How many carbs per day to lose weight naturally

This article discusses how many carbs per day to lose weight.

Low carb diets have become very popular in the past few decades, and the most famous one is the Atkins diet. Since then, a lot of other low carb diets have become mainstream, for example The Paleo Diet, Protein Power and many more.

These diets have not only been successful at weight loss, but also with generally making people feel better and helping against diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. These diets, despite being deprived of certain high carb foods like grains, are able to provide people with all essential nutrients.
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Extreme forms of low carb diets have been researched and their incredible health benefits well documented, take a look at the post The Ketosis Diet Plan and its Health Benefits for more info.

How many carbs per day to lose weight naturally

It is a known fact that starchy foods are broken down into glucose in the digestive tract, and when they enter the bloodstream the pancreas respond by secreting insulin in order to lower blood glucose levels (too high blood glucose levels are toxic).

Insulin also alters enzymes in the cells of the body to start producing and storing fat, and inhibits the fat cells from releasing it, therefore preventing weight loss.

This is the reason low carb diets are so effective for weight loss, they lower insulin levels, inhibit fat storage and last but not least, allow the fat in the body’s cells to be released. This is a biochemical fact.

When following a high carb diet, even when calorically restricted, insulin levels are still elevated and the fat has a hard time getting out. This makes the body become energy deprived, and usually the worst thing about weight loss plans is the hunger that follows them.

Eating a low carb diet helps reduce hunger levels, and this is another reason they are so effective for weight loss.

It is hard to tell exactly how many carbs per day to lose weight naturally, but reducing them to about 100-150 grams per day should be sufficient to start losing fat.

If that doesn’t work, then reducing them under 100, maybe even under 50 grams per day will probably do the trick. You will most likely experience quick weight loss during the first week on a low-carb diet, and this is mainly due to reduced fluid retention. Weight loss will slow down after that.

Cutting out sugar, grains and vegetable oils, and substituting them for meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit may be enough to start losing weight, and is a good alternative to wondering how many carbs per day to lose weight and in fact a lot of people have succeeded admirably by simply changing the foods they eat.

There really is no need for people to consume a lot of carbs, since the body is able to produce the glucose it needs through a process called gluconeogenesis.

I would like to mention, though, that for athletes wondering how many carbs per day, that people who do a lot of high intensity exercise do need more than 100-150 grams per day. On how many carbs these people need, I would say 200-250 grams is more appropriate.

How many carbs per day for optimal health

Regarding the question on how many carbs per day to achieve optimal health, I’m not really sure it matters. I think eating real, non processed, non factory made food would be the best option for health instead of obsessing over macronutrient ratios. This means eating a lot of animals and plants.

People who are active or do a lot of high intensity exercise will be able to eat more carbs than inactive people, while people who tend to gain weight should eat fewer. It’s impossible to give a specific recommendation, but those carbs should come from healthy sources such as fruit, vegetables or tubers.

Organic food is the best, but not really necessary unless you can afford it. It is always preferable to go for the less processed option. It is also important to stay away from gluten grains (this includes wheat). Read my article on gluten intolerance for more information.

There have been populations in the world who were incredibly healthy, both eating high carb and low carb diets, but what they all had in common was that they ate real food that they could acquire in nature.

Modern diseases like the metabolic syndrome seem to pop up in any population that consumes wheat, sugar, vegetable oils or processed foods, no matter how many carbs per day the people eat.

To sum up:

How many carbs per day

  • Athletes: 200-250 grams per day, or more
  • Weight Loss or Maintenance: 100-150 grams per day
  • Extreme Weight Loss: Fewer than a 100 grams per day

P.S. If you liked this article, then you’re going to LOVE my free online weight loss course.

103 Comments

  1. Danny Walls says:

    This article is pretty informative, I think it will benefit most looking for info on carb consumption. That said, I myself have felt very low energy and constant hunger trying to follow a strictly low carb diet. I have recently begun to follow what is known as a carb cycling diet where you basically eat for what you’ve done, and what you are about to do. By this I mean that you can consume a good amount of carbs at two-three times a day: first thing in the morning, your last meal before a workout, and your first meal after a workout. All other times of the day consume protein and greens, basically. This seems to work much better than a strictly low carb diet, and make much more sense from a physiological standpoint. Are you familiar with this type of diet? Your feedback would be appreciated!

  2. Hey Danny, thanks for commenting.

    I’m familiar with the carb cycling approach although I’ve never tried it myself. I know people that have had great success with it, and it might be especially good for those who want to eat healthy/lose weight but still keep up their performance in the gym.

    I think that each person needs to find something that works for them. Some people don’t feel very well on low-carb so they should try something different.

    If you feel good and are getting results then great :)

  3. Hi Kris,

    I like to keep my carbs under 100 grams for weight loss and at about 100 to 150 for maintenance.

    Everyone has to experiment and find out how many carbs works best to lose weight ……… but I do think that cutting carbs is your best weight loss option.

    Best – Mike

  4. Susan Phillips says:

    I work out 5 days a week an hour a day. An I am having trouble loosing my stomach fat, should I increase my carb intake. I work with a trainer and he indicated that I may not be eating enough carbs in order to loose fat from my stomach. Does that make any sense?

    • Layne Nguyen says:

      Susan – I had the same issue as you. As soon as I reduced my carbs and did a high intensity cardio training program (Insanity) the fat started melting off.

    • We are all made to be different, with different metabolic types.
      I can only lose weight on a very low carb plan, under 50! Some metabolic types require more carbs and less protein. I make sure my protein source is organic, grass fed and organic veggies!!!

  5. No that doesn’t really make much sense, no reason to up carb intake in order to lose fat.

    Abdominal fat can be really stubborn, and people can look very lean except for that tiny bit of fat on that area. Intermittent fasting works very well for some people. Have you tried high intensity interval training?

    And also, what is your current carb intake?

  6. Hi I think this is a good article to show someone who is learning about why low carb. It’s pretty clearly introduced here. The only thing is that there are several instances in the article where you should’ve used “fewer” instead of “less” – it becomes ambiguous to the reader. For example:

    “People who are active or do a lot of high intensity exercise will be able to eat more carbs than inactive people, while people who tend to gain weight should eat less (fewer)”

    and

    “Extreme Weight Loss: Less than a 100 grams per day” – fewer, not less.
    Thanks!

  7. Hello Aretha,

    I had no idea that was grammatically incorrect but I looked it up and you are right.

    I’ve corrected the article, thanks for letting me know :)

  8. hi
    can you please help i am a diabetic on exenatide injection (this is not an insulin) and metformin,
    i would dearly love to loose weight i have been trying a low carb diet for a week, but i am not sure how many carbs i am alowd, can you help.

  9. Hello malc,

    I can not give you any sort of medical advice, and you MUST keep your doctor involved before making any changes, because changes in diet can massively alter your need for medication.

    Regarding diabetes and carb intake, I’d say the less the better. Eliminate all added sugar, all sources of grains and even most sources of high carbohydrate fruit.

    I am not an expert on diabetes, but I would like to refer you to a website dedicated to the matter of beating diabetes with lifestyle changes: http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/

    The guy who owns this website has been drug free for a while, and you can find a ton of great advice there.

    This page is a good place to start: http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/a-meal-plan-you-can-live-with/

  10. So what about brown rice, whole wheat stuff, and fiber one cereals that contain the “good carbs” ? Are these acceptable or should you stay at 100-150 no matter what?

  11. Hannah,

    if doing a low-carb diet for weight loss then these foods you mentioned are pretty much off limits except in moderation.

  12. Is fruit too high in carbs? Like canteloupe, apples, peaches. How much fruit are we suppose to have a day for weight loss?

    Thanks Kris! Very informative article.

  13. Hello Lupita,

    Some fruit can be pretty high in carbs, such as bananas and pineapples. Peaches are pretty high too. You can safely eat 2-3 pieces of fruit per day and still remain within the 100-150 gram range :)

  14. kris, your opinion of using olive oil (extra virgin or not) instead of vegetable or canola oils with which to cook, please?

  15. Hello Leigh,

    I recommend staying away from vegetable and canola oils, and only use olive oil as a condiment for salads and such, definitely not to cook with.

    For cooking, saturated fats are your best option since they have a higher smoke point. Coconut oil and butter are my favorite fats to cook with.

  16. Kris, I really like the above article you wrote, can I have your opinion on what I am doing now? I hit a stall in my weightloss plan (down only 15lbs in 10 weeks) and have recently changed my plan! (I was eating a fruit smoothie every morning until i realized the amount of sugar and carbs I was throwing into my body! I have changed to a low carb/calorie protein shake).

    I am 215 lbs, 5’9″. I do 30 min of cardio with 45 mins of weight lifting 5 days a week.

    Breakfast: Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Shake (2 servings for a total 48g of protein, 6g of sugar, 10g of carbs)

    Lunch: Salad with 1 serving of croutons (30 calories, 1g of Protein, 4g of carbs) and 2 servings of Balsamic Dressing (about 60 calories, unsure of other details)

    Post workout Shake – same ON Whey Protein drink as with breakfast.

    Dinner: Grilled Fish or Chicken, with either a side of steamed vegtables or black beans/lima beans/ or green beans.

    Thanks in advance for the advice, I really do appreciate it.

  17. Hey Casey,

    congratulations on your success so far. Perhaps try to add some more animal fat to your diet, such as skipping the breakfast shake for a stir fry of eggs and vegetables.

    It’s not really enough just to cut carbs and nothing else, a large part of those calories should be replaced, preferably with fat and protein from healthy animal foods. I’m not too fond of meal replacement shakes, but they are good after a workout.

    Also, if you are having cheat meals every week then that might ruin some of your progress, depending on how much you eat. Personally I’ve been able to eat many thousands of calories in a sitting during a cheat meal, definitely not good.

    Other things that can help break a weight loss plateau include intermittent fasting and high intensity interval training.

    • Awesome advice Kris, I truely do appreciate it.

      I do “cheat” on my diet sometimes, rewarding myself with a good dinner on the weekend, but I try to still do it in a healty way (going for sushi on a friday, or cooking a filet of beef instead of chicken on a Saturday). I have been pretty good about staying away from the fast food that I have been used to with my life always on the go.

      I will research fasting more. The idea of it sounds pretty cool. I want to assure you I will do my research of it and about how to do it properly.

      Also, I like the idea of eating a decent breakfast that involves eggs and veggies. You said stir fry them – do you mean simply cooking them in a pan, say with butter or oil? Would something like say 3 eggs with onions and bell peppers work?

      Thanks again, your words of advice mean a lot!

  18. Sabrina Provoast says:

    I agree very heavily with your diet here but there are a few notes that I would like to suggest. I noticed that you mentioned a few times about doing some intermittent fasting. Fasting may help you with some weight loss, yes, but it will also greatly effect your energy levels and your metabolism. Also, you might mention to people that are having a tough time with the last few pounds or have “stalled,” that they are not eating frequently enough. I believe that the best approach to this dilemma is to continue the diet in the same fashion but make sure you are never going over 4 hours without eating throughout the day. Also, while keeping under 4 hours, try not to exceed 300-400 calories per each of these meals. I tend to eat up to 7 times and day but am able to keep my calorie intake around 1500-1600 with my carbohydrate consumption right around 50-75g, which come mostly from my protein and vegetables. Hope this is informational ;) Thanks for the article!

    • Cool! Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I am sure that I don’t want my energy levels affected as I live a pretty busy lifestyle (i don’t think my work wants me to, also!) but am open to any idea, and will still research different methods of fasting. I also try to keep to the 50-75g of carbs a day. I believe it is pretty accurate to say under 100g carbs a day is ideal for losing weight. My calorie intake is somewhat under yours, and I am not sure how great that is for me. The research I have done always says that a diet like yours would keep insulin levels down by eating smaller meals more frequently. I might give it a try.

    • Sabrina, you may find this article interesting. I did!

      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting/

  19. Hello Sabrina, thanks for the comment :)

    I don’t recommend eating frequently anymore after seeing some studies that suggest it may raise chances of colon cancer: http://www.kriskris.com/eating-frequency-and-colon-cancer/

    But I do know there are a lot of people that have had good success with it. There are also many people who have had great success with intermittent fasting, it really all comes down to people experimenting with different approaches and finding what works for them.

  20. Are ramen noodles okay to eat?

  21. Hello Kristen, ramen noodles are high in carbs so they are incompatible with a low-carb diet. They may be fine to eat once in a while, but definitely not every day.

  22. HI there im new at this low card thing and would appriciate any help i can get. I have three kids and i work so dont have that much time on my hands for the gym ect. I have lost 7kg in about 4months and now im trying the low carb way of eating , because i love food im having trouble sticking to it. and ideas on what i can eat that fills you up but is still low carbs.also im eating alot of fruit apples, pears oranges are they low carb i just assumed veges and fruit were ok.

  23. Hello Krystal,

    Congratulations on your success so far.

    Take a look at these articles here for some ideas on what to eat and what not to eat:
    http://www.kriskris.com/foods-to-eat-to-lose-weight/
    http://www.kriskris.com/worst-foods-to-eat/

  24. hal smith says:

    hi kris. i am 6ft 1 , 99kg and 16 years old. in the past 2 weeks ive deceided to loose some weight as ive been obese since i was 10 . in 2 weeks of extreme 2 hours of exercise everyday and eating less then 800 calories a day ive come down from 114kg to 99kg . but i think carbs are getting in my way a bit. i plan to continue dieting until im 80-85kg and then only doing 1 hour extreme exercise and eating 2000 calories a day . i eat very little fat and very little calories but the food that i do eat is vert high in carbs such as toast and pasta should i cut carbs down to about 100 grams a day to expext even more weight loss or do you think i should just keep on track with my current plan.. some days i actually gain weight but then the first day i didnt eat anything except drink water .i lost an amazing 2.5kg in less then 30 hours?
    do you have any improvements to my system? . your feedback would be very appreciated.

  25. What you are doing sounds way too extreme.

    Eating less than 800 calories while exercising for two hours, is insane. Definitely cut back on the exercise and eat a little bit more calories.

    Food selection can be more important than calories. I recommend you skip the bread and pasta, eat more vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, small amounts of fruit.

    • thanks for your advice i really appreciate it. ill definately eat more of the right food in balance with exercise ..your information is so useful. keep it up.

  26. Hi kris, I am 5ft 7ins tall and weigh 10 stone, I was always very thin when younger and weighed 7 stone 6 pounds for years and found it impossible to gain weight, until I had children, after this my weight went up to 11 stone, I managed to lose a stone in july through eating less and excercising, but now have just stalled, I have started a low carb diet and walk about 5 miles or more everyday, I have been eating less than 60 grams of carb a day, and substitute sugar for maple syrup or honey should I cut these sweetners out as well. I have lost weight in the past by just cutting back on food, but this doesn’t seem to work anymore.

  27. Hey Amanda,
    yes I would definitely cut out the maple syrup and honey as well. These have a very high carbohydrate content and are likely to prevent weight loss.

    • Great info on this page, Kris. Thanks. About the honey, though… it’s only 17g for a full tablespoon of honey. If you’re eating raw honey, the health benefits may greatly outweigh the additional carbs, especially if you have diabetes. Raw honey + cinnamon is very effective for glucose control, and a tablespoon of honey goes a very long way.

  28. Hey Chris I’m doing a 2000 calorie cut and I was wondering if 100-150g of carbs will be safe for about 45-50 min weight lifting And 45 min cardio on elliptical. Or should I up my calories to prevent dramatic weight loss

  29. Hey Calvin,
    100-150 grams may be fine but it’s hard to tell. If you feel like you’re running out of energy during your workout then you should add some more carbs before/after your session.

  30. David Mayers says:

    What if you could eat foods that burn fat and increase your metabolism? I know it sounds nearly impossible, but the truth is that fat burning foods actually exist. Of course, don’t expect these foods to work on their own; you still need to maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and work out regularly.

  31. What are your comments on the Atkins Diet and the Induction phase which restricts you to 20 grams of carbs for the first two weeks?

  32. Hello Jeff,
    It really depends on the context. These very carb restricted diets can be great for epilepsy patients, diabetics and severely overweight individuals.

    Then there are plenty of healthy people that feel best when they eat this way, but others who really can’t stand it.

  33. I have been on a vegan diet for some time with the goal of lowering my cholesterol and giving my heart a chance. At 55 I’m pretty active doing an hour of mixed exercise a day. Since becoming a vegan I’ve gained even more weight and I had hoped to lose some in the bargain. How can I remain a vegan and only eat 150g of carbohydrate per day?

  34. John,
    that’s going to be hard to do. My advice would be to drop the vegan thing and start eating more animal foods with less sugar and grains.

    This should raise your HDL cholesterol, lower your triglycerides and change your LDL pattern to the large, fluffy type .. which is benign. And it should also help you lose weight.

    Hope that helps,
    Kris

    • Chris,
      Thank you. I really like this vegan thing. For the first time in my life I’m never bloated or constipated. To become vegan I just quit eating meat because I didn’t eat eggs or dairy before. What if I were to quit your worst 4 foods and eat more protein from tofu, nuts, beans and legumes, etc?
      John

  35. John,
    That might work, but you should definitely make sure that you are getting all the nutrients that your body needs and that are lacking in a vegan diet, including B12, Creatine, Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3.

    Nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc. might work to replace some of your carbs with fat. If you stay away from the sugar and the wheat, then it should help you lose weight.

  36. Very good article, explains alot to me! I just have a few questions. I’ve been overweight since an eye surgery 5 years ago and not very active since(I used to trampoline and play sports but got a detached retina so jumping has no longer been my form of being active). I sit most of the time working on my online business but recently started exercising some in between breaks(stretching, walking and dancing). I exercise a total of maybe 2-3 hours a day and I’ve began eating yoplait yogurt instead of sweets, but I do still have sugar. I don’t like water or any cokes or pepsi or stuff like that. The only thing I drink is at the most 3 glass of sweet tea a day and a bottle of crystal light or orange juice. I really want to loose weight but I don’t like any other drinks except what I mentioned. Is that okay if I exercise? And another question, is lean cuisine healthy? I also have just one more question, fruit is too expensive for us to buy. Any thoughts what to eat besides yogurt?

    Thanks so much and hope to hear back!
    Merry Christmas!!

  37. Natalie, if I’m not mistaken that yogurt is full of sugar. You should check the ingredients list, and if it is: stay away from it.

    Lean Cuisine is a low-fat grain product, and I am very much against low-fat diets since they are inferior in every way to low-carb diets when it comes to health. I really do not think that it is healthy.

    I recommend drinking water, fruit juices and sweet tea have a lot of sugar. Diet sodas may also be bad for you, according to some studies I saw.

    • Okay so I looked on the yoplait yogurt and it has 16g in light and 24g in original. What yogurt do you recommend? As I’ve only tried one brand.
      Thanks I had no idea that lean cuisine was not healthy. Are all frozen food entrees bad? Just would like to know since we’re on a tight budget and it’s pretty affordable to buy frozen foods. Also wondered if steamed veggies were alright…?
      I’m trying to drink more water. I don’t drink coffee or any kind of soda so sweet tea is my only source of sugar and caffeine. Is there a healthy way to drink it? I thought about sweeteners or using splenda, but they are expensive.

      Thanks for the articles, they answered some more questions I would’ve had! No idea that eggs were good for you! And nuts?! Wow! I can’t really afford fruits, but I’m trying to flex my budget some and the only meat we can buy is chicken. But I suppose we should give walmart food section a closer look by what to eat. :) thanks again!

      • Hello Natalie,
        I recommend you find some regular full-fat yogurt without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Definitely not all frozen foods are bad. If sweet tea is your only source of sugar then it might be okay, depends on how you react to it and how much you put in it. And steamed veggies are great.

  38. I just wanted to say thank you! After mentioning my love affair with bread to my nurse practitioner, she suggested I start tracking the carbs I take in. Your article here was informational! (I wanted to know what my ‘ceiling’ limit on carbs should be, and now I see 100-150!)

    Thanks, again, for the information! I’m going to peruse your other posts now

    • Actually, right as I posted that I came up with a question.

      I work as a unit secretary and nursing assistant at my local hospital, and the shifts are twelve hours long. Short of hiding carrot sticks in my scrubs, do you have any suggestions for low-carb-friendly snacks that I can pack?

      • Hello Chelsea,
        I’m definitely not the most creative guy when it comes to these kinds of things.

        Hard-boiled eggs are great, a bag of nuts, the occasional fruit, full-fat yogurt without sugar, and leftovers in a box maybe :)

  39. Hey Kris, im restricting carbs to 30-100g a day, With Weights 5-6x a week and Cardio once per night. Last meal is at 7pm and its just a protein shake to replenish glycogen stores from workout. Sometimes i take my last meal right before workout and its a protein shake. 3 Questions

    1.If i dont have anything to eat after workout, Will i build muscle or no? Im curious because if my body’s glycogen stores are depleted and i dont eat anything for the rest of the night. Do my muscles just stay the same?

    2.By my Carbs being that low, Will my body choose to burn muscle instead of fat for energy? Cause im losing weight effectively, Just hoping its not muscle over fat :) Thanx so much in advance.

    3.Christmas is coming and im probaly going to eat quite a bit, Should i atleast work out my arms and abs since i can do it at home. To atleast use some of the stuff i ate that day?

  40. Hello Bobby, these kinds of questions can be pretty hard to answer but I’ll do my best :)

    1. Even though you may not have eaten anything at the exact times around your workout, your body will still be digesting protein from the meals you had before during that day, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. With carbs this low, and given that you exercise very much, your body will probably use some protein to make glucose, in order to fuel your intense workouts. Whether this protein comes from food or muscle stores depends on a lot of things. If your workouts are very intense, and you don’t consume tons of protein, there are chances that your body might use some muscle as fuel.

    3. I think it’s a good idea to do a workout right before eating a big meal. I haven’t seen any studies on it but it wouldn’t surprise me if it would turn some of those calories away from your body fat cells and into your muscles.

    Finally, these questions don’t really have a “yes” or “no” answer. You would have to try these things out for yourself. However, if you are so incredibly active, then I think you would do fine with a bit more carbs in your diet.

    • Ok, well im trying to lose atleast 2-3 lbs per week. Im trying to burn only fat if possible, I was 302 lbs, Jan 1st 2011, and im currently 207 lbs, and im hoping to be 202 lbs by Jan 1st 2012. I burnt alot of muscle all the way from 302 lbs till i hit 240 lbs, Cause i didnt start lifting weights untill 240 lbs. Currently im trying to be 190 lbs by Feb 1st. Im hoping to only burn fat and not muscle from 207 lbs to 190 lbs, Im trying to find a good solution for my excess skin as well. Its not to bad, but its only going to get worse. I consume atleast 180g of Protein per day, I keep track. Sometimes as high as 220g. So with 180g+ of protein 50g Fat, 30g-100g of Carbs (1400-1600 Cals total or around there), Will my body burn muscle? If it does or if you can just gimme your best guess, I assume not? Because my protein in-take is high, My body should be eating that instead of muscle, if i do burn muscle it definately should be very very minimal.

  41. Bobby, congrats on your success, this is truly awesome :)

    My guess is that you will burn a minimal amount of muscle, as long as you lift heavy and eat enough protein. Although it can be hard to prevent muscle loss completely on a very calorie restricted diet.

    I’ll ask my buddy who is an olympic strength training coach to come in here and give his opinion. He can answer this question better than myself :)

  42. Message from Mark:

    ###

    Hey BobbyLou,

    my name is Mark, I’m the Olympic strength coach Kris was talking about.

    Short answer: if you lift weights, stay away from aerobic work and take in adequate protein (which you do, plenty enough), there’s no way in you-know-what that you burn muscle for energy.

    The human body really is a lot smarter than that.

    It’s a good example when you dropped lean mass on a calorie restricted diet…until you started doing weights!

    Your body normally doesn’t touch it’s own functional tissues, even when you’re not lifting weights.

    If you think about it, it would really not be a good move for it to do that. It will only resort to breaking down muscle tissue for energy when there’s absolutely no other option left to obtain energy.
    One thing that can do it is aerobic work though, careful with that!

    In other words the only time a muscle-catabolism would take place is when there’s absolutely no other energy stores left and the levels of essential fats are so low as to threaten survival.

    That point is somewhere around 4-5% body fat: that’s when you’ve got to watch out.

    There was an interesting military study done on this very subject, they wanted to see just how far you could push it under war-like conditions until the body would go into auto-cannibalism, also called “Starvation Mode”, and consequently begin to break down.

    Turns out this is much harder to achieve than previously thought.

    They were running those soldiers absolutely into the ground for WEEKS under severe calorie restriction, sleep deprivation, and incredible physical loading and mental stress.

    Yet none of them burned any lean muscle tissue at all until they reached that critical ultra-low body fat level of around 4-5 or so percent.

    Good news for you!

    Rusty Moore over on Fitness Blackbook wrote a very good post on that study, you can check it out here:

    http://fitnessblackbook.com/main/starvation-mode-why-you-probably-never-need-to-worry-about-it/

    Good Luck,

    Mark

    • Ok great, Im happy to know i havnt been burning muscle, My next and last question is. im at a 96 lb loss, My skin isnt the tightest, Best way to tighten the skin? Forms ive found so far

      Surgery – Leaves Scarring (Dont want unless i have to)
      Laser Skin Tightening – (May or may not even work) Supposed to shuttle out the dead skin cells.

      Im very depressed that ive gone all this way to hit this road block of not being able to ever see a 6 pack. Very depressing. Any Ideas guys?

  43. BobbyLou, I wouldn’t be so sure yet, the skin should catch up with time but it takes longer. I would just wait and see if I were you, most likely you will be fine as long as you keep at it and stick to the plan :)

    • Well like i said im at a 99 lb loss or so, started at 302, today i woke up at 203, Gonna get down to 190, its not extremely saggy but its if grab it, its stretchy. I Dont think its going to come back. Nothing more in the world that i want right now more than tight skin.. Any suggestions?

  44. Hey Kris, I got 1 more question. Im down to 198 currently, 201 lbs with clothes on. Im doing 1200-1400 Cals per day, Losing 1lb every 2 days roughly. But im gonna drop the 15 min elliptical cardio soon, Eat a few more cals and add P90X to the mix. Basically my daily in-take is in the neighborhood of….

    100g Carbs
    160-200g Protein
    20-60g Fat
    20-50g Sugar (Depending on if i eat a Apple with has 22g Sugar), But its a fruit, But still…

    Question is…am i burning 1 lb of muscle every 2 days? Or Fat and Muscle? Should i up my protein and drop the cardio so i dont burn more muscle? Im drinking more than a gallon of water per day as well.

    • I’d say what you are burning is almost all fat, if there is any muscle loss then it should be minimal.

      I wouldn’t worry so much about muscle loss. As long as you are exercising then the body should be smart enough to hold on to the muscle and sacrifice the fat instead.

      Congrats on getting under 200lb :D

  45. Thank You, Ok im gonna try to keep going. Later Kris, thanx

  46. Hello Kris…I just stumbled across this site when looking up carb information and found it extremely useful. I had a baby 5 months ago & down 59 lbs, but still have approx 40 lbs to go, and it’s getting more and more stubborn. I’ve been doing Insanity for a month and am following this diet:
    1200-1400 calories
    30-50 grams of fat
    100-165 carbs
    I’m drinking 80-100oz of water daily & taking vitamins. It shows that I’m burning anywhere from 650-775 calories with the Insanity video program. I’m eating dinner before 6:30 and by 8:00pm I’m starving and I am extremely moody!! Help!!!! Anything I can change to speed up the weight loss and control my fatigue and moodiness in the evening? Thanks in advance for any advice :-)

    • Hello and congrats on your baby and your success so far :)

      If I were you, I’d reduce the carbs and replace them with fat. The lower your carbs, the lesser your appetite and hunger. Also make sure you stay away from appetite inducing foods such as sugar and wheat.

  47. Well I have been trying to lose weight for a while now and last year because of some constraints (being out of country and not really liking the food) helped me lose about 25lbs, but I have been back home now for about 8 months and gained about 15lbs right away. I have tried to jog 2-3 times a week and even weight lift 3-4 times weeks but nothing seems to work. I eat alot of indian food at home and I read that it has alot of cards and calories in it. This article is really informative and hopefully following some of these techniques I can lose some weight before summer come.

  48. Hi I’ve been low carb diet for ten days. Now but still weight the same and I do eat fruit in hope I can open my bowels please advise as I am in need to loses weight

    • I’m not sure what you’re asking? You should check out the free chat forum in a comment I mentioned above, you can get a lot of personalized support there.

  49. I wanna lose 11kilos by april. Do u think its possible?I’m 154cm n I’m 56kilos. I intend to practice tae bo for 30mins a day and strength training for 20mins and pilates for 30mins. What would u suggest my car intake be per day and wheter my goal is ideal. thank u kris

    • It might be possible if you are very strict on both the diet and exercise part, but working out so much you should expect to add some muscle mass as well.

      I’d eat at least 100-150 grams of carbs if you’re going to be exercising this much.

  50. Hi

    I have always had carb rich diet bread, potatoes, pasta etc, I have managed to reduce them and have lost quite a bit of weight but I am unsure about fruit. Are the carbs in fruit the same carbs as in bread? should I be reducing that as well?
    I am unsure about how to fill myself up without eating carbs.
    Many thanks

    • Hello Jan,
      there are mixed opinions on fruit and low-carb diets out there. In my opinion, you should judge them by how they make you feel.

      If you’re still losing weight, feel well and your digestion is good, then I don’t see any reason to cut back on fruit.

  51. Two questions: 1) What are your thoughts on Dreamfield’s pasta while on a low-carb diet? 2) Are there any benefits/drawbacks to going a couple of days on a diet comprised mostly of protein and few vegetables?Thank you in advance.

    • Hello Lisa, I’m not familiar with Dreamfield’s but pasta is a no-no on a low-carb diet.

      I don’t see any point in eating only protein and vegetables for a few days. Your body needs fats to function properly, but if it’s only a few days then it might be okay.

  52. Hi Kris

    I started my diet January 1st, 2012 and this is what I’ve been doing. I am 50 pounds over weight wearing a size 16 and I’m 5’6. My birthday is in 2months and I really would like to lose 3/4 pants sizes., what do you think of what I’ve been doing so far???

    ***January 1st -First Day Of Diet

  53. can you tell me what are some low carb foods? i’ve been dieting since the end of dec & have not lost 1 pound,iam a 57yr old female & need to lose about 10 llb i exercise 6 days a week to the point of a real sweat i do cardio treadmill some weights.

  54. It has been almost a year ago that I started exercising and dieting.I have lost 51 lbs and 29 inches all over.I Zumba 3 days a week burning about 600 calories.I also do cardio kickboxing 2 x a week burning around the same.I haven’t lost any weight in months and have been continuing to exercise and watch my diet.My scales will not budge I’m only maintaining my weight.I really want 10 more lbs gone!!I have lost a few inches over the last few months no weight:( what can I do to finally help me reach my goal?

    • If you’ve lost a few inches but no weight that means you’ve gained muscle to replace some of the fat. A good thing, if you ask me. Focusing on the number on the scale all the time is not necessarily a good idea.

      • Ok thanks!!I guess I will just keep doing what I’m doing and eventually it will happen lose weight and build muscle:)

  55. So basically I should start counting carbs everyday instead of calories? So I’d still need to be worrying about counting everything I eat?

  56. Stephanie says:

    Hi Kristjan! First off I would like to say: thank you for such a remarkable article; very, very informative!
    Secondly, I would like to ask for your help: So I am really trying to lose body fat. I’m “skinny fat”. My lower body (legs, thighs, buttocks) is in very great shape; well defined and muscular. However, my upper body is NOT! My arms have flab, my back has fat and so does my stomach. It’s not terrible, people can’t tell when clothed and I don’t look bad in a bathing suit but I can’t run without it jiggling or sit without it rolling up! (btw I don’t have a “lollipop” body shape. It’s all proportioned)
    I work out a lot; yet, I never lose my upper body fat. After extensive research, I have learned that the problem is in my diet so I have made a lifestyle change and began eating healthier.
    So I here is my question: How much carbs/sugar should I be consuming per day in order to rid my body of my upper body fat? I am 20yro, female, 5’1 tall, 123pounds, run about 4miles/day. I know you already stated an amount for athletes (high intensity exercise); nevertheless, I can’t help but to feel concerned about how much I, personally, should consume.
    Here is one last piece that is very important to me: I would really like to see some significant change by June (within 5 months).

    Thank you very much for you time.

    • Hello Stephanie, if I were you I’d do some experiments for a few weeks. Try to find a balance between optimal weight loss benefits without it hurting your workouts.

      I’m guessing that balance should be somewhere around 100-150 grams per day, but the most important thing should be to avoid sugar (and corn syrup) as well as wheat, both refined and whole, and trans fats.

      You may also need to address cheat days/meals. It’s fine to eat more one day of the week, with some healthy carbs, but eating a ton of sugar, wheat, trans fats, etc. may really hinder your progress, depending on how much you eat.

  57. Hi kris,
    You are such a great help for a lot of people. I greatly appreciate in advanced you response.
    I only need lose 10-15 pounds overall but that is kind of a lot for me because I’ m only about 5’ feet tall. I eat chicken as meat, I don’t really eat red meat as much but I like eggs. I have seen that you give portions of carbs, protein etc in grams but I’m more a visual person and not an expert or knowledgeable in counting grams. I was wondering if you could give me an example of a good breakfast, lunch and dinner meal that will allow me to loose weight (for instance: 2 eggs with vegetables for breakfast). I started to exercise and I do it 3 or 4 times a week for about 1.30 hour (with a maximum of 45 minutes of cardio).
    Thanks so much and if you don’t mind me asking. Where are you from? Gracias!! 

  58. Oh ..sorry I just read you are from Iceland… I was just curious to know since you were not very familiar with some our stores here in the states…

  59. I’ve been doing 20g carbs for 3 weeks but avent lost any weight, I’ve had mayonnaise, cheddar, cream and olive oil. Should I omit these until I’m at desired weight?

    • Nuts and cheese are low-carb, but if you eat too much of them then they may hinder your weight loss.

      It’s very hard for me to pinpoint any specific reason as to why you are not losing weight.

      Exercise helps too.

  60. I was recently diagnosed with graves disease which was treated with radioactive therapy in october. Followed by tapazole twice a day. My thyroid levels are now at a hypothyroid level and my endocrinologist has FINALLY started me on synthroid. I am starting to feel a little more like myself. Through this whole process I gained 15lbs. I am wondering if you have reccomendations for thyroid patients and if you find there is a good way to help jumpstart my metabolism. I know people with hypothyroidism tend to have a harder time with weight loss. I also typically run 2-3 miles/day on a treadmill and have been unable to do this due to my lack of energy. I am hoping to begin working out again once my levels start climbing and I feel up to it. Any advice you have would be great! Thanks!

  61. Last year I was on the Nutrisystem diet and lost almost 30 pounds but as soon as I stopped eating it, I gained most of it back. I have no idea why since I’m a very active person and eat right. Right now I’ve joined a gym and workout 3 time a day for 45 minutes during my lunch since I have to work. What do you think of these kinds of meals including Lean Cusine and Smart Ones?

  62. Chelsey Jones says:

    Thank you for your awesome information. I am currently 280 and have tried everything to lose weight. Giving up carbs has never been an option because I am in love with them. Finally, my eyes are open and I realize what I need to do. Salads here I come :). Thanks for all your help. I am planning to start with less than 100 grams of carbs per day

  63. I’ve been using myfitnesspal.com to enter all my foods & find it to be a great tool for tracking my carbs… also cals and fat… even sodium. I’ve manually set carbs at 140 per day and fat at 20 per day. I’m 230lbs, male 31. Week 1 I went down to 222lbs… nice to see but sounds like water and other junk just getting flushed.

  64. I have tried all kind of diets to get me back to 120 lbs (I am 5’6 and just turned 30 had 3 kids 3 sections too) anyhow I counted calories. Even eating 900 did nothing! So I started doing low carb and finally see loss. I eat 20 or less daily! 30 total (not net) at max.

    The issue I am having is calories though. I end up eating like 300 or less a day!! I don’t really work out other than chasing boys around and work from home at the pc or on my cell most all day and evening.

  65. Carlee says:

    Hi Kris.

    I have been on a diet for 2 mths now and it’s going great… I have lost a little over 15lbs and feeling alot better. I recently purchased 2 pairs of shorts and they are still snug around my bum. But I need to lose another 15lbs to get into em. But I’m short on time.. I leave for vacation in 2 weeks and I need to lose it by then… What do I do??? Just return them and get the bigger size? Or can I lose the weight?

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