What's the Diff? Low Carb vs Slow Carb


I was recently asked this question and thought I’d take the opportunity to answer it here, because if one person is wondering then I bet a lot of folks are wondering. I feel like I’ve explained the Low Carb approach to eating fairly well in previous posts, but just in case you missed them I’ll give a brief overview. 

Low Carb eating focuses on keeping your total daily carbohydrate intake below 50 grams which ideally results in a 20 gram NET carbohydrate intake (total grams - fiber= net grams). The body is then forced to burn fat as its primary fuel. Protein intake is capped at 20-25% of daily caloric needs, and the remainder is comprised of dietary fat. Ideally, these fats should be from healthy sources and primarily found in the foods you’re eating, instead of being consumed as added fats. The macronutrient breakdown generally looks like 75-80% Fat/20-25% Protein/<10%Carbohydrate. Maintaining these levels of macronutrient intake leads the body to enter dietary ketosis, thus burning body fat for fuel, and creating ketones through the process of ketogenesis. It’s often referred to as the KETO diet, for that reason. 

Slow Carb, on the other hand has a much higher threshold of carbohydrate intake, generally advocating for a total of 80-125 grams of carbohydrate intake per day. It does however specify that those carbohydrates come from eating low glycemic index fruits and starchy vegetables, as opposed to from consuming refined carbohydrate sources. It is not a strictly Gluten Free dietary protocol, but many people who eat this way eat a Paleo or Primal diet and thus by default eat Gluten Free. If one is not following a Paleo/Primal approach, grains in their whole unprocessed forms can be included in the Slow Carb diet. By eliminating the refined sources of carbohydrates so prevalent in our Standard American Diet (SAD), the diet can have the effect of stabilizing blood glucose levels and reducing the postprandial release of insulin and the resultant fat storage response. 

For many people the Slow Carb approach to eating is more sustainable than a strict Ketogenic approach. The initial removal of processed, refined carbohydrates may cause mild discomfort but replacing them with starchy vegetables can ease those symptoms. The consumption levels of carbs on the the Slow Carb diet are still significantly lower than the standard recommendations, and this results in a natural caloric deficit if protein and fat intake remains the same. If weight-loss is not an intended goal, caloric intake must be adjusted, while maintaining the lower carbohydrate goals. In other words you need to eat more fat and/or protein. Because this diet does not result in ketosis, it is generally better to increase your protein intake versus significantly increasing your fat intake. However, fat is still an essential macronutrient and should not be unduly restricted. 

In other words, on a Slow Carb diet you can still have some sweet potatoes, a serving of rice or bulghur wheat now and then (if you aren’t Paleo), a bowl of steel cut oats on a cold winter morning, and a delicious peach on a hot July day. It’s all about making sure you’re eliminating the carbohydrate sources that spike our blood glucose levels, while still including the ones which contain healthy phytonutrients and fiber, resulting in better overall health. 

I’m still eating a Ketogenic diet at the moment, and plan to continue through the end of August. If and when I decide to move away from my Low Carb approach, I will transition to the Slow Carb diet (still Primal of course) as I absolutely have the seen the positive results of eliminating refined carbohydrates from my own diet. Since going Ketogenic I haven’t had a single hypoglycemic episode, have more sustained energy during the day and have seen a reduction in my body fat and body measurements. I firmly believe we can and should be getting all of our carbohydrate calories from whole food natural sources, not in the form of cellophane wrapped processed foods and treats. 

What’s your approach to your diet? Are you Low Carb? Slow Carb? High Carb? Let me know in the comments…and don’t forget to like this post and share it out if you think it will help someone. Sharing is Caring!