The low-carb diet has been recommended by health professionals for decades, but it only recently gained popularity. It is believed that this trend is due to the increase in internet accessibility and social media.
The rise of pro-vegetarianism and veganism, as well as the growing awareness of the negative effects of excess sugar consumption, have all contributed to a greater acceptance of the low-carb diet.
Following a low-carb lifestyle not only means cutting down on carbs but also replacing them with healthy fats and proteins.
This way you get to eat plenty of green veggies and other non-starchy vegetables, lean sources of protein such as fish or chicken breast , as well as healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Keep reading to find out more about what a low-carb diet entails.
Know Your Carbs
Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in all sorts of foods, although they are most common in vegetables and grains.
In order to know how many carbs you are consuming on a daily basis, it is essential to be familiar with the serving sizes of different foods.
When you eat more carbs than your body needs, they are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.
If you eat too many carbs, they are converted into fat and can significantly contribute to weight gain.
Excess sugar in your system can also cause health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure .
Which Foods to Eat
The main focus of a low-carb diet is to eat more protein and fat and have fewer carbs. In fact, you should aim to consume less than 20 grams of net carbs a day.
This can be difficult at first, but it gets easier once you get used to it. Below are some foods that make great substitutes for the ones that are high in carbs:
Green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also low in calories and contain only minimal amounts of carbohydrates.
Fish such as salmon and tuna is not just low in fat and calories but also low in carbohydrates. It is also rich in protein. Fish is one of the best foods to eat on a low-carb diet.
Nuts are a healthy and nutritious snack, rich in healthy oils and minerals. They are also low in carbs. However, they are high in calories, so you should consume them in moderation.
Seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are also low in carbs and calories. However, they also contain oils that can add up to significant calories.
Cheese is a tasty, high-protein snack full of calcium and vitamins. It is also low in carbs.
Eggs are a protein-rich and low-carb breakfast option. They can also be used in salads, omelettes, or soups.
Ghee is a healthy cooking fat that can be used in place of butter or oil. It is free from lactose and is low in carbs.
Which Foods to Avoid
There are also a few foods that you should avoid on a low-carb diet. These include:
Sugary foods are high in both carbs and calories and should therefore be avoided on a low-carb diet. They include cakes, cookies, ice cream, and even some fruit juices.
White Bread and Pasta
White bread and pasta have very little nutritional value and are high in carbohydrates. Whole grain bread and pasta are a healthier alternative and should be consumed on a low-carb diet.
Cereal bars are not only very sugary but also very high in carbs. They are not an appropriate snack on a low-carb diet.
Although fruit is often cited as a healthy snack, it is also high in carbs. Therefore, be sure to account for the carbs in each serving of fruit to stay within your daily carb limit. For example, 1 cup of raspberries has 15 grams of carbs. If you want to eat 2 cups of raspberries, you will exceed your daily carb limit.
Beans are rich in protein but also contain a lot of carbohydrates. They should be eaten in moderation on a low-carb diet.
French fries are not only high in fat and calories but also in carbs. They are best avoided on a low-carb diet. One serving of French fries has about 42 grams of carbs and almost no fat. On the other hand, they have a high sodium content, about 230 mg per serving. Besides, they are very high in carbohydrates — about 19 grams per serving.
How to Transition to A Low-Carb Diet
There are several steps you can take to transition to a low-carb diet.
First, identify which of your meals are carb-heavy and try replacing them with a low-carb alternative. For example, you can use eggs instead of sandwiches for lunch, or have salad instead of pasta for dinner.
You can also determine which foods you can eat in moderation. For example, you can eat yogurt, nuts, and berries whenever you please, as long as you do not go overboard with them.
Finally, you can take a look at your overall carbohydrate intake over the course of a week and see how you can reduce it.
You can use an online carb counter to see how many carbs are in the foods you are eating and how you can adjust your diet to meet your carb intake goal.
It is suggested that you aim for around 40 grams of carbohydrates per day for a healthy, balanced diet.
Benefits of a Low-Carb Diet
There are many advantages to eating a low-carb diet when it comes to health. Here are a few:
Eating a low-carb diet can help you shed some extra pounds. It encourages a high intake of protein and fat while limiting your carbohydrate intake, which in turn can help you lose weight.
A low-carb diet also promotes better digestion. It can help you break down proteins more efficiently, meaning it is easier for your body to process food.
Eating a balanced diet full of fiber and nutrients can also contribute to better mood. Eating a low-carb diet can help you get all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs without a significant increase in carbohydrates.
Lower Risk of Disease
Eating a low-carb diet can help prevent the onset of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It is rich in fiber and nutrients and low in calories, which makes it an appropriate diet for people who are at risk of developing these diseases.
There is no one-size-fits-all diet, and low-carb is no different. It is a good idea to try a low-carb diet for at least a couple of weeks to see if it works for you.
A low-carb diet can be healthy as long as you follow a few rules, such as eating plenty of vegetables, careful portion control, and getting adequate nutrients. If you want to improve your health, try cutting down on carbs.
A low-carb diet is a great way to lose some weight, improve your digestion, boost your mood, and lower your risk of disease.