A low-carb diet is a meal that significantly limits the amount of carbohydrates it contains. Especially carbohydrates from refined sugars and foods containing refined wheat. It is a high-protein diet with increased fat content and plenty of healthy vegetables.
A low-carb diet is not the same as a “no-carb” diet. It is not carb-free. It simply reduces the number of calories you get from carbohydrates.
Low-carb diets come in many different forms. There are many studies out there that prove this type of diet can make you lose weight and improve your general health.
In this article, I present a comprehensive plan for anyone wanting to go on a low-carb diet. I tell you what you can eat, what foods you need to avoid and give you a healthy, 7-day low-carb meal plan menu.
The “eats” and “don’t-eats” of a low-carb meal plan
When it comes to low-carb diets, you choose what to eat based on a few factors. These factors include your current health status, activity level, current weight, and how much you want to lose.
You should take what is written here as a guide line and not a hard and fast rule.
What to Eat:
- High-fat dairy
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc.)
- Whole grains
- Healthy oils (such as coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil)
- Tubers (yam, sweet potatoes, etc.)
What not to eat
- Sugars (including sugar-sweetened beverages and packaged fruit juice).
- Refined wheat products such as bread and pasta
- High-fructose corn syrup (HFCs) (which is a type of sweetener)
- Seed oils
- Trans fats
- All highly-processed foods
You Should Avoid These Foods When on A Low-carb diet
Anyone on a low-carb diet should strive not to eat any of these 7 foods. The list is organized from “most important to avoid” to “least important to avoid.”
- Sugars – Avoid all soda and other soft drinks, ice cream, candy, agave any food that contains refined sugars.
- Grains containing gluten – These include wheat and all foods containing wheat such as bread and pasta, rye and barley.
- Vegetable oils and seeds high in Omega-6 – These include soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, safflower seed oil, canola seed oils and other vegetable oils
- Trans Fats – Trans fats are artificially hydrogenated liquid vegetable oils. Some label trans fats as “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” oils on food labels.
- So-called “diet” and “low-fat” foods – These include cereals, a lot of dairy foods, crackers and much more.
- Artificial Sweeteners – These are often marketed as healthy alternatives to sugar. But just how “healthy” they are, is very deceptive. Some of these products include Sucralose, Aspartame, Cyclamates, Saccharin, and Acesulfame Potassium. A good sugar substitute is Stevia.
- Highly Processed Foods – Most factory-processed and packaged food contain some of the above ingredients. It is best to avoid these kinds of food.
Foods that have low-carb content – Add these to your diet.
The foods listed below are whole, unprocessed, low-carb foods. Include these in your diet to replace the calories lost by limiting carbs.
- Meat – Include these high-protein foods in your diet. Some good meats to include in your meals are pork, beef, chicken, lamb, and other kinds of meat. Avoid fatty meat and if you can get your hand on grass fed meat, the better.
- Fish – Fish is high in protein and contains loads of essential micronutrients. Tuna, Salmon, haddock, and trout are a few of the many fish you can add to your diet. If possible, always go for fish caught in the wild.
- Eggs – Eggs are also high in protein. Always buy pastured or omega-3-enriched eggs if you can find them.
- Fruits – Add fruits to your diet for fiber and essential micronutrients. Oranges, berries, avocado, pears, and apples are all good choices to add to your low-carb diet
- Vegetables – They also provide many micronutrients and fiber. Add cauliflower, spinach, carrots, broccoli and other vegetables to your diet.
- Nuts and Seed Foods – Add nuts like almonds and walnuts to your food. Seeds such as sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are high in protein and contain many essential micronutrients
- Dairy with high-fat contents – You should increase your intake of butter, yogurt, cheese and heavy cream.
- Healthy fats and oils – These include butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, lard, and cod fish liver oil.
If you have an active lifestyle, are of average weight, and healthy, you can get away with eating more carbs. You can add some of the foods listed below to your diet
- Tuber foods – These include sweet potatoes, potatoes, yam, etc.
- Gluten-free grains – These include quinoa, oats, rice, etc.
- Leguminous foods – These include beans and lentils
You can consume the following in small quantities
- Dark Chocolate – When buying dark chocolate, search for brands that have a 70% or higher cocoa content.
- Wine – Don’t consume sugar-sweetened wine. Read the label to make sure there are no carbs added to it.
The key to reaping the benefits of dark chocolate and wine is not to consume too much of them.
What about Drinks?
You should avoid all drinks that have sugar in them, including packaged fruit juice. You can safely drink the following:
- Tea – preferably green tea
- Carbonated drinks without added-sugar, such as like sparkling water.
Try This 7-day high-protein, low-carb diet menu
The menu below is a sample one-week, high-protein, high-fat, low-carb diet that can help you lose weight.
If you follow it strictly, you’ll consume less than 50 grams of carbohydrates each day. Healthy and active people can increase their carbs intake to more than 50 grams daily.
Breakfast: Make an omelet using two eggs and vegetables such as tomatoes, green or red peppers, and spring onions. Fry with coconut oil. Sprinkle a little bit of feta cheese on top.
Lunch: Make a burger using bagel, chicken breast or beef and some vegetables
Dinner: Baked salmon with butter and some vegetables.
Breakfast: Bacon and two eggs. Fry eggs in coconut oil or hard-boil them.
Lunch: yogurt, from grass-fed animals, combined with blueberries and a quarter cups of roasted almonds.
Dinner: A cheeseburger without the buns. Serve it with salsa and some vegetables
Breakfast: Fry two eggs in coconut oil and season with a bit of salt and black pepper. Serve with some vegetables.
Lunch: Make a shrimp salad and olive oil dressing
Dinner: Oven-grilled chicken breasts, served with some vegetables.
Breakfast: Make a 2-egg omelet with a few vegetables like tomatoes, spring onions, and green or red peppers. Fry it with coconut oil and season with a sprinkling of black pepper.
Lunch: Make a smoothie using protein powder, almond milk, raspberries and strawberries, and one banana. Add the juice of one lime to it.
Dinner: Grilled steak and some vegetables
Breakfast – Two eggs fried in coconut oil and seasoned with a bit of salt and black pepper. Serve with some bacon.
Lunch: Make a chicken salad using grilled or roasted chicken breasts topped with extra-virgin olive oil dressing.
Dinner – Pork chops served with some vegetables
Breakfast – Make an omelet using two eggs and some vegetables. Fry using coconut oil.
Lunch – Mix yogurt from grass-fed cattle, some raspberries and strawberries, flakes of dried coconut, and some crushed walnuts.
Dinner – Cook some meatballs and add a mixture of vegetables
Breakfast – Fried or boiled eggs, served with bacon. Use coconut or extra-virgin olive oil to fry your eggs.
Lunch: Make a smoothie using almond milk, low-fat Greek yogurt, whey protein powder (chocolate flavored) and raspberries. Add the juice of one lime to it.
Dinner – Grill some chicken wings and serve it with raw or lightly blanched spinach.
Make sure you eat a lot of low-carb vegetables as part of the diet. When you limit your carbs intake to 50 grams or less each day, increasing the amount of vegetables is always a good idea. You should also consume at least one fruit each day.
Not everyone needs an extremely low-carb diet. You can increase your carb intake by adding sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, rice, and oats to your meal if you are an active person who is not overweight.
Read my post on 10 healthy low-carb meals you can cook in under 15 minutes.
What about low-carb snacks?
Most of us consume 3 square meals per day and don’t need to eat anything in-between meals. But if you are someone who needs to eat a snack or two between your main meals, there are some healthy low-carb options out there.
- Have a fruit
- Low-fat yogurt
- Baby Carrots
- One or two hard-boiled eggs
- A slice of avocado
How to shop ingredients for low-carb meals
When you go into stores, most of the healthy, whole foods are located at the perimeters of the store.
Whenever possible, buy organic and foods derived from grass-fed animals, but only if you can find them easily, and can afford the premium prices. You’ll be fine without them if you don’t want to pay the premium prices.
Whenever possible, avoid buying processed foods. If you can’t find an alternative, read the food label and choose the one with the least artificial ingredients in them.
Here is a list of some ingredients you should consider adding your low-carb shopping list
- Meat (of the four-legged and two-legged variety)
- Eggs (If available, select those enriched with omega-3. You should also prefer eggs from pastured chicken).
- Fish (Preferably fish with loads of fats, such as salmon, cod, and sardines)
- Coconut oil
- Olive Oil (extra-virgin olive oil preferred)
- Cheese (cottage cheese and cheddar cheese preferred)
- Yogurt (unsweetened)
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Various nuts (walnut, almonds, etc.)
- Fresh, organic vegetables (greens, tomatoes, peppers, etc.)
- Frozen vegetables (various mixes of veggies like green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
- Salsa sauce
This is not an exhaustive list. You can add your ingredients to it. Before going on a healthy eating diet, you should clear your home of all junk food. If you don’t, I guarantee you will end up eating them at some point.
Low-carb diets are a good way for obese people to lose weight. You don’t have to limit your carb intake to 50 grams or less per day if you are a healthy, active and normal weight person. But always aim to have more proteins and vegetables in your food than carbs.
Read other articles about low-carb diets