A low-carb diet for beginners

A low-carb diet for beginners

A low-carb diet is low in carbohydrates, like sugary foods, pasta and bread. Instead, you eat real foods including protein, natural fats and vegetables.

Studies show that low-carb diets result in weight loss and improved health markers, and just about everyone knows someone who has successfully tried it.


There’s not even any need to count calories or use special products. So why is it still controversial?

Learn more about low carb and how to use it for your personal goals here. Choose a section or keep reading below.

Introduction to low carb
1. Introduction
What to eat on low carb
2. What to eat
3. Benefits
Low-Carb Guides and Tips
4. Tips and guides
Side Effects, Fears & Potential Dangers
5. Side effects & myths
Learn more about low carb
6. Become an expert
Low carb and keto for doctors
For doctors


2. What to eat on a low-carb diet

In this section you can learn exactly what to eat on low carb, whether you prefer visual guides, detailed food lists, delicious recipes or a simple get started guide.

Let’s start with a quick visual guide to low carb. Here are the basic food groups you can eat all you like of, until you’re satisfied:

Low-carb diet foods: Natural fats (butter, olive oil); Meat; Fish and seafood; Eggs; Cheese; Vegetables that grow above ground

The numbers above are grams of digestible carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Fiber is not counted, you can eat all the fiber you want.

All foods above are below 5% carbs. Sticking to these foods will make it relatively easy to stay on a strict low-carb diet, with less than 20 grams of carbs per day.

Try to avoid

Here’s what you should not eat on low carb – foods full of sugar and starch. As you can see, these foods are much higher in carbs.

Foods to avoid on low carb: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit, beer, soda, juice, candy

The numbers are grams of digestible carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), unless otherwise noted.

What to drink

Low-carb drinks

So what do you drink on low carb? Water is perfect, and so is coffee or tea. Ideally, use no sweeteners. A modest amount of milk or cream is OK (but beware of caffe latte!).

The occasional glass of wine is fine too.

Check out our full guides to low-carb drinks and low-carb alcohol.

Visual low-carb guides

Here are more detailed visual guides to the amount of carbs in common foods. Is a specific food item low or high in carbs? Click to find out:

Low-Carb Vegetables
Low-Carb Fruits
Low-Carb Snacks
Low-Carb Alcohol
Low-carb drinks
20 and 50 grams of carbs in different ways
How many carbs?

Recipes and meal plans

Browse our over 500 delicious low-carb recipes or head over to our 14-day low-carb meal plan for inspiration. You can always find our recipes via the “Recipes” link in the top grey menu. Here are a few popular ones:

Use our premium meal planner tool (free trial) to access tons of weekly meals plans, complete with shopping lists. You can adapt the plans to your liking, skipping any meal, choosing how many people you’re cooking for, and the shopping lists adapt.

Here’s an example meal plan:

Keto salad Niçoise
Keto Indian cabbage stir-fry
Buffalo chicken with paprika mayo and butter-fried cabbage
Keto shrimp and artichoke plate

How low is low carb?

The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the bigger the effects on weight and blood sugar will be. We recommend following the dietary advice as strictly as you can. When you’re happy with your weight and health, you may carefully try eating more liberally (if you want to).

Here are three examples of what a low-carb meal can look like, depending on how many carbs you eat per day:

Ketogenic 0-20

Moderate 20-50

Liberal 50-100

A strict low-carb diet is often called a ketogenic (or “keto”) diet.

Video course

Here’s an 11-minute video course on how to eat low carb, high fat. Sign up for our free newsletter


for instant access to it:

Get started

Keen to get started? Then sign up for our free 2-week low-carb challenge, where you’ll be guided step-by-step through your low-carb journey.

Advice on low carb in 40 languages

We have written advice on a low-carb, high-fat diet in 40 languages. Note especially that we have two more Diet Doctor sites in other languages, with this guide in Spanish or Swedish. Just press this small grey note symbol to choose between other languages:


4. Low-carb tips and guides

To make low carb truly simple and enjoyable requires a few new skills. For example, how do you cook low-carb breakfasts that you love? How do you eat more fat? And what’s important to think about when dining out?

Here are all the guides you need.


Breakfast is a great time to eat low carb. Who doesn’t love bacon and eggs? In the unlikely event that you answered “I”, there are even great options with no eggs at all.

Another strong option is to just have a cup of coffee, as many people get less hungry on a low-carb, high-fat diet and don’t really need breakfast at all. This potentially saves you tons of time.


So, what’s for lunch and dinner? You could for example have meat, fish or chicken dishes with vegetables and a rich full-fat sauce. There are a million alternatives.

Instead of potatoes, pasta and rice

Who needs starchy sides when you can have cauliflower mash or cauliflower rice instead? Not to mention butter-fried green cabbage, yum!

In short, there are lots of great low-carb alternatives to carb-rich foods that are both tastier and healthier

Dining out

How do you eat low carb at buffets, at a friend’s house or at fast-food restaurants? The basic idea is to avoid the starchy foods (like bread or pasta) and instead ask for additional natural fat, like butter or olive oil (so you’ll still be satisfied).

There are many more helpful things to know. This guide explains it all


You probably don’t need to snack as much on low carb, as you’ll feel satisfied longer.

However, if you want something right away you could have cheese, nuts, cold cuts or even an egg. There are lots of amazing options


Do you have a hard time living without bread?

There are good and bad low-carb options. Spoiler: you’ll probably want to stay away from “low-carb” bread from the grocery store! Here’s why, and what to do instead


How to eat more fat

Fat is filling and an amazing flavor enhancer. But how do you get in enough of it in your diet? And how much fat should you really eat? Hint: enough to feel satisfied and not hungry.


Avoiding special products

Another common mistake on a low-carb diet is being fooled by the creative marketing of special “low-carb” products. Remember: An effective low-carb diet for weight loss should be based on real food.

Low-carb products like chocolate, candy, pasta and bread often use all kinds of deceptive marketing, while really being junk food – including carbs – in disguise. Learn more

(Picture credit: KetoDiet)


How to make low carb cheap

Low carb doesn’t have to be expensive. In this guide, you’ll learn how to make it super cheap.

With a little planning and preparation you could save a ton of money

low-carb cheating

Low-carb cheating

To cheat or not to cheat? This guide will help you decide, and if you do decide to cheat, it will help you do it smarter

More guides

Do you want more low-carb guides? We have more low-carb guides!

Low carb when traveling
How To Stay Low Carb When You Don’t Want To Cook
Low carb without cooking
Low carb for kids
Succeeding in a high-carb world
How to gain (lean) weight on low carb
Finding low-carb extras online

Here are a few of our hundreds of low-carb TV videos, these ones are focussed on low-carb basics:


Low-carb diet constipation
Low-carb bad breath
Bad breath
Low carb and breastfeeding
Potential danger when breastfeeding
Low carb and gallstones
Gallstone problems
Low carb and hair loss
Temporary hair loss
Keto Rash
Keto rash
Low carb and ketoacidosis

6. Learn more

Here’s the sixth and final section of this low-carb page. Do you want to truly understand low carb, and get answers to your remaining questions? Or do you want extra inspiration for yourself or for people you’re trying to help?

Find it here, and start becoming a low-carb expert.

Low-carb TV

Low-carb TV

Get insight, enjoyment and inspiration to help you succeed, from the top low-carb channel on the planet.

Select from hundreds of awesome videos – and we’re adding several more every week. Enjoy!

Low-carb TV

How low carb works

What are you designed to eat, and why can sugar and starch be a problem? Essentially, how does low carb work?

Low-carb questions and answers

Questions and answers

Are you having problems on low carb? Are you not losing weight like you want to? How many carbs should you eat?

Why fat is your friend

Why fat is your friend

A lot of people still fear natural fat. But really, the whole idea that we should fear fat is based on a scientific mistake, and most open-minded experts now admit it.

Just witness the recent TIME cover to the right, with the text “Eat Butter. Scientists labelled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.”

Low-carb events

Upcoming low-carb and keto events

Do you want to meet other low-carb and keto fans and experts? Here’s an updated list of upcoming low-carb and keto events around the world.

The Food Revolution

Do you want a summary of the ongoing food revolution? From failed low-fat diets and an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, through a growing realization of our mistakes, and towards a potential health revolution.

Watch this talk by Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, the founder of Diet Doctor:


You’ve reached the end of this page (congratulations!). Keep reading about what to eat on a low-carb diet

How to lose weight
Get inspired by 500+ low-carb success stories
Get inspired by delicious low-carb recipes

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Author: Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt
Author URL: https://www.dietdoctor.com/authors/dr-andreas-eenfeldt
Original Article Location: https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb