Carbohydrates are one of the main energy sources of your body. They are also fuel for organs such as the kidneys and the central nervous system.
In your body, carbs are broken down into a simple form of energy called glucose. Your body uses insulin to bring glucose into cells and various tissues.
If you consume too many carbs your blood sugar levels will rise and your insulin level will also increase. This usually causes weight gain.
Therefore, cutting carbohydrate intake is one of the best ways to lose weight. It can reduce your appetite, increase satiety, and make you lose weight without knowing it.
In addition to helping weight loss, a low-carb diet is beneficial to overall health [*], such as lowering blood sugar, blood pressure and triglyceride levels, increasing good cholesterol (HDL), and improving bad cholesterol (LDL).
Why A Low Carb Diet Can Help You lose Weight
A low-carbohydrate diet greatly reduces the level of insulin in the blood. Insulin is a hormone that brings glucose (converted from carbohydrates) into cells.
One of the main functions of insulin is to store fat and encourage the kidneys to store sodium. This is why consuming too many carbs can lead to water retention.
When you control your carbohydrate intake, your insulin will decrease and your kidneys will excrete excess water [*], so in the first few days of starting a low-carb diet, you will find that you lose weight very quickly. You can even lose 2-3 kg, however, this weight loss is actually mostly water loss.
After a week, the rate of weight loss will slow down. Only then does the fat stored in your body really start to burn.
Studies have shown that low-carb diets are particularly effective in reducing belly fat, which is the most dangerous and is closely related to many diseases.
If you are a novice and just starting a ketogenic or low-carb diet, you may experience an adaptation period. During the beginning, you may also have some discomfort called “keto flu”. During this stage, your body will gradually adapt from burning carbohydrates (glucose) to burning fat.
This phase generally ends within a few days. After that, your energy level and sleep quality will increase significantly. Additionally, your appetite will decrease and you will begin to see the effect of gradual weight loss.
How Many Carbs Should You Eat A Day To Lose Weight
How many carbs are low enough for a low-carb diet? In fact, there is no uniform standard. For some people, 100 grams of carbs may not be too much, but for others, it is a lot.
For each person, the optimal carbohydrate intake depends on age, gender, activity level, personal preference, eating habits, and current metabolic level.
People who exercise regularly can consume more carbohydrates than sedentary people. Especially, people who do long-distance running and high-intensity exercises such as weightlifting.
Metabolic health is also an important factor. People with metabolic syndrome are generally overweight, obese, or suffering from type 2 diabetes. These people need to control carbohydrate intake more strictly to achieve their goal of controlling blood sugar and insulin.
Let’s take a closer look at the effect of different ranges of carbohydrate intake on body weight.
(Note: This section only talks about carbohydrate, not protein, fat or other nutrients.)
1. 100-150 grams per day:
This is a moderate carb intake.
Generally speaking, it is more suitable for people who exercise regularly and have a lot of activity or people who want to maintain good health and maintain a normal weight.
For people who are not active, it may be more difficult to lose weight by eating this many carbs every day, unless you strictly control calories and the amount of food intake. You should also appropriately increase the amount of exercise you do.
Here are some carbs you can eat:
- all vegetables
- a small amount of fruits and nuts
- moderate amounts of healthy starch, such as potatoes or sweet potatoes
- healthy grains, such as oats and quinoa
2. 50-100 grams per day:
If you don’t want to give up the carbohydrates in your diet, but you also want to lose weight, then this range may be more suitable for you.
You are unlikely to see significant weight loss in the short term. However, in the long run, you will have good results regardless of your weight or overall health.
Carbs you can eat:
- lots of vegetables
- a small amount of fruits and nuts
- a small amount of starchy foods
3. 20-50 grams per day:
This is when the metabolism begins to change.
If you need to lose weight fast or want to correct a problem with your metabolic level, strict control of carbohydrate intake will allow you to achieve your goals in a short time.
By eating less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body will enter a nutritional ketogenic state. The liver will produce ketone bodies to provide energy for the brain and various organs of your body. Meanwhile, your appetite will be greatly reduced and the fat burning will begin.
Carbs you can eat:
- low-carb vegetables
- some low-carb fruits and nuts such as berries, avocado, and pecan
- seeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds
At this stage, carbohydrates are mainly from vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), low-carb fruits and seeds.
Avoid other sources of carbs, including root vegetables with high starch content, such as potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. Grains such as oats, quinoa and corn should also be avoided.
Carbohydrates are one of the important sources of body energy. However, consuming too many carbs is a big factor that leads to weight gain.
How many carbs you should eat to lose weight depends on your goals and is affected by many factors, such as age, gender, physical activity, and metabolism.
The fewer carbs you eat the quicker your body weight reduces.
Before starting a low carb diet, be aware that each individual is unique. What works for others may not work for you. It’s important to do some self-experimentation to find out which carb intake amount suits you.
In addition, if you have health problems or are taking certain medications, it is best to consult your doctor before making any dietary changes. Whether it is a ketogenic diet or a mild low-carb diet, you may eventually reduce your need for medication.