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Low carbers- what is your limit?

I just started a low(er) carb "diet". I have done South Beach before, but on South Beach they just encourage you to eat from the right categories and don't force you to count calories or carbs etc. I am still adhering to phase 1 South Beach foods, but I recently starting using an app that logs your daily food and tells you how many calories, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, and sugar you've had. It give me a goal of 1200 calories a day, 150 carbs, 50 grams of fat, and 65 for protein. I've been staying under the calorie count by 100 calories or so, and under the carb count (carbs have been under 65 each day). I have gone over the fat and protein count by about 10 points each day however. Can anyone with better information than me tell me if this is a whole lot? Is it bad, or is it within the boundaries of a lower carb/higher protein diet?

Also, what number do you keep your carb intake under? Most of my carbs come from beans, I think.

P.S. My goal is weight loss.

Edit: The downfall of this app is, it doesn't seem to account for fiber. So it only tells me total carb, not net carb.

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  1. I try to keep it at around 100 per day, 150 max. Net.
    I feel best at this level.
    I am not trying to lose weight though. Most of my carbs come from vegetable and low carb crackers. Little to none from sugar.
    When I go "off rail" on weekends, I do fasting for a day to clear out. Works for me to keep thin, have energy for fitness stuff and have good sustained daily energy.
    You have to let your body tell you what feels right. Labs from your doc will also let you know if your choices are good.

    18 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      Thanks for the input! I'm also told that initial sluggishness will dissipate once the body becomes accustomed to the lower carb diet (in a week or two).

      Honestly, the hardest part is going to be giving up my wine. (I tend to go overboard). I'm sticking to gin and diet soda if I go out haha.

      1. re: Meowzerz

        Virtually no carbs in dry red or white wines. Like 2 per serving. FYI. :)

        1. re: Meowzerz

          It may also take some extra salt and potassium, flushed away with the initial water whoosh. Makes you feel heavy headed, fatigued, etc. Morton Blended Lite salt is a great remedy.

          1. re: Meowzerz

            Red wine is recommended on low carb, dry red wine. 4 grams of carbs in 4 oz, I believe. But those grams lower post meal glucose release.

            1. re: Meowzerz

              Keeping some electrolyte water on hand can really help you get adjusted and get over the hump while your body is changing fuel sources. As mcf mentioned, its the salt and potassium you need.

            2. re: sedimental

              sedimental...I'm diabetic and need to limit my carb intake. You mentioned low carb crackers. Can you tell me what brands you eat? I didn't have any luck @ Trader Joe's or Costco sourcing them. Thanks!

              1. re: zackly

                I don't know what your limit is, but my favorite cracker is Dr. kracker, pumpkin cheddar. The cracker is *big*the size of a piece of bread, 11g carb for the whole thing ( you don't have to eat the whole thing, like me;) 4 fiber, 0 sugar, 5g protein, 100 calories, very filling and crunchy!

                I also eat Benito's. They are chips made from beans. I count them out, so I don't go over my personal limit. They have good numbers for me. The blue colored sea salt black beans are my favorites.

                My shopping guide for crackers and chips is that the max is that they be in the teens for carbs, they must have fiber and for at least 12 pieces for the serving, pref no sugars. Typically, I eat 6 chips with a dip and feel satisfied is why I look for 12 per serving, then I just divide in half for easy math :)

                1. re: sedimental

                  I recently heard something interesting about crackers. When the serving size is unrealistically small, the producer might be trying to hide something, like trans fats.

                  From NPR:
                  "The Food and Drug Administration allows foods to contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving and still be labeled as having zero grams of trans fat."

                  I realize this is a little out of context, here, but, I just thought I'd throw it out there.

                  I suppose most people in this forum are used to looking carefully at nutritional information, but, this is going to get me looking more closely.

                  1. re: johnseberg

                    This is true for a lot of things because of the way the FDA regulates nutrition facts and not necessarily new news. You have to look at the actual ingredients.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Yeah, the referenced NPR report is 5 years old. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts, recently - not sure where I heard it. News to me, though.

                      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                      1. re: johnseberg

                        Of course, I didn't mean to sound dismissive which I realized it might have come off as. It's true, it's amazing how much we have to do to make sure we're putting in our bodies what we want and don't want. We can't even read the summary label anymore...have to get down to the nitty gritty details. I always feel silly flipping over packages in the store but I have 3 key areas I look at and within 5 seconds I can usually decide whether a product is even an option.

                  2. re: sedimental

                    Thanks, I ordered both the Dr. Kracker, Pumpkin Cheddar and the Ryvita Rye & Oat Bran from Amazon yesterday.

                  3. re: zackly

                    I love the new Ryvita Crisp rye cracker. Has some added salt and a very delicate crisp, good flavor.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Not a real low carber here - I just can't / won't give up eating fruit - but I wanted to chime in o/b/o the Ryvita crispbreads. I like all the varieties I've tried. They average 40 calories with 6g carb / 2g fiber per piece, and are excellent with cheese or nut butter or when you just have a hankering for something crunchy and hearty.

                      1. re: cookie monster

                        I like Ryvita more than Wasa and other brands but for me, the new Crunch variety rye is the top of the line for texture and flavor.

                        1. re: mcf

                          Agreed - Ryvita is much more like a cracker and less like cardboard than Wasa. I'll have to look for the Crunch rye.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Can you link to it, mcf? The new crunch variety? I don't see it. The only ones I have tried were like cardboard. I would like to try this new one.

                            Nevermind, I found it on amazon :)

                            1. re: sedimental

                              I think the salt and the more light/delicate crispness is what sets it apart from, say, their cardboardy light rye. I like some of the others that are a tad too carby for me, but this is my new fave.

                  4. Depending how how tall/heavy you are currently, 1200 calories sounds VERY low, especially on a low-carb plan. Also, 150g of carbs is not particularly low-carb, especially if you are only eating 1200 cals a day (that would mean that half of your calories are coming from carbs - not a low-carb approach by any stretch).

                    I would ignore the goals set for you by the app and set goals of your own, based on what works for your body. For instance, I have a hard time losing weight on anything more than 20g of carbs a day (Atkins induction level) if that's all I'm doing. If I exercise, I need a few more carbs or my body just won't lose (and I have limited energy for workouts), but I still try to keep it under 100g a day, often less. I don't really count calories but when I have tracked them, I find that I eat around 2000 a day on Atkins, closer to 1800 a day when I'm exercising and eating a few more carbs.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Those are good points!
                      Also, when I am up at 150 carb count, I consider myself having a medium carb day. I think I've read that the standard American diet contains an average of over 300 carbs per day (high).

                      I alternate pretty wildly each day but seem to have a pattern related more to carbs than to calories. After I have a few moderate or high carb days in a row, I feel really crappy :(

                      1. re: sedimental

                        Yes, unless I'm working out like crazy, I get what I call a "carb hangover" from too many carby days in a row. 100g a day, or 400 cals worth of carbs, is less than 25% of my normal caloric intake for the day and feels right to me when I am trying to fuel workouts. 150g or 600 cals would be 33% of my food for the day - doable but I would probably feel it if I did it too many days in a row. I've been a low-carber for so long now that I can't even remember HOW to eat the SAD way!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          I'm 5'3'', and 160 lbs, trying to get back down to 130ish. I have been under 65g of carbs per day. 150g is not "low carb" to me lol. They gave me that goal, but that's because the app doesn't know I'm trying a low carb approach. I really don't think I could ever do under 20g per day however. I don't eat meat other than fish occasionally so my protein is a bit more limited, and veggie/soy meats often contain some carbs.

                      2. re: biondanonima

                        I agree, 100-150 is no longer low carb, though it may be a big reduction from what the OP was eating before. 100 is the typical threshold for inducing fat burning for fuel.

                      3. 1200 cal a day is very very low- unless you are 4'8 and sedentary.
                        If you drop your calories too low your body will go into "starvation mode" and it will be very difficult to lose weight vs a slightly higher caloric intake where your body does not think its starving and therefore keeps burning energy (calories) effeciently.
                        Please do some research based on your height, weight, and activity level to determin a better calorie goal so you are successful and not miserable!

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          Thanks for the info! Well, I'm 5'3'' and the app gave me a 1200 cal goal per day! It did seem low on paper, I've been okay so far, but I really don't want to kill my metabolism so I think I'll have to reevaluate. I selected the "light" activity level because at present I only work out once or twice a week, but do have a job where I am on my feet and walking around all day. The app is myfitnesspal.com . . . I'm starting to question it's reliability now.

                          1. re: Meowzerz

                            I think 1200 calories per day sound fine, That is a standard calorie restricted diet. It is just that you don't typically do *such* low carb and low cal at the same time. That is really narrowing down your food choices and you might get bored quickly with it.

                            Low carb usually means plenty of meat and fats, thus higher calorie. If you are almost vegetarian, you must be getting your calories mainly from fats?

                            Usually, on a strict low carb diet, you can eat more calories and still lose weight.
                            It's the only diet that encourages butter on your veggies ;)

                            1. re: sedimental

                              1200 cals a day sounds normal if you're trying to lose with calorie restriction, but LC and low-cal don't usually go together, as sedimental mentioned. You're not very tall/big (and I assume you're female), but I still think 1200 cals sounds very low on a LC approach.

                              A friend of mine recently showed me this cool web tool: http://www.freedieting.com/tools/nutr...
                              You might play around with entering different caloric goals and "diet ratios" and see what you come up with, then see what works best for your body.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                Thank you so much! I really appreciate your and sedimental's help on this. I will try to adjust my approach and I'll update this post if I have any luck :-)

                            2. re: Meowzerz

                              It sounds like you understand what a few of us were saying about low carb vs low cal vs both at the same time...

                              Fyi seitan is actually very low in carbs with a ton of protein- there's a great vegan jerkey from Primal Strips that has 10g protein and 100cal, makes a great filling snack (amazon sells them by the box for a good price or whole foods has individually)

                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                Wow vegan jerky! I wonder if I'd like it. I've had seitan and enjoyed it. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                1. re: Meowzerz

                                  Yup!
                                  I have literally tried all their flavors- avoid the mesquite lime- the thai peanut and hickory are my favorites!
                                  http://www.primalspiritfoods.com/prod...

                              2. re: Meowzerz

                                I'm 5 feet tall and also aim for a 1200 calorie a day diet. However, I'm not also low carbing it. I don't count my carbs at all and only pay attention to calories, for the most part. I've tried low carb diets before and I don't do very well on them, so a low calorie diet I find works best for me. As others have stated, I definitely don't find 1200 calories a day to be too low, and I don't think I'd personally be able to consume much more than that and still lose weight. I also have sporadic cheat days, though where I don't count. If I'm going to a nice dinner with a friend or to a party, I eat what I want. I've managed to lose between 10-15 lbs doing this, but at the moment I'm mostly just maintaining. I haven't been able to lose anymore for awhile. I'm not over weight, not was I to begins with, but for my personal ideal body, I'd like to lose about 5 more. I think I'll get there once Spring and Summer hit and my activity level is increased more. It's during those months that I lost most of my weight last year.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Twice a week I run a mile or 2 outside and 4 days a week I get on my elliptical after work for 10-15 minutes. I'll include some sit-ups and squats in there, but only occasionally.

                              3. re: Ttrockwood

                                1200 may be low for some, but different folks in different age groups find they gain on it.

                                When I ate vegetarian and low fat, I maintained my weight on 800 calories per day. Switching to low carb allowed me to increase that to 1200.

                                After years of low carbing a pig out day is 1600 or so.

                                Hormones, not height and weight, determine how many calories are low or starvation reflex inducing. But in general, 600-800 cals per day is what's discussed in the clnical literatue.

                                We're all very different, metabolically.

                              4. I keep my carbs under 80 g Monday-Friday usually around 60 g total with 40 g net carbs. Saturday I allow myself to have up to 100 g and every Sunday or every other Sunday I do a carb refeed depending on my workouts. I powerlift 4 times a week with cardio in between so I time refeeds depending on how I'm feeling in the gym.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Thanks for sharing! It's interesting to me to see what everyone tries to aim for.

                                2. I ignore net carbs in favor of total. Close to half the fiber is metabolized after all, but slowly. Because I'm diabetic, I don't follow any diet plan, but I used a free online software to track everything I age for years and found for me, personally, staying in a non starchy 30- to a maximum 70 gms per day keeps my blood glucose in low normal non diabetic range, using no meds.

                                  For me, personally, the macronutrient breakdown that works best is 50-55% fat, 30-35% protein and the rest high fiber, non starchy carbs. But protein needs do not change with your caloric level, you need it to stay adequate for your lean body mass no matter what else you're eating. I get around 100 gms of protein daily.

                                  I highly recommend tracking your results and doing what your body, not a pop diet book, says is best. How much of what you're losing is fat, vs. muscle, how is your energy, mood, alertness, etc.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: mcf

                                    I agree, I also focus on total carbs but if I am approaching my daily carb upper limit but the a significant portion is fiber I do consider that. I usually don't increase my upper limit but many days I have nearly 50% of carbs from fiber.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      Fiber advocates have been winning me over, lately. The idea is that fiber (and resistant starch) is metabolized to short chain fatty acids. This generally makes the colon happy, it likes SCFA. The process is driven by gut flora, and when they're happy, immune regulation is improved.

                                      If what I'm being told is correct, fiber metabolites include little or no glucose. I suppose it all depends on the makeup of one's gut flora, though.

                                      1. re: johnseberg

                                        I think mcf learned that it sort of counts by monitoring blood sugar but I'm mostly with ya.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          Also by reading research that found (goodhealthgourmet knows the exact numbers) different calorie counts for soluble and insoluble fiber. Under 2 calories per gram for each, one a bit lower than the other.

                                          Yeah, I seem to digest both sugar alcohols and fiber very well.