Question:

I have a question regarding cutting carbs. I have attempted to drastically cut carbs and as a result, went through a rough period just not feeling well. I suspect it’s because I went too extreme.  What is the proper way to cut carbs and what is the best way to reduce body fat?

– Gary K.

Answer:

It’s important to maintain your calories when you omit a large portion of your normal diet! Replacing the missing items with equivalent energy from protein and fat sources is key. Often a shift from starches such as bread, pasta and potatoes also means you’re also missing what normally goes on them – butter, jelly, oil, marinara sauce, sour cream, etc.

If you take away 2-3 slices of pizza, for example, and replace it with a couple of roasted chicken breasts, you’re losing hundreds of calories. You could obtain the equivalent calories without the carbs by having the chicken (light and dark meat) with cream sauce or mushroom gravy.

Your brain and nervous system prefer blood sugar as their source of energy. Be sure to consume at least the recommended minimum of carbohydrates to fuel your body properly. The United States Institute of Medicine recommends 130 grams of carbohydrates per day for adults, which is reflected in the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. (That equates to only 520 calories, typically less than 25% of actual energy consumed.)

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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