If you want to improve your health through what you eat, cutting back hard on refined carbohydrates is a must.
That usually means avoiding most processed foods, bread, pasta, cakes, cookies and most of the other baked goodies that you love, while increasing the healthy aspects of food for a more nutritious diet cost in terms of health!
Here are my top 12 low-carb foods that you can stock your kitchen with if you want to eat fewer carbs.
These foods will help you to reduce your waistline and ensure your body receives the nutrients and vitamins it needs while you eat for health.
Carbs and Their Poor Reputation
There are two major kinds of carbs as you have probably already heard. These are:
- Simple carbohydrates, that can be found in refined sugar, honey and dairy products.
- Complex carbohydrates can be found in grains and grain product like crackers, bread, pasta and bread.
Some vegetables like sweet potatoes and corn also contain complex carbohydrates. All carbohydrates end up becoming glucose once they are digested.
However, complex carbs take longer than simple carbs to convert into glucose, which is important for weight management.
Because glucose spikes can give you energy quickly, but they won't last long. You'll feel even more hungry after eating simple carbohydrates.
A factor that influences whether carbs can be considered "good" and "bad" is their fiber content. An apple, for example, contains carbohydrates but also plenty of fiber.
This benefits your digestion and slows down the release of glucose. Refined carbs such as pasta and white rice have lost their nutrients so you don't get much nutrition. What's also important to know is they can spike your blood sugar levels.
Low Carb Staples
All 12 foods on this list have 12 grams or less of carbs. They range from healthy cauliflower to wild-caught salmon and help you get the most from your diet.
These complex carbohydrates will help you get in shape and give you more ways to reap the benefits of the food you eat.
Remember, the carbohydrate mass found in most vegetables and fruits contains a generous percentage of fiber, which does not get converted to glucose during digestion.
Broccoli, like many vegetables is low in carbohydrates but high in nutrients like vitamin B6 and fiber. You can saute it with olive oil in a delicious stir-fry, or dip it into hummus for a healthy treat you won't regret.
A cup of cooked veggies has less than 10g of carbs. Green beans are a nutritious and low-carb addition to any meal, even though they have a higher sugar content than their fiber.
Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers, despite having a lot of sugar, have about nine grams of carbohydrates per cup. They also contain beta-carotene which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
White foods should be avoided but cauliflower is one exception to the rule. This cruciferous vegetable (which can also make a delicious "rice") has high levels of vitamins C, B and around three grams of fiber per cup.
Popeye's favorite low-carb vegetable is spinach. One cup of cooked spinach contains less than 7 grams of carbs and four grams of fiber.
This sugar-to fiber ratio makes spinach a great choice if you want to lose that belly fat.
Cherry tomatoes have less than six grams per cup of carbs, making them a great addition to salads or as a snack.
They also contain the anti-inflammatory lycopene which may help reduce inflammation.
Celery is known for its low calories and very low carbohydrate count.
Even though the stalks can be boring when eaten by themselves, you might want to pair celery with hummus, almond butter or peanut butter to add flavor and healthy fats.
Fungi are health food stars because they provide potassium. This is essential for muscle health and recovery.
They can also lower blood sugar and reduce the adverse effects of high-sodium meals. Fungi are low in calories and fat and have been shown to increase immunity and protect against breast and cervical cancer.
In particular, meaty portobello mushrooms contain the highest vegetable source of inflammation-fighting vitamin D and are frequently used as a meat substitute thanks to their hearty texture.
A large hard-boiled egg of 50g contains just one gram of carbohydrates and is still a great source of protein. Eggs are rich in amino acids, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Researchers have shown that eating eggs for breakfast can help you feel fuller and eat less calories over the course of the day. This makes them a great tool for weight loss.
Wild salmon, a low-carb fish alternative that is protein-rich as ground chicken (see below), is another option. Wild salmon, unlike chicken, is a great source of omega-3s.
This healthy fat fights against metabolism-slowing inflammation.
Ground chicken is a good source of protein and flavor, as well as being versatile and low in carbs.
You won't be consuming empty carbs if you make delicious chilli or put ground chicken in tacos. Ground turkey is also an option, with 0 grams of carbs but low calories.
It can be difficult to find a low-carb snack. However, 1/4 cup of sunflower kernels has only seven grams of carbohydrates.
You can eat a few of these kernels throughout the day, or add them to a salad for extra crunch.
These are great foods to eat without your conscience giving you a hard time over how many calories you're consuming from carbohydrates each day.
It is easy to include these foods in a whole food, home cooked meal type of diet, while not so much when relying on diet food delivery type diets such as Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Diet-to-Go etc.
If you want to really improve the health benefits of the food you eat, be sure to include extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar as a salad dressing or to simply improve the flavor of your food!
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