While preparing your low-carb diet foods list, you don’t necessarily have to weigh your food or measure calories, but that doesn’t mean you can eat everything, especially if you make regular trips to the grocery.
A low-carb diet has lots of food choices you can enjoy and lose weight while maintaining a healthy body. These foods include meat, eggs, natural fats, fish, and vegetables.
In this post, you learn about the foods allowed in a low-carb diet, what to avoid, top choices, and how to get healthy fats.
Low-Carb Diet Foods to Eat
This must be taken in moderation. This is because a low-carb diet requires lots of healthy fats and not high proteins.
It is hard for your body to transition into ketosis, for instance, when you consume too many proteins. A lot of it is converted into glucose.
While at it, avoid processed meats. Choose chicken, beef – roast, stew, and ground, among others – lamb, pork, and poultry.
b) Fish and seafood
All kinds of wild fish are the best. Salmons, mackerel, sardines, herring, or any kind of fatty fish make great choices.
Other types of fish to consume include tuna, halibut catfish, snapper, cod, mahi-mahi, flounder, and trout.
The good thing about fish is that they have other additional health benefits due to high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Seafood also makes a good choice for low-carb diets. Here you can eat shellfish, lobster, mussels, clams, crab squid oysters, and scallops.
You can have them however you like – boiled, scrambled, omelets, or fried in butter. You guessed it right, consuming the organic types is the best option, but do not overconsume them.
Eat the pastured types or the omega-3 nourished types.
d) Natural Fat, High-Fat Sauces
Most healthy fats are obtained from meat, fish, and eggs among others. But you can also get some of the healthiest fats from coconut oil, olive oil, and salads.
Codfish, liver oil, as well as lard, are also good sources.
Recipes of high-fat sauces such as Béarnaise should also be included. Healthy fat is always your friend and is always on the allowed low-carb diet foods.
e) Above Ground Growing Vegetables
All vegetables, including leafy greens that grow above the ground, are suitable for a low-carb diet. It doesn’t matter if the vegetables are frozen or fresh.
They make great replacements for different types of meals not to mention that they are ideal for vegetarians.
In this category, try broccoli, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, avocado, cabbage, and zucchini.
Fruits are disallowed in a low-carb diet, but there are a few low-carb fruits that you can consume.
From the list of the allowed fruits on a low carb diet, you can make low carb desserts, particularly with some berries.
Fruits you can consume include berries, plum, clementine, kiwi, cherries, cantaloupe, and peach. Oranges, apples, and bananas contain significantly higher carbs and should be highly moderated.
Other low-carb diet foods to try include some dairy products. They are also good for low-carb diets, particularly cheese, heavy cream, full-fat yogurt, and Greek yogurt.
Low-Carb Diet Foods to Avoid (Limit)
Sugary foods should be avoided on your list of low-carb diet foods. Ensure that you read the labels of the products you purchase for sugar content.
Sauces, maple syrup, dressings, condiments, and some packaged foods usually contain hidden sugars.
Bread comes in different forms and the majority of them contain high amounts of carbs and those made from wheat contain gluten.
It is, therefore, not a good idea to consume bread and whole grains in a low carbohydrate diet.
The average carbohydrate content may vary, but it is recommended that you stick to those with low content. Nonetheless, it sometimes depends on your carbohydrate tolerance.
Also, avoid donuts or products made from wheat. This includes cakes, cupcakes, and cookies among others.
These foods contain a lot of sugar making them high on carbs. They also contain some gluten; therefore, it is not friendly to vegans.
Pasta is versatile, sweet, and inexpensive making it one of the commonest food items in your diet. But it is not allowed in a low-carb diet.
Pasta is high in carbs and only a cup of cooked pasta has 43 grams of carbohydrates, of which only 3 are fiber.
Sometimes, whole wheat pasta is considered a better alternative, but it also contains more carbohydrates than is required in a keto diet.
It contains 37 grams of carbohydrates. You can always have one of the alternatives of pasta discussed earlier. Like shirataki noodles or spiralized zucchini noodles.
They may come in different varieties and abundance, but rice is a grain topping the ‘’no-no’ list of low-carb diet foods due to the high carbohydrate content.
Most of them contain about 45 grams of carbohydrates in a cup. Even brown rice, which is considered healthy still contains enough carbs to hinder you from achieving your goal of weight loss.
One potato may contain up to 25 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein, and that alone is why this type of vegetable is not allowed in a low-carb diet.
Other alternatives will make you feel even fuller. But generally, all below ground vegetables should be avoided, lettuce included.
But legumes, especially beans and lentils come with a high carbohydrate content. However, some root vegetables will make a nice addition to your diet but not sweet potatoes or other types of potatoes.
They contain lots of sugar and are sweet. They have also been associated with a reduction in heart disease and cancer.
Some fruits such as an apple, for instance, have high carbohydrate content. One apple contains 21 grams of carbs, 4 of which come from fiber.
Dates, bananas, mangoes, raisins, pears, oranges, peach, cantaloupe, cherries, and grapes are high in carbs and should be avoided from the diet.
Their carbohydrate content may increase your overall consumption.
Dry wine is a good choice if you want some alcohol, but still, this should be done in moderation. Beer, on the other hand, has a high carbohydrate content.
A 12 oz can of beer has an average of 13 grams of carbs. Light beer contains 6 grams in every can.
According to experts, being in a liquid form, carbs in beer makes it easy for one to gain weight compared to consuming them from food sources.
This is because one doesn’t necessarily compensate for the carbohydrates by consuming less food afterward.
Sweet and fizzy drinks or beverages like soda should be excluded from your low-carb diet foods or incredibly limited. They are high in sugar and have artificial sweeteners. You can, however, still enjoy diet soda and light Pepsi.
Fruit juice is high in digestible carbs. A 12 oz apple juice comes with 48 grams of carbs. This is way more than soda containing 39 grams.
Grape juice is the worst with 60 grams of carbs. Vegetable juice also has 16 grams of carbs, 2 of which originate from fiber.
Drinking juice leads to more hunger and food intake later on. Plus, their high carbohydrate content may cause an increase in blood sugar, almost rapidly.
Other Low-Carb Diet Foods to Avoid
- Trans Fats –can increase the risks of cardiovascular disease.
- Vegetable oils – contains omega-6 fatty acids in excess. And may also cause inflammations. Instead, you should increase the intake of omega-3 fat.
- Artificial sweeteners – contain sugars Stevia is a great alternative because it contains low carb content.
- Products labeled “low-fat” or “diet” – Marketers may lie in what their products contain. Read labels carefully.
- Specialty coffee, lattes, and tea with too much sugar – add milk to your coffee or tea but in moderation. Dairy products contain loads of carbohydrates.
- Highly processed foods – are low on nutrients but high on artificial chemicals and other unhealthy additives or ingredients.
Top Low-Carb Diet Foods
Although healthy, they should be used in moderation. Here is a low carb guide on nuts and seeds to help you on your low-carb diet journey:
- Almonds – 1.4 grams per 2 tablespoons
- Pine Nuts – 1.7 grams per 2 tablespoons
- Macadamia Nuts – 0.9 grams per 2 tablespoons
- Walnuts – 0.9 grams per 2 tablespoon halves
- Hazelnuts – 1.2 gram per 2 tablespoons
- Peanuts – 1.8 grams per 2 tablespoons
- Sunflower Seeds – 4 grams in an ounce
- Pumpkin Seeds – 5 grams in an ounce
- Peanut Butter – 2.4 grams in a tablespoon
- Almond Butter – 3 grams in a tablespoon
- Pecans – 0.6 grams per 2 tablespoons (chopped)
- Pistachio – 3.1 grams per 2 tablespoons
If you are hungry – although a low-carb diet will keep you satiated for long – having one of the following snacks will do you no harm, as long as you follow the guidelines:
- Olives – 3 grams net carbs in 3.5 ounces
- Avocado – 2 grams net carbs in 100 grams (3.5 oz)
- Cold cuts – 2 grams net carbs in 3.5 ounces
- Baby Carrots – 0.5 grams net carbs per 10 grams (one medium baby carrot)
- Eggs – 1-gram net carbs in 3.5 ounces
- Leftovers from The Night Before
- Cheese – 2 grams net carbs in every 100 grams.
- Macadamia nuts, pecan, and Brazil nuts – 4 grams net carb in 3.5 ounces
- Tuna salad with celery – 2 grams carbs in half a serving
iii) Fats and Sauces
The optimal amounts of low-carb fats and sauces are as follows (net carbs are per 3.5 ounces or 100 grams):
- Olive oil – zero carbs
- Butter – zero carbs
- Coconut oil – zero carbs
- Mayonnaise – 1-gram net carbs
- Tabasco/Hot sauce – 2 grams net carbs
- Béarnaise – 2 grams net carbs
- Aioli – 2 grams net carbs
- Heavy cream – 3 grams net carbs
- Vinaigrette – 3 grams net carbs
- Guacamole – 3 grams net carbs
- Soy Sauce – 4 grams net carbs
- Cream cheese – 4 grams net carbs
- Salsa – 6 grams net carbs
- Mustard – 6 grams net carbs
- Pesto – 8 grams net carbs
PRO TIP: Tomato paste contains 15 grams, ketchup 26 grams, maple syrup 68 grams, and jam 69 grams net carbs. So, you should minimize or consume them with absolute moderation.
How to Get Healthy Fats in a Low-Carb Diet
- Use Ingredients with full-fat
- Cook with natural, healthy fats and oils like butter or coconut oil
- Try Different Fats such as butter, peanut oil, sesame oil, or any other healthy fat of your choice.
- Prepare low-carb recipes such as a low-carb pizza, shirataki noodles with a low-carb salad, a meat pie, low-carb frittata with spinach or any other vegetable, and many more.
- Top your dishes and garnish with low carb diet high-fat foods
- Eat or prepare snacks containing fat
- Add a cheese course whether you savor it whole or use it to top your meals
- Instead of milk, you can pour coconut oil, heavy whipping cream, or butter into your favorite drink, coffee, or tea.
- Consider a fat bomb dessert such as raspberries and sugarless whipped cream
A low-carb diet eliminates most carbohydrates in your food choices. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have some food. The options and recipe combinations are almost limitless.
With your aim being to maintain a healthy lifestyle for weight loss, it is a necessary step to achieve that goal. You also get to enjoy other benefits such as good heart health and blood sugar stabilization.
Read more here about why a low-carb diet is effective for cutting and maintaining a healthy weight.