Do you have any Low Carb questions? Many people have the same low-carb questions and we answer the most common ones here. Let us know in the comments if you have a low carb question we didn’t answer.

What is a low-carb diet?
What foods do I need to eat and avoid?
Is your appetite out of control?
Do irregular blood sugar levels have you worried about insulin resistance?
Does low carb mean no carbs at all?

It can be overwhelming to undertake a low carb lifestyle. Where do you start?

If you have low-carb questions like these, you are not alone! Let’s explore some of the more common low-carb questions people have.

keto foods
Here is a list of the low carb questions we will answer.

You can click on any of them to go straight to that section.

Let’s start by breaking down some of the essentials.

bread varieties

What are Carbs?

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients (or macros). The other two are fat and protein. These nutrients form a large part of our diet and are all found in food. You can find out more about macronutrients here.

There are two types of carbohydrates to consider in this food group: Complex carbohydrates and refined, or simple carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are healthier – they are packed with nourishing vitamins, minerals, and fibre. These are found in foods like beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Refined carbohydrates are present in processed and packaged foods. For instance – soft drinks, fruit juices, bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and pasta. These foods should be avoided.

What is a Low Carb Diet?

A low-carb diet means eating no more than 100g of carbs per day. Current dietary guidelines based on the food pyramid recommend around 200-300g per day. This is too much for most people’s bodies to process. Therefore, we are seeing a rise in obesity numbers.

Some people will choose to lower their carb intake gradually down to less than 20g of carb per day. This is referred to as a ketogenic diet. If you reduce your carbs to this amount, it triggers the production of ketones, putting your body into ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel.

Is a Low Carb Diet Just a Fad?

No. Doctors have been prescribing low-carb diets as a treatment to manage obesity since the 1920s. THough, in the last few decades they have been the minority.

Now, there’s a growing body of evidence that has established that it is a safe and effective diet for managing many lifestyle-related diseases.

Are There Benefits to a Low Carb Diet?

The benefits are many and varied for your health.

Your body will always burn carbs before it starts burning fat.

When you lower your carb intake, fat becomes the body’s primary fuel source instead of carbs.

A diet high in processed foods including sweets, bread, pasta, and other starches all convert to glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Hunger and overeating are usually brought on by excess sugars in your body. Over time, this contributes to metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity.

What Foods Should I Eat on a Low Carb Diet?

One of the goals of a low-carb diet is to replace processed and refined carbs with whole foods. Try to consume food as close to its natural state as possible. Focus on eating meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, and non-starchy vegetables.

An easy way to remember this is to try not to consume anything with a barcode – packaged foods.

This can be difficult as so many of the products in supermarkets are packaged. Stick to the outer rim of the supermarket where all the fresh produce is kept.

Bottom line: Avoid the middle aisles of the supermarket where all the highly processed foods are.

Are There Foods to Avoid?

Grains and sugar are the main sources of carbs that are consumed these days. Starchy veggies like corn and root vegetables such as potatoes are also high in carbs. Therefore, we do not include them as part of a low-carb diet along with many high fructose fruits.

Pulses and legumes are also high in carbs. They may be included in a moderately low-carb diet.

sugar cubes

Don’t Carbs Fuel Our Body with Energy?

Eating carbs for fuel is like drinking caffeine for energy. There are always other sources of energy, like fats or proteins. Carbs cause a fluctuation in blood sugar levels that can ultimately cause strong cravings for more carbs. Your body and brain can run on healthy fats too.

Will I Feel Hungry Eating Low Carb?

One of the most common low carb questions! The good news – No, you won’t!

Low carb diets include a moderate intake of protein and a higher intake of healthy fat. If you’re still hungry, increase your fat intake. This can be as simple as cooking in butter or coconut oil instead of highly processed vegetable, sunflower, or canola oil. Learn more about the dangers of vegetable oils.

avocado

How Many Carbs Can I Eat?

Honestly, not much if you want to keep your health and weight at optimum levels.

Here are some ways to categorise low carb diets:

  • Ketogenic low carb <20 grams carbs per day.
  • Moderate low carb 20-50 grams of carbs per day. You will get 4-10 percent of your energy from carbs.
  • Liberal low carb 50-100 grams of carbs per day. You will get 10-20 percent of your energy from carbs.

Is a Low Carb Diet Hard to Maintain?

Not if you portion your plate correctly.

When you cut carbs and increase your healthy fat intake you’ll notice you are less hungry. This is because fat is the more calorically dense per gram.

It takes a very small amount of high-fat foods to achieve fullness. Especially if you compare it to carbohydrates which tend to promote hunger, prompting you to search for more food. Go here for more info on portion control.

Why Should I Eat More Protein and Fat?

This is a common low-carb question. When you reduce your carbs, you need to eat more protein and fat.

Protein takes 3 to 4 hours to affect blood sugar levels. When digested, foods that are mostly protein won’t cause as much of a rise in blood sugar as carbs. Adding fat to your diet helps you feel more full – you’re less likely to overeat other macronutrients that way.

Can I Drink Alcohol?

Yes, you can. However, be aware that alcohol will slow down your weight loss. It undermines your health gains because your body metabolises alcohol before fat.

If you are going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Choose clear spirits mixed with soda water rather than brown spirits mixed with soft drinks. Check out our full visual guide to alcohol.

If you drink wine, opt for drier reds as these are low carb. Steer clear of white wine, champagne, and dessert wines which are higher in sugar.

Beer is very high in carbs because it’s made from grains. Beer should be avoided when living a low-carb lifestyle.

Bottom line: Don’t drink your carbs

low carb questions - does alcohol contain carbs

Can I Eat Fruit?

Yes. Berries, like raspberries, blackberries and blueberries can be eaten in small amounts on a low-carb diet. 

Most fruits contain quite a lot of carbs and should be avoided or restricted on a low carb diet. Tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and pineapples are very high in carbs, so too are grapes.

Read more in our very popular visual guide to carbs in fruit.

Bottom line: The sweeter or larger the fruit, the more sugar it contains.

Will it be Expensive to Eat Low Carb?

This is a common low-carb question. Don’t ask why whole foods are so expensive. Ask why processed and packaged foods are so cheap?

Some low-carb foods are more expensive, and that leads people to the belief that a low carb lifestyle has to be expensive. This isn’t true. You don’t need to buy expensive ingredients.

Planning your meals and shopping for specific ingredients is a great way to save money. Make sure you buy only what you need, after assessing what is already in your pantry and fridge.

Keep costs down and buy in bulk and batch prepare meals for the week and utilise your freezer.

Tip: try to buy produce that is in season. Prices increase on foods that need to be grown out of their natural growing season. It’s a luxury these days to have all fruit and veg available all year round.

Will I Get Cravings?

Potentially. Every body responds differently when making a major change to their eating habits. If you have a diet high in processed foods there will be an adjustment.

When you start a low-carb diet, your blood sugar levels have not yet stabilised. Cravings during this time are normal. After the first two weeks, your body will be burning fat for energy instead of carbs. Burning fat steadily eliminates the spikes and crashes in your blood sugar, and keeps your hunger at bay.

What is the Keto Flu?

You may feel tired and lacking energy, maybe even headaches. This is your body having a withdrawal effect. It is often referred to as Keto flu. It’s not really the flu though. It’s when your fluids and electrolytes have dropped. This effect shows you what a powerful effect sugar and carbs are having on you. You’re essentially giving up an addiction to processed foods.

The feeling of lethargy will pass, keep your electrolytes and fluids up. For most people, junk food is their biggest source of salt and electrolytes for the day. When you eliminate the junk from your diet, your salt levels drop and that is what gives you headaches. Add more salt to your meals and drink lots of water.

How Long Before I See Results?

Studies have shown that a low-carb lifestyle is more effective than other ways of eating. Making it easier to lose weight without hunger, and without having to count calories.

Hunger is the number one reason people fail to stick to their diets.

Your results will depend on consistency, it is important to view this as a lifestyle change and not just a temporary solution or diet.

If I Do More Exercise, Will it Help Burn the Extra Carbs I Eat?

Exercise helps you burn additional calories while improving your mobility, strength, and overall well-being. It’s also great for boosting serotonin levels in your brain.

Diet does 80% of the heavy lifting in your health. You can’t expect to be able to eat processed foods and then try and burn it off in the gym. Skinny people can be unhealthy. It’s called TOFI – thin on the outside, fat on the inside.

Bottom line: You cannot outrun a bad diet.

I am Vegetarian or Vegan. Will this Make it More Difficult? 

Potentially. With the right approach and planning, you can adhere to a vegetarian diet. For vegans, a low-carb diet will be more difficult as they exclude all animal products, including dairy and eggs.

Well-planned vegetarian diets based on nutritious whole foods can provide adequate protein and fat, along with the vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Here’s some more info on being a low-carb vegetarian.

It Feels Like Carbs are Everywhere. How Will I Be Able to Keep Track of What I Eat or Drink?

You can find how many carbs foods have by reading food labels. For food that is not labelled, such as a piece of fruit, there are apps and other tools available to help you calculate the carb content. Does Eating Gluten-Free Foods Help?

Gluten is a protein found in grains, it is not a carbohydrate. Going gluten-free is not the same as going low carb. Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, pasta, cereals, and processed foods usually contain gluten. Therefore, when you eliminate these foods your diet will be low in gluten.

Do Condiments Contain Carbs?

low carb questions - do condiments contain carbs

Unfortunately, yes, many condiments and sauces contain some sort of carbohydrate, usually sugar.

When starting a low carb diet, get into the habit of reading food labels. Many of your regular condiments contain sugar and carbs that should be avoided on a low carb diet. Did you know ketchup, for example is 50% sugar! You can learn how to read food labels here.

Try adding olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or avocado oil to low-carb foods. They will add healthy fat to your meals. Or try making your own sauces and dressings. It’s easier than you think and it avoids all the additives and preservatives too.

We hope this has helped answer some of your low-carb questions. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, post a comment below and we’ll add the question to the list.

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