Low-carb diet: see how to do it, benefits, menu and more

Slender bodies on Instagram, pictures of famous people with “ideal measures”, bodies accepted by society. When asked what the secret is, everyone says about the low-carb diet . Here you will understand exactly how it works.

Although many people think that this diet is recent, simply because everyone now talks about it, the low-carb diet has existed since the middle of the 19th century and is a technique used for a long time as a strategy to treat obesity .


What is Low-Carb Diet ?

There is no exact consensus on what the low-carb diet would be , but it is characterized by avoiding the ingestion of carbohydrates , such as grains – even whole grains -, pasta, breads and cakes, and replacing them with fibers and fats.

The protagonist of this diet is vegetables, which make up 70% of the food base. The rest is completed with foods such as meat, eggs and cheese.

It is worth remembering that carbohydrates are the main substance to be converted into an energy source, the famous Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is the “gasoline” for the body to perform different activities, both internal and external.

With the decrease in carbohydrate intake, the tendency is for the body to start using its own body fat as an energy source to carry out daily tasks.

In addition, the balance between the consumption of proteins and fats can promote a decrease in appetite, because the insulin level is maintained.

As the diet takes away one of the pillars of the diet, carbohydrates, it should only be done for a specific period of time or until a certain goal is reached.

After that time, the carbohydrates should be gradually reintroduced into the routine – of course, you don’t have to eat the same amount as before. Both the entrance and the exit of the diet, as well as its duration, must be guided and accompanied by a nutritionist.

Can everyone do it?

The diet should not be done by anyone. It is indicated for individuals who need to lose weight or those with diseases such as diabetes , steatosis (fat in the liver), metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance.

Who can’t follow it?

People who suffer from kidney, heart or liver problems or even diabetes should not adhere to the diet. In addition, people who practice physical activities, regularly or athletes, should consult their nutritionist before starting it.

Can pregnant women do?

There are studies, from the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill (USA), that investigate the relationship between mothers ‘low carbohydrate intake and a deficiency in the formation of the fetus’ neural tube.

This is because folic acid is an extremely important nutrient for the development of the neural tube. The problem is that this compound is found in grains, wheat flour and corn, foods that are not allowed for low-carb dieters .

The strands of the diet

It is very wrong to think that there is only one type of diet.

Although every low-carb diet is characterized by decreasing carbohydrate intake, in order for fat to become an energy source, there are some variations and other guidelines. Thus, different aspects coexist. Get to know some of them now:

Atkins diet

Proposed by doctor Robert Atkins in the early 70s, it is the only one that has 4 major phases, with one element in common: restricting the amount of liquid carbohydrates per day.

The first phase begins with a major restriction in the amount of carbohydrates (maximum 22g), and at each stage this restriction is slightly less. The phases are divided into:

  1. Induction;
  2. Weight loss;
  3. Pre-maintenance;
  4. Maintenance.

Cetogenic diet

This diet was discovered by doctors who implanted a treatment in patients with epilepsy . Their diet was extremely restricted in carbohydrates.

After some time, in addition to the decrease in epilepsy symptoms, a reduction in body fat was also observed in these patients.

This is because the body seeks another source of energy and enters a state of ketosis . This state is characterized by the production of ketone bodies by the liver, which occurs in times of fasting or by the absence of carbohydrates in the body.

In this context, it is the one that least allows the intake of carbohydrates. Check the proportion:

  • 10% to 15% of carbohydrates;
  • 50% fat;
  • 30% protein.

Paleolithic diet

The name of the diet itself gives us a hint of its principles. It consists of replicating a diet inspired by the Paleolithic period, so it focuses on the consumption of natural foods and also on the way our body evolves to digest food.

Despite the approximation, this diet is just an inspiration, so you will not need to eat eggs and raw meats, for example, but rather reduce the consumption of processed foods and refined sugar.

This diet also has several aspects, which differ in the permissiveness of what can or cannot be ingested.


Presented in the book “4 hours a week” by Timothy Ferriss, the diet is suitable for those people who do not want to worry about too many rules.

The recommendations of this diet are 2 in general:

  • Avoid consuming foods with a high glycemic index, such as: fruits, pasta and liquid carbohydrates;
  • Have a trash day to eat whatever you want (once a week).

However foods with a low glycemic index ( beans , lentils, etc.) are allowed, hence the name “ Slow ”, which in English means slow or slow.

What is liquid carbohydrate?

Before you know what they really are, it is important to keep in mind that liquid carbohydrates are not a consensus among experts. Nor about whether they should be the parameter measure in the diets, or even if they really exist.

In general, liquid carbohydrates are those that are actually digested by your body and therefore are also known as “digestible carbohydrates”.

This division occurs because not all carbohydrates can be digested by our body. This is because, when we eat carbohydrates, there is a synthesis that divides it into individual units of sugar. The breakdown is only possible because, in the intestine, there are enzymes capable of promoting synthesis.

When the carbohydrate becomes a sugar, the body uses it as an energy source. However, not all carbohydrates can be broken down and therefore do not become individual sugars.

Others are only partially absorbed, which is the case with sugar alcohols and fibers. Thus, carbohydrates that contain one or the other, are not considered liquid carbohydrates.

That’s why, when calculating the amount of carbohydrates, there is a little form that can help you a lot. Look here:

Liquid carbohydrates = total carbohydrates – sugar alcohols – fibers.

Do I need to choose a strand?

Despite the different aspects, the variants have a common principle: decrease the amount of carbohydrates and make fat the main source of energy. Of course, each one has its peculiarity and this can make you have a greater sympathy for one or the other.

However, it is not necessary for you to stick to just one strand. You can be sympathetic to one, but incorporate some indication from the other.

At this point, it is worth the common sense not to extrapolate and focus on the goal that they all have in common.

Carbohydrate count in the Low-Carb diet

There is yet another variation with regard to the amount of carbohydrates consumed within the diet.

In order for you to make these counts it is important to be well disciplined and remember to look at the nutritional information of all the foods you eat throughout the day. In this context, there are 4 major groups:

Very low-carb

In this model, the consumption of carbohydrates is very low, being around 20 to 30 grams daily. This makes it easier to reach the state of ketosis, as explained earlier.

This practice is usually recommended for people who need to lose a lot of weight or have disorders with insulin.


For low-carb practitioners , the recommendation is to consume between 50 and 100 grams per day. It also brings great results with regard to loss of body fat. So it is considered one of the easiest.


This would be the methodology adopted for practitioners of the Slow Carb strands , which, although being a little more tolerant with the amount of carbohydrate consumption, is far below the Western “standard” of intake.

SAD (Standard American Diet)

This diet is the one that most of us practice. The pattern is presented to us even in childhood and is how we get used to it, thinking it is the best diet to be followed.

In it, carbohydrates make up about 60% of all the calories we consume on a daily basis, that is, approximately 300 grams, per day.

Speculation vs. Science

Like everything that is very successful in a seemingly sudden way, the low-carb diet also divides opinions between favorable and contrary. Many condemn it because reducing the consumption of carbohydrates implies increasing the intake of fats. Why is this a problem?

It is not necessarily a problem, but before the popularization of the low-carb diet, the best known diets were those that cut the fat from the individual’s diet ( low-fat ), in addition to restricting the amount of daily calories that could be consumed.

However, since the results of several scientific studies came out, one side is gaining more and more followers.

The study basically consists of taking a group of people with diseases such as diabetes or obesity and dividing them into 2, so that some would have to follow the low-carb diet and the rest follow the low-fat diet .

Between 3 and 6 months of experiment, it is already possible to notice the first results, which point out that the group of people who practiced the low-carb diet not only lost much more weight, but also improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose.

How does the Low-Carb diet help you lose weight?

By cutting out carbohydrates from meals and increasing the consumption of fats and proteins, people are left feeling full longer and therefore taking longer to eat.

Thus, in addition to not having a restriction in the amount of calories per day, lose weight without having to go hungry, as often happens with those who choose low-fat .

The benefits

In addition to helping with weight loss, the low-carb diet has a number of other benefits, which have also made it so popular. Meet some of them:


One of the biggest barriers that people face when starting a diet is because they often feel hungry. However, in low-carb , this does not occur.

When changing the basis of food for proteins and fats, people end up consuming a lower amount of calories on a daily basis. This is because these types of foods generate a greater feeling of satiety.

That is, you eat fewer calories during the day and still you will not sleep with that feeling of hunger.

Lowers the level of triglycerides in the blood

As triglycerides are fat molecules, their excessive presence in the blood is quite worrying, since it can be an indicator of greater risk in the development of heart disease.

Several studies point out that by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate in meals, triglyceride levels also drop significantly in the blood.

Increases HDL (good cholesterol) levels

As the good cholesterol in our body is fed by fat, nothing better than practicing a diet that promotes the consumption of fats, right?

In addition, triglycerides and HDL establish a strong relationship with regard to indicating a greater or lesser probability of the person developing heart disease. The two indices are inversely proportional. Want an example? I already explain:

If triglyceride levels are low and HDL levels are high, this ratio indicates a much less chance that heart disease may develop.

Drop in blood glucose and insulin levels

As explained above, carbohydrates are transformed into individual units of sugar. When this sugar reaches our bloodstream, it increases the rate of glucose.

However, the blood does not support that it has a very high rate of glycemia, there comes the role of the famous insulin, a hormone that is able to regulate the blood glucose index.

However, if the carbohydrate intake is decreased, there will not be as much glucose in the blood and, therefore, there will be no need for insulin to regulate this index.

Therefore, the Low-carb diet is a great option for people with type 2 diabetes, which are usually caused by insulin resistance. Thus, the body has glucose, but does not produce enough insulin to normalize its indexes.

Reduces blood pressure

It may not be such an important factor for young people, but very high blood pressure can be associated with several cardiovascular diseases.

Several studies show a relationship between decreased carbohydrate consumption and reduced blood pressure.

Risks of the Low-Carb Diet

The sudden reduction in carbohydrates can cause some serious health problems, such as:

Decreased basal metabolism

In the future, there may be greater difficulty in losing weight. When this occurs, the body passes the amino acids present in the muscles as secondary sources of energy.

Excess protein consumption

As the recommendation is for carbohydrates to be cut, proteins become the protagonist of the diet. However, excess protein intake is associated with an increased risk of cancer , osteoporosis and diabetes.

Side Effects of Low-Carb

It’s not all flowers, is it? As you are cutting the bad at the root, that is, cutting the elements that become a source of energy for your body, in the beginning, it is normal that you do not feel energized.

So, symptoms such as tiredness , laziness, sleep and weakness are normal, and should accompany you until your body gets used to it.

That is why, once again, it is essential to follow up with a nutritionist who will be able to guide you on how to reduce these symptoms.

Where to start a diet ow-carb ?

If you were interested in starting to practice this diet, but are lost in what the first steps are, just read on to find out:

Amount of daily carbohydrate

The first step in starting a low-carb diet is to know how many grams of carbohydrate you can consume per day.

The determination of the ideal amount that should be ingested, can only be stipulated by a nutritionist. But here are some possibilities, for you to get used to it:

100-150 grams / day

Although it is still a high rate and is not considered a true low-carb , this amount is ideal for active people, who are already practicing physical exercises.

50-100 grams / day

If you are not very willing to kill yourself in the gym or practice other physical activities, this is the perfect amount. You will lose weight without having to work hard.

It is also perfect for those people who just want to maintain good weight.

20-50 grams / day

For people with diseases such as diabetes or obesity, this is the most appropriate amount. Anyone who wants to lose weight quickly should also follow these amounts.

Allowed foods

Many people have doubts about which foods can be part of dieters and which should be avoided. Check out a general listing here:

You can eat

All of the foods below can be eaten without restriction. If after the meal you are still hungry, you can repeat it without any problems. Just be careful not to exceed the maximum amount of carbohydrates per day.

  • Cow;
  • Pig;
  • Hen;
  • Fish and others.

All types of eggs are good, but the best is the free-range egg.

Vegetables and Vegetables
  • Spinach;
  • Broccoli and others.
Nuts and seeds
  • Almonds;
  • Chestnuts;
  • Nuts;
  • Pumpkin seed, sunflower and others.
Dairy products
  • Cheese;
  • Butter;
  • Milk cream;
  • Yogurt.
Fats and oils
  • Lard;
  • Coconut oil;
  • Olive oil;
  • Fish oil.
  • Café;
  • Tea;
  • Water;
  • Soda with sweetener.

Yes, but with reservations

If you don’t want to lose that much weight, your diet may have a little more carbohydrates, check out what they are:

  • Potato;
  • Sweet potato;
  • Beetroot;
  • Carrot and others.
Gluten free grains
  • Rice;
  • Oat;
  • Quinoa and others.
  • Lentil;
  • Bean.
  • Strawberry;
  • Avocado;
  • Peach;
  • Melon;
  • Coco.

That’s right, you didn’t read it wrong, you can eat, but preferably those with 70% more cocoa.


It can also be consumed, but avoid those that have too much sugar. A good option is Port Wine.


The following list points out all the foods that should be avoided to the extreme by practitioners of the low-carb diet . Find out, what foods you will have to say goodbye to:

Refined sugar
  • Soft drinks;
  • Juice from fruits not allowed;
  • Ice cream;
  • Candy;
  • Cakes;
  • Anything that contains refined sugar or corn glucose.
Grains with gluten
  • Wheat;
  • Rye;
  • Barley.
Trans fat

Foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat, such as margarine, should be cut.

Products light and ” low-fat “

Many light products have even greater amounts of carbohydrates than the “normal” ones, so avoid them.

Industrialized and processed foods

This category also tends to have a lot of carbs, so stay away.

Low-carb diet menu

Now you have all the necessary information to start your diet, right? Wrong, you still need to put together your menu.

To help you become a new low-carb dieter , here is a recipe suggestion for you to incorporate into your breakfast.

Oopsie Bread Recipe

Because it does not contain gluten and carbohydrates in its composition, Oopsie bread is a great option to replace traditional bread. Although they do not include wheat in his recipe and therefore are not considered breads, he became popular with the name oopsie bread because it looks similar to the others.


  • 3 Eggs (preferably organic);
  • 90 grams of cream cheese ;
  • 1 Coffee spoon of chemical yeast;
  • 1 Tartar cream coffee spoon (optional);
  • 1 puff of salt.

Preparation mode

  1. Separate the egg yolk from the egg whites and then beat the egg whites in snow with the pinch of salt, until they are very firm;
  2. In another container, mix the egg yolks with the cream cheese , until it incorporates. Then add the egg whites, wrapping in such a way that the mixture does not lose volume. Use a spatula or a fouet to assist in this process;
  3. Add the yeast and the cream of tartar, so that the bread becomes more consistent after it is baked;
  4. Place the dough on a baking sheet, previously greased with parchment paper;
  5. Place in a preheated oven at 160 ºC for 25-30 minutes, or until golden, and remove the paper as soon as it is baked.
    Tip: Before taking the mixture to bake, you can sprinkle savory or sweet ingredients, which are allowed by the diet. Just be careful that they are not too heavy so as not to sink the dough.

Now that you know almost everything about the low-carb diet, you only need one step to start following it: go to the doctor or nutritionist so that he can give you all the guidelines and assess whether the diet is right for you .

Oh, and it’s worth remembering that if you go on a diet just for aesthetic standards, it’s never a good thing. What has to be up to date, in the first place, is your health and also your self-esteem . If you don’t have a body that is printed on the media, but you feel good about it, everything is great!