Sugars, starch, and fiber, which are types of carbohydrates, are found in almost all foods to some extent, but in much higher amounts in foods like bread, oatmeal, and pasta. , grains and other grains, as well as fruits, legumes, potatoes, and some dairy products. Even the healthiest vegetables like kale and broccoli contain carbohydrates. In contrast, foods like meat, poultry, eggs, and nuts are low-carb foods, with most of the calories coming from protein or fat instead.
While there are benefits to consuming carbohydrates, some people believe that carbohydrates lead to weight gain and cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar. A low-carbohydrate diet aims to minimize carbohydrate intake as much as possible by focusing on protein and fat intake and limiting carbohydrate-rich foods. If you love steak, chicken, and scrambled eggs, you might find that a low-carb diet is the best way to lose weight without feeling deprived. Read on for our complete guide to getting started on a low carb diet to decide if giving up bread is your path to better health.
What is a low carb diet?
Low carbohydrate diets, by definition, limit carbohydrate intake. However, there are no hard and fast rules on how many carbs you can eat on a generalized low-carb diet. There are specific low-carb diets, such as the keto diet, with strict carb intake values, but the term “low-carb diet” is an umbrella term that encompasses any diet that limits carbohydrate intake. The typical foods eaten as part of a low-carb diet can vary from person to person, as there are also no specific foods that you must eat. That said, the breakdown of macronutrients in a low-carb diet typically limits carbs to 25% of daily calorie intake. Protein and fat make up the remaining 75%, with flexibility in the relative proportions of each.
Like most popular diets, low carb diets are meant to help people lose weight and improve health indicators. Excessive sugar consumption is associated with weight gain and obesity, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes because it increases production and exposure to the hormone insulin. By limiting carbohydrates, sugar intake is drastically reduced, which reduces insulin secretion and health indices often improve.
Additionally, many people experience significant weight loss after starting a low-carb diet, with some reporting less cravings, easier fullness, and less desire to binge. Additionally, because foods high in carbohydrates tend to be more readily available and easier to eat mindlessly (chips, pretzels, crackers, pasta, cookies, or even fruit), following a low-carbohydrate diet can reduce food availability. greedy. and their accessibility – and therefore, calorie intake – by default. Those with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes often report improvements in blood sugar regulation after adopting a low-carb diet.
What foods can you eat on a low carb diet?
Low-carb diets encourage consumption of unprocessed foods high in protein and / or fat, as well as moderate intake of non-starchy carbohydrates for antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber:
- Me at: Beef, pork, veal, lamb, deer, bison, etc.
- Fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, cod, sardines, tuna, mackerel, lobster, crab, scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, etc.
- Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, quail, etc.
- Eggs: chicken eggs, turkey eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, etc.
- High fat dairy products: Whole milk, cheese, cream, butter, cottage cheese, etc.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, asparagus, radishes, etc.
- Low-sugar fruits: Pears, melons, oranges, apricots, berries, lemons, kiwi, coconut, tomatoes, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, etc.
- Healthy fats and oils: Olive oil, avocados, linseed oil, coconut oil
- Herbs and spices: Basil, thyme, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, rosemary, cumin, chili powder, etc.
- Unsweetened drinks: Water, tea (herbal tea, green tea, black tea, etc.), red wine, coffee, milk
The following foods can be eaten in moderation depending on your particular dietary and energy needs:
- Root vegetables: Carrots, parsnips, beets, etc.
- Fruits: Bananas, pineapples, papaya, apples, pomegranate, plums, etc.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, soybeans, etc.
- Seeds and sprouted seeds: Quinoa, barley, oats, brown rice, etc.
What foods are not allowed on a low carb diet?
The guiding principle of the low carbohydrate diet is to limit anything that is sweet, starchy, or high in carbohydrates. As such, most foods rich in carbohydrates are excluded or should be consumed infrequently and in small amounts. Again, the goal is to get no more than 25% of your daily calorie intake from carbohydrates, and of these, the majority should be high fiber complex carbohydrates rather than sugars. Low-carb diets avoid the following:
- Most cereals: Pasta, bread, crackers, rice cakes, cereals, oatmeal, bagels, rice, couscous.
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, Sweet potatoes
- Dried fruit: Dried apricots, raisins, dried dates, prunes, etc.
- Sweeteners: Sugar, honey, agave, corn syrup, jellies, jams, pudding, fruit juice, soda, sweet tea, applesauce, etc.
- Desserts and sweets: Ice creams, pastries, cookies, donuts, pies, pudding, sweet yogurts, etc.
Curious about what a meal day on a low carb diet might look like? Below we share an example of a low carb meal plan:
- Breakfast: Cheddar omelet, green pepper and onion, coffee
- Breakfast: Chicken salad Lettuce, tomato and feta salad
- Snack: Berries and nuts
- Having dinner: Grilled salmon, zucchini noodles, asparagus
- Snack: Coconut milk smoothie with chocolate protein powder and almonds