It seems that certain nutrients that we find in food come and go as being high in popularity and then completely demonized by dieters. Right now, cutting out carbohydrates from your diet is all the rage, as people have found a lot of success on diets such as Paleo and Keto by almost completely cutting carbs out. This can result in some shockingly fast weight loss, though limiting carbs is easier said than done. This is especially true because some people don’t realize just how many carbs some foods have.
If you’re looking to get into a low carb diet, there are still plenty of great foods that you can eat on a daily basis. From breakfast to dessert, we have you covered so that you know what you can and cannot have. So for those that find themselves in a pinch, just take a look at our guide of low carb diet foods so you’ll always be prepared no matter the situation!
Meats, Seafood and Poultry
Basically any meat that you eat is either going to have no carbohydrates, or a very small amount (depending on what other ingredients you use). Many people on a low carb plan stick with eating a lot of lean meat that’s low in calories, fat and carbs while also being high in protein. This makes turkey, chicken, bacon, beef and all fish great low carb diet foods. One of the more popular lean meats that we’ve looked at that’s growing in popularity because of its nutrition is bison, now a staple of a low carb diet.
Like meat, eggs have a high concentration of protein, and is even ranked higher in quality in terms of protein produced. One cup of raw egg whites contains just 1.8 grams of carbohydrates and more than 26.5 grams of protein with 0.4 grams of fat. Though you’ll need to get more fat into your diet on most low carb plans, eggs are one of those ideal foods you want to have around. The nutrients in eggs that include a lot of selenium and riboflavin (along with many antioxidants) are just an icing on the cake.
Not all vegetables are low carb diet foods (more on that later), but plenty of them will be low in carbohydrates. The rule of thumb for low carb vegetables is that they’re going to be good for your diet if they’re green and grow above ground. This includes lettuce, green beans, zucchini, avocado, broccoli and more. Peppers and tomatoes are also great for low carb diets, as well, even if they don’t fit into the green category. Cauliflower tends to be the most utilized in low carb plans, containing just four net grams of carbs per 100 gram serving.
Like vegetables, there are certain fruits that you’ll want to eat on a low carb plan and others to avoid. Fruits can be a bit of a mixed bag as some fruits in the same family contain a wide range of carbs. For instance, raspberries are much lower in carbs than blueberries at a ratio of five net grams to 12. However, blueberries are still a much better option than certain fruits like grapes or bananas, especially when adjusting the serving size. Other fruits that are suggested for low carb diets include plums, kiwis, cherries and cantaloupe.
If you’ve ever seen anyone trying to eat more low carb diet foods, you might have noticed that they usually have certain nuts around. Nuts have high amounts of fiber and healthy fats with a lower amount of carbohydrates. This makes nuts very filling, and can help you get up to the minimum amount of calories that you’ll need for energy. There are certain nuts that standout as being better for low carb dieters than others, with pecans and Brazil nuts being the best with four net grams of carbs per 100 grams. Most nuts score well in terms of carbs, though cashews tend to have the highest of the more popular nuts.
It’s suggested that if you’re going on a low carb diet that you limit yourself to fewer than four ounces of cheese on a daily basis. Most cheeses are incredibly low in carbs when contained to under this amount, including the more popular. Per serving, cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan and cream cheese are all under one net gram. Even Swiss and feta cheese are barely over the one net gram carb per serving. Most dairy as a whole, including butter, are going to be low in carbohydrates, but you don’t want to base your entire diet around them.
When you’re trying to spice up your other low carb diet foods, you want to make sure you’re not accidentally sneaking in a lot of carbs with certain ingredients. Toppings like jam and maple syrup are all incredibly high in net carbs, while your standard barbecue sauce and ketchup also have a sneaky amount of carbs. This can make your options feel limited, but there are plenty of good ones out there. Olive oil and coconut oil don’t have any net carbs, while others such as mayonnaise, mustard, guacamole, soy sauce and salsa are all suggested low carb ingredients. If you’re going for a salad, most dressings are good, including Caesar and Ranch.
Many people want to take the time out to treat themselves once in a while later in the day to satisfy their sweet tooth. While many of the desserts will typically be off limits, there are a few desserts that are better, including yogurt. These days, there are a lot of mass produced desserts from companies like Atkins that cut carbs out of traditional diet foods, including chocolate and ice cream. In its nature, heavy whipping cream is low in carbs, so you can get the full taste, topping off fruit with cream for a quick dessert.
Knowing Your Drinks
Most of the drinks that you can have while going on a low carb diet shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The drinks that we tend to think of being high in calories and sugars are usually higher in carbs, too. Milkshakes, ice coffees packed with sugar and sodas are ones that you want to avoid. Drinks that might surprise you in being higher in carbs include most smoothies and Vitamin Water. Drinking regular water, tea, coffee or diet sodas don’t contain any carbs. Others that you can have to meet your low carb goals include wine, coconut water and vegetable juice.
Foods to Avoid
When you’re looking to cut carbs, there are still some foods that you normally consider healthy that you’ll want to avoid. Most bread (especially white and whole wheat) are off limits, but more surprisingly is the amount of fruit and vegetables. Bananas, pears, mangos, corn and potatoes all contain more carbohydrates than fiber. Then, of course, you have the standard cereals and pastas that are always banned from low carb plans.
Just know that if you decide to go on a low carb diet, it can be a difficult lifestyle to stick with as your options for low carb diet foods are limited. While weight loss can come quickly, it can also be easy to regain once you start getting more carbs back into your diet. It’s best to eliminate most carbs from your diet, but make sure that you’re still getting some in your diet to make your plan much easier!