Limit Your Carbs and Lose Weight

Eggs and Bacon© Hemera /Thinkstock

Eric Westman, MD, who directs the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic in Durham, North Carolina, and who cowrote The New Atkins for a New You, has been studying low-carb diets for 12 years and believes they (and not low-fat ones) are the key to losing weight (a position that more and more evidence supports). His five guidelines:

1. Don’t Try to Limit Fat. “Eating high-fat foods keeps you from feeling deprived,” says Dr. Westman. Bacon, cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, butter, and oil are all healthy parts of a low-carb diet.

2. Say Goodbye to Pasta, Bread, and Rice. To lose weight, most people have to stay under 20 grams of “net” carbs per day (net carbs refers to the number of grams of carbs minus grams of fiber, because fiber doesn’t send blood sugar spiking). That rules out bread (two slices contain about 24 grams of net carbs), rice (over 40 grams in a cup), and pasta (about 40 grams per cup). Once you hit your goal, you can slowly add in more carbs that don’t have a big impact on blood sugar.

3. Be Picky About Vegetables. Starchy (carb-heavy) vegetables—most of the ones that grow underground, as well as corn—are off-limits. But you can have up to four cups daily of leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and collard greens. Limit broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, okra, and Brussels sprouts to two cups per day.

4. Say No to Hidden Sugars. Fruit, that legendarily healthful food, is packed with sugar, aka carbohydrates. So are fruit juices. Other concentrated sources include soda, cakes, and candy. You may be able to keep diet sodas, light beer, dry wine, and sugar-free sweets on the menu and still lose weight.

5. Eat as Much as You Want. When it comes to protein and fat, “you don’t have to use portion control,” says Dr. Westman. “Your hunger will go down automatically when you start eating this way—all you have to do is stop eating when you’re full.”

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31 thoughts on “Limit Your Carbs and Lose Weight

  1. I started at 207lbs and I’m now down to 189lbs. I simply cut out bread, pasta, and rice. I focus on eating more proteins and vegetables; I do include cheese in moderation. I drink water not soda, but I will occasionally have a diet tea. Look at labels and watch the carbs. I say no to candy, cake, or cookies. I limit myself to less than 50 carbs per day and I watch my salt intake. However, the real factor in my weight loss is will power and determination. I weigh myself every morning and set a goal of 10lbs per month. I haven’t made the monthly goal yet, but have been extremely close. My weight fluctuates daily, but I can’t get discouraged. I didn’t put the weight on overnight, so I can’t expect for it to come off overnight.

  2. I know this is from a whole year ago, but I just have to write that this little articles seems to have misquoted several key points. When starting a low carb diet, just the first couple weeks are limited to 20 net carbs and/or 50 total carbs (net carbs are total carbs minus fiber). A successful low carber does not wait until they reach their goal to reintroduce other foods back into their diet. Done properly, low carb is definitely doable as a lifetime eating plan. If you do it to lose weight and go right back to eating the unhealthy empty carbs that made you fat to begin with, you will regain it all. No, eating natural healthy saturated fats does NOT cause heart disease or any other ailments. Transfats do.

  3. What’s so new about this version of Atkins? Sounds the same to me. As someone who has done Atkins, and lost weight, I can say that I don’t think Atkins works for long term success. You will eventually start to miss carbs and dream of them in your sleep. This leads to carb binging, and then the gaining back of what you lost, and then some. Perfect example, Jessica Simpson, and myself.

  4. And for those 10% who can’t, this actually is an excellent diet!  You would be surprised how much delicious and healthy food you can eat at 20 grams of net carbs a day!  I have lost 15 pounds without feeling like I am trying, I no longer crave sweets, breads or pasta (which I used to be addicted to) and my chronic heartburn has disappeared.  Don’t knock it till you try it!

    1. You’re so right I just started my 20 carbs a day on Monday and it works, I used to wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn and since I’ve start I haven’t had heartburn.

  5. I hear that the more fat you consume on a low carb diet the quicker you get into ketosis and the faster the weight will start to melt off.

  6. Can I drink unlimited amounts of zero carb heavy cream during induction?  Thanks!

      1. I know, I never got the whole low-carb thing. Isn’t too much animal saturated fat really harmful to the arteries. And don’t excessive amounts of protein tax the kidneys. Sure, it may accelerate weight loss,  You can lose weight fast by getting cancer or laxatives, so I must be healthy if I have cancer or use laxatives. I honestly think that it’s better to be healthy than thin

    1. No….You still need to limit your calories to lose weight on any diet. Low-carb is not a magic pill. 

  7. I just started doing low carb and try to stay around 20, though sometimes I do go over.  I’ve lost about 7 pounds in 3 weeks and when I get closer to my ideal weight I’ll start adding back things like lentils and quinoa and a little brown rice so that I can make it a lifestyle rather than a diet.  The bonus so far is my blood pressure and glucose levels are down to around normal.

  8. There are groups of people in this world, Greenland Inuits that hardly eat any carbs only fish and they live longer than we do, then there are people in Siberia who eat nothing but raindeer meat, how much wheat, potatoes or veggies do you thing can grow in this region? Take a look at what people in the extreme northern hemisphere eat and you’ll be suprised at how little carbs, if any,  they eat. I had a genetic profile done on myself it came back stating that my profile is low carb, high protein based. Basically low carb diets are not unhealthy if done right.

    1. yes, but they also don’t eat cheese, heavy-cream, sour cream and so on and that’s what people here and everywhere else don’t seem to comprehend. You can’t use this argument to make your theory solid, it’s wrong. They will be the things that have a detrimental, possibly fatal effect on your heart in years to come when looking to shift weight for a quick fix instead of doing it the long – life-long – way will get your the same result and won’t  put  undue pressure and stress on your heart.

  9. I stay under 5 carbs..not talking netcarbs either..if package says carbs 1 or 2  like meats and cheses…swiss shows 0  turkey shows 0  egg 1 so on.  i just keep under 5 carbs with 1 vitaman and eat alot of no carbs.  I have lost 60 lbs in less then 2 months.  24 lbs first week.   I feel great and I know this is unhealthy but it is ultra fast way to lose weight and as i did switch to healthy eating then.  i tried athkins and net carb thing…to the letter.  but i didnt want wait 2 to 3 years to get in shape.  it was very very slow.  this what I done.  I am 175 used weight 243.  now eat 3 portions a day with right mix and use my exercise bike and never put on weight and even feel better.   my vote is to crunch obesity fast then switch to healthy diet…and how i said at top will do it. 

    1. I was wondering if you could give me a sample of what you eat in a day to do this??? I would very interested in trying this!!

      1.  JillC, I’m very interested in a sample day’s menu from Tallon2882 also.  Did you ever get an answer?

        1. For some reason, people are always looking for crazy, restrictive ways to lose weight. I didn’t know America was that fat. I was going to guess that Tallon was at least 300 lbs. Nope, only 243

    2. Tallon2882,
      Very impressive.  I am curious to know if now 10 months later you have been able to sustain this type of eating/diet and if you have kept the weight from coming back.  The most negative thing I hear about low carb diet like you are following is that if you fall back into eating carbs the weight comes back on very quickly

  10. I totally agree with you that this one is easy way of losing weight. The regarding information of this post really unveils the exotic information about how to lose weight. And the contents and features of this post really makes me crazy about it. I am really impressed to see this one. Thanks for sharing some mind blowing information about it.

  11. This is a terrible way to lose weight. Yes, eating loads of saturated fat will suppress your appetite, but so will smoking. That doesn’t make it healthy. 90% of people can lose weight by just eating fewer calories and going to the gym.

    1. Did you not read what this article had to say about exercising and calories? The low carb way of life is the way to go if you want to be/stay lean, have more energy, and be healthy.  Why be hungry if you don’t have to be?  This way of eating has helped me time and again when I have needed to get back on track and feel energized and remove excess weight. 

      1. And what do you think it’s done to your heart? It’s basic biology, it’s not a secret. 

        1. What skeptics don’t quite seem to process is that the fat is used as energy so it never really gets to the point of damaging anything, including your heart! The green, leafy vegetables is what boosts your heart health and contributes to excellent heart healthy nutrition! It’s a win win!

          1. Also fatty acid foods such as salmon also contribute to heart healthy nutrition which is very much allowed with a low carb diet!

      2. The fact that you had to do this diet, time and time again is a testament to its inability to provide long term success.

        1. You don’t stay on it forever! After you have reached your goal weight you can slowly incorporate healthy carbs, i.e., brown rice, quinoa, beans into your diet again so you are not deprived forever, it’s just until you reach your goal. If you consume these healthy carbs on a “modest” basis, you will stay are your healthy weight and yes, an occasional ice cream is allowed as well!

    2. Here is a simple statistic that I got from The Harvard School of Public Health that I hope will get people to realize that a low fat, high carb diet (particularly if it is based on processed foods – think Slim Fast microwave dinners – refined flour, high omega-6 vegetable oils, processed soy, and sugar) will kill you. But before it does it will make you suffer with heart disease, obesity and diabetes:

      “Well it’s time to end the low-fat myth. The low-fat approach to eating may have made a difference for the occasional individual, but as a nation it hasn’t helped us control weight or become healthier. In the 1960s, fats and oils supplied Americans with about 45 percent of calories; about 13 percent of adults were obese and under 1 percent had type 2 diabetes, a serious weight-related condition. Today, Americans take in less fat, getting about 33 percent of calories from fats and oils; yet 34 percent of adults are obese and 11 percent have diabetes, most with type 2 diabetes.”

      Now ask why that is? Why is it that in America that now we eat less fat (and animal protein in general) that heart disease rates have gone up nearly 300% and diabetes 1100% when we are supposedly eating healthier?

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