Low carbohydrate diets, also known as low carb diets, are nutritional plans that limit carbohydrate use generally for controlling weight or for the cure of obesity. Foods like bread and pasta etc are replaced with foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. This means that you are replacing foods that are high in digestible carbohydrates by food with a high percentage of proteins and fats, as well as, the low carb diet foods. The quantity of carbohydrate intake differs with various low carbohydrate diets.
The expression “low carbohydrate diet” is usually used for diets that limit the eating of carbohydrates to less than twenty percent of one’s caloric intake. However, it can also refer to a diet that just restricts carbohydrates.
Medically, a low carb diet is used to cure or avoid chronic illness and conditions, like cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and diabetes.
How much carb intake do the experts recommend?
Mentioned below are different recommendations regarding one’s daily intake of carbs, according to various researchers and diet plans.
- The National Academy of Sciences suggests at least 120 grams of carbohydrates per day.
- The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 300 grams of carbohydrates for every 2000 calories. That is about 60% of total calories.
- Initially Atkins suggested 20 grams every day. That is less than 5%.
- Protein Power suggests that approximately 12-15% of the calories should be carbohydrates.
- The Zone recommends carbohydrates portion to be40% of the total calories.
According to a study in New England Journal of Medicine, contestants who regularly took low carb diet foods for the duration of six months shed more fat than those who had the intake of low fat.
Low carb diet foods
Following is a list of foods to eat when you are on a low carb diet:
- Low carb fruits:
When it comes to fruits, low carb diets differ from each other. This is because some rely more on glycemic index or glycemic load, while the rest only consider the total carbs. Also, a few of the diets actually discourage the intake of fruits in the first phase.
In general, fruits that contain the lowest amount of sugar are the best ones to opt for. These include lemons or limes in a small amount, rhubarb, raspberry, black berry and cranberry. Fruits that contain a low to medium content of sugar include strawberry, casaba melon, papaya, water melon, peach, nectarine, blueberry, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, guava, apricot and grapefruit. On the other hand, fruits that are fairly high in sugar include plum, orange, kiwifruit, pineapple and pear. Lastly, fruits that have and extremely high content of sugar include tangerine, cherry, grapes, pomegranate, mango, fig and banana.
- Low carb vegetables
Majority of the vegetables are a part of the low carb diet foods. Nonetheless, the carbohydrates have to be calculated if needed for some particular diet. The precise carbohydrate count relies on the serving size. When you are calculating carbs in vegetables, the fiber is not considered and, therefore, can be subtracted from the total.
Vegetables like beans, green vegetables (lettuce, spinach, chard etc), hearty greens (collards, mustard greens, kale etc), herbs(parsley, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc), bamboo shoots, celery, radishes, sea vegetables (nori), mushrooms, cabbage, avocado, asparagus, green beans and wax beans, fennel, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, green bell peppers, red bell peppers and jalapeno peppers are all non starchy and usually low in carbs. On the other hand, vegetables to stay away from when avoiding carbohydrates are those that are more starchy and sweeter. Such vegetables include carrots, beets, peas, acorn, butternut, water chestnuts, parsnips, potatoes and corns.
- Low carb diet foods – meat list
Almost all the low carb diets allow the intake of meats and related proteins. However, the cases when they are to be avoided are as follows:
- Make sure that you stay away from breaded meats. This includes the cuisines which contain bread, like meatloaf.
- Avoid meat that is served with high carbohydrate sauces.
- Mussels and oysters also contain carbs. So when you’re having them, keep a count of your carb intake.
- Few types of organ meat have carbs. It is suggested to restrict organ meat to 4 oz. per day. A single ounce of raw beef liver contains approximately one gram of carb – one ounce that is cooked contains 1.4 grams.
- Meet like ham and luncheon frequently contain added sugars. Therefore, check the labels or make some deli worker do it.
- Restrict the use of processed meat, particularly the ones with nitrites like hot dogs, bacon etc.
- For diets that restrict saturated fat as low carb diet foods, the fattier cuts like the dark meat of poultry are to be limited.
- Some diets also restrict the intake of egg yolks.
- Half a cup of tofu contains ten grams of protein and one gram of effective carb with one gram of fiber.
- Low carb diet foods- glycemic index food list
Glycemic index tells us whether a particular type of food increases our blood glucose quickly or slowly and steadily. It is important because a lot of people have problems due to a quick raise in the blood glucose level.
Pure glucose has a raking of hundred as the numerical value of its glycemic index. The value of the glycemic index for all the other foodstuff is measured in relation to that of glucose. This means that a food that has a glycemic index of 95 would raise the blood sugar level almost as fast as pure glucose. Similarly, food with a glycemic index of twenty, for instance, would cause sugars to be absorbed into the blood at a slow pace, thereby keep the blood glucose level steady.
Following is a list of glycemic index for various food items.
- Fructose: 12-25, average 19
- Glucose: 85-111, average 100
- Glucose eaten with 15-20 grams of fiber: 57-85
- Glucose eaten with protein and fat: 56
- Honey: 32-87, average 55
- Lactose: 46
- Sucrose in the form of granulated table sugar: 58-65
Regular milk with full fat: 11-40, average 27
Skimmed milk: 32
Yogurt without added sugar: 14-23
Low carb diet foods at the grocery store
Following are the top eight low carb diet foods that you’ll find conveniently.
- Deli foods
One of the best places to find low carbohydrate foods is the deli counter. Usually you can get hold of items like tuna, chicken or shrimp salad as it is, or wrapped in a low carb tortilla. Vegetable salads can be a great option too, but try not to add some dressing that contains a lot of sugar. You can buy Guacamole too to dip foodstuff like cucumber rounds, celery sticks or other such low carb vegetables. Now days a lot of delis have food items like roast chicken that can be put together with a salad or can be eaten in a wrap or a low carb tortilla.
- Salad bars
Salad bars are much better than deli counters in few stores because they offer the option of mixing items that suit your taste and dietary preferences particularly. When it comes to dressings, opt for a dressing that doesn’t have any added sugar. If you’re not sure about the dressings, then go for blue cheese or plain oil and vinegar dressings because they are the ones to have least or no amount of sugar added.
A few grocery stores provide prepared vegetables in packages. Other than that, there are vegetables, like mushrooms, celery, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes and broccoli, that don’t require a lot of cooking. You can always have your vegetables with a deli tuna, chicken salad or a low carb dip.
Cheese is one of the items that act as a protein source. A few grocery stores offer little portion of cheese wax wrapped or foil wrapped as it is. For instance you can get hold of Mini Gouda and Mini Bel at these stores.
When it comes to picking a yogurt for yourself make sure that you pick the yogurt that falls in the category of low carb diet foods. For that, make sure to choose the yogurt that is sugar free and has live yogurt cultures. Also, it should not contain any objectionable additives.
- Low sugar fruit
Diet plans have different suggestion about the intake of fruits. However, low sugar fruits are allowed in quite a number of low carb diets. So depending on the amount of calories you can intake, pick your low sugar fruit carefully.
- Gelatin snacks
If you are craving for something sweet, sugar free gelatin snacks can be just the thing to help you. You can find packs of gelatin cups with no sugar at stores. An example of a sugar free gelatin snack includes a jelly available under the brand name Jello.
- Meal replacement bars
It is fairly difficult to find meal replacement bars that offer items which are sugar free and do not have sugar alcohols, like maltitol, because they would generally be restricted in your low carb diet foods plan. Atkins Advantage bars work as sugar free bars but even some of their products have maltitol. Therefore, before picking, always read the label to confirm.
Popular low carb diet foods
Famous low carb diet foods that you can cook and enjoy eating include chicken crock pot, chicken lazone, baked salmon, alfredo sauce, chuck wagon beef and garlic tilapia.
A low carb diet might be difficult to follow, but with the above stated low carb diet foods, you have a lot of options to make your diet exciting. Enjoy losing weight!