Low carbohydrate diet or a low-carb diet refers to the diet that not only reduces the number of carbohydrates in a diet but also restricts their intake. The diet high in protein, healthy vegetables, and fat has been proven to help in weight loss while improving health.
This article will explain to you what all kinds of foods are eaten in the diet, which foods to avoid, and types of low-carb diets.
The Basics of Low Carbohydrate Diet
The choice of food of an individual largely depends on the following factors:
- The amount of weight they wish to lose
- How healthy they are
- How much they exercise
The following meal-plan is a basic guideline for the diet:
What to Eat: Fats, high-fat dairy, seeds, nuts, fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, non-gluten grains, healthy oils, and certain tubers
What to Not Eat: Highly processed foods, low-fat products, trans-fats, seed oils, wheat, HCFS, and sugar
Now that you have a general idea what a low carbohydrate diet is, let us learn all the kinds of foods you can eat and not eat, and their examples.
Foods to Eat
As part of the low carbohydrate diet, the following are the unprocessed, real foods you can eat:
- Fats and Oils: Fish oil, olive oil, lard, butter, coconut oil
- High–Fat Dairy: Yogurt, heavy cream, butter, cheese
- Seeds and Nuts: Sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, etc.
- Fruits: Strawberries, blueberries, pears, oranges, apples
- Vegetables: Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, etc
- Eggs: Pastured eggs and omega-3 rich eggs are the best.
- Fish: While wild-caught fish is the best, you can eat haddock, trout, salmon, etc
- Meat: Chicken, pork, lamb, beef, etc; the best are the ones that are grass-fed
Foods You May Eat
If you do not wish to lose weight and are active and healthy, then you may include the following foods:
- Legumes: Pinto beans, black beans, lentils, etc
- Unrefined grains: Quinoa, oats, brown rice, etc
- Tubers: Sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc
You can even have the following if you wish to, but only a moderate amount:
- Wine: Look for wines that are dry and do not have any added carbohydrates or sugar
- Dark Chocolate: Look for organic brands that contain a minimum of 70% of cocoa. The food is antioxidant-rich and may result in the benefits of health only if eaten in moderate quantities.
Nonetheless, be aware that both alcohol and dark chocolate will hold back your progress if you drink or eat a lot.
Beverages You May Have
- Sugar-free carbonated beverages such as sparkling water
Foods to Avoid Eating
You must avoid the following food groups in order of their necessities:
- Sugar: Ice cream, soft drinks, candy, agave, fruit juices, and numerous other products that contain added sugar
- Refined Grains: Pasta, cereal, bread, rye, barley, rice, and wheat
- Trans-fats: Partially or completely hydrogenated oils
- Diet and low-fat products: Various dairy products; although crackers or cereals are fat-reduced, they contain added sugar
- Highly processed foods: In case you think it was produced in a factory, then do not eat it
- Starchy Vegetables: If you are following a very low-carb diet, it would be best to limit starchy vegetables in your diet.
Low Carbohydrate, Healthy Snacks
There is no requirement to eat more than three meals every day. Nonetheless, if you are hungry in between the meals, then eat the following low-carb, healthy, easy-to-prepare snack that will fill you up:
- Some cheese and meat
- A handful of nuts
- Leftovers from the previous day (actually, night)
- Baby carrots
- One or two hard-boiled eggs
- Full-fat yogurt
- A piece of any fruit
Shopping List for a Low Carbohydrate Diet
Now that you are aware of the low carbohydrate diet, let us make you a list of shopping for the diet.
It is noteworthy that concentrating on whole foods will make your diet a lot better than the general Western diet. Also, grass-fed foods and organic foods are among the popular choices that are considered to be healthy.
Try opting for the least processed food from the following that fits perfectly in your budget:
- Eggs (Look for pastured-eggs or omega-3 rich eggs)
- Fish (Preferably fatty fish, such as salmon)
- Meat (bacon, chicken, pork, lamb, beef)
- Condiments (mustard, garlic, pepper, sea salt, etc)
- Frozen vegetables (carrots, broccoli, etc)
- Fresh vegetables (onions, peppers, greens, etc)
- Blueberries (frozen or fresh)
- Yogurt (unsweetened, full-fat)
- Sour cream
- Heavy cream
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
Remove all the unhealthy temptations from your pantry, like cereals, bread, juices, sodas, ice cream, candy, chips, and baking ingredients, such as sugar and flour.
Things to Remember while Eating Out
At a majority of the restaurants, it is simple to make the meals low carbohydrate diet-friendly.
- Get additional vegetables rather than rice, potatoes, or bread.
- Instead of getting yourself fruit juice or sugary soda, drink plain water.
- Order a fish or meat-based main dish.
Results of a Low Carbohydrate Diet
A low carbohydrate diet, as mentioned earlier, can help improve health and reduce weight.
#1: Weight Loss
If people begin to restrict their calorie intake and augment their calorie burn, they can lose weight. To lose about 0.5-0.7 kilograms (1-1.5 pounds) per week, you must reduce your daily calories by 500-750 calories.
A low carbohydrate diet, particularly very low-carb diet is more likely to reduce weight in short-term as compared to a low-fat diet. However, numerous studies have discovered that the results of these diets after a year or 2 are not very great.
#2: Other Health Benefits
A low carbohydrate diet can help in the prevention or improvement of serious health issues, like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Actually, almost every diet that aids in shedding excess weight can reverse or diminish the risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In fact, most of the weight-loss diets, including low-carb diet, are known to enhance blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol.
Risks Associated with Low Carbohydrate Diet
If you cut carbs all of a sudden, you are likely to experience various temporary health effects, such as:
- Skin rash
- Muscle cramps
- Bad breath
Moreover, certain diets restrict the intake of carbohydrates to such extents that in the long term, they may lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies, gastrointestinal disturbances, bone loss, and may even augment the risks of a variety of chronic diseases.
Since a low carbohydrate diet may not provide an individual with the necessary nutrients, such diets are avoided as methods of weight loss for high-school kids and pre-teens. Their growing bodies require the nutrients that are found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Top 8 Ways of Following a Low-Carb Diet
#1: Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet
Based on the Mediterranean traditional foods of the 20th century, the diet aids in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and heart disease.
The diet emphasizes more on extra virgin olive oil rather than fats like butter, and on fatty fish instead of red meat.
The diet eliminates all kinds of plant foods and consists of animal foods only. This includes lard, butter, eggs, fish, and meat. Since it has not shown any signs of improvement in health, it is generally not recommended. Moreover, the diet lacks nutrients like fiber and Vitamin C.
#3: The Atkins Diet
The diet focuses on the reduction of high carbohydrate foods while eating as much fat and protein as desired. It is split into 4 phases:
- Phase 1 (Induction): Eat below 20 grams of carbs every day for a couple of weeks.
- Phase 2 (Balancing): Gradually add more fruits, low-carb vegetables, and nuts
- Phase 3 (Fine-tuning): When you are about to acquire your weight-loss goals, increase your carbs.
- Phase 4: (Maintenance): Eat as many carbs (only healthy) as your body tolerates. Ensure that you do not gain weight in the process.
A vegan version of the Atkins diet, Eco-Atkins is lower in carbs as compared to other vegan and vegetarian diets.
#5: Low-Carb Paleo Diet
The diet comprises of unprocessed foods that were most likely to available to the Paleolithic ancestors. Although the low-carb Paleo diet is not strictly a low carbohydrate diet, it can be modified to fit into such a lifestyle.
#6: Low-Carb, High Fat (LCHF)
A very low carbohydrate diet, the LHCF diet concentrates majorly on unprocessed, whole foods.
#7: Ketogenic Diet
The aim of the diet is to reduce enough carbs to induce ketosis, a metabolic state. The diet is considered to be a very powerful one when it comes to weight loss. It also helps prevent various diseases. What can you eat? Check out the ultimate keto foods list for meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy, oils, fats, and more over at Human Food Bar. You’ll also find shopping lists for Costco, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and Whole Foods.
#8: Typical Low-Carb Diet
This diet is much higher in protein and much lower in carbs as compared to a usual diet. The amount of carbohydrate intake is recommended on the basis of individual preferences and goals.
The Bottom Line
A low carbohydrate diet is known to reduce weight and improve or prevent several diseases, especially cardiovascular and diabetes. The diet not only encourages healthy eating but also regular exercises or physical activities. It is solely based on low-calorie intake and high-calorie burn when it comes to losing weight.
The high in vegetables, fat and protein diet has various types of diets that can be followed according to individual preferences and goals. A low carbohydrate not only helps in a quick weight loss but it also helps in increasing the levels of good cholesterol in the body. Not only this, having a low carbohydrate diet plays the role of a Therapeutic for Several Brain Disorders. A low carbohydrate diet can also help in the prevention of serious health issues, like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Hence, take care of all the points mentioned above and follow the diet as per your goals. Stay fit and healthy! Go the extra mile and treat yourself to the best quality meats from your local butcher.