Part of the problem in figuring all this out is that different people can tolerate different amounts of carbohydrate. Atkins called this "metabolic resistance" -- it also has been called "carb sensitivity" and "carb tolerance". A relatively mild reduction of carbohydrate can do wonders for one person, and not much for another. Many people find that cutting back on sugar is very helpful. Others may find that doesn't do enough, but that staying away from grains and sugars is life-changing. There simply is no one formula. That's why diets like Atkins and South Beach are structured to help individuals find out what works for them.
Is there a phrase that can really encompass all of this? Frankly, I have trouble thinking of one. Some (Jackie Eberstein; Regina Wilshire) have proposed "controlled carb". My husband suggested "carbohydrate optimization". "Carbohydrate reduction" means eating less carb than you did before -- not very definitive, but general enough to encompass a wide range of diet modification. "Carbohydrate restriction", which some physicians favor, means limiting yourself to a certain amount of carbohydrate, which could vary according to the person.
Addition 2/25: Thanks to Dr. Steve Parker, who reminded me in the comment section of the recommendation by experts 5 years ago in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism to have the following categories:
- 26%-45% of calories as carbohydrate: moderate carbohydrate diet
- Below 26% of calories, or below 130 grams of calories per day: low-carb diet
- Less than 30 grams of carbohydrate per day: very low-carb ketogenic diet
Image © Karen Struthers
- How to Cut Down on Sugar
- How to Cut Carbs
- How Much Carbohydrate Should You Eat?
- Laura's Low-Carb Pyramid