How Do I Start A Low Carb Diet?

By Katie Caldesi

Just to reiterate, if you are on medication for diabetes, high blood pressure or have other medical conditions, then do speak with your health professional before making changes to your diet. This is so that they can monitor you and adjust medication if required. The same goes if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Get some support

Getting support from family, partner or friends can really help you. You might not get the whole family with you but at least if they understand why and what you are doing, they shouldn’t object particularly if they don’t feel restricted themselves.

When our boys were younger, we never forced them to eat our low-carb way. We didn’t want them becoming obsessed with diets. In order to help Giancarlo lose weight and put his type 2 diabetes into remission, I would cook low-carb food for us and put a bowl of potatoes or rice out for the boys. Over time they have become low-carb from their choice and now encourage Giancarlo in moments of weakness (when he wants an ice cream or biscuit!).

What are your health goals?

Are you wanting to lose weight? Then go as low-carb as you feel comfortable, maybe try keto.

Do you have type 2 diabetes? A strict low-carb diet maybe good for you with your doctor’s knowledge.

Are you wanting a better shape and more energy? Perhaps moderate low-carb is good for you.

Are you super fit and active? Liberal low-carb could work for you.

Do you have a condition that could be helped by a low-carb diet? Have a look at Who Benefits from a Low-Carb or Keto diet?

We have invented the CarbScale to help you know which category should work for you.

The CarbScale

The CarbScale is our guide to helping you choose “how low you go” in daily carb levels in grams. The measurements are for net carbs, that is total carbs minus fibre.

Take our quiz or read the categories below and decide which carb limits are right for you. You can change between the columns according to weight-loss goals and how you feel. There are varying carb limit “rules” out there but most people generally recognise a low-carb diet to be under 130g net carbs a day with the lowest carb limit, keto, being under 30g net carbs a day. And remember you don’t need to have all 70g carbs if, say, you are on the Moderate level, it means keep under that.

Please rate each of the following statements from 1 = Strongly Disagree to 5 = Strongly Agree
I feel tired a lot of the time12345
I often wake up feeling tired12345
My energy slumps in the day12345
I constantly crave sweet or savoury foods12345
I rely on coffee to perk me up12345
I like something sweet after a meal12345
I want to lose weight12345
My mood is low or depressed12345
I often feel anxious or stressed12345
Im finding it hard to lose weight12345
I don't sleep well12345
I can get irritable between meals12345

Your Total:


Below 18 = Liberal low carb

Congratulations – you are doing a great job! Your metabolism is generally working well and you are feeling pretty good. Low carb is still right for you because it is a fantastic way to achieve a varied and nutritious diet, but you can afford a little more flexibility, particularly if you have high levels of exercise.


19–47 = Moderate low carb

Generally life is treating you well, but you still have some health goals to accomplish. Your metabolism may benefit from some fine tuning so that you feel more energized and focused. As you start to include some of the low carb and nutritious recipes on this site and in our books, monitor how you feel to keep yourself on track.


48+ = Strict low carb and Keto

You may have health issues that you are trying to work through. It is likely that your metabolism has slowed down and you may be finding it hard to achieve all you need to in the day. Chances are that you have a degree of carbohydrate intolerance, and foods like breads, rice, and pasta will cause rapid swings in your blood sugars. Try to focus on excluding high carbohydrate foods and choose how low you go.



Keto                               Strict                                      Moderate                     Liberal

Under 30g                    Up to 50g                                 Up to 70g                     Up to 130g


Keto: This is for people wanting to lose weight quickly and are prepared to be strictly limited in what they can eat to achieve their goals.

Strict low-carb: limiting dietary carbohydrate to under 50g (2oz) per day affords tight glycaemic control and is a reasonable therapeutic aim for type 2 diabetics and those suffering with low energy or cravings.

Moderate low-carb: 75–100g (2¾–3½oz) carbs per day. This enables a wide and varied diet and is a good starting point into carbohydrate restriction. It is also a good target for the long-term as it is not too restrictive.

Liberal low-carb: up to 130g (4½oz) carbs per day. Suitable for those who are lean and healthy, with an active lifestyle. If you have high activity levels and are lean, fit and healthy, then you may wish to retain some higher starch foods within your diet. However, to achieve health benefits, your overall diet should contain sufficient high-quality food, including protein, healthy fat and mostly unprocessed, slow-release carbohydrates, such as oats and starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, beetroot and pulses. Even for athletes, the days of heavy carb-loading are waning – England Rugby, for example, encourages its players to consume lots of vegetables and protein in addition to slow-release carbohydrates.