A low-carbohydrate diet can help control blood sugar, and is used to help with weight loss, blood pressure control, and blood cholesterol control. There are several popular low-carb diets, such as the Atkins, South Beach, and Zone diets. When total carbs are reduced, people eat larger proportions of protein and fat. Some low-carb diets recommend replacing carbohydrate with healthful sources of protein and fat; others, such as Atkins, do not restrict any type of protein or fat sources. You may find that generally eating fewer carbs may be beneficial, without having to follow a specific program.
- The standard diet generally referenced by dietitians provides 2,000 calories, with about 60% of these coming from carbohydrates, which means about 300 grams of carbohydrate per day. Anything less than this could be considered a low-carbohydrate diet. Popular low-carb diets range from almost zero carbs to about 35% (about 175 grams per day).
- Dieters are cautioned against eating less than the Recommended Dietary Allowance of 130 grams of carbohydrates per day (26% of calories in a standard diet).
- Keep in mind that your personal requirements might be more or less than 2,000 calories.
Take it for a test drive: Read nutrition labels on packaged foods to help count your carbs for the day. The carbohydrates you choose should be high in fiber such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. More of your calories should come from lean meats, fish, beans, low-fat dairy products, and unsaturated, nonhydrogenated oils. See our Atkins diet and South Beach diet articles for more information.