If you want to lose weight, doing low carb and counting carbs is a great strategy. It is healthy, without hunger and demonstrably more efficient than counting calories to lose weight.
In the traditional calorie restriction model, calories from all foods and drinks are controlled.
As fat is more caloric than protein and carbohydrate, it ends up being the biggest target of cuts when the goal is to lose weight.
But in the low carb view, only carbohydrates are controlled and we look at the total carbohydrates in grams, not in calories.
And why do we look only at carbohydrates?
Because unlike fat and protein, carbohydrates turn into blood sugar and when consumed in excess they make you fat and feel more hungry.
What amount of carbohydrates per day is ideal for weight loss?
First an important reference: a conventional diet, with bread, rice, beans, pasta, sandwiches and snacks, biscuits and yogurt has between 300 and 400 grams of carbohydrate per day.
Even if the person does not overeat and everything has a healthy appearance.
There is no set amount limit to be low carb, but depending on the person’s goal and compared to the carbohydrates of the conventional diet … anything under 150 grams can be considered low carb.
Although when you lower your carbohydrate consumption a lot, in the range of 20 grams of liquid carbohydrates per day, your body enters a optimized state of fat burning, what you eat and what’s left in your little body.
The name of this state is cetose and you can better understand how it works on here.
One detail: note that I said “liquid carbohydrates”, which are the total carbohydrates minus the amount in grams of fiber, since the fibers are carbohydrates but do not impact the blood sugar level, so they are not counted.
Liquid carbohydrates will not appear on food labels, but total carbohydrates and fiber will. With that, you can subtract the fibers from the carbs and get the result quite easily. See the example below:
If you have enough to lose (more than 10 kilos), it will be very interesting to start at that level of 20 grams of net carbs per day, because you will experience the main effects of the low carb diet on the body: quick weight loss and less hunger.
It is very important to remember that ketosis is not mandatory and you can lose a lot of weight without being in ketosis. If you eat freely of low carb foods without worrying about bills, you will be between 25-45 grams of carbohydrates per day, which in real low carb food is quite a lot.
Worrying too much about whether or not you’re in ketosis can be a shot in the foot, because whatever you eat out discourages you and you may end up abandoning everything.
In my weight loss process, I simplified where possible, because I am like this in life. Without measuring anything, just eating from low carb foods and resuming at the next meal when he escaped the scheme.
- 20 grams of liquid carbs per day for quick weight loss and without hunger – more control needed
- 25-40 grams of liquid carbs slimming without haste and without much control
The numbers are just references and averages to help you get situated.
The outcome of each person will depend on several factors and does not need to be exactly on those values.
The secret is to experiment and monitor the result. Start at 20 grams for 2 or 3 weeks and you will get results, from there you will be feeling and adapting.
Like so many other things in life, it’s trying, evaluating, seeing what works and trying.
Need to count carbohydrates to lose weight?
No, if you have a list that gives you a north of what foods are low carb and go testing low carb ingredients, you should start reaping results.
But for those who are just starting out and want to better understand how low carb works it is very useful to count carbohydrates, at least in the first few weeks.
The main reason for doing this is to better understand the impact of certain foods on your diet from the point of view of the amount of carbohydrates: what has more, what has less, compare options …
Do I need to count calories, protein and fat?
Calories do not need to be counted. When you count carbohydrates and respect your appetite, the calories naturally drop.
too there is no need to count the amount of protein and fat to lose weight.
A lot of people out there will want to make you believe that you need to count everything, know how much you eat of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats. You may even see this in the beginning to understand it better, but in the long run controlling everything we eat has little chance of working.
It makes a lot more sense to understand which foods make you fat and which do not, and make the same choices consistently.
What can you eat in the low carb diet?
Imagine that carbohydrates are money. Just as someone who wants to save needs to restrict spending, weight is the same.
If you want to lose weight fast and without hunger and have established a budget of 20 grams of carbohydrate per day, you need to be very aware of where you are “investing” your quota.
So there is no “can and cannot”, a person who wants to lose weight needs to understand what has more and what has less carbs, compare with the daily quota that he established for the weight he wants to lose and from there decide for himself what can and cannot.
How to know if a food is low carb?
Can tapioca? Can banana? Can quinoa? You can answer these questions for yourself if you know where to find the answers, then compare it with the daily quota you set and see if it pays off.
Here’s where you can search if a food is low carb or not:
If you type the name of the food followed by “nutritional information” in the Google search, you will see that in the search, without having to click on anything, a very complete card with the information already appears.
This table was made by researchers from UNICAMP and I think it is absolutely incredible!
It is a super thorough and judicious study on foods sold throughout Brazil, which brings in addition to carbohydrates and fibers a huge variety of information about foods.
I love this table because it has a lot of fruits and vegetables from different regions of Brazil and the methods they use to evaluate the composition of the food are super interesting (if you like to go deeper, you will love the explanation of the methodology in the details before table).
The only thing is that the references are all in 100 grams, it is not possible to change the references to the quantities that you consume.
Don’t get too attached to the numbers that appear in your searches or on labels. It’s cool to research, but there’s a lot of divergent and even wrong information out there… So it’s essential to create autonomy and always bet on real food, without labels!
Is there an app for counting carbs?
Counting carbohydrates from your food with an app may not work in the long run because it’s not practical, but doing this in the beginning is a shortcut for you to understand faster how does it work.
There are several applications that do this count, I use and recommend the same since I started low carb several years ago, which is the FatSecret (there are others, which I will not quote because I never used it).
FatSecret is free and can be used in the browser or as an app downloaded from the app store on the platform you use.
You can use FatSecret to research foods and understand what is low carb and what is not, or you can use it to control your entire diet, such as a food diary.
This will help you stay on the carbo quotas you have set for the weight you want to lose.
I said before that I like to see the numbers to motivate me in the process … But I also need it to be simple to play on a daily basis.
So when I started I decided not to count the foods that can be eaten at will, like olive oil, eggs and meat. It takes a lot less work!
The only thing is that if you don’t put everything you eat the information on the percentage of macronutrients that FatSecret shows in a graph is meaningless, but as I said before:
Just keeping an eye on the daily amount of liquid carbohydrates is enough to achieve results.
Even though I have not counted carbs for a long time, FatSecret is still useful, to search for some food and to record how much I am weighing, so I have a history of my weight in the cloud, without risk of losing a file.
People are different… Some people work better by taking notes and getting along with apps… And other people think it’s better to keep things simpler.
Try using the app and if there is a lot of information, just search for foods that are low carb, make recipes and keep repeating.
Before obesity was rare and there was no carbo meter or even a nutritionist … So you can but you don’t need to master all the numbers to have a result.
And for you, controlling everything works out or better let it happen naturally just by focusing on choosing the right foods?