Reading Time: 4 minutes
Low-carb diets are trending in recent years, thanks to the ketogenic (“keto”) diet, though they have been popular for decades. Eating a low-carb diet may help you lose body fat more quickly than other diets, at least in the short term. There are a number of variations of the low carb diet, and the medical opinion on the different variations of a low-carb diet and the best diets for weight loss is mixed. Some popular low-carb diets include:
- Keto Diet — Very low carb, a high-fat diet designed to kick the body into a state of ketosis, in which fat is turned into ketones, which are used by the brain and body, rather than running on carbohydrates. The suggested carb intake on this diet is between 20-30 grams per day (and no more than 50). There is not a clear consensus on the safety of the keto diet, as adding high amounts of fat to your diet could compromise your cardiovascular health.
- Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF) Diet — Similar to a very low-carb diet, but is focused on unprocessed foods. The LCHF diet consists mostly of meat, fish and shellfish, eggs, veggies, dairy products, nuts, berries and healthy fats. The recommended carb intake on this diet ranges from 20-100 grams per day.
- Low-Carb Paleo Diet — Low-carb version of the popular paleo diet, which encourages eating foods that were available in the Paleolithic era. The paleo diet consists of unprocessed, whole foods in their most natural state. Although it is not low-carb by definition, the paleo diet can be modified to a low-carb diet by cutting out fruits and vegetables that contain more carbs and are higher on the glycemic index.
- Atkins Diet — Perhaps the most well-known low-carb diet, the Atkins diet has been popular for more than 40 years. The Atkins diet involves cutting back on high-carb foods and eating more protein and fat. There are three phases to the Atkins diet:
- Phase 1, Induction: Eat fewer than 20 grams of carbs per day for two weeks.
- Phase 2, Balancing: Slowly introduce more low-carb vegetables, fruit and nuts.
- Phase 3, Fine-Tuning: As you near your weight loss goal, slowly add carbs to slow weight loss.
- Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet — Another popular diet, the Mediterranean diet is based on traditional Mediterranean foods, emphasizing fatty fish over red meat and olive oil over other fats like butter. The low-carb Mediterranean diet also limits foods like whole grains, which are allowed on the standard Mediterranean diet. It is thought that this way of eating might be more effective at preventing heart disease than other low-carb diets, although more research is needed.
- Zero-Carb Diet — This diet involves the complete elimination of carbohydrates from the diet, including plant-based foods. People who eat this diet typically eat only animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs and animal fat. Although this diet is somewhat popular, there are no recent studies supporting it as safe and it is not generally recommended as a healthy form of weight loss. The zero-carb diet lacks important nutrients found in plant foods, such as vitamin C and fiber.