Low carbohydrate diets can be very effective for weight loss, according to research.
Reducing carbs tends to reduce your appetite and cause automatic weight loss, or weight loss without the need to count calories.
For some people, a low carb diet allows them to eat until fullness, feel satisfied, and still lose weight.
The number of carbs a person should eat every day for weight loss varies depending on their age, sex, body type, and activity levels.
This article reviews how many carbs you should eat per day to lose weight.
Why would you want to eat fewer carbs?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbs provide 45–65% of your daily calorie intake for all age groups and sexes (1Trusted Source).
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Daily Value (DV) for carbs is 300 grams per day when eating a 2,000-calorie diet (2).
Some people reduce their daily carb intake with the aim of losing weight, cutting down to around 50–150 grams per day.
Research has shown that low carb diets can be part of an effective weight loss strategy.
This diet restricts your intake of carbohydrates — including sugars and starches like bread and pasta — and replaces them with protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.
Studies show that low carb diets can reduce a person’s appetite, lead to them eating fewer calories, and help them to lose weight more easily than in other diets, provided they maintain the diet (3Trusted Source).
In studies comparing low carb and low fat diets, researchers need to actively restrict calories in the low fat groups to make the results comparable, but the low carb groups are still usually more effective (4, 5Trusted Source).
Low carb diets also have benefits that go beyond just weight loss. They can help to lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides. They can also help to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and improve the pattern of LDL (bad) cholesterol (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Low carb diets often cause more weight loss and improve health when compared to calorie-restricted, low fat diets that many people still recommend. There’s plenty of evidence to support this idea (8, 9, 10Trusted Source).
What counts as a low carb diet?
There’s no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a low carb diet, and what’s low for one person may not be low for the next.
An individual’s optimal carb intake depends on their age, gender, body composition, activity levels, personal preference, food culture, and current metabolic health.
People who are physically active and have more muscle mass can tolerate a lot more carbs than people who are sedentary. This particularly applies to those who do a lot of high intensity exercise, like lifting weights or sprinting.
Metabolic health is also a very important factor. When people develop metabolic syndrome, obesity, or type 2 diabetes, their carb needs change.
People who fall into these categories are less able to tolerate a lot of of carbs.
How to decide your daily carb intake
If you simply remove the unhealthiest carb sources from your diet, such as refined wheat and added sugars, you’ll be well on your way to improved health.
However, to unlock the potential metabolic benefits of low carb diets, you also need to restrict other carb sources.
There are no scientific papers that explain exactly how to match carbohydrate intake to individual needs. The following sections discuss what some dietitians believe about carb intake and weight loss.