Low Carb Diets for Weight Loss—A Healthy Choice?

If you’ve ever gone on an eating plan to lose weight, you’ve probably heard about low carb diets. A low carb diet for weight loss works by limiting the amount of carbohydrates you eat.

Here’s an overview of low carb diets so you can decide whether you should consider a low carb diet for weight loss:

What is a low carb diet?

A low carb diet is an eating plan that limits carbohydrates (carbs). Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. There are different types of low carb diets, some of which restrict more carbs than others. The keto diet, which lowers daily carbohydrates to no more than 5 percent of calories, is the most extreme.

There are four categories of carbohydrates:

  • Simple natural: Fruit and milk
  • Simple refined: Table sugar
  • Complex natural (good carbs): Whole grains and beans
  • Complex refined: White flour

When you eat a carbohydrate, your body breaks it down into glucose, which is then released into your blood (blood sugar). If there’s extra glucose, it gets stored in your liver and muscles or converted into body fat. The science behind low carb diets is this: our bodies use carbohydrates as a source of energy, so when we take that source away, we burn stored fat.1

Also, because low carb diets for weight loss cut out a whole category of foods we are used to eating, people inadvertently reduce calories when they follow a low carb eating plan. And because foods high in protein tend to be satiating, they make you feel full longer and suppress appetite. 2

The staples of a low carb diet are proteins (meat, poultry, fish, and eggs) and non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. Most low carb diets limit even healthy carbs, such as fruits, grains, starchy vegetables, and nuts and seeds. The daily limit for healthy carbs in a low carb diet is usually between 0.7 and 2 ounces. This translates to less than 26 percent of calories from carbs for most low carb diets.3 Compare this to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which says good carbs should make up 45 to 65 percent of your calories per day. 4

What are the benefits of a low carb diets for weight loss?

The most obvious benefit of low carb diets is that most people who follow them tend to drop pounds fast. And recent studies show low carb diets may also lower blood sugar in people with pre-diabetes, reducing their chances of developing full blown diabetes down the road.5 There’s also evidence that low carb diets help lower triglycerides.6

What are the risks of a low carb diet?

Although low carb diets can help you drop pounds quickly, because they are so restrictive, they can be difficult to stick to. Here are some of the other drawbacks:

  • Carbs give us energy, so when you cut them, you can feel sluggish.
  • A lot of the good carbs eliminated with a low carb diet provide the vitamins and minerals we need for good health
  • Cutting healthy carbs like whole grains can mean decreasing fiber intake, which can lead to constipation
  • Low carb diets lead to side effects, such as muscle cramps and headaches
  • Foods high in protein also tend to come with saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease down the road 7
  • One study showed that people who ate 40 percent or less of their calories from carbs had a higher risk of dying than people who kept their carb intake at 50 to 55 percent. 8

For a woman who wants to lose weight quickly, low carb diets can be tempting. The best thing you can do to lose weight is follow a healthy eating plan that includes only good carbs for weight loss-fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Whenever possible, the carbs you eat should be complex and natural. Pasta should be whole wheat, bread should be whole grain, and protein should come from lean poultry or fish.

As with so many areas of health, the key word when it comes to the best weight loss eating plan is moderation. Talk to your Curves Coach about the Curves Nutrition & Weight Management Program, as well as specific healthy eating tips for you. And always talk to your health care provider before you start any new healthy eating plan.

Designed for women, the Curves Nutrition & Weight Management Program offers a fully integrated and personalized weight loss and weight management solution that can help you lose weight safely and help build healthy eating and exercise habits for life. And for more information on low-carb diets and tips on how to live a healthy and happy life, be sure to check out the latest Curves Nourish articles.


  1. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? – Mayo Clinic
  2. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? – Mayo Clinic
  3. Low Carbohydrate Diet – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  4. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? – Mayo Clinic
  5. Low-carb diet helps cut blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes – Harvard Health
  6. Low-Carbohydrate Diets | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  7. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? – Mayo Clinic
  8. Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis – The Lancet Public Health
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