There is barely a person who has not shifted from diet plan to diet plan in search of finding the right one. I also spent quite a while finding one that suits my body and keeps up with my routine and does not make me feel low energy. The diet meal plan I chose was a low carbohydrate diet. It suits almost all body types, and almost every person can adapt to it except for a few people, including breastfeeding and pregnant mothers and diabetic patients. It basically involves lower amounts of carbs in your diet. Read on to learn what is a low carbohydrate diet and all the concerns people have with it.
What Is A Low Carbohydrate Diet And Its Purpose?
A low carbohydrate diet is where you eat fewer carbohydrates and eat a higher proportion of fats and proteins. The low carbohydrate diet is also known as a high-fat diet or a keto diet. Though the keto diet drastically reduces carbs, in a low carbohydrate diet, you can intake more carbs. You have to strictly avoid sugar and starches in your diet.
It has been an idea consuming fat can make you obese, and fats are not good for your diet. According to recent studies, natural fats do not harm your body, and they are very safe to consume. Be sure to void processed fats that can be harmful to you.
The primary purpose of a low carb diet is losing weight, but many people opt for it for things other than weight loss, like maintaining body weight, having a healthy and robust body, and arresting type 2 diabetes.
The Basics Of Low Carbohydrate Diet
Now, if you define what is a low carbohydrate diet in a sentence, then you can say it as a diet plan in which you mainly eat meat, eggs, cheeses, vegetables, berries, and olive oil. The foods you refrain from are trans-fat food items, starchy and sugary foods, including all processed food items.
Your health does not entirely depend on the foods you eat, but it is undoubtedly a significant factor. It also depends on your exercise and lifestyle you follow along with the type and quantity of foods you consume.
What Foods To Avoid While Following A Low Carbohydrate Diet?
It is easier to find the foods that you can eat if you firstly exclude the foods you cannot eat. So let us proceed with the foods you need to avoid in a low carbohydrate diet.
- Strictly avoid sugary soft drinks, candy, ice cream, and any other food item that contains a high amount of sugar.
- Bread, cereals, pasta, wheat, rice, and barley are also must be avoided.
- Avoid all starchy vegetables.
- Trans-fats that include hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils should not be included in your diet.
- Lastly, all processed foods are a big no.
What Foods To Include In Your Diet?
Let us talk about the food items you should incorporate into your diet.
- Mutton, beef, chicken, salmon, and pork are all included. The grass-fed animals are the best.
- Omega-3 enriched eggs are of great nutritional value.
- Regarding vegetables, you can eat Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots and in fruits, go for specifically Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, and strawberries.
- Other than that, all nuts and seeds contain high-fat content, and they are good for you. Just make sure you do not eat too much of them.
- Lastly, cheese, butter, heavy cream, yogurt, coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil, and fish oil should be included in your daily low carb diet.
Foods That You Might Include In Smaller Quantities
A low carbohydrate diet is not as strict when it comes to carbs. So if you are not planning on losing weight and you have an exceptionally active lifestyle, you can include the following items in small quantities in your diet.
- You can have small quantities of tubers, including potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Brown rice and quinoa are also fine.
- If you enjoy lentils, you can also consume some black beans and red beans in your meals.
- To satiate your cravings, you can have dark chocolate as well. Make sure it contains at least 70% cocoa.
- As for wine, you can drink small quantities of dry wine. It should be strictly in small quantities because more of it can hinder the low carb plan.
Beverages To Include
There is not a wide range of beverages to choose from. You have to strictly stick to coffee and tea on a low carbohydrate diet. You can have as much plain water and sparkling water as you like. You can also have dry wine occasionally in smaller quantities.
7 Highly Recommended Healthy Low Carbohydrate Snacks
So when we are talking about meals, how can we skip on the snacks? Though the meals are divided into different portions, you can have small snacks between meals to keep you full throughout the day. Some low carb snacks are;
- A piece of fruit
- Small or baby carrots
- Some leftovers from the previous night
- Hard-boiled egg
- Full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Cheese slices
- A handful of nuts
What To Do When Eating Out?
Eating at home is easier when you can prepare your own meals. You can even take your own lunch box to work with you, but what to do when you are going out with friends to eat. Many restaurants do not have a low carb option. So, in that case, here are some options that you can order.
- Order the main course with meat in it. Steak is the best option.
- Order some extra vegetables instead of mashed potatoes or bread.
- Drink plain water instead of juices or soda.
A Small Shopping List
When you are going shopping, it is better to buy whole foods and then prepare your meals at home so that you know what you are adding to your food. Below is the list of the most common things you should include in your shopping list.
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Frozen or fresh vegetables
- Staple condiments
The main thing you have to look for is you do not buy something that is processed. Try buying raw and organic food items.
Know The Serving Sizes Of The Foods You Eat!
Mostly low carbohydrate diets allow at most 50 grams of carbs per day. But to know how much a food item will equal in the number of carbs, you need to calculate an exact nutritional value, which is quite difficult. Here I am giving an estimated quantity of food items that equals the required carbs. All the mentioned food items have 15g of carbs per the serving size mentioned.
- A cup of berries
- A cup melon cut into cubes
- Half medium banana
- A tennis ball-sized orange or apple
- 8 ounces of milk
- Six ounces of unsweetened yogurt
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- Half cup beans
- Half cup corn
- Half cup of peas
- One-third cup cooked rice
- One slice of bread
- One small baked potato
Create A Meal Plan!
Low carb meals are challenging finding on the go, and when you are running late for work, it is most likely you might cheat on your diet rather than spending time deciding what to eat or to make from scratch. To avoid all of this, it is better to prepare meals beforehand or at least have a meal plan for the week. Have it all written down in a diary what you will be eating for the week. It makes it much easier when preparing it.
Also, you can prepare food earlier so that you don’t have to panic at the 11th hour. Preparing meals in advance can save you a lot of time and money altogether. When you have it prepared and stored in containers, it is less likely that you will move to unhealthy options on your lazy days. Some foods can be kept for a week in the fridge, and remain good. You can prepare them for the weekend for enough to last a week. Some food items are:
- Greek yogurt bowls
- Chicken lettuce wraps
- Protein pancakes
- Protein and vegetable stir-fry with no rice
- Egg muffins
Carb Cycling Is Also Very Effective
It happens with people who keep at a low carb diet for a long time that they no longer find it effective. In that case, carb cycling is the best option to go for. Carb cycling is basically when you go a few days with no carbs and the next day with a relatively higher amount of carbs. Keep alternating like this for a few days, and you will find your body responds better. It is not effective for everybody, so if you are opting for this, you should first consult your doctor or nutritionist.
Use The Right Alternatives
No matter how much we try to go carb-free or for low carbohydrate meals, some carb foods always keep calling us to cheat our meals. So to fulfill those carb cravings, there are some low carb alternatives for those high carb foods. Use them wisely, and you can have your favorite foods within your diet meal. Some common low carbohydrate alternatives are:
- Use lettuce leaves in place of taco shells.
- You can make fries with baked butternut squash fries.
- Zucchini zoodles in place of noodles.
- Spaghetti squash can also be used.
- Portobello mushroom caps instead of buns.
- Eggplant lasagna
- Cauliflower pizza crust instead of flour crust.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Low Carb Diet?
There are countless health benefits of a low carb diet. The main one being you can lose body fat very easily. Otherwise, losing body fat requires intermittent fasting, but the keto diet or low carb diet has been one of the most successful in losing body fat fast. Another great benefit is that it can reverse type 2 diabetes. If you have just begun with the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, it is most likely that with this diet, you might be able to get rid of it. However, if you are already on medications, then you should consult your doctor first. It helps in reducing sugar cravings and improves your gut health as well. You might no longer have indigestion, diarrhea, or any other digestion-related diseases.
Even with all these things, there are some additional benefits as well. You can lower blood pressure, lesser heart diseases, less acne, fewer migraines, better mental health, and even improved fertility.
Be Aware Of The Risks
As you must be aware nothing comes without risks and some potential side effects. A low carb diet does not have health risks, but there are a few symptoms that might indicate you have begun the process of losing fat. So be aware of them and some risks as well.
- High cholesterol
- Reduced athletic performance
- Brain fog
- Bad breath
- Nutritional deficiency in some cases
- Loss of bone density after a long time
A low carbohydrate diet is all about getting nutrition from fats as much of our body weight is excess fat. Once we start consuming fats, our body will burn fats, and ultimately excess body fats will get burned. When eating low carb, make sure you eat healthy foods and do not switch to high fat but unhealthy options. They will make you lazy and delay the process.
Let me know in the comments section below how you liked this blog and what your opinion is about the low carbohydrate diet.