Low-carb diets are effective because when you cut carbs, you cut calories. Moreover, the carbs that you cut out of your diet are often replaced by more filling foods—lean protein and vegetables and fiber-rich foods. The term low-carb can mean many different eating plans, including Atkins, keto, paleo, and some whole food approaches.
When eating low-carb, most people aim to keep carbs at less than 45% of their caloric intake. For specific low-carb diet plans, like Atkins, for example, the carb intake may be significantly lower than that. It's important to remember that vegetables and fruits contain carbs in some form, as do most dairy products. Even if you restrict your diet to meat and leafy greens, it is unlikely and unhealthy to cut out all carbohydrates completely.
For the optimal chance at success, you’ll want to aim for a low-carb diet that you can stick to without feeling completely deprived. No one wants to follow a meal plan that doesn’t include some kind of comfort food like pasta and rice (but don’t worry—we have a solution that will help you get all the comfort without the carbs).
It's also important to recognize that you'll need to look at labels and nutrition information when you curb your carbs. It may surprise you to discover that some vegetables like corn and potatoes, for example, are very high in carbohydrates. Starchy foods like rice, bread, pasta, and cereal are high in carbohydrates, as are processed foods like cookies, cakes, and pre-packaged frozen meals. Sauces and dressings may also contain high carbohydrates, so read everything and look for foods that feature fewer carbs.
So how do you know what to eat? Following a guideline like keto or paleo can help you learn which foods contain the correct ratio of carbs. While there aren't any "bad foods," some foods can quickly derail your diet and cause you to pack on extra weight. Keto, paleo, and other low-carb diets can help provide the parameters to stay on track.
Keto versus paleo—which diet is right for you? Here’s the breakdown to see which option seems to fit your lifestyle.