About low carb

The term ‘low carb’ is generally considered to be a diet containing between 50g and 130g of carbohydrates (carbs) per day. Diabetes UK released a statement on this in May 2017.

Carbohydrates include sugars (found in cakes, biscuits, fruit, soft drinks and sweets) and starch (found in cereal, bread, potatoes, rice, yam, plantain, cassava and cous-cous). Starch is a chain of glucose molecules joined together and it's broken down fairly quickly into sugar by the enzymes in your stomach.

A low carb diet can help you to lose weight and improve your blood sugar levels.


When you cut back on carbs, you will frequently develop withdrawal effects around days 2-4, which can include headaches, lethargy, nausea, confusion, loss of concentration or irritability. These usually disappear again within the week, following which people often experience increased energy levels.

In order to avoid feeling hungry, you may need to increase your intake of healthy fats and proteins, so it’s useful to seek advice from a dietitian or healthcare professional to ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate and fits your lifestyle and cultural preferences.

Foods high in protein help you to feel fuller for longer, so increasing the proportion of protein in the diet and reducing the amount of carbohydrate may help to lower overall calories. Depending on the level of carbohydrate restriction and on careful selection of foods, it should be possible to achieve a healthy balance with this diet.

How many carbs should I aim for?

If considering a low carb diet, it is important to know that not all carbs are the same. Read more about the glycaemic index.

Following a healthy low carb diet means that you are more likely to enjoy better long-term health. A low carb approach based on the Mediterranean diet is recommended, as this contains a higher amount of beneficial fats and is low in red meat and processed foods.

Visit our page on healthier food options for some tips on a low carb (50-130g of carbs per day) Mediterranean diet. Here are just a few examples of how many carbohydrates are in various food we eat and drink.

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