In trying to maintain a low carb diet, I am wondering if it's still OK to occasionally have carbs, such as: bagels, pancakes, or whole wheat bread on a once a week basis, or should it be more like once a month or never?

There are many different “low carbohydrate” diet plans out there. Some are not safe, as they are drastically low in carbohydrates, which can cause adverse side effects such as nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, fatigue, etc. If you are following a very low carbohydrate plan, you may want to check with your doctor to see if you are medically safe to follow it. I do not promote diets that are too low in carbohydrates, as they are difficult to follow and stick to, and generally not nutritionally sound. In addition, much of the initial weight loss experienced is simply water loss. If you are monitoring your carbohydrate intake (and monitoring portions) that is something different. It is suggested that we get between 50-60% of our total daily calories from carbohydrates (so consume carbohydrates each day). Instead of “cutting” carbohydrates, I would recommend focusing on what types of carbohydrates you are taking in each day. Aim to make the carbohydrates that you are eating high in fiber. For example, if you are going to eat a bagel, make sure it is high in fiber (>5 grams/serving) and make sure you are choosing one that is not oversized (it should have around 210 calories). If you are going to have a pasta dinner, choose whole wheat pasta instead of refined pasta. High fiber breads, cereals, brown rice, and beans are also high in fiber and good carbohydrate choices. Keep in mind that fruit is also considered a carbohydrate choice. Fruits (and vegetables) contain many disease fighting antioxidants so it is important that you strive to include them in your daily diet also.

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