Examining the Different Types of Low Carb Diet

Healthy Food
Credits: Unsplash

Low carb diets can help you lose weight, improve energy levels, protect your long-term health and treat a variety of health problems. There are a number of low carb diets and they aren’t all the same, though they’re based on the same principle. This explains why there is so much confusion on this issue. Let’s look at the different low carb diets and the pros and cons of each.

Liberal Diets

“Liberal” low carb diets allow you to eat 100 to 150 grams of carbs per day. The Zone Diet and Eco-Atkins or vegetarian Atkins diets fall in this category. Diets like this allow you to choose a variety of foods and, generally, the carbs you want to consume. You can eat fruit, vegetables, dairy nuts, whole grains and seeds.

The low carb Paleo diet also fits in this category. However, the Paleo diet in and of itself isn’t low carb, since you can eat fruits and starchy vegetables. A low carb Paleo diet emphasizes meat, nuts and seeds while excluding many starchy vegetables and nuts. To meet the “low carb” part of the diet, you need to focus on lower carb vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers over potatoes. A benefit of this diet is that it avoids the processed foods that tend to add a lot of sugar.

The Whole 30 diet is another diet that isn’t specifically low carb but can become a liberal low carb diet. The diet focuses on “whole” foods. You can eat meat, vegetables, fruits and fats. You’re supposed to stay away from sugar. This limits grains and legumes, a common source of carbs. It also excludes dairy and alcohol. If you choose the low carb vegetables and fruit, you’re on a low carb diet. A major benefit of this diet is that you can eat almost anything as long as you avoid the forbidden categories. The downside of this diet is that it isn’t a good idea for those with type 2 diabetes if you are eating a wide variety of foods, such that your blood sugar can fluctuate.

Moderate Diets

This diet limits carb consumption to 50 to 100 grams per day. It allows people to lose weight slowly while controlling blood glucose diets. This is a necessity if you’re diabetic, though there are other reasons to do so. The Atkins 40 diet is a moderate low carb diet. Moderate low carb diets may also be followed as a “maintenance mode” for those who have been on a strict carb diet; if they didn’t continue to minimize carbohydrate consumption, they might regain the weight.

In the “cruise” phase of the Dukan diet, the person is allowed to eat anything from the list of allowed proteins and a variety of non-starchy vegetables. This phase is actually moderate. But the consolidation phase of the Dukan diet adds in a few starchy foods like fruit, cheese and whole grain, and that part is closer to a liberal diet.

The Scandinavian low carb high fat diet is a moderate low carb diet if you follow it. The hard part is getting enough vitamins, since it heavily restricts fruit. On the upside, it is easy to follow because you can eat so many low-glycemic foods.

Strict Diets

Strict low carb diets limit carb consumption to a maximum of 50 carbs per day, while some prohibit carbs altogether. These diets push you into ketosis rather quickly as the body burns ketones for energy instead of glucose. The ketogenic or “keto” diet is in this category and will restrict you to a diet of less than 20 grams in many cases. The ketogenic diet is one of the strictest low carb diets, but also one of the most efficient.

However, strict low carb/high fat diets like the keto diet tend to be difficult to stick with because of how common carbs are in our diets and how dependent we are on them as a source of energy. This then leads to what are called “carb cravings”. What makes keto so efficient at helping you to lose weight fast is that once cravings for carbs subside, those who follow the plan feel fuller for longer as they start using their storage of fats instead. And the keto diet forces ketosis – the process through which the body starts using your fat reserves to create energy – to start faster. With moderate or liberal diets, carb levels are just too high to start ketosis and get all of those benefits. So, while they might seem easier to stick with at first, the results won’t be as satisfying as a strict low carb diet.

For more information, check out this article from KetoLogic titled Why Low-Carb/High-Fat is More Effective than Low-Carb. KetoLogic are a great resource for supporting testimonials and research-backed articles that provide practical advice on how to get started on a keto diet the right way.

Low carb diets are unfortunately a rejection of the USDA recommendations that are blamed for the rise in obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the country. However, they have been proven to be the perfect solution for those who’d like to limit their sugar intake while losing weight fast and reaping all the added benefits of a low sugar diet.