T Nation

New to Low Carb - Need Guidance


After spending countless hours searching and reading mounds of info, I feel like a low carb diet is the next step for me, but I need some help. First off, I am an endomorph, and have always had a fairly easy time putting on muscle, but I have never been successful at cutting the fat. In the past I have always been concerned with muscle and increased weights, and this is my first real journey into the fat loss arena. BTW, I am 5'11", 196 lbs, if that helps at all. I am also a full time student, husband, and have a part time obligation with the Air National Guard, so convinience and low cost are essential for me.

So I have a few questions:

  1. It seems that I will only be eating meats and vegetables, and some amounts of healthy fats like olive oil and what not. This seems relatively expensive (for the meat), is there any problem with just substituting some Grow!, maybe 3 times a day? The cost of it lately makes it a very tempting option.

  2. What is the concensus on fruits? Some articles here say "try to get fat eating fruits", while others say to limit them extensively. The same goes for beans, do they have their place in a low carb diet? The fullness from the added fiber seems like it would assist in cravings.

  3. I have concluded I want to stay around 50g of carbs a day for a short period of time until I begin to see the results I want. How does pre/post workout nutrition play into this? What about fruits and veggies?

Again, if there is one good article that sums this all up, please point me to it. It just seems that there are a few different camps out there, so I would like to hear from some people who have successfully used a low carb diet.

Sorry if this seems newbish, but I have the time and ability this semester to really tackle this, so I want to make sure I dont screw it up.


Seriously? Spent countless hours? One article? What are your goals? Shall we assume fat loss? Why do you feel "low carb" is the next step? You really need to do some more research but i'll help you with some of this.

1 - Yes you can substitute some protein powder for meat. But it may be less satisfying or maybe not. Try it and find out. On a personal note: whey protein seems to hinder my fat loss but helps a lot in muscle gain. Try it and see how YOU react.

2 - There is no bad food just some things don't fit into everyone's current goals. You can argue that fruit is all sugar but it's more complicated than that. Depending on the diet it could be fine. Won't work on a low carb diet. You most likely won't be able to add any beans and keep under 50g carbs per day.

3 - Why 50g per day? How did you come to this number? Not saying it's wrong, just wondering. Low carb is more than just carb restriction. Your ratio of protein/fat will also have an effect not to mention net calories. If you want do this right, pick up a good book and read and reread it. There's a good thread going on about the Anabolic diet (now called the Metabolic diet). Spend the couple of $$ and download the ebook. In the end, it will be worth every penny. In regards to peri/post nutrition, some people don't do anything, while others have some additional carbs during this time. Once again it depends on you and what type of workouts your doing and goals.

Hope that helps a little.


First, let me say thanks for the advice.

I have actually spent the better part of two days reading articles on this website about carbs and fat loss, and while they all seem to have some common ground, they each have many differences. Just look at the low-carb roundtable, then go read a few dozen articles from each of those experts and you can see how it can be confusing. And yes, fat loss is my goal here, that may have been a little ambiguous in my first paragraph.

Im pretty sure that I need to go low carb because even when I cut my calories properly and eat good, my fat loss seems to be minimal, even with morning and evening cardio, HIIT sessions, and training. However, in the past, I have included plenty of fruits and veggies in my diet, along with other healthy yet high carb foods like brown rice, whole wheat products, and beans, so I feel that is probably why I am not losing fat at the rate I think I should.

I train my ass off, eat good foods, and in the past have not neccessarily received the results I wanted in the fat loss area, so I think low carb is the next option.


Oh, and the 50g per day seems to be the general consensus by most of the authors on this site to qualify as low carb. Others say .25g carb/body lbs, and since I am nearly 200 lbs, that equates to ~50g per day.

I also understand that I need to stay around ~1g of protein per lb. of body weight to keep away from gluconeogenesis and that the my calories should end up around 50% protein and 50% carbs to make sure I become fat adapted instead of buring protein for fuel.

So I have done some research, and its all subjective, depending on which author you are talking about, and I was just looking for some insight from people who have successfully improved their physique by using a low carb diet.


You're fine substituting protein powder in for meat every now and then. As for fruit, that can be difficult if you're trying to stay under 50g of carbs. Blueberries are good for that goal in my experience. Perhaps have your fruit around your workout or in the morning. If you're going low carb then I would say you need more protein, not less as carbs are protein sparing.


Yeah, I think your right. I just redid the math and in order to get the calories I need (about 2300 for starters), I definately need to increase the protein from 1g/lb to about 1.34g/lb. That will put me at 263g of protein, 117g of fat, and 50g of carbs. Does that sound about right, or should I lower the fat percentage and increase the protein even more? I had read to keep the fat intake close to the protein intake, as far as calories are concerned, in order to let my body become fat adapted, so that is where the numbers come from. Any advice?

  1. Go liquid if you'd like
  2. Fruits 1-2 serv. /day won't kill you. Or get Superfood if it really bothers you. Include beans. Myriad of benefits and will keep you regular.
  3. Hm I'd say have 50 net carbs/day (carb count-fiber). And just throw in maybe 15-20g of some kind of none fruit sugar

I've low carbed on the Anabolic Diet for 4 years consistantly and got lean and from there...I now eat 3-5 serv of fruit and a cup of beans per day for my carbs. If i work out Ill have some oatmeal with fruit and some kind of sugary serv. of cereal blended with my whey and creatine PWO. I'm playing with my calorie ranges which seem to be more of the determinging factor for weight loss/maintenance. However, I also think if a constant overfeed of carbs is done then yea weight will be gained.


That sounds fine, but then again it's hard to say the only way to really tell is for you to try it out.


So I will most likely need to resort to protein shakes when school starts again tomorrow, to guarantee I dont miss a meal. On some days, it may be as many as 3 shakes (inlcuding peri workout), while on others it may only be 1, depending on my class schedule. While this is ok for meeting my protein requirements, it is not going to cut it for meeting my fat requirements unless I mix something in the shakes, thus allowing me to spread my protein and fat intake over 6 even meals.

So, what do I mix in the shakes for fat purposes? Olive oil? Any favorites you guys have used in the passed, or is there another way around this, like supplementing Flameout with the drinks? I guess I need to do a little more research on fat sources.


CT's Refined Physique Transformation article is the best piece of free advice published on the net regarding using low carb dieting for fat loss. I maintain no one can fail to make progress following this programme.


Thanks, Ill check it out.

EDIT - yeah, I read this article a few times. I am going to stick with those principles and work from there.

I guess I am still a little confused about the fats. Does it matter if I split them up equally or just make sure I get them all in by the end of the day? Is there any preferred timing with fat ingestion? What about preferred sources? What other sources of fish oil do you guys like other than Flameout?

Sorry Im such a nutrition newb.


I'm currently on a ketogenic diet for fat loss, which may or may not be different from what you are doing. (You just said <50 grams).

You don't want to take all the daily fats at once of course, but I split them roughly even around each meal, except weight training. While I'm in school, I mix my protein with Chia flour, some sweetener, and cinnamon. I keep a shaker with a little metal whisk ball in it at all times. I pre mix the concoction and keep it in tupperware. This allows me to feed every three or so hours, and stay hydrated.

When I get home - lots of veggies, meats, eggs, and healthy fats.

Preferred sources - I try to mix roughly half healthy vegetable oils (olive/walnut - high omega 3's) with half MCT and coconut oils. In my non-scientific experience, I find that these MCT's train my body to use ketones for fuel when starting the diet.

This half and half ratio has no scientific basis, I just like easy numbers because I'm a history major.

I drink most of my fish oil - you'll have to search for a product. It makes getting those fats in easier than popping a lot of pills. I take Flameout as well.

For weight training, I eat a larger fatty meal a two hours before and two hours after. Pre and peri workout I do pulsing with aminos, WPI, glutamine, and glycine several times before and during the workout (lookup the pulsing thread). Liters of water are crucial.

If you are just going low carb and not full keto - I think that carbs around this time are the best option.

On a couple of "heavy" days a week, I'll take carbs before, during, and after the workout in a severely bastardized Anaconda mimick. Those are my only carbs for the week. I try to get back into ketosis ASAP afterward.

These are just some tidbits - not written in stone. They are working for me. At least they'll give you some ideas. At some point its best to stop monkeying around and just do it - evaluate again after a week or so.


Thanks for the lengthy reply!

While I am not trying to go keto, I chose 50g of carbs based on some suggestions in some articles here. I will actually have to work to get down to that, I will end up at ~80g today. I did not realize how all those little carbs in protein powders and what not add up. I made an excel spreadsheet today to track my daily intake, and because my weeks are probably going to be fairly similar, once I log the data for a meal into the spreadsheet, I can just copy and paste the info once I eat the meal again.

I have one more meal left tonight, going to eat it about 2030, and then my diet should look like (@ ~2300 cals)

40% fat - mostly split between cheese, eggs, EVOO, Natural PB
45% pro - eggs, turkey, tuna, shakes, and a little from cheese
15% carbs - 40% PWO, 40% meal after PWO, 20% elsewhere throughout the day

One quick question, why dont I see anyone talking about cheese in the diets as a fat source? I know its mostly Saturated, but is there any reason to stay away from eating it in moderation with respect to the other fats?

Also, is there any way for me to tell whether I am burning ketones vs. protein? CT says 10-14 days for your body to become used to a new fuel source, so at that time is there any tell tale signs of using one over the other?


As far as cheese - personal choice I think. Since I am an OCD nut, I want most all of my fats to be "super healthy." I'll have a cheese laden omelet if I'm out with friends or family. I kind of "save myself" for the bad stuff. Also, I think somebody mentioned that cheeses 'slow you down a bit in the digestive track.' You want to stay regular on a LCD.

Although cheese might be easy for you to prepare and measure for your school meals.

Signs of keto - your breath. It goes bad and kind of metallic sweet (for me). Don't waste your money on ketostix, in my opinion. After a few days keto-dieting, the mental fog will be lifted and energy will come at a steady rate throughout the day. If I am perfect with my nutrition, it is almost drug like.

I think your nutrient breakdown looks good for a low carb diet, but I didn't calculate your numbers to make sure you are under the 50 grams of carbs.

BTW, get your wife on board. You'll need her support.


Again my comments are just to be taken as ideas by someone who has wasted TOO MUCH time hunting around for info. My fault is that I plan too much, sometimes not enough action.


I appreciate everyones comments. They are all insightfull and motivating.

The wife is close to on board, she eats good and is naturally thin so has no problem eating carbs. Plus she trains hard and heavy 4 times a week, eats crappy on the weekend, and never breaks 115lbs and maybe 10% BF, so she doesnt quite understand my situation.

At the end of today, I will be around 80g of carbs, but not much I can do about it now. I will improve on that tomorrow.

I hear ya about the over planning. I am about to graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering,and I have spent the last 7 years working on airplanes in the USAF and more recently in the Mississippi Air National Guard, so I am trained through and through to plan. Because of this, I naturally do not want to resort to a trail and error method, but I finally understand thats really what its going to take with this.

Once you hit keto, what does it take and how long of that does it take to get out of it, and then how long to get back in. Yesterday, I was definately on my way to keto (<50g carbs), but today I hit 80g (a good amount of fiber though, not sure that matters). Ive read it takes about 48 hours to get into it, but how easy is it to fall out of if you over-carb one day?


I would try and google ketosis, there's a lot more out there.

It takes me a few days of almost no (<20 g) carbs and a half to half protein to fat ratio to induct it. Feel free to be liberal with the fats these days. I do HIIT, sprints, or a good five mile run to deplete my glycogen. MCT's are extremely helpful, in my experience. Don't count fibers as carbs, but don't go crazy with green vegetables either these first few days. Psylium husks are a safe thing.

Something to watch out for is protein burning - if your protein is too high, your body will use that for fuel.

To get out, just start pigging out. It's pretty easy to fall off the wagon sometimes. You'll feel it when the sugar crash happens.

Oh and be careful if your unit does crazy PT while you're low carbing. You might pass out.


about the keto thing, can it happen faster? like say, within 24 hours? because ive had 11g of carbs all day (fuck me sideways), and my body temp plummetted and i feel awful. my breath doesnt really seem all the different to me. but i feel like shit.


Your temp plummeted - did you get it taken? It could be you're sick and the body is trying to tell you to get warmer to fight infection. That would also explain lack of appetite.


How does alcohol effect ketosis? I understand that I can find alcohol without carbs in it and hopefully that means it will not have much of an affect on insulin levels, but I also thought it was very difficult for the body to process or pass alcohol, whichever is more correct, and it shuts down any fat burning or what not while it is working the alcohol out of its system.

Is this true? I know this sounds like a dumb question coming from someone who claims to be serious about the diet, but I am in college and so it is hard to do anything social without alcohol being around. I dont want to drink a lot, but it would be nice if I could have a little.

Any ideas? I have read on some other sites, but I dont know the credibility of them, so I just like to ask question here.

Did good today though (I think), 47% fat (126g), 45% protein (270g), 8% carbs (43g), 10g fiber, 10g sugar.

Should probably get the fiber up, but I have no issues with it as of now.