What is a Plant Based Low Carb Diet? – Weight Loss and A Reduction in Cholesterol Levels

A lot of people are trying to find the perfect diet to lose weight, be healthy or both, and a plant-based diet is becoming increasingly popular over the past few years for these reasons.

Additional to that is the low carbohydrate diet, which is formally created by Mr. Atkins who called it the Atkins Diet. His diet entails that the consumption of high fat and low carbohydrate foods. Normally this would mean a lot of animal products to be consumed such as meat, eggs, and fish as a replacement to carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, fruit, and rice.

On a plant-based low carb diet, you are not only reducing animal products but also high carb foods like I mentioned above. Below I will discuss what foods you can eat for this dietary strategy and reveal from a study published in 2009 if a plant-based low carb diet can help you lose weight.

Usually, it is not common to eat a low carbohydrate diet, because when you eliminate the animal products, you need to eat more plant-based foods to meet your calorie daily intake. To do this, eating high carbohydrate foods is a way to meet this requirement.

However, it does depend on what you want to achieve. If losing weight is your priority and not gaining muscle, then this diet may be ideal for cutting calories.

What do Carbohydrates do? Carbohydrates provide us with energy! The necessary energy we use every day to breathe, function, walk and work out, everything! So restricting your carbohydrates will reduce calories and you will burn more when you move around and/or work out each day.

What Do You Eat on a Plant-Based Low Carb Diet?

Berries, Low Carb

If you were to do this, I would recommend that you fixate on eating vegetables and making smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get more nutrients in your body by adding in greens powders, spinach leaves, pea protein powder, and berries, is just one example. These are all low carbohydrate sources of food but are packed with nutrients.

You would also eat low carbohydrate fruits such as berries, oranges, coconut, rockmelon, peaches, and mandarins. These are all below 10 carbohydrates per serving.

Additionally, you could eat nuts and seeds which are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats among other nutrients, which will help you stay fuller for longer.

Tofu is a great way to get some protein and also reduce carbohydrate intake, it would be great to make a stir-fry with tofu and veggies, with a light sauce for taste.

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What NOT to eat?

Unfortunately, most legumes are high in carbohydrates so they would be avoided on this diet plan despite their health benefits.

Wheat and rice would not be consumed either as they are very high in carbohydrates, even if they are brown (brown/black rice or wholegrain bread for example).

So How Many Carbohydrates Should You Consume Daily?

There are levels of extremity that you can use to get quicker results. If you are a disciplined eater and think you can eat 20-50 carbohydrates a day than this would be optimum for faster weight loss.

The second level that would help you lose body fat is 50-100 grams a day which is a bit more realistic and not so restrictive, but would still help you lose body fat.

I would recommend eating 50-100 grams a day for 2 reasons:

  1. The first reason is that this number won’t make you go crazy. It is important to make realistic goals and sometimes if we push ourselves too much, we can easily give up and end up binging on unhealthy foods, which will inhibit reaching your fat loss goals.
  2. Secondly, it will not impact your energy needs too much for daily function and working out.

Study Shows the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Low Carb Diet

There was a study done in 2009 to test whether a plant-based low carb diet would reduce body fat and lower lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects. They used 44 subjects. Some consumed a low carb plant based diet, and others a high carb plant based diet. They did this for 4 weeks. The results showed that weight loss was similar in both teams. 

But reductions in lipid concentration and total cholesterol ratios were greater for the low carb diet than the high carb diet. Reductions in blood pressure were also seen.

Overall, a plant-based low carb diet has lipid-lowering advantages over a plant-based high carb diet. This is ideal for people that have high cholesterol levels and are at risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The experiment also discovered that the common low-fat weight loss diet in improving heart disease risk factors was not seen with conventional low-fat diets with animal products.

This causes debate as to what proportion and source of fat, protein, and carbohydrates help people lose weight and lower cholesterol. New dietary approaches state that to prevent or to treat chronic diseases you need to increase vegetable intake and reduce meat consumption. But against this advice has been the promotion of a low carb diet with the increase in meat consumption to reduce body weight and prevent diabetes and coronary heart diseases.

This causes a lot of confusion among consumers.

What we do know however is that the higher meat diets tend to increase cholesterol levels, except when vegetarian sources of fat and protein were included. This diet does not control low-density lipoprotein cholesterol which is a major disadvantage when using this diet for those who are already at increased risk of Coronary heart disease.

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Should I go for the Plant-Based Low Carb Diet Plan?

So overall, if your goal is to lose weight, according to the study done in 2009, it states that you can lose the same amount of weight if you were on a low or a high carb diet. There would not be much different.

However, if you wanted to reduce your cholesterol levels, then a plant-based low carb diet is the best choice for you.

It is okay if you still want to try out a plant-based low carb diet, it does make sense that if you reduce more calories that are found in high-calorie foods like bread, pasta, and rice, you will likely lose more weight than if you were on a plan- based high carb diet.

Ultimately, the most important thing to any diet is that you make sure you are getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs to function to be healthy. That in itself, if you restrict obvious unhealthy foods like sugar and processed foods, then you will lose your desired weight goal eventually.

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Thank you!

Thanks so much for reading and I hope I have given you some clarity in who a plant-based low carb diet is ideal for and how to go about implementing it.

Please feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have!


Yours Truly,


Danielle Packer




Jenkins, D. J., Wong, J. M., Kendall, C. W., Esfahani, A., Ng,
V. W., Leong, T. C., … & Singer, W. (2009). The effect of a plant-based low-carbohydrate (“Eco-Atkins”) diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects. Archives of internal medicine, 169(11), 1046-1054.




16 thoughts on “What is a Plant Based Low Carb Diet? – Weight Loss and A Reduction in Cholesterol Levels

  1. I appreciate all the great information you have provided. You have clearly done some research. One thing I noticed however, is no mention of how to get the protein you need from a plant based diet. You have to have both protein and carbs in the proper balance to be healthy.
    Also, does the low carb plant based diet work for all ages? I am at least 60 and I am not so sure it would work for me without the correct amounts of protein.
    It is my understanding from my own research, that eating low carbs and trying to do a lot of high intensity exercises to try to be healthy and lose weight, actually causes your body to retain fat so it has a way to create energy. Can you comment on that for us?

    thanks for the useful and informative post.

    1. That’s a great question Curtis! And a very common one at that. In another post I have written I talked about where to get your protein on a plant based diet and how easy it really is to get the appropriate amount to maintain a healthy diet, be sure to check it out. Here is how to find it: https://theearthco.com/a-plant-based-diet-for-beginners-how-to-get-it-right-the-first-time
      I also do agree with you that eating low carbs on a plant based diet AND doing high amounts of exercise can make you retain fat. This is why I do not recommend doing the 20-50 grams of carbs a day plan. If someone were to do this plan however, then the amount of exercise they do would need to be limited.

      Thanks for these questions! I am sure other people will be questioning the same thing 🙂

  2. Great info on a plant based, low carb diet. I agree that a plant based low carb diet is much healthier than a plant based high carb diet. Interesting that the results of the test showed that it was just as effective. Knowing this, why would anyone attempt any other diet? Seems this type of healthy diet would be easier to stay with as well as I’m sure it would provide feel good benefits also. Thank you for this information, and I am looking forward to your next article.

    1. Yes it is interesting I agree!
      I do recommend that if people have the goal of losing weight, they should stick to a high carb, plant based diet, but if the goal is to increase a reduction in cholesterol levels then trying out a low carb plant based diet seems to be very effective in achieving this as the study shows 🙂
      Thanks so much for commenting 😀

  3. great article
    Basically I am not a vegetarian and I frankly speaking I hate having vegetable. But I think making smoothies is a good idea. Ill try this to loose some weight.
    hope your article help me loose some weight

    1. Yes smoothies are a great way to replace snacks, increase your vegetable intake and therefore nutrient intake and feel great 😀
      Thanks for commenting Huzefa!

  4. Danielle, Great information on the low carb diet. My daughter is always trying new diets and wanting to talk with me about the benefits of eating certain foods. I have the opposite problem, I struggle to maintain a healthy weight (underweight) and I can feel the pounds melt with each conversation. This plant based diet sounds like something I can recommend to her and still manage to get the higher intakes that I need. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for commenting Sanders! Haha that conversation sounds like me with my Dad except he is over weight!
      Yes a plant based diet also enables you to eat more too! So not only do you get to eat more food but if you stick with whole foods, you can only get healthier and stronger in no time 😀
      Be sure to check out another article of mine for beginners in the plant based diet world via this link, https://theearthco.com/a-plant-based-diet-for-beginners-how-to-get-it-right-the-first-time

  5. Hi Danielle,

    Your article was a great read. I always like to jump into diet topics like this one. My meal plan at the moment is high-carbo because I burn a lot through my day. But for someone who wants to lose weight, this diet is a must! Thank you for sharing,

    All the best,

    1. Yes if you train regularly and high intensity, then a high carb diet is ideal!
      Thanks for appreciating my post Ivan!

  6. great article Danielle. I’ve tried the Atkins diet in the past, and though it can be effective in losing weight, I always felt it was lacking in nutritional value. I love the idea of going low carb and still including plant sources. thanks for the great info!

    1. Yes I tried the Atkins Diet too! This was when I ate meat and after 3 weeks of losing weight, the week after I gained all the weight back, plus some extra! I was eating just meat, eggs and dairy with hardly any vegetables so my nutrition intake was very low. Won’t be doing that again! haha
      Thanks for commenting and appreciating my post! 😀

  7. Hi, thank you for the informative post. I have learnt a lot from it. Just recently, I have cut out carbohydrate in my son’s diet, as his gluten free diet seems to not totally take away his eczema woes. Being on gluten free diet for half a year now, his energy level has certainly gone up, his mood as well. But taking away carbohydrate has removed almost all the eczema itch! But zero carbohydrate is difficult to sustain for the long term like you mentioned, so I’m only trying it out for a month, to see if carbo is one of the triggers for his eczema.

    1. Oh wow! Well I didn’t know that cutting carbs could reduce eczema! But that’s great for him!
      Yes I would not recommend it for the long term as carbohydrates are a necessity to have energy and function well.
      Maybe reducing his carb intake but not to a substantial amount would be ideal – for example, 100 carbohydrates a day (good carbs such as wholegrains, brown rice and fruit)

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