Low-carb diets tend to focus on eating meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, and healthy oils, with whole grains and legumes in moderation. Sugar, high fructose syrup, refined grains, fast foods, and other highly processed foods should be avoided.
However, dietary choices are influenced by several factors, including your overall health, how often you exercise, and your body weight. This meal plan should be seen as a general guideline rather than a set of rules.
What foods to eat on a low-carb diet
Unprocessed, low-carb foods should be the foundation of your diet:
- Beef, lamb, pork, poultry, etc.
- Salmon, trout, haddock, and other wild-caught fish
- Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
- Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries and strawberries, etc. (limit yourself to just one serving of fruit a day)
- Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and other nuts and seeds
- Cheese, butter, heavy cream, and yogurt
- Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil, and fish oil
- Black coffee and tea
If you are trying to lose weight, however, avoid cheese and nuts because it can be easy to overeat these.
What are healthy carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are essential for good health and energy, so it’s important to consume them in moderation. Not all carbs are the same. Unhealthy or simple carbs should be replaced with healthy carbs.
Different types of carbohydrates include:
- Simple carbohydrates: Simple carbs are digested quickly, causing blood sugar spikes. This can make you crave more carbs and, in the long run, lead to weight gain. Main sources include table sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, and fast foods such as French fries.
- Complex carbohydrates: Long chains of simple carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates. Because they take longer for your body to digest and break down for energy, these carbs keep you fuller for longer. Sources include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
- Dietary fiber: Dietary fiber is a lengthy chain of sugar molecules similar to complex carbohydrates, but it is indigestible, which means your body cannot break it down for energy. Dietary fiber helps keep your digestive system functioning smoothly while also making you feel full. Fiber is frequently found in foods that also contain complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
- Healthy carbohydrates: When compared to simple carbs, complex carbs and dietary fiber take longer for the body to break down. This means you will expend more energy to digest them. These carbohydrates will make you feel full for longer, aiding weight loss. Hence, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber are considered healthy carbohydrates.
What are sources of healthy carbs?
The following sources of complex carbs are high in dietary fiber and low in simple sugars, boosting energy levels without damaging your health:
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat bread
- Black beans
- Bread with sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
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Harvard Health Publishing. Diet & Weight Loss. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/diet-and-weight-loss
National Institute of Health. Guide to Behavior Change. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/behavior.htm
U.S. Department of Agriculture. MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov
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