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What is a carbohydrate controlled diet?

A carbohydrate-controlled diet, or low-carbohydrate diet, is a diet that has a relatively low and regulated amount of carbohydrates. A carbohydrate-controlled diet may be beneficial for individuals with diabetes, prediabetes, or insulin resistance. 

What is a carbohydrate-controlled diet menu?

A carbohydrate-controlled diet menu includes a consistent amount of carbohydrates at each meal. In general a carbohydrate controlled menu contains a lower amount of carbohydrates than a standard, unrestricted diet. The amount of carbohydrates depends on individual factors such as, their health goals (weight management, mood control, diabetes, improved athletic performance, or epilepsy), their overall activity and calorie needs, as well as whether the individual is taking medications such as insulin.

Is a carbohydrate controlled diet the same as a low carb diet?

Both a carbohydrate controlled diet and a low carb diet can be overall lower in carbs. One thing that differentiates a carbohydrate controlled diet is how the carbs are consumed during the day; ideally they will be spread out in equal amounts to prevent large spikes and crashes in blood sugars. 

What can you eat on a carbohydrate controlled diet?

On a carbohydrate controlled diet, protein and fat do not need to be limited unless trying to limit overall caloric intake. Unless on a strict ketogenic diet, some carbs are generally allowed. Choosing healthy sources of carbohydrates such as non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits such as berries is recommended. Other sources of carbohydrates such as dairy products and legumes can also be consumed as long as they fit the goal carbohydrate intake and portion size is accounted for. If grains are consumed, choosing whole grains is preferred.

Are carbohydrate controlled diets healthy?

If done correctly, carbohydrate controlled diets can be very helpful for individuals for managing blood sugars and for weight loss. The quality of the diet still needs to be considered however. For example, building a diet around nutrient-poor protein and fat choices is not recommended. Carbohydrate controlled diets can occasionally be low in fiber and nutrients if many fruits and vegetables are avoided. Additionally, a high protein/low carbohydrate diet may put extra stress on the kidneys. Be sure to discuss whether a carbohydrate controlled diet is right for you with your healthcare provider. 

Learn more about Carbohydrate Controlled Diet:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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