How Low is Keto, Really?
On a keto diet, how many carbs can you eat? The answer varies a bit depending on you as an individual and your goals.
In general: the fewer the carbs the bigger the impact. Weight loss will be faster; cravings reduced; hunger lessened. If you have type 2 diabetes, the fewer carbs you eat, the faster your blood glucose and insulin resistance will improve. Some, however, find a very low carb diet too restrictive and challenging.
The images, below, show varying levels of carbs on a plate with a similar meal of steak, vegetables and salad with medallions of herb butter.
The plate on the left would be ketogenic for most people. The other two, while very healthy, would not likely be ketogenic, but could still contribute to gradual weight loss and improved blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.
We define low carb is anything under 100 grams per day. Note that most Western diets have at least 250 grams of carbs per day.
Fiber and net carbs
Carb counts are the amount of digestible carbs, not counting the fibre. Fibre is subtracted from carb counts. You can eat all the fibre you want from keto vegetables, for example.
Digestible carbs are also sometimes called “net carbs” but be very careful of this term on labels of low carb products, processed foods, protein bars and energy/chocolate bars. Manufacturers often use “net carbs” as a way to disguise sugar alcohols that slow weight loss and impact blood sugar. In fact, try to avoid any processed product that list “net carbs” on a label.
The most effective keto diet — and the healthiest — is based on real food.
What carb level to choose?
Do you need to stick to a keto diet, consuming under 20 grams of carbs a day? Or would you have good results with a moderate low carb diet, consuming 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day?
People with a lot of weight to lose, type 2 diabetes, or sugar and/or food addiction, will likely find that they get their best results on a keto diet, keeping carbs very low. To start, however, they may experience keto side effects, like the keto flu, until they are adapted to burning more fat.
People who want to lose pounds but still have good insulin sensitivity, have less weight to lose, or still have good blood sugar levels can often do very well on a moderate or even liberal low carb diet. They are unlikely to experience any side effects. Lean, active, and healthy individuals can also do very well on liberal low carb.
At The Palto, we suggest a strict keto diet. This will give you the best idea of whether you like how you feel, how it impacts you and what sort of results you get. Then, as you achieve your health and weight goals, you can decide whether to add more natural carbs back into your diet to a level where you feel your best and can maintain your health goals.