Eating carbohydrates causes your blood sugar to increase and although carbohydrates are a necessity in any healthy meal plan, too many carbs can lead to weight gain and potentially obesity. Adding some low carb foods to your daily menu can help with healthy weight management and blood sugar control.
In weight loss programs, consumption of low carb foods is a very popular and frequently effective dieting strategy. This is why most recommended weight loss diets focus on low or absolutely zero carb foods.
Low Carb Foods
1. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is an excellent choice as it’s not only high in protein, but it’s low in fat and calories. It’s lean because it’s white meat, and therefore a good choice. A typical serving size to aim for is a 3 ounce chicken breast, or about the size of your fist.
Try grilling or broiling chicken and using herbs and seasoning to add flavor, and then add to salad, soup, or feature as the main entrée. Excellent for building lean muscle, and a tasty main staple to your diet! Serving size 3 oz., 30 grams of protein, 110 calories.
You can select any fish you’d like, and it won’t contain carbohydrates. This is good news because fish can be a big part of a healthy diet. Take salmon as an example, it provides plenty of protein, and omega-3s that help the body fight inflammation and conditions associated with inflammation.
You don’t have to stick with salmon, all fish will have no carbs to them, they’ll just vary in regards to their omega-3 content. Tuna has no carbs and is readily available, and often consumed as part of a low carb lifestyle, especially when combined with weight training.
3. Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is such a versatile and healthy way to enjoy protein. It’s high in protein, low in calories, and can be cooked up and used in just about anything.
A typical serving is 3 ounces cooked and you can learn to easily substitute it for ground beef. Add some herbs and you can use it in spaghetti sauce, chili, or make into meatballs or burgers. You will love the flavor and versatility and the fact that it makes for a much leaner protein source than higher calorie alternatives out there.
4. Pork Tenderloin
Many don’t consider how tasty and protein packed pork can be in the quest to build lean muscle. One of the best types to select is pork tenderloin, and a typical serving size is a 4 ounce piece.
It can be easily grilled or broiled for a quick, easy, and healthy cooking method. You can add simple marinades or seasoning to bring out the flavor. It’s leaner than you think and packed with protein, it may become a fixture in your eating regimen.
5. Lean Ground Beef
You can and should enjoy ground beef, but just be sure that you opt for lean cuts. A 90/10 mix incorporates enough fat to give it flavor without the unhealthy calories that you don’t need.
Typically you want to aim for a 3 ounce portion which you can enjoy in a variety of different forms. Though you want to be sure not to add too much filler that can contribute to fat and calories, this is a great protein source to turn to once or twice a week.
6. Steak (Lean Cut)
You can enjoy steak, but you want to be sure to go for a lean cut to begin with. Trim away all visible fat to ensure that you are getting something truly good for your eating regimen. Believe it or not you can enjoy a T-bone steak but limit to a 5 ounce serving and keep it as lean as possible, also removing the bone.
This is not a protein to enjoy daily, but it’s a good one to rotate and enjoy in your diet as it’s packed with protein.
7. Hard Boiled Egg
It may seem like a less significant source of protein when compared, but hard boiled eggs are a great addition to the menu. They are easy to prepare and convenient to grab on the go. Hard boiled is a great way to go as you don’t add anything and increase the calories, but you can also try poached or soft boiled if you prefer. Eggs are an excellent high protein food that really helps you to build lean muscle with fewer calories and fat than other options. A great way to start the day!
8. Gruyere Cheese
Forget the mundane mass-produced cheese slices—this hard cheese from Switzerland has great nutty flavor that’ll win you over. It also melts beautifully, making it a perfect way to add excitement to everything from steamed broccoli to low carb pizzas.
Since the link between saturated fat and heart disease has been at least partially decoupled, butter has once again found a place in frying pans and home baking. For a rich-tasting riff on mashed potatoes, try blending steamed cauliflower with butter, fresh thyme, and a couple pinches of salt.
10. Plain Yogurt
In recent years, Greek yogurt has gone from an obscure item in the dairy aisle to a cultured rock star. And considering that it supplies about 23 grams of protein per cup, muscles everywhere have been benefiting from its surging popularity. Of course, if you want to keep the carb count low, you’ll have to opt for plain versions that are not pumped full of sugar.
11. Goat Milk
It’s time tangy goat milk got a chance to display its horns. This up-and-coming milk contains less carbs than cow’s milk, is easier to digest, and according to recent research is richer in a number of nutrients such as omega fatty acids.
12. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds make a great topping or addition to a meal. You can top a salad with them or feature them in a bowl of oatmeal. You can add them to a trail mix or simply grab a handful on the go. As with many nuts and seeds the serving size is important. If you are focused on that then you can enjoy a great source of protein.
13. Pumpkin Seeds
Though these were once a seasonal treat, they have become part of the mainstream based on their health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are now found featured at health food stores and boast a great healthy makeup. Though they are a bit higher in fat, the key is to focus on portion to get the most out of them. You will enjoy the crunch and all the while consume a high protein snack that really adds great value.
Though nuts tend to be a great protein snack, some are better than others. Walnuts also make top of the list for the same reason, mainly the concentration of good fat. You may find that these are slightly higher in calories but they introduce a good protein source. You may wish to add them to a meal or top a salad to get the crunch and the nutrients that walnuts contain. All the while you are adding an excellent protein source to your diet.
There’s a reason that almonds make just about every healthy food list. Not only are they packed with protein, but they are loaded with good fats which we know as Omega-3 fatty acids. They are satisfying with a good fiber content and make for an excellent snack. The one thing to keep in mind with almonds and all nuts is serving size. This is based on 1 ounce and you need to be sure to monitor and not eat these mindlessly for best benefits.
There’s a reason that you need to be diligent about your portion size when it comes to nuts. Though pistachios make a great protein choice, they are like the other nuts a bit higher in calories. Be diligent about the serving size, but don’t hold back from enjoying them. They are satisfying with the delicious taste, high fiber, and good protein concentration and therefore make a good sound choice.
Zucchini, or les courgettes in French parlance, is a great vegetable to have on hand to trim the carbs from your diet. When cut into noodle-like strands using a serrated vegetable peeler or spiralizer, zucchini becomes a wonderfully tender substitute for more carbohydrate-dense spaghetti as a base for your meat sauce.
Grated zucchini can be used for hash browns in lieu of potatoes or can be added to pancake batter at the expense of some of the flour. Or for an inspiring low carb snack, slice the zucchini ends off and use a flat-blade vegetable peeler or mandolin to make long, wide strips. Place some smoked salmon and arugula on the end of each zucchini ribbon and roll up.
There’s a good reason why cauliflower has been dubbed the “skinny starch.” Once cooked, cauliflower’s unique texture can be used as a low carb alternative for mashed potatoes (minus the spuds, you’ll save about 23 grams of carbs in a serving), mac and cheese, creamy soups, and even pizza crust. Or pulverize a whole raw head in a food processor and use as a substitute for couscous or rice.
From white to cremini to more exotic shiitake, these edible fungi are low in carbs but rich in great umami flavor. Large and meaty portobello mushroom caps can stealthily be used as an alternative to hamburger buns, or as a replacement for gut-busting pizza crust by laying on all your favorite pizza toppings.
Best Low Carb Snacks
20. Cottage Cheese and Berries
Sweet and savory while still keeping the carb count down? Yes, it’s possible. Cottage cheese is a nutritious, low carb staple. Three quarters of a cup with four thinly sliced strawberries supply 15 percent of your calcium needs and almost half of your vitamin C requirements. You can vary the flavors by swapping out the strawberries for blueberries or raspberries, and also try seasoning with cinnamon or adding vanilla extract for extra sweetness.
Warm a package of shelled edamame according to the instructions on the bag. When the beans are done and have cooled, place half-cup servings, which contain only 8 grams of carbs, into separate ziplock bags. Registered dietitian Sharon Richter suggests adding to each a quarter of a cup of your favorite lightly salted nuts — almonds, pistachios, cashews or walnuts. Voila! You’ve just assembled your own prepackaged snacks for the entire week. For an even easier recipe, just grab the frozen bag of soybeans on your way out the door. They’ll be thawed by snack time.
22. Grapes and Grahams
Want a crunchy, sweet treat that’s quick and easy to whip together? Spread 1 tablespoon light cream cheese on 2 graham cracker squares and top with 1/4 cup halved grapes.
23. Pear and Cheese
Pears and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly. So next time you need a hearty snack, choose a small pear and a light cheese stick. The cheese will help you meet your calcium goal by providing 16 percent of your daily needs, and the pear provides 4 grams of fiber, getting you that much closer to the recommended 25-35 grams a day.
24. Tuna Salad Crisps
Tuna salad doesn’t have to be reserved for lunch. Combine 2 ounces of drained water-packed light tuna with 1 teaspoon light mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, and spoon the mixture atop 2 rye crisps for a satisfying snack packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
25. Avocado-Tomato Open-Face Sandwich
Mash 1/4 of a peeled avocado and stir in a dash of garlic salt. Spread onto a slice of toasted whole grain bread and top with a couple of tomato slices for a snack that is packed with flavor and fiber. Even with the generous amount of avocado, this snack contains only 150 calories.
26. Ham and Pineapple
For a low fat snack that’s sure to please, cut 1 ounce of thinly sliced deli ham into long strips and fold the slices accordion style. Skewer the folded ham slices with chunks of pineapple. Stick to 3/4 cup pineapple, and look for lower-sodium ham.
No Carb Beverages
Water: This may be an obvious one, but in case anyone was wondering. Water remains the healthiest carb-free drink. Make sure to drink enough water during the day to stay hydrated and for optimal bowel movements. Sparkling water and club soda are also carb-free.
Coffee and tea: Any black coffee or tea you make are carb-free. However, once you put in milk or sugar, it is no longer carb-free!