free web hosting | free website | Business Web Hosting | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting

Free Lake Scene Screen Saver

Low Carbohydrate F.A.Q.
A Brief Introduction to Low Carbohydrate Diets
And Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you are in the right place.
This is the original Lowcarb FAQ that used to be on the TalkCity server.
The FAQ was moved here to Bravenet when TalkCity experienced instability in 2002.

The author of the Lowcarb FAQ, Wally Ballou,
passed away 12/24/02 after a brief battle with an
unusually aggressive form of liver cancer.
His illness was in no way related to his lowcarb diet and lifestyle.
For the forseeable future, this FAQ will remain here at
Please be patient with us during this transitional period.

We've started a condolence guestbook for those who knew Wally or for those who found his FAQ useful
and wanted to leave a kind note for his family...
please leave your message at

The lowcarb chats, formerly hosted by Lynne Axiax, have found a new home at Starchat. We've recently merged with the lowcarb chats from The homepage is  They have support for MSN TV, and a java chat app for web use.  The problem with the Java app is that the security certificate has expired.  I have been able to tell Netscape version 4.7x and MSIE 5.5 to accept the certificte and run the app fine, but I have not been able to get MSIE 6, and Netscape 6.23 to swallow it.  However, the best solution is to use a normal IRC client program.  We've have had good results with both mIRC and pIRCh98 (starchat offers slightly customized versions of both of these, but you're not required to use those).  If you have some other favorite IRC client, give it a try. And yes, Lynne does pop in for a chat every now and then.

Server:, port 6667.  As always, the channel is #lowcarb (the # not needed in the Java chat app).  The schedule is unchanged: Sundays at 9:30 pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 9:00 pm (all times eastern US).

And now, back to our regularly scheduled FAQ...

The purpose of this document is to provide a brief introduction to the concept of low carbohydrate diets, an overview of many of the most popular plans, and answers to the many questions common to virtually all beginning lowcarb dieters. Even careful reading of one or more of the major LC books will not provide answers to many seemingly simple questions. It is specifically not my intention to give detailed or comprehensive answers here. These are all meant to be brief answers with only the most basic explanation of each item. Where possible, this means no more than a sentence or two. Where appropriate, links are provided to websites with more complete information. Otherwise, further information can be found by reading the books, and searching the websites and archive sites listed below.

Any lowcarb support page is welcome to link to this page.

Please take the time to read and save this document. It is intended to provide simple answers to the most common questions of beginning lowcarb dieters, and a handy reference for the more experienced.

Lowcarb Basics

Low carbohydrate diets are based on the theory that many people can not consume large amounts of carbohydrate foods without having their bodies create, and store large amounts of body fat. It is a virtual opposite of the "food pyramid" prescribed by most nutrition authorities. Prohibited (or severely limited) foods are all starches and sugars, including all grains, cereals, potatoes, and foods made with them. Allowed foods are all meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, fats/oils, some dairy products (heavy cream, butter, and some cheeses), most green vegetables, and a few other relatively low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables (note: unlike other meats and fish, liver and mollusks contain carbohydrates, and therefore must be limited, see "Carbohydrate counts" in the main section of the FAQ). Unlike other diets, most low carbohydrate diets do not stress calorie restriction. You eat allowed foods until you're satisfied, and should never be hungry. The only other important requirement is to drink a large amount of water, but this is now the recommended by all health professionals for everyone, whether on any kind of “diet” or not (see the entry on water, below).

How low is “low?” Low Carbohydrate is roughly defined as any diet which involves under 100g of carbohydrate for the average person. While this will be way too high for many (perhaps most) of us who have already suffered severe metabolic disruption and have considerable weight to lose, it is still low enough for some to experience the metabolic changes and benefits that are characteristic of a lowcarb diet.

There are very significant differences between "low fat" and "low carb" diets. When you starve your body of calories, protein, and fat (as on the standard "low-fat/low calorie weight loss diet), it burns large amounts of both fat AND muscle to provide fuel. You lose weight, but the loss of muscle tissue not only shows physically, but it also reduces your basic metabolic rate, so you need to cut calories EVEN MORE! On a proper lowcarb diet, your body burns mostly FAT (maybe ONLY fat), and preserves your lean muscle tissue. If you do any exercise, you will even ADD lean muscle while still losing fat, thereby INCREASING your basic metabolic rate, and ENHANCING the loss of fat. Since muscle is more dense than fat, you may very well find yourself fitting much smaller size clothing than you think you should at your new weight. This is also the reason that you must check your measurements as well as your weight, since you may at times be getting leaner, while not getting any lighter (but that's a GOOD thing!).

Another difference is the lack of hunger and the absence of "cravings." According to several theories, for some people carbohydrates act very much like an addictive drug. The more they eat, the more they crave those foods. On a low carbohydrate diet, once past the initial few days, those cravings significantly diminish, or disappear completely. Also, most of these plans allow you to eat as much of the allowed foods as you need to be satisfied.

Please remember that these diets are all different to some degree. Foods that may be allowed on one, may not be allowed on another. When in doubt, always follow the plan you have chosen, at least until you have gained enough experience to understand the possible consequences of any changes you may want to make.

NOTICE: This document should not be used to replace professional medical advice or your own judgment. If you suffer from any serious medical problems other than "overweight," or take any prescription drugs, you must determine for yourself if there is any potential conflict with the requirements of these diets. After your own doctor, your primary source of information about your lowcarb diet should come from one of the reputable books which have been published on the subject (several are listed below). This FAQ merely contains facts and opinions accumulated by many people who follow the low carbohydrate way of life. This information may or may not be useful or applicable to your particular situation.

Another special note...  My apologies for allowing both the books and links areas to get a bit stale.  I will be sprucing them up soon, so please feel free to drop me a note (see the bottom of the page) with any useful info for those sections.  The main "F.A.Q." section doesn't really get outdated, but I do have some minor changes and additions for that too.



Beyond this point, this document assumes that you already know the basics of low carbohydrate dieting from reading one of the major books on the subject. If you have not done so, please read one or more of the following:

"Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution"by Robert C. Atkins, M.D., 1992. Paperback edition published by Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-72729-3 (New, revised hardcover edition, published February 1999, National Book Network; ISBN: 0871318865).

Official website:

A fairly simple, ketogenic lowcarb plan. While Dr. Atkins' writing style sometimes seems better suited to an infomercial, the diet is easy to understand. Many people get confused by paying too much attention to the "induction" section, which is only supposed to last for two weeks. The "OWL" (Ongoing Weight Loss) section is meant to be the main weight loss portion, and should be read carefully to fully understand the Atkins plan. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no fixed carb limit on the Atkins plan. While many people choose to remain at "induction" levels (see FAQ entry on Induction), OWL involves finding your own tolerance for carbohydrate intake. Portions and calories are largely unregulated. Note: since the publication of the book, Dr. Atkins has approved the subtraction of insoluble fiber from carb counts.

"Protein Power" by Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D., 1996. Paperback edition published by Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-57475-2

“The Protein Power Lifeplan : A New Comprehensive Blueprint for Optimal Health” by Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D., 2000.Hardcover edition published by Warner Books. ISBN: 0446525766

Official Website:

Similar to the Atkins diet, but not expressly ketogenic. "Protein Power" provides a far more detailed and technical description of the diet and related health problems. Carbohydrate levels are prescribed for each level of the diet, and some attention is given to portion control. Still, there is more emphasis on getting enough protein, and eating until you are satisfied, than on limiting calories. Protein Power is also advertised through television "infomercials." They sell a large package containing the book, audio tapes, and a few other items. Most people do perfectly well with just the inexpensive paperback book, but others appreciate the extra features of the large package. Note: since the publication of the book, the Eades' have reversed their opinion on flax oil, and now advocate its use as a dietary supplement (further information may be found at their website).

The “Lifeplan” book includes both the principles of the older book, and the principles of a paleolithic diet in a comprehensive approach to diet, weight loss, and general health.

"The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet" by Dr. Rachael F. Heller and Dr. Richard F. Heller, 1993. Paperback edition published by Signet. ISBN 0451173392

"The Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program" by Dr. Rachael F. Heller and Dr. Richard F. Heller, 1998. Paperback edition published by Plume ISBN 0452278384

Official Website:

Restricts carbohydrates far less than Atkins or PP. These diets are based on controlling the types of carbohydrate foods, and how they are combined with other foods. The daily "Reward Meal" allows limited amounts of almost any food under controlled conditions. This concept appeals to many people, but some find that it does not control carbohydrate cravings as well as a more restrictive lowcarb plan. Note: The requirements for the reward meal were redefined in the newer book: 2 cups salad, then divide meal into thirds by VOLUME: 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbs, 1/3 lowcarb vegetables. Although the Hellers are not medical doctors, their plans have worked for many people, but they have been known to make inaccurate statements criticizing other major lowcarb plans.  Don't let this put you off of their plans if you find them appealing, but if their plans don't work out for you, don't let their comments dissuade you from trying the other lowcarb plans.

"Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution" by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D., Timothy J. Aubert, Frank Vinicor.  2000. Hardcover edition published by Little Brown & Company. ISBN 0-316-09344-0

Official Website:

A type I diabetic since childhood, Richard Bernstein found conventional methods for managing his condition to be inadequate.  Seeing himself start to deteriorate at an early age, he refused to accept that there wasn't a better way.  Although he was an engineer at the time, he began extensive investigations, and made use of some of the earliest "personal" electronic blood glucose monitors to try to work out something better.  With his own good results, he submitted papers to medical journals, but without medical credentials he was largely ignored.  So in his 40's, he abandoned his engineering career, went to medical school, and became an MD.  His book is a virtual manual for total management of Type I (IDDM), and Type II (NIDDM) Diabetes, which incorporates a low carbohydrate diet as a major component. This book should probably be required reading for all diabetics, and makes very interesting and valuable reading for anybody involved with low carbohydrate diets.

"G/O Diet, G/O Diet Jr. (for children)" by Jack M. Goldberg, Ph.D. and Karen O'Mara, D.O., 1999, paperback edition published by Go Corp. ISBN 0967084601

Official Websites:

Similar to other popular lowcarb plans, the G/O (Goldberg/O'Mara) diet is aimed at those people who do not get an improvement in blood lipids ("cholesterol") while following those plans.  The major difference from plans like Atkins and Protein Power is the inclusion of certain dairy products, and a stress on including mostly monounsaturated fats. The basics of the plan are available online at the site shown above, but the book provides even more useful information.

"NeanderThin” (Eat Like A Caveman To Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body)" by Ray Audette, with Troy Gilchrist, 1999. Hardcover edition published by St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-24338-3

Official Website:

A "paleolithic" diet plan, NeanderThin is based on the idea that humans should not eat any foods that are not edible in their natural state. This eliminates any food that must be processed or cooked to be made edible by humans.  These include most concentrated carbohydrate sources like grains and grain products (wheat, barley, corn, rye, rice, etc.), beans/legumes, and potatoes. Also prohibited are manufactured and highly refined foods like alcohol, vinegar, and refined sugars, and any other foods not generally available to "hunter/gatherer" societies, such as animal milk and milk products. Not to be confused with a "raw food" diet which advocates that allowed foods should only be eaten raw, NeanderThin assumes that meats will be eaten cooked, and allowed plant foods eaten cooked or raw as desired. While not necessarily a lowcarb diet, and not originally conceived as a weight loss diet, NeanderThin can be both.  As with many other plans, this one evolved from the author's need to address personal health problems which did not respond well to conventional medical management.  It turns out that this kind of diet is very compatible with the principles behind lowcarb.  If not being followed for weight loss, it allows many fruits and vegetables which would be prohibited or limited in lowcarb weight loss plans, but by limiting fruits, the other benefits of the plan are maintained, and weight loss can be achieved as with other lowcarb plans. Even without committing to going completely "paleo," some followers of other lowcarb plans find it helpful to also follow some or all of the restrictions in this type of diet.

Most LC dieters find the following books interesting or useful:

"The Complete Book of Food Counts" by Corinne T. Netzer, 6th edition 2000. Paperback edition published by Dell. ISBN 0-440-22563-9

Considered by many to be the best source for nutritional information on calories, carbohydrate, protein, fat, fiber, and sodium. Includes thousands of foods, including popular brand name packaged foods, and fast foods. There are many other good nutrition and "carbohydrate counter" books available, but this volume provides more complete information, and seems to cover more food items. Netzer also publishes a "carb counter" book, which seems to list the same foods as this, but omits all the other useful data, as well as an even more comprehensive "Encyclopedia of Food Values," but that is probably more information than you really need.

“The Schwarzbein Principle : The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger “ by Diana Schwarzbein and Nancy Deville, 1999. Paperback edition published by Health Communications. ISBN: 1558746803

“The Schwarzbein Principle Vegetarian Cookbook” by Diana Schwarzbein, Nancy Deville, Evelyn Jaffe, 1999. Paperback edition published by Health Communications. ISBN: 155874682X

More about metabolic healing than just weight loss, Dr Schwarzbein explains why low calorie, low fat, low protein diet fails and the damage they can do to your body. Her healing program breaks foods into 4 categories; meats, fats, non starchy vegetables, and carbohydrates. Meats, fats, and non starchy vegetables are unlimited. Carbohydrates are limited by activity level, weight goals, and health. Caffeine, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, over the counter medicine are among several stimulates that are discouraged.

While the general plan is not vegetarian, and the book contains some recipes, vegetarians might find the vegetarian cookbook useful for this and other lowcarb plans.

"The Zone: A Dietary Road Map"by Barry Sears and Bill Lawren, 1995. Hardcover edition published by HarperCollins. ISBN 0-060-39150-2

Official Website:

Not really a lowcarb diet, but it is significantly lower carb than most "conventional" diets. Some LC dieters consider this a possible pattern for long-term maintenance. The famous, Boston based Legal Seafoods restaurants feature a Zone meal on their menu.

"Sugar Busters!” (Cut Sugar to Trim Fat) by H. Leighton Steward (Editor), Morrison C. Bethea, Sam S. MD Andrews, Ralph O. Brennan, Luis A. Balart, 1998. Hardcover edition published by Ballantine. ISBN 0345425588

Official Website:

Like The Zone, not really a lowcarb diet, but another possibility for maintenance, and/or occasional "vacations" from strict lowcarb. This one is based on the Glycemic Index (see entry in main FAQ section, below). Very popular in its home town of New Orleans, many of that city's famous restaurants feature Sugar Busters selections on their menus

"Adiposity 101" by Chuck Forsberg

Although not a published book, and not a diet plan, this document contains an excellent summary of the scientific basis for the low carbohydrate diet. It can be found at:

"The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner" by Lyle McDonald, 1999. Paperback edition published by Morris Publishing; ISBN: 0-967-14560-0

A more technical book, aimed at explaining the scientific basis for these diets. While it is not a "diet book" in the usual sense, it should be useful to anyone who wants more basic, scientific information than the other books provide.

Lowcarb for Children:

"Carbohydrate-Addicted Kids: Help Your Child or Teen Break Free of Junk Food and Sugar Cravings-For Life!" by Rachael F. Heller, Richard Ferdinand Heller, 1998. Paperback edition published by HarperCollins; ISBN: 0060929502

"Feed Your Kids Well: How to Help Your Child Lose Weight and Get Healthy" by Fred Pescatore, Robert Atkins (Introduction), 1998. Hardcover edition published by John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 047124855X

"G/O Diet Jr."(see "G/O Diet" above)


IMPORTANT: Below, in the main FAQ section, you will find quick answers to many questions you have now, and many more that you will probably have later. In many cases, the complete answers require far more technical and detailed information than can be provided here. That information can usually be found at larger lowcarb websites, several of which are listed here. By following these links, and further following the other links you will find at these sites, you should be able to find most of the information you need (probably far more than you ever imagined). Before posting questions to online discussion groups, please visit these sites and look for your answers there.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Acesulfame-K (potassium): An artificial sweetener. Although available in the US for several years, it is only now appearing as a sweetener in other products. It is heat-stable, so it may be used in cooking. Available in "packets" called "Sweet One." Official website at (also see: Artificial sweeteners)

Alcohol: A highly controversial item. At most, some LC diets allow, or even encourage a small amount of dry wine, and some allow a little lowcarb light beer as an occasional treat. If consuming alcohol creates cravings for carbohydrate foods, you should not use it. If you are having difficulties, you might try eliminating it from your diet. It is usually suggested that lowcarb beginners simply avoid all alcohol for a while. That way if you choose to add it later, you will be easily be able to see if it's going to cause any problems for you.

Artificial sweeteners: Some lowcarb authorities say don't use them, others say use them in moderation if you want, and still others say use them but try dropping them if you're not losing weight. If you use them, watch the carb count. Packets have about 1 gram of carbohydrate each, from the "filler" or "carrier" (usually dextrose), which can add up, "measure" type table products can have even more carbs. Tablet forms have little or no carbohydrate content. Saccharin tablets usually have zero carbs, aspartame tablets usually have a little (NutraSweet brand have 0.1 gm per tablet). Liquid forms generally have no carbs at all, since the "filler" is water. Diet sodas generally have no significant carbs unless they have real fruit juices added. HINT: combining different sweeteners sometimes produces a better taste than any one individually. The sweetening effect may even be magnified, so you can try using less than the stated equivalence might indicate. (also see: Acesulfame-K; Aspartame; Cyclamates; Saccharin; Stevia; Splenda)

Aspartame: Currently the most popular artificial sweetener in the US. The main ingredient in Equal and Nutra-Sweet, but also available under other brand names (generally in "blue" packets). Aspartame breaks down and loses its sweetening power when heated, so it should not be used in most cooked foods. If using with hot foods, add it as late as possible, or just before serving. (also see: Artificial sweeteners)

Atkins bars: (see: Protein bars)

Bad breath: (see: Keto breath)

Baken-Ets: A brand of fried pork rinds manufactured by Frito-Lay. (also see: Pork rinds)

Blood donation: Long-term lowcarbers report no unusual difficulties in donating blood. Just be prepared to firmly refuse the juice and high carb snacks they will offer you. Bring your own bottled water if you're not sure they offer it, and if you usually eat something after donating, just bring your own LC snack. While you probably won't "double" your water intake as they usually instruct, you might want to get at least a little more than your usual amount.

Blood type diet: Anecdotal evidence offered by participants in LC discussion groups seems to indicate that there is no firm connection between blood type and the kind of diet that best works for any individual (if there is any connection at all).

Bodyflex: An exercise program, which is heavily advertised on "infomercials." It has no particular connection to lowcarb, but for some reason many people seen to feel that there is something attractive about it, and it is frequently-asked-about (maybe they just like the name?). If you want to know more about it, watch late night TV for the infomercial. Before you order it, do a general web search for "Bodyflex," you will find a great deal of information, some favorable, some unfavorable.

Body Mass Index: The new "official" method for determining "ideal weight." While allowing a range of acceptable weights for a given height, no other allowance is made for gender or for LBM (lean body mass). Many lowcarb dieters, especially those who do strength training/muscle-building exercise, find that this standard produces unrealistically low numbers.

Body Composition Calculations: There are various methods for determining body composition. The most accurate are supposed to be the "immersion" method (being dunked in water), and skinfold measurements. However, many lowcarbers seem to get reasonable results using one of several calculation methods based on a few simple body measurements. One of these methods can be found in the "Protein Power" book. There are also calculators available online, some of which are listed in the "Links" section of the FAQ. Even though the numbers produced by these calculators might be less accurate than skinfold and immersion tests, they can be very useful as an additional means of tracking your relative progress.

Bran-A-Crisp: (see: Crispbreads)

Bread, lowcarb: (see: Too good to be true)

Breakfast: After the novelty of "bacon and eggs" wears off, many beginners ask "what else can I eat for breakfast?" The answer is: anything you eat any other time! Lose your prejudices about what foods "belong" in certain meals. If you don't want to spend time cooking breakfast, cook some extra food at dinner and have the leftovers for breakfast. Open a can of tuna or sardines, fry a hamburger, have a protein shake (if you use them), be creative!

Breast feeding: (see: Pregnancy)

Brown adipose tissue: A metabolically active form of body fat.

Cabbage soup diet: A "miracle food" fad diet hoax. (also see: Mayo Clinic Diet)

Caffeine: (see: Coffee and caffeine; Stack)

Candida: (see: Yeast infections)

Candy: On a regular basis, some misguided lowcarber will go overboard in worrying about bad breath. They then announce their amazing discovery that something like Altoids, Tic-Tacs, Smints, or some similar product has "only" 2, 1, or even "zero" grams of carbohydrate. The fact is that these things are still just CANDY... virtually pure, refined sugar. There are far better ways to use your carb allowance, and there are better alternatives for dealing with "bad breath." (also see: Food labels; Keto-breath)

Canfield's diet chocolate soda: Although this is the topic of repeated rounds of questions, there is nothing really special about it. But many people like it, and if you're using diet sodas and artificial sweeteners any way, there's no reason not to try it, or one of the many other similar products. If you don't know where to buy it, ask your local grocer, or contact AJ Canfield Beverage Co., 50 E 89th Pl, Chicago, IL, 60619, 773-483-7000. Polar Diet Double Chocolate Fudge soda is similar, available in northeastern US (contact: Polar Beverages, 40 Walcott St, Worcester, MA 01603 (800) 734-9800). Faygo makes a chocolate creme flavor (contact Faygo Beverages, Inc., 3579, Gratiot Ave., Detroit, MI 48207 313-925-1600) Similar products may be available in other areas (ASK your local grocer!). Add some heavy cream to this or other flavor diet sodas for a special treat (also known as a "farmer's soda"). (also see: Treats)

Carbohydrate counts: Comprehensive information is available through the books and links shown above. The following unexpected carbohydrate sources cause the most questions and confusion. (also see: Food labels)

Cheating: Relax, we all do it… Actually, unless you think you’re going to fool your own body, it’s not really a “cheat,” it’s just a “break” from your normal lowcarb routine. Just remember that this can be a dangerous thing, and some people will get overconfident and lose control for weeks or months. A good way to prevent this is to set strict limits before you start. Whether it’s one piece of cake, one meal, one day, or even longer, when it’s over, it’s OVER. Just go back to the strictest level of your diet, and stay on it until you feel back to normal. If you experience carb cravings, eat plenty of meat and fat, and ALWAYS keep drinking the water! But... remember that even a small cheat can cause an immediate weight gain (it's only "water" but the scale doesn't know that), AND... it can halt your progress for many days or longer. If you "cheat" on your plan even a little, you cannot claim that the plan doesn't work. So... DON'T get upset about cheating, but DO understand the possible consequences.

Cheesecake, lowcarb: Many recipes have been posted to the mailing lists. Look for them in the mailing list archives. There is also a recipe in DANDR. More recipes can be found through the recipe links at the Lowcarb Retreat and other LC sites. (also see: Treats)

Cheese: Most lowcarb plans allow some cheese.  Some people can just eat as much as their carb allowance will allow, but others seem to find that even a small amount can cause a problem completely out of proportion to the carb content. (also see: Dairy products)

Cheese crisps: Made from cheese, cooked in a microwave oven, or in a non-stick frying pan until it turns into a crispy wafer. Check the mailing list archives for many hints and techniques for making them. Further information about these and other LC "treats" can also be found through the general links listed above. (also see: Treats; Cheese; Dairy products)

Chocolate soda: (see: Canfield's chocolate soda)

Cholesterol: According to Dr. Atkins, approximately two out of three people will see an improvement in their blood lipid profiles with a lowcarb diet alone. For those who do not respond well, there are other supplements and dietary changes, which can be tried (you'll have to read the books for the details). The general advice is to have a blood test before you start a lowcarb plan, and then follow the plan faithfully for at least three months before testing again to evaluate your progress. (also see: “G/O Diet” in the books section above)

Citric acid: Found in many soft drinks and some other foods. It is thought to hinder ketosis in some LC dieters. If you are having difficulties, you might try eliminating this from your diet.

Coffee and caffeine: Some authorities say don't use them, others say use them if you want, and still others say use them but try dropping them if you're not losing weight. If you use these, remember that brewed coffee has 0.8 gm of carbohydrate per 6 oz (178 ml). These numbers may seem small, but if you add up what might go into that giant 32 oz. iced coffee (including cream and sugar fillers from AS), you could easily come up with 10 grams or more. Also, caffeine acts as a diuretic, so you may want to drink even more water to compensate.

Compacting: The scale doesn't move, but you lose inches and your clothing get looser.

Constipation: (see: Irregularity)

Cough and cold medications: There are low and no-carb alternatives to most of the typical medications. “Diabetic” cough syrups contain the same medications as the regular versions, and all the active ingredients of products like NyQuil are available in pill form. “Sugar Free” cough drops are not low carb, but most throat irritation can be soothed with throat sprays, which generally do not contain carbs. If you need any help choosing these alternatives, ask your pharmacist for assistance. (also see: Sugar alcohols; Sugar free; and the URL in the Links section for carbs in medications)

Cravings: (see: Cheating)

Crispbreads: A cracker-like "bread." When fiber content is subtracted, some varieties of these contain very little carbohydrate, and make a good LC treat. Be sure to check the labels, as different varieties have different carb content. Available in most grocery stores, usually with the crackers, or near the "gourmet" cheese section (if you don't see them, ASK!). Look for Wasa (Fiber Rye flavor), Bran-A-Crisp, FiberRich, or similar sounding names. (also see: Treats)

Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing: Part of the Atkins diet plan, which involves finding the amount of carbohydrate you can consume while still allowing weight loss.

Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, mustard greens, rutabagas and turnips. Generally thought to be beneficial by advocates of other types of diets, these are also highly recommended by lowcarb advocates.  Just be aware of the carb counts, especially with the turnips and rutabagas.

Cyclamates: An artificial sweetener not available in the US, despite the fact that there are questions about the validity of the tests which showed that it might have dangerous side effects. Cyclamates are heat-stable, so they may be used in cooking.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: A ketogenic LC diet which requires regular breaks to reintroduce large amounts of carbohydrates for short periods. This is used by many bodybuilders to try to rapidly increase muscle while losing fat. (see the Links section for the URL of the Lowcarb-exercise list FAQ)

Dairy products: Milk and products made from milk, including cheese, cream, and butter (eggs are NOT dairy products). Although some are allowed on many LC diets (typically heavy cream, butter, and lowcarb cheeses), many find that they slow or stop progress. Even if your LC plan allows these, if you are having difficulties, you might try eliminating these from your diet. (also see: Cheese)

Diabetes: While any lowcarb diet can be helpful to diabetics, Dr. Bernstein's book (see the book section above) provides both a lowcarb diet plan, and a complete approach to controlling the disease, and preventing, or even reversing, many of the complications which can arise from poorly controlled blood sugar.

Diarrhea: (see: Irregularity)

Dietwatch: Software, which allows tracking your intake of various nutrients (including carbohydrates), and helps analyze recipes for nutrition content. Available free at, but it is only for Microsoft Windows. (Macintosh users see: MasterCook)

Dizziness: At the beginning of a lowcarb plan, many people will experience some minor dizziness, headache, or other “odd” feeling as the body and brain adjust to the change in “fuel” from carbohydrates to fat. These usually pass within 3-5 days, and can be minimized with proper intake of water and appropriate use of mineral supplementation. (also see: Potassium; Water)

Eggs: Despite their location in the grocery store, eggs are NOT "dairy" products. (also see: Carbohydrate counts; Dairy)

Elimination diet: A strict procedure in which various individual foods are eaten alone for a period of time, in order to detect any food sensitivities or intolerances. Such sensitivities are thought to be a potential cause of otherwise unexplainable weight loss "stalls." Particularly helpful in identifying sensitivities to otherwise low carb foods.

Exercise: Exercise is good, do some if you can. On the other hand, many lowcarbers lose weight just fine without it. If you don't feel up to it, don't feel guilty about it. Most lowcarbers who find that they eventually want or need exercise, have already lost enough weight, and improved their general health to the point where they feel able to do it, and even look forward to exploring their new or restored physical abilities. The most often recommended form of exercise for lowcarb dieters is weight lifting, or other "resistance" training. While it does not directly "burn" many calories, the increased muscle mass it creates will raise your basic metabolic rate, which WILL help you "burn" more calories all the time. Always allow at least a day or two between sessions to allow your muscles to recover. Moderate "aerobic" exercise a few times per week can also contribute to your general health, but will not necessarily help increase weight loss. Also, "more" is not always better. Overdoing aerobics may increase the risk of triggering "starvation mode" by causing too great a caloric deficit. Remember that proper hydration is even more important when exercising, so drink lots of water! (also see: Starvation mode; Water)

Fat fast: A short-term diet for persons who have high metabolic resistance to weight loss. See chapter 18 of "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution."

Fiber: Soluble and insoluble dietary fibers are recommended by all LC diets. Although classified as a carbohydrate, some people find that it does not it interfere with their weight loss, so they are able to subtract the fiber content from the total carbohydrate count. For example, if a food contains 10 grams of carbohydrate, but 7 of those grams are from fiber, it can be counted as only 3 grams of carbohydrate when figuring your daily intake. For Atkins dieters, note that Dr. Atkins now allows this, but specifies that only "insoluble" fiber should be deducted, which seems to mostly add confusion to an already confusing issue. The most important thing to remember is that if you try this and you then find your weight loss stalled, just go back to using the total carb count, and don't subtract the fiber. The best sources for fiber are whole, lowcarb vegetables (consult a nutrition guide for fiber content of fresh foods). Various fiber supplements may also be used. Common supplements are ground psyllium husks, and ground flax seed. Be sure to drink plenty of water with these. (also see: Water)

Flax: The seeds and/or oil are recommended by many as dietary supplements for an LC diet. The oil may be swallowed plain by the spoonful, or blended into "protein shakes." Do not cook with it. The seeds must be ground before consumption. They provide the benefits of the oil, plus providing dietary fiber. 3 tablespoons of flax seeds contain the equivalent of one tablespoon flax oil. More information can be found at the Flax Council of Canada website at:

Food labels: Because of the US food labeling regulations, some values can be rounded down to zero. Values reported as "zero" grams per serving may be as high as 0.49 grams. Values reported as "<1" (less than 1) gram per serving may be as high as 0.99 gram. If the ingredients list shows things that you know must contain carbs (flours, starches, sugars, etc.), use these guidelines until you can consult a reference source or ask the manufacturer. Helpful Hint: There are many foods, supplements, and medications which have little or no nutritional information available, either on the packaging, or in any of the references listed above. In most cases, the easiest way to get this information is directly from the manufacturer. There is often a toll-free telephone number on the package, and many even have websites and e-mail.

Gall Bladder: Based on reports from the lowcarb mailing lists, following a lowcarb diet should not cause any problems for people who have had their gall bladders removed. However, people who have been following an extreme low-fat diet, may be predisposed to developing gallstones. Stones might even be present, but only revealed when fat is reintroduced to the diet.

Glycemic index: A system which compares carbohydrate food sources, based on how quickly or slowly they are metabolized, as reflected by changes in blood sugar, and indexed as compared to pure glucose. This is used in the "Sugar Busters" diet, but is not used with the major lowcarb plans. Much more information, and a list of the glycemic index of many foods can be found at:

Glycerin: (see: Sugar alcohols)

Glycerol: (see: Sugar alcohols)

Goal weight: It's fine to have a goal weight, but don't be unrealistic. As you approach your goal, re-assess your body composition, your appearance, and the way your clothes fit. With a lowcarb diet, especially if you have been exercising, you may have considerably more muscle mass than you might have had the last time you were at that "size." Since muscle weighs more than fat, you may weigh more while looking and feeling better. More importantly, don't make things more difficult by trying to lose weight or reach a goal on a schedule. It's better to lose slowly by adjusting to a new "diet" that you can live with, than to try to lose weight fast by some method you can't stick with, then have it all come back when you drop the "diet." (also see: Scales; Plateaus; Rate of weight loss)

Grapefruit diet: See "Mayo Clinic Diet."

Guar gum: (see: Vegetable gums)

Hair loss: Some people have reported hair loss. It seems to be a minor, and temporary problem.

Heartburn/Acid reflux: Many people experience dramatic, and almost immediate improvement on a lowcarb diet. Even severe, long-term problems have been virtually eliminated.

Headaches: (see: Dizziness; Potassium; Water)

Heavy cream: It doesn't matter if it's called "heavy cream," extra heavy cream," or "whipping cream." As long as it doesn't contain any added sugar, it's ok. Remember, no matter what the label says, ALL cream, no matter how "heavy," has some carbohydrate. (also see: Carbohydrate counts; Food labels)

Herbs: (see: Seasonings)

Induction: The first stage of the Atkins diet, perhaps better thought of as "transition" into the long-term lowcarb diet. However, some people find that they like the induction plan enough to stay on it through the majority of their weight loss phase. Dr. Atkins has said that this is perfectly safe and acceptable.

Insulin resistance: A medical condition where the body no longer makes full use of the insulin produced by the pancreas. This causes increased insulin production, which can eventually lead to "burn out" of the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin.

Irregularity: This is a possible side effect of a diet with very little fiber. The effects can range from diarrhea to constipation, but the treatment for either is the same. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and try adding some fiber in the form of lowcarb vegetables, or with fiber supplements such as psyllium husks (plain, unflavored, or at least sugar-free), or some ground flax seed. Don't use too much at once, but add a little every day. AND be sure to keep drinking plenty of water! (see: Fiber; Flax; Water)

Jenny Craig: This well known weight loss company seems to have decided to take advantage of the increasing popularity and acceptance of lowcarb eating by advertising that they have a "Lowcarb Option." That apparently consists of a plan which incorporates FIFTY PERCENT of total calories from carbohydrates (according to the fine print in their advertising). For most people, this will far exceed the most generous definition of “low carb.”

Jerky Works Gun: Used to extrude a ground meat mixture into uniform strips so they can be dried into jerky (looks and works like a caulking gun). Available at Wal Mart, but this and other similar products may be found at other cooking and camping supply stores.

Keto-breath: A normal side effect of ketosis, but usually overstated by advocates of lowcarb diets, and wildly exaggerated by opponents. Excess ketones are excreted through the breath and through the urine. These substances are the cause of "keto-breath." Some people seem to have a worse problem with this than others. The best way to avoid or minimize it is to drink plenty of water. Beyond that, the most common remedy is chlorophyll in liquid or tablet form, available at health food stores. Some people use Breath Assure, which is available at many grocery, drug, and convenience stores. Of course all of these other remedies should be secondary to normal dental hygiene of brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and professional cleanings. (also see: Candy)

Ketone test strips: Used to detect ketones in the urine. These are only used as an informational aid to a ketogenic diet. The most common are "Ketostix" brand made by Bayer. They should be available at any pharmacy, usually with the diabetic supplies. If you don't see them, ASK!   HINT... to save some money, cut each strip into two narrower strips (or three, if you dare...). Take care not to contaminate the pad material by touching it or getting it wet (before use, that is... :-), and store the cut strips in the original container, or save an "empty" and use it for your cut strips. Special note: Although the instructions might suggest holding the strip in the urine stream as an option, it seems that this can sometimes wash the chemicals right off the strip.  For more consistent results, collect the urine in a container, and dip the strip in as directed. (also see: Ketosis)

Ketosis: A perfectly normal, and desirable sign that your body is burning fat for fuel. Excess ketones are shed through the breath and in the urine. Ketones are a by-product of the fat burning process, but it is possible that the fat being burned is stored body fat, OR dietary fat, so being in ketosis is not a guarantee that you're losing weight. Don't be confused by talk of attaining high levels of ketosis and "deep purple" readings on the test strips. Once you're past the initial stage, most ketogenic LC plans will have you maintaining a constant but light level of ketosis. Even a "trace" reading is perfectly fine. Caution: If you're getting consistently high readings, it's likely that you're not drinking enough water! If your chosen plan does not mention ketosis, then you should NOT be concerned with it... (also see: Keto-breath; Ketone test strips; Water)

Ketostix: (see ketone test strips)

Kidney stones: Based on reports from the lowcarb mailing lists, following a lowcarb diet does not cause or prevent kidney stones. If you have a history of kidney stones, you should be drinking lots of water anyway, so just be sure to keep it up when following a lowcarb diet.

Kidneys: Despite dire warnings, lowcarb dieters do not seem to be keeling over from kidney problems. According to Dr. Atkins "No study has ever shown that people with normal kidney function exhibit any kidney problems on a high protein diet." Dr. Bernstein's book (see the book section above) suggests that for diabetics, a properly controlled LC diet can even reverse kidney damage if it has not progressed too far. BUT, anyone with impaired kidney function should work with their doctor if they wish to try starting a lowcarb diet plan.

Lynne's Chocolate: A basic recipe for lowcarb chocolate developed by Lynne Axiak.  Many variations can be found on other lowcarb sites and in lowcarb mailing list archives.  The original, official recipe and be found at Lynne's own website: Further information about this and other LC "treats" can also be found through the general links listed above. (also see: Treats)

MasterCook: A commercial recipe/nutrition program published by Sierra. Available in versions for both Microsoft Windows, and Macintosh. For more information, see (also see: DietWatch)

Mayo Clinic Diet: This is an enduring "miracle food" fad diet hoax. It was not developed by the Mayo Clinic, and they do not and never did endorse it. It is not endorsed by ANY medical authority, lowcarb or otherwise. While similar to some LC diets, there is no known medical reason to eat so much grapefruit. Even as presented, this is supposed to be a "quick weight loss" diet, and not a complete long-term plan. Also known as the "Grapefruit Diet" and the "12 Day Diet."  More information can be found at: (you’ll have to search the site for the actual article on this diet) . In its incarnation as the 12 Day diet (12 DD), this plan has found some support as a "fringe" lowcarb plan.  It still lacks proper "credentials," and it still features the "magical" grapefruit, but it doesn't stray that far from lowcarb, and some people have found it attractive and helpful.

Microwave pork rinds: Most often mentioned are Oberto brand "Bacon Curls." Made in "Original" and "Spicy" flavors, they come packaged like individual bags of microwave popcorn. Rudolph’s makes a similar product called “Bacon Snaps.” Both have been found at Wal Mart stores, but not always as a regularly stocked item. They can also be ordered directly from the manufacturers. Contact Oberto at, and Rudolph’s at (also see: Pork rinds)

Muscle spasms: Muscle spasms, cramps, twitches, and even achiness can be a sign that you need mineral supplements. The most commonly needed is potassium, but calcium, and sometimes even sodium (salt) can be helpful. (also see: Potassium)

Numbers at bottom of messages: For example: 220/190/135. This is a mini progress report showing starting weight/current weight/goal weight.

Nuts: Allowed as limited treats on many lowcarb and on Paleolithic plans, but some people have trouble losing weight while eating them. Even if you can tolerate them, it is very easy to overdo and stall your weight loss. While macadamia nuts are frequently mentioned, many others like walnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts/hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds, can also be used (check the carb counts). Some people can also tolerate peanuts and cashews even though they are legumes (forbidden on paleolithic diets). (also see: Treats)

Oil: Many people advocate the use of certain oils as dietary supplements to a LC diet. The most commonly recommended is flax oil. (also see: Flax)

Paleolithic diets: Designed to emulate the "natural" diet eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. One example of this type of diet is "NeanderThin." (see the "NeanderThin" entry in the book section)

Pemmican: Made from pulverized dried beef and rendered beef fat, sometimes with a few dried berries. On a lowcarb or Paleolithic diet, it can be used as a meal or a snack. Not available commercially. Recipes can be found at the NeanderThin website, and in the book, as well as other sites online. Do not be confused by the Jerky and other products sold under the “Pemmican” brand name (probably fine products, but not “pemmican.”), or by recipes for “trail mix” concoctions with large amounts of fruits and grains.

Pepitas: The seeds from various varieties of pumpkins or squash that are specially produced for that purpose (not the same as the seeds you get out of a "jack-o-lantern" type pumpkin). Although relatively low in carbs, use some caution with these, as you would with any other "legal" treats. (also see: Treats)

Plateau: A prolonged period with no loss of weight *OR* loss of "inches." Besides looking for weight loss, it is important to either track your progress by taking regular body measurements, or taking special notice of the way your clothing fits. Even when the scale shows no progress, you may see other changes in your body that show that the LC diet is working. Unless you have stalled for at least 4 weeks, don't worry, and even then, if you FEEL better on LC, don't be in a hurry to tinker with your diet. (also see: Scales; Goal weight; Rate of weight loss)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome (SLS). See the PCOS FAQ at:

Pork rinds: Fried pork fat, also called chicharrones in Spanish. Great plain as a snack, or eaten with things like tuna salad, cream cheese, or other LC toppings and dips. When crushed, can be used in place of bread crumbs for coating fried chicken and other meats. Look for them in grocery stores, convenience stores, Hispanic grocery stores, truck stops, and other places snack foods are sold. Hard as it may be to believe, this carb-free food is also relatively “low fat” when compared to many typical “chip” type snacks. (also see: Microwave pork rinds)

Potassium: One of the most easily depleted of the electrolyte minerals. Lack of potassium can cause shakiness, lightheadedness, headaches, muscle cramps, and heart palpitations. Beginners on Atkins Induction are at the highest risk for potassium depletion as they lose their initial water weight. Non-prescription potassium supplements may be used, but "Light salt" (Morton's is one brand) is also an easy (and less expensive) way to supplement if you don't mind the taste. There are also many foods, such as bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and zucchini, which are rich in potassium and low in carbohydrates. If increasing potassium doesn't alleviate the symptoms, try increasing calcium and/or magnesium, too. Most lowcarbers seem to do well with between about 100 and 300 mg supplementation per day, and many find that supplements are only needed at for short periods when they are entering, or re-entering ketosis. CAUTION: potassium supplements should not be used by persons with certain medical conditions, or while taking certain prescription drugs. If you are not sure that it is safe for you, consult your doctor before taking any. (also see: Muscle spasms)

Pregnancy: The suggestion offered most often on various LC discussions seems to be to stay on a moderate LC diet, but to avoid ketosis before and during pregnancy. The same suggestions apply to women who are breast feeding. Concentrate on getting adequate nutrition, and limit the carbs just enough to prevent excessive weight gain, and always consult with your doctor.

Processed meats: "Processed" generally means meats that are treated in such a way that would traditionally have been a means of preservation... This would not include hamburger, or even a fresh sausage made with just meat, herbs, and spices, but would include "cured" meats like bacon, ham and corned beef, as well as most "deli" meats like bologna, salami, hot dogs, and even (sigh...) Spam. Another reason for concern is the possible inclusion of sweeteners, grain products, or dairy products. Even meats that are "whole" like deli roast beef or turkey breast are often saturated with solutions containing these items. When in doubt, read the labels!

Protein Bars: There is some controversy about the stated carbohydrate count for these, since for some people the glycerin in most (all?) of them can at least partially act as a carbohydrate, even though it is not legally required to be included in the carb count. The position of the Atkins Center is that for most people, the stated carb count can be used, but they also recommend only “one bite” per day for people following the Induction or OWL stages of the Atkins diet. This caution should also apply to other brands of bars besides Atkins, and should probably be heeded by those on other plans. For anyone having trouble losing, these products should be treated with the same cautions given for any "legal" treat elsewhere in this FAQ. If you're highly motivated to use these, and you can stand the taste, use these with caution until you're satisfied that they do not cause your weight loss to stall. (also see: Treats; Sugar alcohols)

Protein powder: Usually made from soybeans, eggs, or milk (in the form of whey protein). These can be used in many ways on a lowcarb diet. Available in flavored and unflavored varieties (use each as appropriate). Use them to make "shakes," as an ingredient in baked goods and meat dishes, and in coatings for fried foods (also see: Pork rinds). The powders are commonly available at health food stores. These may also be called "protein isolates." No, you do not have to use it. Some people find that it helps them to meet their minimum protein needs, some just like it.

Protein shakes: Drinks used as treats and even as an occasional meal. Make these yourself using flavored or unflavored protein powders, artificial sweeteners, and sugar-free flavorings, including cocoa powder and coffee. Fiber, in the form of things like psyllium husks, ground flax seed, and vegetable gums like xanthan and guar may also be added, which makes a tasty way to consume them, and adds texture to the drink. (also see: Protein powder)

Protein Sparing Modified Fast: An extreme version of a lowcarb diet, which must only be done under the supervision of a physician.

Rate of weight loss: This can vary greatly, and there is no "normal" number of pounds per week. Don't be discouraged by reports of people losing many pounds per week. Some lose faster than others, and many lose faster in the early weeks of a lowcarb plan, then slow down. A loss of 1-2 pounds per week is perfectly fine, and even less should be no cause for concern. (also see: Goal weight)

Restaurants: It's simple to eat LC at virtually any restaurant, but you often have to be willing to make a special order (DON'T BE SHY!), or at least discard part of the food you are served. You can usually just order some sort of "meat" (beef, poultry, fish, pork, etc...) prepared as simply as possible. You should also be able to get things like a green salad, and various steamed or sautéed LC veggies (with butter!). If a meal comes with potatoes or pasta, ask if you can substitute a salad or a cooked vegetable. The most important thing to remember is that if you don't see something suitable on the menu, ask what they can prepare to meet your LC needs.


Restaurants - carb counts: ALL major "fast food" and "home style" chain/franchise restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, Boston Chicken/Market, KFC, etc...) have complete nutrition information available for all their menu items. You usually have to ask for it, so don't be shy! Most or all of them also have websites which contain all of this information. If you only eat part of an item, you might have to use some other info (like from a carb counter book) to figure out what you're really getting, but the information they can provide will be a good start.
Reversal diet: Discussed in DANDR, based on the idea that a brief use of a different type of diet plan may be helpful in dealing with an unusual slowdown in weight loss.

Saccharin: The oldest of the artificial sweeteners (in use for about 100 years). Due to questionable tests, for many years, the US required a “cancer risk warning" label, but the authorities have now declared the tests to have been invalid, and the label requirement is being rescinded. Saccharin is heat-stable, so it may be used in cooking. Available under many brand names in the US, but most well known as the main ingredient in Sweet 'N Low brand products (and usually anything else that comes in "pink" packets). (also see: Artificial Sweeteners)

Scales: Sometimes the scale is your friend, sometimes it isn't. Weight loss is not always steady, and your weight may even go UP a few pounds on some days (especially true for women). If seeing these normal fluctuations bothers you, then don't weigh yourself every day, or at least take a weekly average of daily weights as a more reliable guide. If you weigh daily, do it at the same time each day. Just remember that a tape measure, or even the fit of your clothing can give you just as satisfying an indication of progress. (also see: Goal weight; Plateaus; Rate of weight loss)

Seasonings: Herbs, spices, and even some prepared items like mustards, hot sauces, and even small amounts of things like ketchup, steak and barbecue sauces can do a great deal to help give more variety to your lowcarb food choices. But remember that even these have measurable amounts of carbohydrate. While a light sprinkle of pepper on your food isn't going to be worth counting, a whole teaspoon in a recipe has 1.7 gm carb (0.7 gm fiber), which might be worth counting, especially if you're adding other herbs and spices. The carb counts for these items can be found in the references listed near the top of this document. For the prepared items, check the labels, or contact the manufacturer.

Sipping oil: (also see: Oil, Flax)

Sorbitol: (see: Sugar alcohols)

Soy flour: Flour made from whole, ground soybeans. Lower in carbohydrates than grain flours (i.e. wheat, corn, rice, rye), but still high enough to use sparingly, if at all, on a lowcarb diet. For further information, go to:

Soy powder: Made from cooked, processed soy beans. Milder in flavor than soy flour, but more carbs than soy protein powder (isolate). (also see: Protein powder)

Spices: (see Seasonings)

Splenda: Brand name of sucralose, an artificial sweetener. Available for several years in many parts of the world, it was only approved for sale in the US in early 1998. It is now available in a few products, and is finally becoming generally available in US stores as a sweetener for table and cooking. Further information can be found at (also see: Artificial sweeteners).

Stack: A combination of drugs, intended to boost metabolism to increase energy and stimulate weight loss. Available in various pre-packaged forms from health food stores, or the individual components (ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin) may be purchased separately. This combination of drugs is highly controversial, and can even be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions. For more information follow the link to Lowcarbing Dream.

Starvation mode: A natural state where your body reduces its metabolic rate to conserve energy and conserve fat. Pretty handy for a primitive hunter-gatherer when food is scarce, but not helpful for a modern human trying to force the body to shed excess stored fat. A lowcarb diet avoids this by providing plenty of dietary fat and calories. Too little food, or too much aerobic exercise can increase the risk of sending your body into this "emergency" condition, so remember to eat plenty, and don't work too hard (this is a diet??? :-). (also see: Exercise)

Stevia: Used in other countries as an "artificial" sweetener, it can be sold in the US only as a "food supplement." Opinions vary on the taste, but many like it. Available in many forms as powders and liquids at health food stores. Made from the stevia plant (stevia raubaudiana, sweetening component : steviosides). Green powder is ground leaves, and the most bitter form, but the only non-processed form of stevia. White powder is purified. Brown liquid is an extract. Clear liquid is an extract. White/clear stevia forms are least bitter. Powdered forms include those "filled" with sugars like dextrose (as most other forms of AS), as well as a highly concentrated "pure" stevia powder. If you buy the pure powder, you can prepare your own liquid sweetener by dissolving some in water to make it easier to dispense "serving size" portions. (also see: Artificial sweeteners)

Sucralose: (see: Splenda)

Sugar alcohols: Used as sweeteners in many "sugar free" candies and other "diabetic" products. While allowed on plans based on the "glycemic index" of foods, these should be avoided on other LC plans. Look for ingredient names like glycerin, glycerol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. (also see: Glycemic index)

Sugar free: Remember that sometimes "sugar free" is just a legal technicality. If you look at the nutritional information for many "sugar free" candies and other items, you'll see that they actually have CARB counts comparable to the products made with sugar. (also see: sugar alcohols).

Supplements: Most lowcarb plans suggest the use of various vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. Some lowcarbers follow these suggestions, some seem to do well with no supplements, and some find all sorts of other advice to follow. If you plan on using supplements, it's probably best to follow the suggestions of the LC plan you're using. (also see: Fiber; Flax; Potassium).

Syrup, sugar free: Commonly used for flavoring coffee, these can be used in various lowcarb drink and dessert recipes. Look or ask for them in "gourmet" coffee shops, and in supermarkets. Also available from many mail-order and online sources.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet: A modified version of a ketogenic LC diet. Small amounts of carbs are used before, during and/or after strenuous exercise to provide muscle glycogen. (see the Links section for the URL of the Lowcarb-exercise list FAQ).

Too good to be true: If it sounds "too good to be true," then it probably is. Low carb tortillas, low carb "Vogel" bread, other "low carb" bakery items, and "sugar free" candies may really be lower in carbohydrates than the "real" items, but they are rarely suitable for use in a low carb weight loss diet. Even worse, there is good reason to believe that the carb and fiber information on the labels of many of the "lowcarb" bread and tortilla products is wrong. If you check the carb counts of the main ingredients, it becomes clear that the listed values are simply impossible. However, *IF* you can tolerate small amounts of these foods without triggering cravings, or stalling your weight loss, go ahead and use them for an occasional treat. But if you start having problems, these are the things to suspect first, and don't say that you weren't warned!

Too much meat: Some people claim to be unable to tolerate the large amounts of meat usually consumed on a lowcarb diet. One of the main advantages of these diets is the ability to eat these foods so freely, but if you really want to limit the meat, consider a more moderate carb plan like CAD. For a very lowcarb diet, try "Protein Power" which provides the information to calculate your minimum protein and calorie requirements. This will allow you cut back on the meat while still following the requirements of the diet.

Tortillas, lowcarb: After many years of controversy, a group of lowcarbers donated money to submit some of these to a certified testing laboratory in hopes of putting the issue to rest.  Although the tests confirmed that the lowcarb claims to be inaccurate, beginning lowcarbers appear to be doomed to being mislead into false hopes for a "legal" form of bread.  Some months ago, members of the Texas Lowcarb mailing list, and Lee Rodgers of the Lowcarb Retreat contributed funds to pay for an independent analysis of some of these products. The results are available at (also see: Too good to be true)

Trader Joe's: A specialty food store chain that happens to carry many LC-friendly products. Their stores are mostly located in the western and northeastern US. Unfortunately their products are only available at their retail stores. You can check their website at for all their current and some future locations.

Treats: CAUTION... Treats should be used as just that, a TREAT, not as a regular part of your LC diet if you are still trying to lose weight. Lynne's Chocolate, cheese crisps, lowcarb muffin and pancake recipes, lowcarb cheesecake recipes, Wasa crackers and similar crispbreads, even nuts and similar "legal" items must be used carefully. If you are having lots of these and you find that you aren't losing, then cut back on them. Some lowcarbers also find that some of these trigger cravings. If you experience any such problems, listen to your body... even if it is technically "legal," it might just be something you can’t handle.

12 Day Diet: (see: Mayo Clinic Diet)

Vegetable gums: Vegetable derived foods that are useful for adding texture than thickness to hot and cold liquids, such as soups, gravies, and "shakes." While listed as containing carbohydrate, virtually all of it is indigestible fiber. Since a little goes a long way, you can generally disregard any carbs it might add to your recipes. Among the most common types found on food labels are gum arabic, carrageenan, guar gum, locust bean gum, pectin, gum tragacanth, and xanthan gum.  Most are not generally available for home use, but guar gum and xanthan gum are generally available at health food stores. Since they differ in thickening power, some experimentation might be needed if substituting one for the other.

Vegetarian: It is said to be possible to follow a lowcarb diet as a vegetarian, or even as a vegan, but by all accounts it is not an easy thing to do. Soy, in many forms, vegetable protein powders and spirulina will be your biggest sources of vegetable protein that do not also contain large amounts of carbohydrate. Any "animal" protein sources, such as eggs, cheeses, milk protein powder, or even fish that can be added will obviously make it easier to provide adequate protein, but use of those products must be a personal decision. In their "Protein Power" book, the Eades directly address this issue in only about a page and a half, but their detailed description of the requirements of the diet (especially the calculations for determining your minimum protein requirement) should be helpful in determining if you can create a workable, healthy lowcarb plan to suit your vegetarian preferences. Allowing more moderate levels of carbohydrates, plans like CAD or the Zone may be easier to follow as a vegetarian.See the Books section for information on the Schwarzbein Vegetarian cookbook. Some further tips can be found at:

Vogel bread: Recent information indicates that the nutrition claims for Vogel bread have been in error. The corrected information, which is supposed to be 15 grams of carbohydrate per slice, including 2 grams of fiber, was reported to be appearing on the package labels. (see: Too good to be true).

Water: It is extremely important that you drink at least 64 oz (approx. 2 L) of water per day. If you use this 64 oz standard as a base, it is suggested that you drink an ADDITIONAL 8 oz (approx. 250 ml) for every 25 pounds (approx. 11.5 Kg) over your ideal weight. Most medical authorities now suggest a basic standard of 1 oz of water for every two pounds of body weight. Whichever method you choose, you should increase your normal intake during hot weather, and when engaging in exercise or any physically strenuous activity. Some authorities say to drink only water, others allow coffee, tea, and no-carbohydrate soft drinks. Follow the advice of the plan you are following until you have enough confidence to experiment on your own. If you have trouble drinking enough, try keeping water with you all the time, and get into the habit of sipping at it frequently. (also see: Coffee and caffeine).

Wasa crackers: (see: Crispbreads)

Weighing: (see: Scales)

Xanthan gum: (see: Vegetable gums)

Yeast infections: Systemic yeast infections are thought to be the cause of many health problems. A lowcarb diet can be helpful in eliminating, or controlling them, but even normally allowed dairy products should be eliminated. Acidophilus, and prepared "yeast fighter" supplements can also be helpful. Extreme discomfort during the early stages of a strict lowcarb diet (like Atkins' induction) is sometimes attributed to toxic substances released by yeast cells as they die. Yeast infections can sometimes be caused, or aggravated by long term antibiotic use. Common symptoms can include a pronounced pot belly, "gas," unusual itching, and (for women) frequent vaginal yeast infections.

Yogurt: There is a theory that yogurt actually contains less carbohydrate than the nutrition labels often quote. This is supposed to be due to the action of the live bacteria continuing to digest the natural lactose (milk sugar). This applies only to "plain" varieties of yogurt which contain "live cultures," and do not contain added sugar of fruits. Advocates of this idea usually recommend making your own, but some of the commercial brands are thought to be acceptable. See the "books" section of this FAQ for information on the G/O Diet, which actually advocates the use of yogurt. 

Commonly Used Acronyms

The latest version of this document is available at:

To request a plain text copy via e-mail, send a message to: mailto:LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU
In the BODY of the message, type: GET LOWCARB-LIST FAQ