Eating a low-carb diet lines you up with a range of health benefits, including weight loss and metabolic improvements.
Cutting carbs reduces appetite, causing you to eat less; most people don’t need to count calories on a low-carb diet in order to lose weight. (1, 2)
Metabolic health also improves on a low-carb diet. (5)
Positive changes experienced by subjects eating low-carb diets include drops in blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind). (6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Low-carb diets can be simple and delicious; this list of 39 low-carb foods will help you get started on the road to better health.
From hamburger to steak, beef is carb-free and rich in iron and vitamin B12, both vital nutrients for keeping body systems running smoothly. Organ meats contain low amounts of carbohydrates but are nutritional powerhouses.
Even the more fatty cuts of chicken, like thighs and wings have zero carbs and are an excellent source of protein; turkey is also a good choice.
Many people enjoy pork, and bacon is especially popular among low-fat dieters. Since bacon is a processed food, keep consumption occasional, and choose products that are sugar-free; locally made bacon usually has fewer additives.
Often grass-fed, lamb is loaded with vitamin B12 and iron, as well as generous amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a beneficial fatty acid. (11)
This can be a great snack food on low-carb diets, as long as you buy a brand made without sugar; read labels and avoid artificial ingredients, or make your own.
You may want to try veal, game meats and commercially grown bison as well.
While shellfish deliver a few carbs, nutrient density is comparable to organ meats; expect 4 – 5 grabs of carbs in a 3 to 4 ounce serving. Lobster and shrimp are among the most popular.
This fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and a favorite among the health-conscious. Loaded with vitamins D3 and B12, salmon also delivers a good dose of iodine, all of which are essential for the proper function of various body systems.
Containing at least small amounts of virtually every nutrient your body needs, sardines are an oily fish eaten whole, bones and all. It would be tough to find a more perfect carb-free food.
Also loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, trout is an excellent zero carb protein source.
Other fish you may want to try include are halibut, tuna, cod, catfish and haddock.
With negligible carb counts, eggs are another ideal food containing a wide range of beneficial nutrients, some of which can nourish the brain and contribute to good eye health. (12, 13)
- Greek Yogurt
Thicker than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt works well with low-carb diet plans, containing only about 6 grams per container.
- Full Fat Yogurt
You’ll get many of the same nutrients in milk, and choosing yogurt with live cultures adds a probiotic to your diet, which helps nourish the friendly bacteria in the gut.
Cheese makes a great low-carb snack and also compliments meats like hamburger.
- Heavy Cream
Super-low in carbs, heavy cream can be used in coffee or as a topping for suitable fruits, including berries.
While these have a higher carb count at about 44% of calories, most of this is fiber, so net carb count is actually low. A true super-food, chia seed can be added to recipes or sprinkled over salad for extra nutritional value.
Technically a legume, peanuts are usually eaten like nuts. Fibers, Vitamin E, Mg, and about 5 carbs per ounce.
Another good source of magnesium, almonds are also rich in fiber and vitamin E; these make excellent snacks at a bargain carb-count of about 6 grams an ounce. They may even help with weight loss. (14, 15)
These delicious nuts deliver alpha-lipoic acid, another omega-3 fatty acid. With only 4 carb grams per ounce, it’s easy to fit a handful into your daily allotment while reaping a range of benefits.
You may also want to include other nuts, like pistachios, cashews, sunflower, flax, macadamia and pumpkin.
- Coconut Oil
The medium-chain fatty acids in this carb-free oil can positively affect metabolism and may help melt away dangerous belly fat. (16)
- Olive Oil
Choose extra-virgin olive oil for its anti-inflammatory properties; it’s also loaded with antioxidants and known for beneficial effects on heart health.
Now that the saturated fat scare has been proven wrong, more people are welcoming butter back into their diets; at zero carbs, it’s a delicious choice rich in valuable nutrients, especially if you buy grass-fed butter.
- Green Beans
Classified as a legume, green beans are usually prepared and eaten as a vegetable. At 8 carb grams per cup, they’re an abundant source of fiber, vitamins C and K, magnesium and potassium.
Technically a fungus, mushrooms are rich in potassium and B vitamins. They’re an interesting addition to soups, sauces or a vegetable sauté, and you’ll only get 3 carb grams in a full cup.
Protein-rich in comparison to other vegetables, asparagus is also a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and folate.
- Bell Peppers
Add distinct flavor to any dish with brightly colored bell peppers, which are also a high-fiber food loaded with carotene antioxidants to help make sure your body gets adequate vitamin A.
The high water content of cucumber makes it mild in flavor; you’ll get modest amounts of vitamin K from this popular salad vegetable.
Used more as a vegetable; you’ll add plenty of fiber to your diet eating eggplant.
This leafy green vegetable is recognized as a multi-benefit food, and has become more popular than ever before. It’s a great way to get vitamins C and K, as well as carotene antioxidants.
The mild flavor of this vegetable makes it versatile in the kitchen, and can serve as a substitute for mashed potatoes in a low-carb diet. Try blending cooked cauliflower to thicken soups.
- Brussels Sprouts
A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, Brussels sprouts are loaded with healthy plant compounds and only contain 5 carb grams in a cup.
Popular for their distinctive flavor to enrich a variety of dishes, onions are known for high antioxidant content as well as anti-inflammatory properties.
This fruit is usually eaten as a vegetable, and delivers a good dose of vitamin C; it’s also an excellent source of potassium. One large tomato packs about 7 carbs.
Rich in vitamins C and K, this well-known cruciferous vegetable contains plant compounds that may help fight cancer. (17)
Classified as a fruit but eaten as a vegetable, avocado is relatively low in carbs at about 13 grams a cup, most of which are fiber. It’s loaded with healthy fats and other valuable nutrients.
The fruit of the olive tree, these gems are high in copper and iron, as well as respectable amounts of vitamin E. Olives are a great snack or addition to salads and other dishes.
You can have two small apricots for about 8 carb grams, and these tasty fruits are rich in potassium and vitamin C.
Related to oranges, this citrus fruit is also a good source of vitamin C, as well as being loaded with carotene antioxidants.
You’ll have to look long and hard to find a fruit more nutrient-dense than strawberries. Rich in manganese and vitamin C, they also have plenty of antioxidants.
- Dark Chocolate
There’s no better low-carb treat than dark chocolate. Make sure to read labels and stick with 70% to 85% dark chocolate, since carb counts vary between brands.
The flavonols in cocoa can help lower blood pressure, improve brain function, and drop the risk of developing heart disease!
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