How to Calculate Carbs for a Low Carb Diet

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Determining the right amount of carbs to eat on a low carb diet is perhaps the most challenging part of the diet. Low carb diets work when your body goes into ketosis, a stage where you are burning fat instead of carbohydrates. To find success on a low carb diet, you need to determine exactly how many carbs you can eat and still lose weight. While this requires a bit of trial and error, once you figure out how many carbs you can eat and still lose weight, it becomes easier to follow the low carb diet.

Eliminate almost all carbohydrates for two weeks. While the different low carb diets recommend different carb levels for the initial stage of the diet, it's important to drop the amount of carbs that you eat to a very low level. This will undoubtedly put your body into ketosis. Eat meats, fats and low carb vegetables while avoiding high carb foods, such as breads, pastas, sweets and potatoes.

Test your urine for ketone level. You can find ketone strips in the diabetic section of your local drug store. You simply place the ketone strip in your urine flow. After 15 seconds, it will change color. You match the color of the strip to the guide on the bottle to see if your body is producing ketones. If it is, you are losing weight.

Increase the number of carbs you eat by 5 grams per day until your body goes out of ketosis. After the initial two weeks, you can start to reintroduce healthy carbs into your diet. The carbs that you eat should come from whole grains, vegetables or fruits. Continue to test your body for ketones every day and track the number of carbs that you are eating each day. As you eat more carbs, the color on the strip will change. When you get a negative result, you know you've eaten too many carbs.

Refer to the previous day's carb intake to find your "magic number." This is the number of carbs that you can eat and still lose weight.

Continue to eat at this level until you have lost all the weight that you want to lose. When following the diet, you are allowed to eat that number of carbs or less. Periodically use the ketone strips to be sure that your body is still in ketosis.

Tips & Warnings

  • After losing the weight, you can start to eat a few more healthy carbohydrates. However, if you start to see your weight creeping up, reduce the number of carbs that you are eating to get back to your ideal weight.

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