What is a low-carb diet?

This seems like a simple question, or at least one that's been answered decades ago, right?

And yet it's not all that simple, and people are somewhat divided as to what "low-carb" actually means.

To start with, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has never provided their own definition of "low-carb," even though they have issued a definition for phrases such as "low-calorie." So that basically means it's up to you —the person buying and eating the food — to decide how many carbs are low for you, or high for you.

And that depends on your goals. Is your goal to lose weight? If so, putting that another way means your goal is to use up some portion of the fat that is being stored on your body — to use that fat for fuel. One way to do that is to stop fueling your body with the typical sugars and processed carbs, and in the process, force your body to turn to fat for energy.

So how many carbs are "low?"

The Institute of Medicine says men typically consume 200-330 grams of carbs per day, while women typically consume 180-230, which is way more than most people need, or can use up as fuel for their daily activities. That same Institute of Medicine suggests adults should consume only about 130 grams of carbs per day, and that's if they're not even trying to lose weight.

So if you want to follow a "low-carb diet" to shed extra pounds, your daily carb count has to be substantially less than 130. Most experts say you should probably consume 50 or fewer grams of carbs per day, if you want to lose weight.

The good news is, there are so many delicious low-carb options! That includes any kind of meat or fish, fats (including cheese), and almost any vegetable that grows above ground.

And oh — don't forget Nush cakes, cookies, and pancake mixes! They're based on flaxseed which is made up almost completely of fiber. Your body doesn't digest it and it doesn't raise your blood sugar, so you don't even have to count those fiber carbs in your daily total. Which is why foods like Nush treats make it a lot easier to go "low-carb."