Lo carb w/o daily meat?

How hard would it be to try a low carb diet if I did not want to have a heavily meat-based diet? I’ve never tried low carb. I love carb. But the time has come to admit that a change is needed. Thing is, for environmental reasons, I like to have at least 1/3 of my weekly meals(?) vegetarian. And since I know beans are very carby, I’m just curious - to those who have tried it - how hard would it be for a new low carber if I wasn’t willing to each chicken and fish and steak every day? And does low carb do anything at all if it is part time? I.e. is doing a couple of low carb days a week better than nothing? Sorry for all the questions - novice here.


How about pork belly? Just kidding.

I don’t know the answer. I’ve eaten an awful lot of animal protein in the process, and I dont live carbs.

And if I go exclusively by weight, which probably makes no sense at all, I would say “part time” low carb would have less impact.

maybe it depends upon why you want to go low(er) carb? TBH, dried beans can be high in protein, and much of the carb is fiber…
how do you feel about eggs or dairy?

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It was easier to eat less meat and leaner cuts when I do. Up the veg, hydrate more and portion control on any carb. Then stretch your body out every day.

Use smaller plates.


Yes, by weight. As in - goal of weight loss. I was hoping you’d “weigh” in shrinkrap. Would you say that 2 low carb days a week (or 3) is kind of useless because I’m not training my body to not want carbs or sugar? Just trying to understand, because usually a little of of a good thing brings a little of the good result, without being altogether useless…

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Years ago now, but my wife and I lost a lot of weight and have learned good maintenance approaches since. So, no judgements. We know its a lifestyle chg that works.


It’s hard for me to mentally reconcile being a foodie and being a healthy weight. It seems like there are so many things I will have to forgo, and while I know in my head it’s the right thing, well - that is the uphill battle isn’t it?

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The only thing I try to avoid today are too many large portions and eating too late as much as possible. I share my plate much more now.


I have done some version of low carb eating for over 20 years - I started in my early 20s for weight loss (I was about 50 lbs over BMI 25 at the time). I had great success with a very strict low-carb approach at that time and lost a total of 65 lbs in about a year (down to BMI 23ish). That weight ended up being a little difficult for me to maintain as I got older and less strict about my carbohydrate and alcohol intake, so as the years have gone on I now maintain a weight between BMI 25-27, which my doctor approves as a perfectly healthy weight, especially given that I have optimal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, etc.

All of that said, for me the ONLY way to lose weight on low carb was to be extremely strict about it and stick with it 24/7. I had to be in ketosis all the time, at around 20g of carbs max per day. Any alcohol at all would stall my weight loss for weeks. I had to count every single tablespoon of hot sauce, soy sauce, etc., and read labels religiously for hidden carbs in sausages, lunch meats, etc. I almost never ate out and became an excellent and inventive cook during that time, but it wasn’t always fun. Your mileage may vary, though - some people have success losing weight at the 50g of carbs per day level, or doing a 3-days a week low carb approach. Also, your activity level may affect how much carbohydrate you can consume and still lose - for me a few more carbs and a little less fat works well if I am exercising (weight lifting), but if I am more sedentary extreme LC is best.

Part time low-carb can bring some benefits but it can also be a huge struggle for carb/sugar addicts. Nearly every low carb plan starts with a two week+ ‘induction’ period of no more than 20g of carbohydrate daily which is meant to help you break your addiction to sugar and carbs, and IMO this detox period is extremely important - you will never know how your body will feel running on fat/ketones if you never allow it to get fully into ketosis by eating carbs every other or every third day. You will also never experience the disappearance (or at least reduction) of sugar/carb cravings that ketosis can bring about (you might be surprised to find that you have a lot more “willpower” than you think against carbs if you break the addiction). If you are serious about making a low carb lifestyle change, I strongly recommend doing a strict induction (the first three days of which will be rough), to detox from sugar/carbs and allow your body to adjust to the new fuel.

As for the meat question, doing low carb with less/limited meat/fish/fowl is extremely difficult. The vast majority of non-animal foods simply contain too much carbohydrate to be included in any major way, and you will not get enough to eat if you try to limit yourself to eating only the quantity of beans/lentils/whatever that fits into your carb allowance for the day. For instance, one cup of black beans has 40 grams of carbohydrate, 15 of which are fiber. If you subtract fiber from your total (which some plans allow but has always been a bit of a slippery slope for me personally), you are still looking at 25g of carbs, for a food item that isn’t going to fill you up for even a single meal, let alone all day. Even tofu has 2-3g of carbs in a 3 ounce portion, which adds up very quickly if tofu is the main ingredient in whatever dish you are making.

I hope some of this was helpful - please let me know if you have any other questions!


Extremely helpful thank you. It all makes me think I need to do some less drastic things, that are still hard but won’t involve me turning my entire eating habits upside down. If I can’t force myself to drink enough water during the day or portion control, the idea of true low carb will be impossible. So - walk before I run is, I think, the way to go.


Portion control is the one thing you don’t really have to worry about on low carb. Most plans encourage you to eat to satiety whenever you are hungry, as long as you are staying within your carb allowance for the day. I had tried every diet under the sun before low carb and I always failed because nearly all of them were based on portion/calorie control. I absolutely loved being able to eat as much as I wanted to feel satisfied on low carb, and in the early stages I ate A LOT. Once you get in to ketosis and adjust to the new way of eating, you typically feel satisfied with less, but there is something really freeing from a mental/emotional standpoint when you know you can absolutely pig out without ruining your hard work, even if your pig out food needs to be something like chicken wings or pork rinds, etc.


Makes a lot of sense - the freedom. But the things I would most crave are the things I couldn’t have much or any of. For instance, I adore summer fruit. If I couldn’t have that, life would be less worth living. That sounds extreme, but 10 gallons of chicken wings would never replace being able to eat melons and nectarines. I guess that’s why diets are not one size fits all…


I totally understand. Low carb doesn’t necessarily mean you can never have your favorite fruits/carbs again, but it does require some sacrifice when you are in the active weight loss phases and certainly a more controlled approach to any carbohydrate food once you are in maintenance mode. I found that after a few years, my tastes changed drastically and foods I used to love (like ice cream) are really no longer all that appealing. That said, I was never a huge sugar addict - salty carbs were my addiction - so giving up fruit, desserts, cereal and other sweet things was not a huge deal for me. Pizza, pasta and bread, on the other hand… :crazy_face:


I am at work, and don’t have much to add to @biondanonima great coverage, except that I started out in a diabetes prevention program that included a forum, so if you are someone who finds forums rewarding, you might want to consider https://www.omadahealth.com/

While they don’t come right out and say it, it is lo carb, along with support and excercise, and they track your weight and steps on line if you hook up your fit bit. They send you a scale which sends in the weight.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as strict as my “coach” wanted, but with regard to my weight, I can tell within a day or two when I’m straying too far from my own path. My path does include carbs like sugar in my coffee most days, some fruit off and on in the summer, and about once every few weeks, at least in the last three months I’ll have…bread! I think it is coming up on three years since I started, and I don’t find it that hard to maintain, but I don’t ever recall being much of a bread or rice person. I did have to let go of an evening Brandy and switch to evening white wine, and I miss special dishes with rice and pasta when traveling outside of the US. I will often indulge when traveling, and not just in carbs!


Potato chips for me! But at this point I find much smaller portions, and even alternatives (pork rinds, pita chips) quite satisfying. I don’t know if pita chips are any better than potato chips, but I think what I eat with them is.


I’ve tried, briefly, doing the Atkins thing as a vegetarian. You can eat eggs, cheese, green veggies, and lettuce, and man spices, and once you’ve had a broccoli and cheese omelette, and cheese with no broccoli omelette, and broccoli with melted cheese on it, twice, and a few hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and some salads, optionally with cheese or chopped eggs on them, that’s, like, kind of about it.

The main theory with these diets is that staying in ketosis means you don’t end up feeling too hungry while eating a low calorie diet, and the meat’s tasty enough you’re not totally bored. Unless you don’t eat meat.


I was recruited into the Omada program too, and found it so ineffective that I cancelled. My weight bounces up and down through the week, and this body resists losing every single ounce, si daily weigh ins are counter productive for me.

I’m back on WW, where I’m losing weight, albeit slowly, and don’t feel deprived of anything.

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Good to know, thanks! FWIW, I wasn’t actually recruited. My doctor told me I had pre-diabetes, a d named some kind of diet I researched, and in the process, researched diabetes prevention programs, and chose this one because it was available online.

@Sasha - I’m late to this party. I’ll be the contrarian here. Unless you have a diagnosed medical situation (e.g. diabetes) low-carb is just another fad diet. You have to burn more calories than you consume. That’s it. My wife struggles with weight (and gets mad at me because I “don’t eat enough”).

Eat less and exercise more. If “less” is hard and I understand that for many people it is, weigh everything. Our kitchen scale is like this one https://www.amazon.com/Ozeri-ZK14-S-Digital-Multifunction-Kitchen/dp/B004164SRA/ref=sxin_10?ascsubtag=amzn1.osa.9f868843-cfe2-4598-9f82-9d050bc38357.ATVPDKIKX0DER.en_US&creativeASIN=B004164SRA&crid=PM7OC01PTCT6&cv_ct_cx=kitchen+scale&cv_ct_id=amzn1.osa.9f868843-cfe2-4598-9f82-9d050bc38357.ATVPDKIKX0DER.en_US&cv_ct_pg=search&cv_ct_wn=osp-single-source&dchild=1&keywords=kitchen+scale&linkCode=oas&pd_rd_i=B004164SRA&pd_rd_r=6782e470-c371-4d8d-a732-10bf86384758&pd_rd_w=ImAYO&pd_rd_wg=ZwHvF&pf_rd_p=08a788f8-ae54-4b96-9e48-f1e694ec6c4f&pf_rd_r=KFP9YE1VNWDKY5NX74F0&qid=1596471075&sprefix=kitchen+%2Caps%2C212&sr=1-2-72d6bf18-a4db-4490-a794-9cd9552ac58d&tag=tgl0a3-20 (ours is red) and lots of brands are exactly the same with the same insides. You may be surprised how much you eat and what the calories add up to.

It will take time to adjust to “I’m not full” being different from “I’m hungry.” That is, in my view, an addiction just like cigarettes or alcohol.

I strongly recommend you speak with your doctor and get a referral to a nutrionist - someone that isn’t fad-based. Professionals get side-tracked also.

In my opinion drinking a lot of water helps. I use Nalgene On-The-Fly because they have volume markings and the don’t spill if knocked over.

Exercise is important. I’m bad at that. If I got a better walk in every day I wouldn’t be ten pounds heavy. Try. Hard.

I wish you all the luck in the world. I suggest that fad diets are not as effective as calories in <= calories out. No pain, no gain. Best wishes.

I’m no nutritionist, but I’m not sure it’s as simple as it sounds. I went to to a three day conference last February '19, and much of the time was spent looking at the research on “fad diets”. Weight loss was only part of it; the focus was more on health. Of course among other things we discussed lo carb, but what stood out was new research on what folks call intermittent fasting. Not something I could do, but it was interesting.

Of course, much of the time was also spent cooking!