Centr Dietitian Angie Asche smiling as she cooks a low-carb meal in the kitchen.
Angie Asche

Your ultimate guide to eating low-carb

Angie Asche

Is a low-carb diet the secret to weight loss? Can it help you manage menopausal weight gain, or other medical conditions?

In the past few years I’ve seen a huge rise in the number of clients coming to me for advice on cutting carbohydrates from their diets. It’s hard to miss the growing interest online, too!

While there are definitely benefits to be had from going low carb, it’s also important that you have all the facts before jumping into any new diet. As a sports dietitian, I especially want to make sure that you are still able to support your energy levels and optimize training performance.

Let’s go through the pros and cons of a low-carb diet, answer your most common questions, and give you some low-carb recipes to try.

Important: It’s crucial that any low-carb diet you follow is safe. All the recipes here are dietitian approved. If you have any health concerns or you’re using low-carb food to manage a medical condition, be sure to consult a doctor or accredited dietitian before changing your diet.


Before you go low, make sure you know the golden rules.

What are carbs?

Let’s start at the beginning. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are a macronutrient we get from food. They come in three forms: fiber, starches and sugars. Our bodies break these carbohydrates down into simple sugars which are absorbed into the bloodstream and become our bodies’ number one source of energy in any physical activity. An excess of carbohydrates can lead to fat gain and spikes in blood glucose levels that can cause health problems.

When you think carbs, you probably think bread, potatoes and pasta. But they actually come from a wide range of foods including:

  • fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes

  • whole grains such as quinoa, rice, oatmeal and cereals

  • nuts and seeds

  • beans and legumes

  • dairy such as milk and yogurt

  • products with added sugars such as candy bars, soda, bottled juices and cookies

What is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb diet does what it says on the tin: reduces your intake of carbohydrates. It’s usually used by people interested in weight management or body recomposition, but there are other potential benefits. More on that below.

But exactly how low is low? A keto diet usually restricts carb intake to 20-50g of carbs per day. Most studies classify less than 130g per day as low carb. But to account for a wider range of body types and sizes, I recommend a more moderate range of 100-150g per day.

You’re probably wondering what 100-150g of carbs looks like. For some perspective:
2 cups of cooked long-grain brown rice = 45g
¾ cup of cooked oatmeal = 49g
2 baked sweet potatoes = 46g
2 slices whole wheat bread = 44g
1 cup of cooked white pasta = 43g

Although strongly associated with weight loss, a study that compared low-carb diets to low-fat diets showed no significant difference in the amount of weight lost over 12 months. Remember, the best diet is the one that works for you as an individual and helps you achieve long-term, healthy results.

What are the benefits of a low-carb diet?

There’s more to eating low carb than potentially losing a few pounds. It can have benefits for:

Perimenopause and menopause

  • Hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause can lead to women becoming more insulin resistant, which has big health implications – including increased risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.

  • These changes can also lead to increased belly fat and difficulty losing weight.

  • Lowering carb intake can help women keep their blood glucose levels stable.

  • Being mindful of carbs can also help prevent unwanted weight gain – consuming them around workout times, combining carbs with protein and healthy fats, and increasing fiber intake.


  • People who have trouble digesting fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) can experience bloating.

  • However, carbs aren’t always the cause – consuming either too little or too much fiber can also lead to bloating. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor.

Type 2 diabetes and other medical conditions

  • A low-carb diet is often used to improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity for those with type 2 diabetes.
  • The benefits for diabetics are especially positive if highly refined carb sources are replaced with foods higher in protein, fats, and fiber.

  • A low-carb, high-fat keto diet has been shown to be an effective solution for managing epilepsy, but this should only be done under careful medical supervision.

Important: If you have a medical condition or health concerns, always consult a doctor before changing your diet.

Who should NOT follow a low-carb diet?

This diet is not suitable for everyone, and can in fact have serious health implications for some people. I do not recommend going low carb if you:

Have type 1 diabetes

  • People with this autoimmune condition run the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Are pregnant and/or breastfeeding

  • The biggest concern with cutting carbs while pregnant is that women won’t meet the energy needs to support fetal growth and development.

  • Carb-rich foods also contain many essential vitamins and minerals, meaning women may not meet their micronutrient requirements.

  • Women’s total macronutrient and micronutrient needs are increased throughout pregnancy and lactation, so restricting an entire macro is not a good idea.

Are at risk of disordered eating

  • Remember: A low-carb diet is just another form of restriction.

  • This may result in people continuing with unhealthy behaviors, thoughts, and all the mental and physical risks that stem from that.

Have kidney disease

  • Reduced carbs may result in a diet too high in protein or fat.

  • It’s important to moderate protein intake as kidneys can struggle to remove waste from the blood.

  • People with kidney disease are also at higher risk of heart disease, which too much (or the wrong kinds) of fat can exacerbate.


What should I eat on a low-carb diet?

When you restrict one part of your diet, it usually needs to be balanced out by an increase in other areas.

For instance, you’ll most likely increase protein and fat intake to make up for the loss of calories from cutting carbs. Another way to balance out lower carbs is by increasing fiber intake.

Because fiber is not fully broken down and absorbed by the body like other carbs, it passes through the digestive system relatively intact – resulting in slower digestion and absorption of carbs, and reducing their impact on blood sugar levels.

Fiber-rich foods that will not add much to total carbohydrate intake include avocado, chia seeds and flaxseed. Also remember that, in any low-carb diet, veggies and fruits, along with some legumes and whole grains, are essential to ensure you’re getting a wide range of micronutrients.

What does this look like on your plate? I’ve put together a sample Centr meal plan for someone aiming to eat 100g of carbohydrates per day. (You’ll find all of these recipes on the app.)

Breakfast: Overnight Yogurt Parfait (23g)
Lunch: Chickpea & Beet Salad with Goat’s Cheese (22g)
Snack: Avocado Hummus Dip with Pita (10g)
Dinner: Low-carb Bacon, Pea & Cabbage Noodles (36g)
Snack: Chocolate Coconut Protein Pudding (10g)
Daily total = 101g carbs

Remember that going low carb doesn’t have to mean sticking to a rigid eating plan – you can still be flexible with your meals and snacks, and ensure you’re getting plenty of variety.

Your low-carb diet FAQs

To help you make an informed decision, here are my answers to the most common low-carb questions.

1. How low can you safely go when cutting carbs?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that low carb doesn’t mean no carb. So changing your diet should always involve a bit more planning than simply banishing all grains from your pantry.

For active people who want to eat low carb, I wouldn’t recommend going any lower than 100g per day. When you severely limit carbs, it makes it much harder to meet your fiber needs and the ideal intake of antioxidants and polyphenols from fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Plant foods play such an important role in our health, and many of them are also primarily carbohydrates.

I know there are many people out there who safely follow a keto diet (consuming less than 50g of carbs per day) but as a sports dietitian, it’s not something I’d recommend.

2. Will a low-carb diet impact my training performance?
When you’re doing a HIIT workout or lifting weights, your body’s primary source of fuel is carbohydrates – so if you’re not eating enough, you’re unlikely to see the results (like muscle gain, strength and power) you’re hoping for.

You may still achieve weight loss, but only if you also maintain a calorie deficit.

3. Can I build muscle on a low-carb diet?
A low-carb diet doesn’t make much sense in this case as it’s only going to make gaining muscle more challenging. You would need to be very strategic in planning your carb intake pre and post-training.

4. Why do I have cravings on a low-carb diet and how can I reduce them?
There are SO many reasons carb cravings can occur. It could be the result of low blood sugar, low energy levels, poor sleep or restriction (for example completely restricting carbohydrates or not eating enough throughout the day).

It could also be due to habit: if you have a carb-rich snack every night after dinner, your brain expects and anticipates that snack until you train it to expect something different.

To reduce cravings, there are several tactics you can try:

  • Healthy sources of fat that also provide some fiber – such as almonds, flaxseed, avocado and chia seeds – will keep you fuller for longer (when compared to getting the bulk of your fats from oils).
  • Opt for lean protein sources, and bulk up your meals by adding nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods like leafy greens, vegetables and berries.
  • Plan ahead. Going too long without eating, then not having anything prepared can make cravings that much worse.

5 low-carb Centr recipes

Each of these recipes has been designed to reduce carb intake while still supporting your fitness goals. They’re balanced in terms of protein and fat, to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs.

Low-carb Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Veggie Mash from the Centr meal plan.

1. Low-carb Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Veggie Mash

In a low-carb diet, chicken recipes are your friend. Teaming this lean protein with plenty of color from vegetables, plus fats from oils, will help combat cravings and ensure you’re still getting a good range of micronutrients.

Simple Baked Salmon with Honey Lemon Sauce from the Centr meal plan.

2. My Simple Baked Salmon with Honey Lemon Sauce

Fatty fish provides both protein and fat to help balance out lower carb intake.

Ponzu Beef Stir-fry from the Centr meal plan.

3. Luke’s Ponzu Beef Stir-fry

I love Luke’s quick and easy stir-fries. This tasty bowl is packed with veggies and flavor, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

Carrot, Ginger & Coconut Soup with tofu croutons from the Centr meal plan.

4. Carrot, Ginger & Coconut Soup

Get cozy with a plant-based soup that’s high in protein thanks to those tofu croutons.

Baked Feta with Peppers from the Centr meal plan.

5. Baked Feta with Peppers

Don’t forget, you do actually need some carbs – spreading this cheesy bake on a slice of whole grain toast is a good choice, as it also contains fiber. Consider it a twist on a low-carb Mediterranean diet, and a simple way to spice up your mid-week dinner rotation.

Angie Asche

Sports dietitian Angie Asche will power your plate with no-nonsense food advice. Founder of Eleat Sports Nutrition, Angie works with MLB, NFL and NHL athletes to get the best from their bodies. With a Masters of Science in Nutrition & Physical Performance, and as a certified exercise physiologist and personal trainer, she’s got the expertise you need to achieve your goals.

Angie Asche

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