How to Go on a Carb Free Diet

Three Parts:Starting a Carb-Free DietAvoiding High Carb FoodsFollowing a Nutritious Low-Carb Diet

Going on a carb-free diet is a popular dieting plan that may help you lose weight. However, following a completely carb-free diet isn't considered healthy or balanced. Your body needs some carbohydrates to function normally throughout the day. In addition a carbohydrate-free diet may cause nutrient deficiencies and some unpleasant side effects.[1] Instead, follow a low or even very low carb diet as studies have shown that lower carb diets result in quicker weight loss and more weight loss from fat tissue.[2] Restrict some of the carbohydrates you eat during the day to help you lose weight and feel healthier.

Part 1
Starting a Carb-Free Diet

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    Talk to your doctor. Before starting any diet, especially a very low carb diet, it's important to talk to your doctor.
    • Very low-carb diets can cause side effects. Ketosis is a side effect of very low-carb diets and is a condition that may not be safe or appropriate for everyone. Talk to your doctor if this is safe and healthy for you to do.
    • Also talk to your doctor about why you're wanting to lose weight and ask if he or she has any additional tips or advice to help you.
    • Also, if you have diabetes, you will need to include some carbohydrates in your diet - especially if you're on medication. Talk to your doctor about how to safely include nutritious carbohydrates in your diet.
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    Prepare for potential side effects. The one draw back to a low or very low carbohydrate diet is the potential side effects they can cause. Be prepared to deal with these.
    • The typical initial side effects noticed when you're following a lower carb diet include: headache, fatigue, moodiness or irritability and mental fatigue.[3]
    • If you drastically cut carbs or begin to follow a very low carb diet, you can experience these same symptoms (sometimes more severely) in addition to nausea, weakness, constipation or diarrhea. This is called ketosis.[4]
    • Be prepared for headaches with some over-the-counter pain relievers or even a cup of caffeinated coffee. This can also help with fatigue as well.
    • If you have constipation you can take a stool softener or gentle laxative in addition to drinking more fluid. If you have looser stools or diarrhea you can take an over-the-counter medication as well.
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    Ease up on physical activity. It's sometimes recommended to forego or ease up on your exercise routine if you plan on following a very-low carbohydrate diet.
    • Although exercise is generally always recommended as a weight loss counterpart, it might be difficult to do when following a low-carb diet.
    • Your body uses carbs as energy-especially your muscles. If you're not eating very many carbs, it'll be difficult to participate in high intensity or long bouts of exercise without extreme fatigue. You'll run out of fuel quickly.
    • In addition, some studies showed that those who followed a very low-carb diet were more fatigued and felt more fatigued during exercise and were unable to perform at higher intensities.[5]

Part 2
Avoiding High Carb Foods

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    Skip the grain food group. Grains like bread, rice, pasta or wraps are some of the most noteworthy and high carb foods in your diet. Restricting these foods will help cut out a large portion of the carbohydrates you consume.
    • Grains are a very carbohydrate rich food group. Fortunately, many of the nutrients found in these foods can also be found in other food groups. Limiting or restricting these foods doesn't cause a risk for nutrient deficiencies.
    • If you have a craving for bread, rice or pasta, only go for 100% whole grains. These are higher in fiber, protein and other nutrients compared to refined grains.[6]
    • Also, only have one serving to help minimize how many carbs you do eat. Only eat 1/2 cup or about 1 oz per serving.[7]
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    Limit fruits. Fruits are another common food tagged as "high carb." This food group contains fructose - a sugar - that counts as a carbohydrate.
    • Although fruits do contain sugar, remember that sugar comes with a ton of nutritional benefits. Fruits are high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants (many of which you cannot get from other foods).[8]
    • If you want to limit fruits or eat only lower carbohydrate or low-sugar fruits, that's a better choice than cutting them out all together.
    • Low sugar fruits include blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries.[9]
    • Also, stick to the appropriate serving of fruit so you don't over do it. Measure out 1/2 cup of fruit per serving.[10]
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    Go for non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables are important food group to include and not limit - especially non-starchy vegetables. Eat multiple servings of these foods each day.
    • Non-starchy vegetables are those that contain low amounts of starch (a carbohydrate). In addition, non-starchy vegetables are also very low in calories, high in fiber and other essential vitamins and antioxidants.[11]
    • Include at least one serving of non-starchy vegetables at most meals. Go for 1 cup of dense vegetables and 2 cups of salad greens.[12]
    • Starchy vegetables do contain higher amounts of carbohydrates and can be limited or restricted without worry of any nutrient deficiencies. These include: corn, potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, lentils, yams and beets.
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    Be choosy with dairy foods. Although dairy foods do contain carbohydrates (sugar in the form of lactose), they offer many, many nutritional benefits to your diet.[13] Be mindful when choosing to avoid some of these foods.
    • Although dairy foods are a source of carbohydrates, most generally contain minimal amounts compared to other foods. In addition, dairy is very high in protein, calcium, Vitamin D and potassium.[14]
    • The highest carbohydrate containing dairy foods are milk and yogurt. However, choosing products without added sweeteners or flavorings will lower the carbohydrate content in these foods.
    • Cheese is naturally low carbohydrate and high in protein. This is an acceptable food to eat even when following a low carb diet.
    • If you choose to have milk or yogurt stick to appropriate portion sizes. Measure out 1 cup of milk or yogurt and 1 1/2 ounces of cheese.[15]
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    Avoid added sugars and sweets. Another large source of carbohydrates in the Westernized diet is from added sugars and sweets. Avoid these completely when following a low carb diet.
    • Although added sugars in very small amounts aren't typically harmful, they provide no nutritional benefit to you whatsoever.[16] They are considered empty calories.
    • These types of foods can be limited without the risk of any nutrient deficiency. In addition, you are cutting out unnecessary calories from your diet.
    • Added sugars are typically added to foods or beverages during processing. They may be in the form of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane juice or rice syrup and fruit juice concentrates. Read your food label ingredient list to find these hidden added sugars.
    • Typical foods that contain added sugars are: sweetened beverages, alcohol, candy, cookies, cakes and pies, ice cream, and breakfast pastries.

Part 3
Following a Nutritious Low-Carb Diet

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    Go for lean protein sources. Protein foods will be a prominent food group in your low carb diet. However, just because you're limiting carbs doesn't mean you shouldn't stick to nutritious protein sources.
    • Some low-carb diets suggest eating higher fat protein foods. Although small amounts of higher fat proteins don't pose a health risk, over time, if you eat large quantities of these foods they may lead to higher cholesterol and heart problems.[17]
    • In addition, fat itself is very high in calories and if eaten in high amounts may cause unwanted weight gain.
    • Choose a variety of protein sources, but try to stick to leaner protein for the more nutritious choice. Also follow appropriate serving sizes of 3-4 oz per serving.[18]
    • Lean protein sources to try include: poultry, eggs, lean beef, pork, seafood, nuts and tofu. Beans and lentils are also considered lean, but are also very high in carbohydrates.
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    Choose healthy fats. Just because you're avoiding carbohydrates, doesn't mean that you shouldn't include healthy sources of fats each day.
    • Healthy fats are great for your health. They can help reduce cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.[19]
    • Healthy fats are found in: fatty fish (salmon, tuna or mackerel), nuts and nut butters, seeds, avocados, olive oil, olives, and canola oil.
    • Although these are healthy sources of fats, still be mindful of portions. Stick to 2 tablespoons daily of liquid fat (like olive oil) and appropriate portions of other foods from their food groups.
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    Drink adequate amounts of fluid. Drinking adequate fluid while you're following a diet will be very helpful. It'll keep you hydrated and may be able to support your weight loss.
    • Drinking adequate fluids will be very important while following a low carb diet. It can help prevent or manage headaches and keep hunger at bay.[20]
    • Drink at least 8-13 glasses of clear, hydrating fluids daily. Try: water, flavored water, decaf coffee and teas.
    • Also, if you're feeling hungry, try drinking a large glass of water prior to a meal to help make you feel more full off of calorie-free water.
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    Avoid carbs when you go out to eat. Following a low carb diet at home is easy since you can prepare foods and meals the way you like. However, be mindful when you go out to eat and choose meals wisely.
    • Many restaurants now have sections of their menu that are denoted as "healthy" or "low calorie." They may also tell you if certain items are low carb. Look for these or ask your waiter for help.
    • Also, if your restaurant of choice is a chain, they most likely will have nutrition information online or in a separate section of the menu. Review the calories or total carbohydrates of certain foods here.
    • Also use common sense. Don't order dishes with pasta, bread or rices. Stick to simple dishes like grilled protein and non-starchy vegetables or salads with lean protein on top.


  • Always talk to your doctor prior to following a very-low carb diet.
  • If you experience signs of weakness, extreme fatigue, or faintness, discontinue the low-carb detox diet and visit a health professional to assess your nutrition needs and diet plans.

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Categories: Losing Weight | Carbohydrates