When I first started concentrating on eating less carbohydrates, I knew virtually nothing about what foods contained carbs.
That was until I read somewhere about compiling a low carb food list, which I could stick to my fridge, kitchen cupboard or memo board to act as a remainder of what I could include in my diet.
As my knowledge expanded I found I could add more food to the list, as well as remove the foods I found less effective or that I just didn’t like. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a low carbohydrate diet is often the most effective for weight loss because low carb foods tend to be low in calories too.
If you’re like me and find the average diet a chore, compiling something like a list of low carb foods can make life a little easier.
List of Low Carb Foods – The Basics
The most important, and effective, tip I can give anyone who is looking to lose weight, whether by way of a low carb diet or otherwise is to make a shopping list each time you go grocery shopping. Not only will this ensure you only get the items you absolutely need, it will stop you purchasing naughty items you didn’t really want – In short, it is an easy way to avoid temptation.
Top Tip – Online shopping for the first couple of weeks into a new diet is a godsend, as you can stick to your grocery list without having visual and tasty temptations in front of you trying to lead you astray.
When compiling your low carb food list, ensure you start with the basic, staple items much like you would when creating a shopping list. They are items that you will usually need to use every day, either as a meal or part of one. You can copy my list verbatim but you may find you want to customize your own list so it is more suitable to your needs.
My List includes –
- Leafy green vegetables
- Meat and fish
- Dairy products
I have broken my list down in more detail below, to help give you an idea about what foods you should consider including in each section.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and sprouts, are not only an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, they are extremely low in carbohydrates too. Green beans, celery, cauliflower, peppers and turnips are also good for those following a low carb diet.
Sweet-tasting vegetables, such as beetroot, carrots and potatoes are all best avoided as their carbohydrate content is higher than alternatives.
Following my horrendous experience with the cabbage soup fad diet I have always been reluctant to eat cabbage. However, a cup of cabbage contains around two-grams of carbs and a mere 20 calories, making it ideal for filling up on.
I now make a lovely “Stuffed Cabbage” recipe, which involves mixing ground turkey, peppers and celery together, cooking off and stuffing into cabbage parcels.
Ten cabbage parcels cook in about 25 minutes on a 350-degree oven, making this a quick, low carb meal. The added bonuses are, the dish is really tasty, cheap to make and my whole family love it.
Meat and Fish
Poultry and fish are without doubt a must for anyone’s low carb food list. Chicken, salmon, turkey and trout are all low in carbohydrates, with ground turkey being the most healthy option both in carbs and calories. Red meats are slightly higher in carbs and you should always stick to ground meat, or very lean cuts.
Chicken and turkey are also healthier when ground, although a ¾ cup of chicken taken from the bone (with no skin), only contains around 176 calories and six-grams of carbohydrates.
Whether you are vegetarian or not, beans, such as pinto, kidney and soy beans, make an excellent meat substitute in dishes such as Bolognese, lasagne and chili.
They also taste great in soups and with a traditional garden salad. As well as offering a similar texture to meat, beans are low in carbs and contain 15-grams of protein per cup.
You need to ensure you receive the recommended amount of protein in your diet to ensure your overall well-being.
Dairy products are an important resource for individuals following a low carbohydrate diet.
Milk does contain a very small amount of sugar, but this is more than made up for by the protein and calcium benefits it offers.
I immediately swapped our milk from full fat to skimmed when I started my diet changes and my husband hated it because the taste difference is very obvious. However, pediatricians do recommend children drink full fat milk as opposed to alternatives, as this provides the most calcium for their growing and developing bones. Therefore, we have full fat and skimmed options in our house, so everyone is happy.
You can also add soy milk to your low carb food list if you don’t mind trying something new. Made from soaked, ground and boiled soy beans mixed with water, soy milk offers a variety of important nutrients. Seven-grams of soy milk contains around 80 calories, which is similar to skimmed milk. However, soy milk has been proven to have numerous health benefits including, reducing cholesterol levels, alleviating the symptoms of the menopause and strengthening blood vessels.
Before I became focused on my low carbohydrate lifestyle change, I loved, to the point of obsession, to eat cheese. Strong, smelly or crumbly, I didn’t care and I would eat it in great big chunks as a snack between meals. Because cheese is high in carbs, especially processed cheese, I knew my low carb food list would not include it and it was one of the foods I feared giving up the most. I now eat unsweetened cottage cheese with a little black pepper and while I can’t say it completely curbs my cheese fetish, it is a tasty alternative. Low fat yoghurts are also a permanent fixture on my list and are ideal for a snack if you have a craving for something sweet.
My kids love boiled eggs and have one virtually every day for their breakfast. Although I have never really been a big fan of the egg, I also have a boiled egg for breakfast these days. Not only are they the most natural source of protein you can find, they only contain trace amounts of carbohydrates. The Mayo Clinic even goes as far as saying that no low carbohydrate diet would be complete without eggs.
I would have laughed at anyone who told me nuts would even be in my house, never mind as a staple item on my low carb food list, a couple of years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I like nuts – I just rarely ate them, except maybe at Christmas or if Jerry and I went to a bar for a drink. However, a small handful of home-roasted nuts, especially pecans, can transform your average, dreary salad into something quite magical. Medical professionals also believe nuts can help reduce a person’s cholesterol level, as well as offer some protection from heart disease. Although no low carb food list should be without them, keep an eye on your portion size. While nuts contain only a small amount of carbohydrates, they are devilishly high in calories.
Make Life Easier – Make Menu Plans
Watching what you eat is hard enough but when you have a young family and a husband to look after, as well as your own employment and home to worry about it can become almost impossible. In the early days of my diet changes I found, despite my best intentions, I had little time to execute the changes I needed to make. Running around in the morning, getting the kids ready for school and daycare and then going to my own job or doing chores left little time for me to plan and prepare a proper evening meal. Compiling a low carb food list was really helpful for when I needed to do a shop but it was when I started making a menu plan for each day that things really fell into place. If you want to make your own low-carb menu plans, here is how I did mine;
- Take seven pieces of card or paper and mark each one with a day of the week. You may also find it helpful to make a note of your recommended calorie and carb intake at the of each card. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends a carbohydrate intake of around 45-grams to 65-grams per meal for an adult looking to lose weight. The recommended calorie intake is between 1800-2000 for a woman and 2000-3000 for a man. Individuals who do not participate in regular exercise should aim for the lower end of the calorie intake scale.
- On each card, write a meal – you can do breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want but I found, because we are a busy family in different places for much of the day, I only needed to do one meal per card – which was dinner. On the menu, list all the ingredients needed to cook your meal as this will make checking what groceries you need easier. You should also consult with your low carb food list to ensure your meals are healthy and low carb.
- Stick each card, in day order, on a cupboard door or the fridge and invest in a wipe-clean memo board. This can act as a daily to-do list and a place where you can write down any groceries you need for the following day’s meal(s). Wipe it clean after each evening meal and add the ingredients needed for your next one straight away.
- At the end of each week, switch the cards about a bit so you are not eating the same things on the same days for too long. I found as my knowledge grew and my low carb food list expanded I could add more meals to my menu plans – I also found adding one new recipe a week kept things different and helped keep my focus.
I still use menu plans for really busy weeks, although I now have several cards for each day of the week and I keep them in a day-ordered box – I then stick up my required cards at the start of each week. One of my closest friends Lynda is currently in the beginning stages of a low carb diet and she is also using my menu plan idea. She has laminated her cards and sticks them in a special dedicated place in her kitchen. She believes that the cards have not only help her get organized but those, and her low carb food list, have helped retrain her brain as regards to foods that are healthier for her.
As well as my list of low carb foods, my menu plans played an integral part of my weight loss. While what you eat and the exercise you take is obviously important, planning and organization is just as important. According to a study referred to by Harvard Medical School, individuals are more likely to give up on a low carb diet than any other.
This is due to a number of reasons but it is most commonly caused by people not understanding what food they should and shouldn’t be eating or finding the time to plan their diet. Which is possibly why I found compiling a low carb food list and menu plans such a valuable resource.
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Low Carb Food List
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