All low-carb diet plans have different guidelines. Some require you to cut out virtually all carbs for a certain phase, while others have you steadily consume a lower amount of carbohydrates than you normally would. Having just 150 grams of carbs per day on your diet plan is considered low carb, since you’re getting fewer carbs than the official recommendation.
Regular vs. Low-Carb Diets
Normally, between 45 and 65 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates. As an example, if you tend to stick to a 1,600-calorie daily diet, you’ll need 720 to 1,040 calories from carbs. This amounts to 180 to 260 grams of carbohydrates -- they have 4 calories per gram. But if you follow a low-carb diet plan, you’ll have to limit yourself to 50 to 150 grams of carbs each day, according to MayoClinic.com. If you have 150 grams a day, you’re only getting around 55 to 80 percent of the carb recommendation for a 1,600-calorie diet.
Reading Food Labels
The nutrition facts label on foods shows you two things: The total grams of carbohydrates per serving and the percent daily value. You’ll probably want to overlook the percent daily value though, since it’s based on a set recommendation of 300 grams a day -- double the amount you’re allowed on your diet plan. Instead, keep tabs on the total carbohydrate grams and carefully measure your portion size, which is clearly stated at the very top of the label. Otherwise, if you eat the entire carton, you could be getting several servings and way more carbohydrates than you intended.
While you may be cutting back on carbohydrates, your fiber recommendation shouldn’t change. You need 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you get from your diet, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 reports. This means that if you consume an average of 1,600 calories daily from food, you’ll need 22.5 grams of fiber. You should still be able to meet your fiber needs, as long as you opt for fiber-rich foods like beans, oats, whole-grain bread, grain-based cereals and fresh produce. If you’re not getting enough fiber you could become constipated, or the opposite could happen and you could have loose, watery stools.
Because you’ll be trimming carbs, you might be consuming fewer calories overall. Generally, you’ll drop pounds on any diet plan that limits the amount of calories you consume, although your results on a low-carb diet may not last. Over time, you may put those pounds right back on when you start adding carbohydrates back into your diet. Plus, when you’re restricting carbs, you’re most likely eating more protein-rich foods, like meats. You could be getting more saturated fat in your diet than you should, increasing your risk of cardiovascular problems later on down the line. Always check with your doctor before starting a new diet plan, just as a precaution.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.