What Does Eating Low-Carb Mean? (with Joy Bauer)

Jan 24 2024
Low-carb eating doesn’t need to be super restrictive… It’s completely possible to incorporate low-carb foods in a balanced way! We’re breaking down our approach with the help of expert advice from our pal Joy Bauer, MS, RDN.

What Does “Low Carb” Mean?

There’s no official limit or agreed-upon amount from experts to define what qualifies as “low carb.” We consulted with Joy, and she considers a good lower-carb plan to have less than 40% of total calories coming from carbohydrates. Sounds fair to us! With this plan in place, if you’re consuming 1,750 calories per day, a total under 175g carbs per day would be considered lower-carb. If you’re eating three meals and a snack every day, that’s around 46g carbs per meal and 35g carbs per snack.

P.S. The recipes in The Low-Carb Recipes Issue of Hungry Girl magazine primarily limit empty carbs (like added sugars) and starchy carbs. They don’t skimp on fruits or veggies!

Are Carbs Bad?

NOPE! Take it from Joy: “We all need carbs in our diet. They’re a major source of energy. Plus, they’re a major source of enjoyment. What would life be like without potatoes or bread or pasta, after all?!? It’s a balancing act.”

Healthy carbs: Foods that include fiber and nutrients. Think vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils, and whole grains.

Unhealthy carbs: Foods and beverages without much nutrition. These include refined carbs like baked goods, white bread, white rice, sugary breakfast cereals, candy, and soda.

Starchy vs. Non-Starchy Carbs

Wanna break it down further? A food’s content of starch (a complex carbohydrate) has a strong effect on its overall calorie count.

Starchy carbs are found in foods like bread, pretzels, potatoes, and rice. “Cutting back on these is a good idea for many of us,” says Joy, “because they’re foods we tend to overeat. And these foods often have more calories and a bigger impact on blood sugar than non-starchy carbs.”

Healthy starchy carbs are foods that contain starch but also provide many other nutrients, like fiber, potassium, and magnesium. These are a solid part of a well-rounded diet:
* legumes (such as beans and lentils)
* whole grains (oats, brown and wild rice, whole-grain bread and pasta, and oatmeal)
* nutrient-rich starchy veggies (like sweet potatoes, peas, corn, winter squash, and parsnips)

Non-starchy carbs are most other veggies like broccoli, bell peppers, leafy greens, and more. These allow you to eat more volume for fewer carbs and calories, which can help you manage your weight and steady your blood sugar. Plus, they have lots of fiber and nutrients.

More About Joy!

Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, is one of the nation’s leading (and most beloved) health authorities. She’s the TODAY show’s resident nutrition expert and a 14-time best-selling author. Check out her delicious new protein muffins and 50+ multivitamin at bejoyly.com.

Your Low-Carb Guide for Healthy Eating!

The Low-Carb Recipes Issue of Hungry Girl Magazine

Get 65+ recipes for meals, snacks, and sweets, plus low-carb tips, tricks & strategies! Find it in stores nationwide wherever magazines are sold (Walmart, Kroger, Barnes & Noble, and more), or order online.

Chew on this:

Good news for the HG podcast‘s own Mikey—it’s National Peanut Butter Day, January 24th! Grab your powdered peanut butter AND regular peanut butter, and make Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies.

Share this info with any friends interested in healthy low-carb eating!


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