If your goal is shedding pounds, low-carb diets are often effective. Low-carb diets focus on the number of grams of carbs you eat daily -- not total calorie intake -- but usually result in eating fewer calories. Cutting carbs and increasing protein naturally makes you eat less because protein increases satiety, according to a 2009 review published in “The Journal of Nutrition.” In fact, a study published in 2012 in “Physiology and Behavior” found that the higher-protein component of low-carb diets is actually what peels away pounds.
A calorie deficit is your goal for slimming down. Reducing your carbs and increasing protein can help you get there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly, which requires you to burn 500 to 1,000 more calories than you consume daily. Boosting protein intake helps your body burn more calories, even at rest, according to the 2009 review published in “The Journal of Nutrition.”
Weight-Loss Calorie Needs
According to Harvard School of Public Health, reducing your calories is necessary to shed pounds, regardless of how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you eat. For effective weight loss in women, 1,000- to 1,600-calorie diets should do the trick -- the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests 1,200- to 1,600-calorie diets for women who weigh more than 164 pounds and regular exercisers, and 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day for inactive women weighing less than 165 pounds. The University of Washington recommends obese gals eat 10 calories per pound of their desirable body weight -- for example, 1,400 calories daily if their goal weight is 140 pounds.
Carbs and Protein
Most low-carb diets contain just 50 to 150 grams of carbs daily, reports MayoClinic.com. If you plan on sticking with your diet long term, aim for at least 130 grams of carbs daily, recommends the Institute of Medicine. You can boost your protein intake above the recommended dietary allowance, which is 46 grams daily for women, and can safely consume up to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 1.14 grams of protein per pound of body weight, daily note authors of a 2009 review published in “Nutrition and Metabolism.”
Calories for Weight Maintenance
Not all low-carb dieters want to shed pounds. If weight maintenance is your goal, consume 13 calories per pound of your body weight if you’re sedentary, 16 calories per pound if you’re moderately active and 18 calories for each pound of your body weight if you hit the gym regularly, suggests Harvard Medical School. Regular workouts can help you maintain a healthy weight, burn fat and keep lost weight off long term.
- The Journal of Nutrition: Single-Protein Casein and Gelatin Diets Affect Energy Expenditure Similarly but Substrate Balance and Appetite Differently in Adults
- Physiology and Behavior: Relatively High-Protein or 'Low-Carb' Energy-Restricted Diets for Body Weight Loss and Body Weight Maintenance?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Harvard School of Public Health: Diets that Reduce Calories Lead to Weight Loss, Regardless of Carbohydrate, Protein or Fat Content
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- University of Washington: Weight Management
- MayoClinic.com: Low-carb Diet: Can it Help You Lose Weight?
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- Nutrition and Metabolism: Dietary Guidelines Should Reflect New Understandings about Adult Protein Needs
- Harvard Medical School: Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.