notable differences.
The Ketogenic diet really limits beans or discourages eating them at all. Beans are a staple of most the other low carb diets. Atkins allows unlimited cheese.
Slow Carb Diet doesn’t recommend any. Slow Carb Diet has a cheat day. None of the other major ones setup that way. This introduces a wide array of options to help you find one that will work for your eating habits and your weight loss needs.
Ben Corbin brings nearly 20 years of experience as a health and wellness author and writer. He holds a master’s degree, has a passion for health and fitness, and is driven to provide readers with accurate and honest diet reviews. Learn more about Ben and the DadQuarters mission at our About page.