Low Carb Frequently Asked Questions - What exactly is low carb please? Is there consensus on this?

02-04-2012, 02:02 PM
I thought that low carb was the same as a low gl diet which I've been doing for ages. But now I read that the 4 hour diet bans oats which have a low gl and I presume noodles as they are also white although they have a low gl.

So what do most people mean by low carb? Is porridge and sugar excluded from a low carb diet? If so why? Porridge is a meal that release energy slowly and does not cause a surge in insulin levels. (Low GL even with sugar) I thought the whole idea of avoiding high carb food was that it caused a surge in insulin levels and therefore weight gain. I thought that I was doing a low carb diet, now I have no idea what low carb means, how it is defined or why. Is fruit high carb? Is there any connection with gl levels?

Do various low carb diets agree with each other on what low carb is or isn't?

02-04-2012, 03:05 PM
Low GI and low carb are far from the same. Low Carb has lean meats, good fats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. No starchy carbs. You get the carbs your body needs from fruits, vegetables and dairy where they occur naturally.

02-04-2012, 03:37 PM
There are different types of low carb diets.
Carbohydrates, in non-scientific terms, are foods that contain either starch or sugars. So that would mean all grains, sweets, fruits and vegi's.
Some fruits and vegis have more carbs than others. Leafy greens, very few, potatoes, have more. Banannas are higher than berries. There are plenty of charts that give you the totals.

Most low carb diets eliminate grains and sugars. Some allow lower carb fruits and most allow low carb vegi's.

Some low carb diets allow beans and legumes, some don't.
Often specific low carb diets are designed with certain chemistry involved.

Personally, when I'm eating low carb, I eat all fruits (limiting bananas), all non-starchy vegi's and I eat lean proteins.

Just what I do.
There are tons of low carb options.

02-04-2012, 05:31 PM
Low really is in the eye of the beholder. How low is low? It's very much like asking "define low cost," everyone will have a different perspective on what dollar amount definies low cost for them.

There is no consensus among dietititians, or low-carbers (in fact many low-carbers seem to define low-carb as only carb levels at or below their own).

Low-GI plans and paleo diets like South Beach and Neanderthin, are rarely considered low-carb by their founders or followers, but many of the nutrition researchers and plan followers DO consider them low-carb, and you will find them discussed in books like Elizabeth Ward's, The Low Carb Bible.

That being said, in most low carb plans, grains and sugars (even from "good sources" like whole grains and fruits) are almost always avoided or severely limited, at least during the weight loss phase).

Personally, I follow a "low-carb" exchange plan. When I started looking for reduced-carb exchange plans (because I've been using exchange plans for so long, and I ALWAYS need a portion control element, I tend to translate any eating style I want to try into an exchange plan), I found that many of the sites which included lower-carb plans tried to skirt the controversy, by calling the plans "high protein" rather than "low-carb" (such as on frugalabundance.com. My plan started with their 1500 plan, but I've reduced my starch servings to two and added some optional protein and fat exchanges).

The truth though is that "low-carb" is just as accurate a description as "high protein." Arguing over definitions of low-carb and what foods can and can't be included in low-carb diets, is quite unproductive. But people like hard limits, and they want to argue over the sematics - which is fine, but you can't get lost in that battle.

The definitions aren't as important as your own body. Some people who are carb-sensitive can tolerate small amounts of grains and even sugar. To find out if you're one of them, you can only experiment.

I've had people tell me that I wasn't following low-carb because my plan had more than 40g of carbs (even though Atkins, definitely a low-carb plan, never sets an upward limit - and even allows food during maintenance and even weight loss that clearly would exceed that limit. Followers are advised to keep adding back carbs 5g at a time until the weight loss stops - and even whole grains are eventually added back in - IF the person can tolerate them without regaining weight).

Then again, I've also had people tell me that I'm not a calorie-counter, and I disagree with that too, because exchange plans are a form of calorie counting - the counting is just done by estimation. I say counting by 5's or 10's or 70's is still counting. Counting by groups, is still counting. And ALL calorie counting is counting by estimation.

Both a 1500 calorie exchange plan, and a 1500 calorie "straight calorie counting plan" will both average 1500 calories.

And restricting carbohydrates, by whatever method, and regardless of which foods are avoided and limited - stil results in better blood sugar control.

All the plans are slightly different, so you can't get too wrapped up in the specifics, or you'll drive yourself nutty. Either pick a plan and follow it, or decide on what YOU want to take away, experiment, and find what works for you - but don't worry about naming it.

02-18-2012, 03:02 PM
Thank you for responding. This was very informative.

Michelle Grey
02-18-2012, 03:56 PM
Hi! I just joined and have a couple of questions. I recently began eating a pseudo-primal diet and am having the so called carb flu. How long will I feel this crappy:(.
Second, can you recommend some sources, links etc. that tells what food are 'high carb'. I ate a baked apple with a tbs. Of cinnamon and honey about an hour ago. I feel much better?!

02-20-2012, 08:30 PM
It's different for everyone, some people have it for a day and I've heard of others having it for a week.

I believe apples are a generally higher carb fruit so that may be why you don't feel flu-ish anymore.

I use the fat secret app (and they have a website, just search it) and it lists the nutritional info for a ton of food, as well as breaks the carbs down into fibre and sugar.

Michelle Grey
02-21-2012, 06:02 AM
Thanks, Stepahnie! Have been using FitdayPal on my iPad. I can't wait to get your app... The fat secret, is it? Sounds like just what I was looking for. Thanks for the enouragement. Felt 90% better yesterday with regards to the carb-flu...looking forward to another great day( that is if I don't eat my DH's pancakes this morning:). Have a great day & keep up the awesome work! :carrot:

On a side note: I need some tech assist now to include my ticker
and weight recordings in my posts. Any suggestions:?:

02-21-2012, 10:14 AM
Hi! I just joined and have a couple of questions. I recently began eating a pseudo-primal diet and am having the so called carb flu. How long will I feel this crappy:(.
Second, can you recommend some sources, links etc. that tells what food are 'high carb'. I ate a baked apple with a tbs. Of cinnamon and honey about an hour ago. I feel much better?!

Some people never get over it. I'm one of them. The longest I ever stayed on induction-level carbs was six weeks, and I only kept feeling worse and worse and even passed out several times.

As a result (though it took decades), I learned that "carb flu" isn't necessarily "carb-withdrawal," it can also be low-blood sugar and/or hunger.

On very low-carb, I don't get "hungry" the way I do on high-carb. It's very difficult for me to recognize hunger (hubby does before I do, because my first symptom is irritability and if I get crabby, he asks when I last ate something). The irritability will progress to a mild headach, then rage and a severe headache, and then feeling about to vomit and then dizziness (and if I still don't eat I will feel like fainting and will actually faint).

If I get to the about-to-faint stage, I panic and will eat fruit or other quick-digesting carb because it will make me feel better FAST. If I catch it before feeling really sick, I don't have to eat carbs, but I do have to eat. A protein snack with fat works just as well as carbs, it just takes a bit longer for it to work. For me, if I'm on induction-level low-carb dieting, I have to eat more often (or much higher fat) than when I'm eating slightly higher carb.