Last updated on April 12th, 2017
When you say it, what do you mean?
I suspect we might all mean something a little different — or even a lot different — if we were to get down to specific foods we include or avoid, or to the number of grams of carbs we consume per day.
The title of my blog — “Life After Carbs” — implies that I don’t eat any carbs at all, but of course that’s not true. The title ought to be interpreted as meaning, “Life after over-coming my craving for carbohydrates and eliminating most carbs from my diet.” However, that’s a mouthful. As a writer, you want a title that’s long enough to get your point across, and no longer. Readers will forgive a bit of exaggeration.
The book Atkins for Life (affiliate link), by the late Robert Atkins and associates, includes maintenance menu plans for low-carbers eating up to 45, 60, 80 or 100 net grams of carbs per day. Keep in mind, those are maintenance plans for people who have achieved their desired weight goal. The Atkins plan starts out at 20 net grams per day.
An article in Nutrition in Clinical Practice, which I previously blogged about, offered three categories of carb-restricted diet:
- Reduced-carbohydrate diet: under 130g of carbs per day, up to 45% of total calories
- Low-carb diet: 30-130g of carbs per day
- Very low-carb ketogenic diet: under 30g of carbs per day (usually allowing ketosis to occur)
My software food log for the past week shows that I have averaged 30 grams of net carbs per day. My high for the week was 36 net carbs, and my low was 21 net carbs. So I fall at the boundary of categories 2 and 3.
But what I mean by a low-carb diet can be stated more simply, and without numbers.
A low carb diet is one in which you restrict your carbohydrate intake to lose weight (or maintain your desired weight) without hunger.
You also invariably restrict your calories, but you don’t need to count calories. For example, in the past week, my average calories per day was 1,956. That’s around 1,000 fewer than I burn in a day, just from my baseline activities. I make no special effort to restrict my calories. It just happens, and I don’t feel any hunger doing it, as long as I am eating the low-carb way (which essentially means avoiding, in any form, grains, sugar, starchy vegetables, and most fruit).
A couple summers ago, I tried eating under 2,000 calories a day on a conventional “government-approved” diet — low-fat, high carb. I was hungry all the time. I gave up in a month. When most of us think about diets, we think about that kind of struggle, pain and frequent failure.
By eliminating the blood sugar swings that come from excessive carb consumption, you eliminate the crazy hunger. If you are hungry on a low-carb diet, you aren’t doing something right!
That, at any rate, is how it is working for me, and that’s how I’d define my low carb diet.
How would you define yours?