Diets falling into the low-carb category restrict carbohydrates in favor of protein. While the diet concept is the same, the specific food restrictions and plans vary between the major low-carb diets. Limited carbohydrate diets come with certain risks, including low dietary fiber and increased cholesterol if you eat food high in saturated fat. Discuss diet options with your physician, especially if you have preexisting medical conditions.
The Atkins Diet is a well-known program associated with the low-carb trend. The diet includes different phases, each with different guidelines and restrictions. The first phase, called Induction, lasts at least two weeks and is the most restrictive. Phase two includes the reintroduction of some healthier carbohydrates, such as cheese, nuts, seeds, vegetables and berries. Stage three is the pre-maintenance phase where you add more carbs to prepare your body to stop losing weight. The final stage is maintenance of weight for the rest of your life and includes anywhere from 45 to 100 grams of carbohydrates daily.
South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet doesn’t claim the “low-carb” title itself, but it does feature low carbohydrates with increased proteins and fats. The South Beach diet does allow a few more grams of carbs daily than a typical low-carb plan. This diet includes three phases. Like Atkins, the South Beach requires eliminating most carbs during the first phase that lasts two weeks. Approximately 10 percent of the daily caloric intake comes from carbohydrates during that phase. Phase two lasts as long as it takes to reach your desired weight. Some carbohydrates are acceptable again during this phase. The final maintenance phase features about 28 percent carbs in the diet.
The Zone Diet allows more carbs than Atkins and other low-carb diets, but it does specify the type of carbohydrates you should eat. The recommended carbs include beans, whole grains and most fruits and vegetables. Other forms of carbohydrates are allowed but in smaller amounts. The diet breaks down to include 30 percent proteins, 30 percent fats and 40 percent carbohydrates.
Protein Power Diet
As the name suggests, the Protein Power Diet focuses on protein. The specific daily amount depends on personal factors. The diet book offers steps to calculate your ideal protein amount. The allowed protein sources include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu and low-fat cheeses. Carbohydrates stay at 30 grams or less per day for those trying to lose weight. If weight loss isn’t a concern, up to 55 grams of carbs are allowed.