Low-Carb Foods – What to Eat
Are you wondering what low carb foods to eat? What do you have for breakfast for example? And what can you have instead of pasta 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 do it.
Here are the contents, choose a section or just keep reading below for all of it.
Specific Low-Carb Guides
Eat This, Not That Guides
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Eat All You Like
- 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.
- Fish and shellfish: All kinds: Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring are great. Avoid breading.
- Eggs: All kinds: Boiled, fried, scrambled, omelets, etc. Preferably organic eggs.
- 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 and olive oils are also good options.
- 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. Learn more
- 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. ideally . Learn more
- Berries: Okay in moderation, if you are not super strict or sensitive. Great with whipped cream.
Read the nutrition label in the grocery store.
No more than 5% of carbohydrates in any food item is a good rule of thumb.
Drink on Most Days
- Coffee: Try it with full-fat cream
For Special Occasions
You decide when the time is right. Your weight loss may slow down a bit.
- Alcohol: Dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), whisky, brandy, vodka and cocktails without sugar.
- Dark chocolate: Above 70% cocoa, preferably just a bit.
Avoid If You Can
- Sugar: The worst. Soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals. Preferably avoid sweeteners as well.
- Starch: Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, French fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli and so on. Wholegrain products are just less bad. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbs. Moderate amounts of root vegetables may be OK (unless you’re eating extremely low carb).
- Margarine: Industrially imitated butter with unnaturally high content of omega-6 fat. Has no health benefits, tastes bad. Statistically linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
- Beer: Liquid bread. Full of rapidly absorbed carbs, unfortunately.
- Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy. Learn more
Watch Out for
Fake Low-Carb Products
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.
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.
Eat Real Food
Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short).
How Low Carb is Low Carb?
It’s called Low Carb, not No Carb. So how much carbs can you eat in a day?
The answer is that it depends. But as a rough guide stay under 20 grams per day for maximum effect, and everyone who wants some benefits of low-carb eating (like effortless weight loss) should probably aim for at least staying under 100 grams of carbs per day.
Here are three examples of how a low-carb meal can look, depending on how many carbs you eat per day:
Low Carb Needs to be High Fat
A proper low-carb diet always means you get a lot more energy from natural fat (like butter or olive oil, etc.).
The body has two main sources of energy: carbs and fats. Take away most of the carbs and the body switches to burning fat for energy. This can come from your fat stores or the fat in your food.
This is why some smart people call low-carb diets “LCHF” (Low Carb, High Fat).
How much fat should you eat? As much as you need to feel satisfied. Whatever else the body burns it will take from your fat stores, as you lose weight. Eat much more fat than you need to feel great and it will slow down your fat loss. Eat too little fat and you’ll feel tired and hungry.
So how much fat should you eat? As much as you need to feel satisfied and great. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are satisfied. Then repeat. It’s that simple.
Here are 4 + 4 of our low-carb breakfast favorites, followed by even more fantastic options. Click the images below for the full recipes.
Four super simple egg breakfasts
Four more great options
More low-carb breakfasts
- Leftovers from last night’s dinner
- Coffee with cream
- A can of mackerel and boiled eggs
- Avocado, salmon and sour cream
- Cheese with butter
- Boiled eggs mashed with butter, chopped chives, salt and pepper
- A piece of brie cheese and some ham or salami (or a full breakfast tapas plate)
- High-fat yoghurt with nuts and seeds (and maybe berries)
The no breakfast option
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?
Low-Carb Lunches and Dinners
Suggestions for low-carb lunches and dinners:
- Meat, fish or chicken dishes with vegetables and a rich full-fat sauce. There are many alternatives to potatoes, such as mashed cauliflower.
- Stews, soups or casseroles with low-carb ingredients.
- You can use most recipes in cookbooks if you avoid the carbohydrate-rich ingredients. It’s often a good idea to add fat (e.g. butter, cream) to the recipe. Or check out our full low-carb recipe site.
- Drink water with your meal or (occasionally) a glass of wine.
Instead of potatoes, rice and pasta
There are many ways to replace potatoes, pasta and rice that result in far fewer carbs. Here are four of the most popular options.
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.
- Vegetable spaghetti can be used instead of pasta. Learn how to make it
Dining out or meals with friends
- 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
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.
- Cream cheese rolls: Roll some cream cheese in a piece of salami, prosciutto/cold cuts or a long slice of cucumber.
- 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.
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
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:
- The Problem With Low-Carb Bread
- Another Low-Carb Bread Company Lying Through Their Teeth
- Why You Should Never Trust a Low-Carb Label
Low-carb bread is fairly easy to do at home though. Here are four great options.
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Keep reading about How Low Carb Works
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