Low-carb foods
– what to eat

Low-carb foods include meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats, like butter.

Are you wondering what low-carb foods to eat? What do you have for breakfast for example? And what can you have instead of or bread?

It’s possible to eat great, amazing food until you are satisfied… and still lose weight. On this page you can learn how to make low carb simple – you get a guide to , , hundreds of awesome low-carb recipes and our free 2-week get started challenge.

Alternatively, just use our free 2-week low-carb meal plan, and if you want more, our amazing low-carb meal planner service (free trial).
 

 

Low-carb guides

 

Visual low-carb guides


Low-carb foods list

 

Foods to eat

  • Meat: Any type: Beef, pork, lamb, game, poultry, etc. Feel free to eat the fat on the meat as well as the skin on the chicken. If possible try to choose organic or grass-fed meats. Top recipes
  • Fish and seafood: All kinds: Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring are great. Avoid breading. Top fish recipes
  • Eggs: All kinds: Boiled, fried, scrambled, omelets, etc. Preferably organic eggs. Top egg recipes
  • Natural fat, high-fat sauces: Using butter and cream for cooking can make your food taste better and make you feel more satisfied. Try a Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce, check the ingredients or make it yourself. Coconut fat or olive oil are also good options. Learn more
  • Vegetables that grow above ground: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes etc. Low-carb vegetables guide
  • Dairy products: Always select full-fat options like real butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yogurt and high-fat cheeses. Be careful with regular milk, reduced fat and skim milk as they contain a lot of milk sugar. Avoid flavored, sugary and low-fat products.
  • Nuts: Great for a treat (in moderation) instead of popcorn, candy or chips. Learn more
  • Berries: Okay in moderation, if you are not super strict or sensitive. Great with whipped cream. Learn more

Low carb foods

Read the nutrition label in the grocery store.
No more than 5% of carbohydrates in any food item is a good rule of thumb.

LCHF-mat2-vibr-ffffff-648

 

Keto drinks

Drink

  • Water – Try to make this your drink of choice, flavored or sparkling water is fine too.
  • Coffee – Black or with small amounts of milk or cream is ideal for weight loss. Beware of adding lots of milk or cream, especially if you drink coffee regularly throughout the day, even when you’re not hungry. But if you are hungry feel free to use full-fat cream. Or try it with coconut oil and butter – “Bulletproof coffee“.
  • Tea
  • More options in our full low-carb drinks guide
 

Recipes

For ideas and step-by-step instructions for appetizing meals that you and your family will love, take a look at our more than 500 low-carb recipes. Every week, we add more. Some of the most popular recipes you will find below, but we have recipes to suit almost every taste.

 

Shopping lists and meal plans

Do you want to make shopping simple? Sign up for the free 2-week low-carb challenge or our low-carb meal plan service (free one month). Personalized shopping lists are included.

Alternatively, simply use our free 14-day low-carb meal plan.
 

 

Keto alcoholSpecial events

Invited out? Celebrating? You don’t have to derail your diet. While too much celebrating can slow down weight loss, after a special event, just get right back to the diet and progress will resume.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol: You can drink in moderation dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), champagne, whisky, brandy, vodka and gin. Vodka and soda with a wedge of lime make a great crisp drink. See our guide to alcoholic beverages.
  • Dark chocolate: Above 70% cocoa, preferably just a bit. Full low-carb snacks guide

Keto–Chocolate

 

 

Do not eat high-carb foods

  • Avoid sugary foods on ketoSugar: The worst. Soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals.
     
    Preferably avoid artificial sweeteners as well (here’s why). Full low-carb sweeteners guide
  • keto-avoid-starchStarch:

    Flour, wheat products or other refined cereal grains, even if labelled “gluten free.” This means bread, buns, pasta, crackers, porridge, muesili. Whole grains too (they are just less bad). Also potatoes (sweet potatoes too), potato chips, French fries etc. Corn products and popped corn. Rice. Do check out, however, some of the low-carb versions of these foods:
    Low-carb bread
    Low-carb “mashed potatoes”
    Low-carb rice
    Low-carb porridge
    Low-carb pasta

    Beans and lentils are also relatively high in carbs. Moderate amounts of root vegetables may be OK (unless you’re eating extremely low carb).

  • Beer: Made from fermented grain and hops, beer is bread in liquid form. Avoid. A few lower carb beers are now available.
  • Fruit: While berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are fine from time-to-time, be careful with other fruit. Full of sugar and fructose, which can contribute to blood sugar issues and fatty liver, excess fruit can slow weight loss and worsen metabolic issues. Consider it Nature’s candy: fine for a special treat; do not consume daily. Learn more

View list of things to clean out from your pantry
 

Watch out

Be very skeptical of special “low-carb” products, such as pasta or chocolate. Unfortunately these products usually work poorly. They have prevented weight loss for loads of people. They’re commonly full of carbs once you see through the creative marketing.

Bad FoodThere are dozens of companies trying to trick you into buying their “low carb” junk food, full of starch, sugar alcohols, flour, sweeteners and strange additives.

One of the largest such companies was recently fined 8 million dollars for shamelessly lying about the carb content of their products.

Two simple rules to avoid this junk:

  • Don’t eat “low carb” versions of high carb stuff, like cookies, bars, chocolate, bread, pasta or ice cream – unless you are SURE of the ingredients (perhaps from making it yourself).
  • Avoid products with the words “net carbs” on them. That’s usually just a way to fool you.

Read more about fake low-carb products

Also, preferably avoid margarine. It’s a solid form of industrial seed and vegetable oils. Why eat imitation butter when real butter is so much tastier and better for you? Margarine, too, like industrial oils has high amounts of omega-6 fat, linked to inflammation and inflammatory diseases.

 
 

Make it real

LCHF Foods

Eat high-quality, minimally-processed real food. Shop the rim of the store and avoid packaged goods. Buy at local farmers’ markets. No list of ingredients? Great. That means it’s not processed. A good trick: eat only foods available hundreds or even thousands of years ago. If it has a long list of ingredients and words on its label you don’t know, don’t eat it.
 

Handy brochure

Take this simple print-out-guide of what to eat and what to avoid to the store, or give to interested family and friends.

Low-carb-for-beginners_folder_1803-2
 

How low to go?

How many grams of carbs can you eat in a day and still be low carb? Most people on the Standard American Diet (SAD) consume more than 250 to 350 grams of carbs a day. So when you adopt a low carb diet, anything below 100 grams a day — especially if you cut out added sugars — may reap weight loss and metabolic benefits.

However, the more weight you want to lose, or the more your health has suffered on the SAD way of eating, the fewer carbs you should consume at the start of the low carb high fat diet. If you stay under 20 grams of carbs a day, you will be eating a very low carb diet or ketogenic diet, in which your body converts from burning carbs (glucose) to burning fat (ketones) for fuel. Learn more about the ketogenic diet.

Some people can do very well consuming slightly more carbs — about 30 to 50 grams a day — as long as those come from healthy real foods, devoid of added sugars or refined carbohydrates. As well, once people reach their weight loss or health goals, some find they can add a few more carbs back into their diet from time-to-time.

You may need to experiment to see where feel your best and are able to easily maintain your weight and control cravings. Many people find that if they add back in carbs, their cravings for higher carbohydrate foods return.

Here are three visual examples of various levels of carbs on a dinner plate. Learn more about how to determine the right amount of carbs for you.

 

Video course

How to Eat LCHF Video Course

Do you want to watch a high-quality 11-minute video course on how to eat low carb, high fat (LCHF)? Sign up for our free newsletter1 and you’ll get instant access to it:

 

Meal plans

Get lots of weekly low-carb meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our new premium meal planner tool. Make low carb truly simple – and delicious! Try it for free one month

  • Keto chicken with roasted vegetables TricoloreMon
  • Keto hamburger patties with creamy tomato sauce and fried cabbageTue
  • Keto fried salmon with asparagusWed
  • Keto fried eggs with kale and porkThu
  • Fathead pizzaFri
  • Buffalo chicken with paprika mayo and butter-fried cabbageSat
  • Pork chops with green beans and garlic butterSun

 

 
 

Important: It’s low carb HIGH FAT

After years of being told to avoid fat and eat low fat foods, many people find the hardest part of adopting the diet is adding back in lots of fat. A low-carb diet needs the fat. Get it from using butter, coconut oil, high fat cheese, olive oil, avocado oil, even beef and bacon fat. Here’s some easy tips.

Like a hybrid car engine, the body can burn two fuels for its energy needs. 1) Glucose from the breakdown of carbohydrates and 2) ketones, from the breakdown of fats. When you are no longer consuming a lot of carbs, the body’s engine will convert to burning fats. It will either burn the fat you have eaten or the fat stored on your body in your adipose tissue.

The body will only start burning fat when its carb supply is low. This is why the diet is called the low carb high fat (LCHF) diet – because that is exactly how you must eat.

At the start, do not deny yourself fat. Eat enough so that you are satisfied and you do not feel hungry. That way you will soon become what is called “fat adapted” —burning fat for fuel efficiently. You will know that you are fat adapted when you do not need to eat every few hours and you no longer feel the highs and lows (hangry episodes) of the blood sugar roller coaster.

Once your body is fat adapted, you can then consume a little less fat at every meal and let your body burn what it needs for energy from your fat stores. This will help you lose weight. If at any time you feel deprived, unsatisfied or have cravings, add fat back into your diet. Listen to your body. If you consume more fat than your body needs it will slow down your fat loss. If you eat too little fat, however, you will feel tired, grumpy and hungry. Your body will tell you what it needs. Learn to listen to its cues again.

In short eat as much fat and low carb food as you need to feel satisfied, healthy and full. You don’t need to count calories. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. Easy peasy!

Learn more

 
 

Low-carb breakfasts

Skaldeman omelet

Breakfast is a great time to eat low carb. Who doesn’t love bacon & eggs? And there are so many more options – delicious, fast or both.

Here are some of our low-carb breakfast favorites, followed by even more fantastic options:

 

 

More basic low-carb breakfasts

All low-carb breakfast recipes

 

The no-breakfast option

plateDo you NEED breakfast on a low-carb diet? No.

On a low-carb, high-fat diet you’re likely not as hungry and you don’t need to eat as often. Skipping breakfast is perfectly fine if you’re not hungry. Perhaps you’ll only have a cup of coffee.

In fact skipping breakfast is a popular version of intermittent fasting. This can really speed up weight loss… and type 2 diabetes reversal. As a bonus you’ll save time and money.

Are you feeling brave enough to skip breakfast?

More about intermittent fasting

 

 
 

Low-carb lunches and dinners

 
Low-Carb Lunch and Dinner

Suggestions for low-carb lunches and dinners:

 

Recipes

 

 
 

Meal plans

Get lots of weekly low-carb meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our new premium meal planner tool. Make low carb truly simple – and delicious! Try it for free one month

  • Keto chicken with roasted vegetables TricoloreMon
  • Keto hamburger patties with creamy tomato sauce and fried cabbageTue
  • Keto fried salmon with asparagusWed
  • Keto fried eggs with kale and porkThu
  • Fathead pizzaFri
  • Buffalo chicken with paprika mayo and butter-fried cabbageSat
  • Pork chops with green beans and garlic butterSun

 

Instead of potatoes, rice and pasta

There are many ways to replace potatoes, pasta and rice that result in far fewer carbs. Here are a few of the most popular options.

All low-carb side dishes

 

Other simple sides

  • Salads made from above-ground vegetables, perhaps with some kind of cheese. Try out different kinds.
  • Boiled broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.
  • Vegetables au gratin: Fry squash, aubergine and fennel (or other vegetables you like) in butter. Add salt and pepper. Put in baking dish and add grated cheese. Bake at 225° C (450° F) until the cheese melts and turns golden.
  • Vegetables stewed in cream, e.g. cabbage or spinach.
  • Avocado
  • Vegetable spaghetti can be used instead of pasta. Try it

All low-carb side dishes
 
 

Dining out or meals with friends

Dining Out

  • Restaurants: Usually not a big problem. You can ask to have potatoes/fries switched for a salad. Ask for extra butter.
  • Fast food: Doner kebab can be a decent option (avoid the bread). At hamburger chains the hamburgers are usually the least bad option. Avoid soft drinks and fries, obviously. Drink water. Pizza toppings are usually OK, and the stricter you are the less of the pizza crust you will eat.
  • Nuts or cheese are good “emergency food” when there are no other adequate options to be found.
  • If you eat strictly everyday it’s less of a problem to make a few exceptions when you are invited out. If you’re not sure what will be served you can eat something at home before you leave.

 

 

Low-carb snacks and desserts

On a low-carbohydrate diet with more fat and a bit more protein you will probably not need to eat as often. Don’t be surprised if you no longer need to snack. Many people do well on two or three meals per day.

If you always get hungry between meals you’re probably not eating enough fat. Don’t fear fat. Eat more fat until you feel satisfied.

Here are quick options if you want to eat something right away:

  • Rolled-up cheese or ham with a vegetable (some people even spread butter on cheese)
  • A piece of cheese
  • A boiled egg from the refrigerator
  • Canned mackerel in tomato sauce
  • Babybel cheese

Snacks

Olives and nuts may replace potato chips as snacks. Here are more options:

  • Mixed nuts Learn more
  • Sausage: Cut it in pieces, add a piece of cheese and stick a toothpick through them.
  • Vegetables with dip, Try cucumber sticks, red, yellow or green peppers, cauliflower, etc. More
  • Cream cheese rolls: Roll some cream cheese in a piece of salami, prosciutto/cold cuts or a long slice of cucumber.
  • Olives
  • Parmesan cheese crisps: On a baking tray, form small piles of grated Parmesan cheese. Heat in oven at 225°C (450°F). Let them melt and get a nice color (be careful – they burn easily). Serve as chips, perhaps with some dip.

Visual low-carb guides

 

Snack recipes

 

 

Dessert recipes

 

Note

Please note that eating when you are not hungry – e.g. when snacking if front of the TV – will slow down weight loss. The options above are simply less bad for your weight than regular high carb snacks.
 
Learn more about the benefits of only eating when hungry
 


Low-carb bread

Low-Carb Bread

Will you have a hard time living without bread? There are good low-carb options, unfortunately it’s hard to find them in stores. “Low carb” bread from stores tends to be either (A) not even remotely low carb, or (B) chock-full of gluten:

 

Recipes

Low-carb bread is fairly easy to do at home though. Here are our top options.

All low-carb bread recipes

 
 

More

A low-carb diet for beginners
14-day low-carb diet meal plan

More recipes

 


countries3Advice on low carb in 40 languages

We have written advice on a low-carb, high-fat diet in 40 languages. Note especially that we have two more Diet Doctor sites in other languages, with this guide in Spanish or Swedish. Just press this small grey note symbol to choose between other languages:2

Low carb at Diet Doctor’s

See what’s served at Diet Doctor’s

Next

Keep reading about how low carb works

 

Improve this page

Do you have any suggestion – big or small – to improve this page? Anything that you’d like added or changed? Comment below or email me at andreas@dietdoctor.com.

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164 Comments

  1. Stacey McGregor
    Thank you for the in-depth article.

    These foods are the basis of the ketogenic diet.

    A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet with an average intake of proteins.

    Basically, the keto diet is based on an extremely low intake of carbs and an increased intake of fats.

    The keto diet is not used only in the weight loss process, but also in some disease treatments.

    Besides helping the weight loss process, the ketogenic diet has an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as many other benefits especially for people with high blood sugar, fatty liver, and obesity.
    http://beautyandhealthlife.com/keto-diet-guide/

  2. Don
    Is bob mills low carb baking mix ok to make bread.
  3. AbrahamJess
    Hi can someone clarify for me the recipe says 1+1 servings but instruction side says serves 4??? Which is it 4 serving it 2?
  4. Martha crabtree
    Hi ,have not starred this diet,only signed in tonight,am I not allowed artifical sweeters thank you for any replies
    Reply: #175
  5. 2 comments removed
  6. bruce
    can you eat indian or chinese food on this diet plan
    Reply: #162
  7. Rosi
    Hello Linda!
    Tout d abord si vous mangez keto on as pas faim comme avant... c est a dire que de ne pas manger pendant 10 heures n est pas un probleme. Mais pour commencer vous pouvez lui mettre des hoeufs cuits, des noix, du fromage, des sticks de cellery, carottes, poivrons etc, du bacon cuit, du rosbif.... enfin, il y a plain de choses... et du café biensur!
    Bonne chance
  8. George
    How many carbs are in brown rice ? Can I eat this in a low-carb diet ? 🤔
    Reply: #161
  9. Alnasir Duraid Saeed
    Dear friend I am a 50 years old male who livid in Turkey & I am about 115 Kgm & about 180 Cm . I suffered from high cholesterol level , is this kind of diet suitable for me ?
  10. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi George!

    Rice (brown or white) should normally be avoided.

    How many carbs are in brown rice ? Can I eat this in a low-carb diet ? 🤔

  11. Anokhi
    Check out headbanger’s kitchen on YouTube for Indian keto recipes
  12. Alnasir Duraid Saeed
    why I didnt get an answer ?!!!!!!
    Reply: #165
  13. 1 comment removed
  14. Randy G
    Hard Boiled Eggs / low carb never easier with new Egg Stripper
    Sold out on HSN Show in 8 minutes
    http://www.eggstripper.com
    Peels 5 eggs under 10 seconds
    Check it out low carb fans
  15. Linda
    Do you send food to me or do I buy it
    Reply: #168
  16. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Linda!

    We can provide shopping lists but you have to buy the food.

    Do you send food to me or do I buy it

  17. Rosyid Abdurrahman
    how about deep fried?
    like deep fried chicken or shrimp?
  18. The Truth
    If you want heart disease then this is a great diet. Sick of the stigma around carbs being bad, they are so essential for a healthy balanced diet. the amount of saturated fats in the diet you are recommending is ridiculous. Carbs make you lose "weight" as they make you hold more water. But who has ever wanted to lose "weight", what people want to lose is fat and this is not an effective or healthy way to do so.
  19. greg ingram
    You seem 'old skool'.
  20. Chris Enright
    Can you please tell me how Xylotol as a sugar substitute figures in a low carb diet?
    I gave up sugar a year or so ago and only drink tea with it.
  21. Marie
    I’ve had my gallbladder removed and just wondering how low carb high fat would affect my liver since gallbladder not there to filter fat
  22. Richard
    I have always enjoyed this site. I have been eating modified keto for some time. I would like to transition to full keto. one problem I see is that there very not many seafood dishes. Other than the occasional fish recipe. I would like to see more on crustations and other fish besides salmon. Also, does anyone eat steak anymore?
  23. Richard
    Try Stevia. Its natural.
  24. Dr M Ashraful Kabir
    i always like low carb and low fat diet which are helping me to control my body weight since 2005. i maintain my six days mixed exercise (yoga, gym, aerial) in a week.
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