Please tell me how to do a low carb diet...

...Tell me everything I can eat and can't eat. Tell me how many carbs I should eat in a day. Etcetera.

Not to sound too testy, but folks, that's what I wrote a book for. It took me six months and 240 pages to answer that question, and I'm not going to do it over again in an email to each person who asks!

The answer is just too complex. There's too many versions of a carb-controlled, insulin-controlling diet, and different diets work for different people. Some folks do best on a Basic Low Carb Diet, like Atkins or Protein Power, some do better on a hybridized diet, like the Mini-Binge approach (like the Heller's Carbohydrate Addict's Diet). Others will do fine on a diet that only cuts carbs way back, rather than cuts them out completely, so long as they eat only the carbs with the most modest blood sugar impact -- for instance, my Careful Carb Diet, or the more liberal version of Sugarbusters. Some people do well on a diet with as much as 100-150 grams a day of carb, while others have to cut all the way back to a measly 20 grams a day. When I was 19, I dropped sugar and white flour completely out of my diet, but kept eating other carbs -- whole wheat bread, brown rice, stuff like that -- and I lost weight. However, at age 41 that approach no longer works for me.

I don't know your family health history, your personal health history, how overweight you are, how long you've had a weight problem. I don't know whether your problem is primarily physical, or if you have major emotional issues regarding food to deal with as well. I don't know how active you are. I don't know whether you're a vegetarian or not. I don't know if you have strong food likes and dislikes, or are willing to eat just about anything. All of these factors, and many others I haven't thought of right here, will make a difference in which version of a carb controlled diet is right for you.

The basics of low carb dieting are, of course, implicit in the term: Cut your carb intake way the heck back, and see what happens. The concentrated carb foods are the starches -- bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereal, crackers, chips, etc -- and sweets, including "natural" sweets like honey and many fruits. No candy, ice cream, cookies, donuts, danish, etc. The big "do eat" rule is "Eat plenty of protein foods": meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu. Some cheese, although more than 3-4 ounces a day is a problem for many. Don't worry about restricting fats, but eat only healthy, unprocessed fats, no vegetable shortening or margarine.

So them's the basics. But there's a lot of variations, and a lot of factors that make a difference. Obviously, I think it would be nice if you read my book. But there's a lot of other good books on low carb dieting out there: Protein Power, Sugar Busters, Atkins, The Schwarzbein Principle, Healthy For Life, etc. Each of these approaches has been excellent for some, and dreadful for others. (I, by way of example, simply loathe The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet. But I know folks for whom it's been great.) If you suspect that you're carb intolerant (Three good clues: 1) You carry your fat disproportionately on your abdomen, 2) You're starving again within 60-90 minutes of eating a good-sized serving of high carb food and 3) You have nasty carb cravings), then you owe it to yourself to do the research and experimenting necessary to find the version of a carb controlled diet that you can live with for life, because that's what it will take.


If you'd like to make a modest start at the diet while figuring out which book to read first, (Hint: READ MINE! READ MINE!! ;-D), here's what I suggest: First, start eating a high protein breakfast every day -- 2-3 eggs, or a couple of sausage patties, a big slice of ham (bacon doesn't count. Not enough protein), a hamburger patty, a couple of slices of cheese -- something like that. Don't eat any muffins, danish, donuts, Pop Tarts, cold cereal, toast, stuff like that. And don't drink juice -- if you really love fruit at breakfast, have a half a dozen strawberries, or a wedge of cantaloupe or honeydew. And no sugar in your coffee or tea, and no sugared soda pop! See what this does to your appetite for the rest of the day! I think you'll be amazed.

After you've done this for a couple of days, knock out everything with sugar (or corn syrup, or honey, or malt syrup, or...) or white flour. For some this will be enough, for others, you'll need a more detailed approach.

So in the meanwhile, do some reading, will you? :-)