Many diets and nutritionists suggest low-carb foods for weight loss. First, however, it’s essential to recognize the forms they are often present in to understand carbohydrates better. These primarily include sugars and starches but are also found in fiber.
If you’re unsure about which foods qualify as part of a Low Carb Diet and want to avoid having to read labels while shopping, we’ve created a comprehensive list of foods that fit into a low-carb diet for you.
Meat contains zero grams of carbohydrates, and significant amounts of protein and fat depending on the cut and meat of choice. Additionally, meats offer various nutrients and amino acids that cannot be gained from plant-based sources or plant-based meat alternatives that are typically not low-carb.
Daily protein intake can be calculated as the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram or 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
According to the dietary reference intake (DRI), the amount of recommended daily healthy fat is 20 to 35 percent of total calories from fat dietary reference intake (DRI).
Grass-fed protein is preferable to grain-fed due to its increased amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and level of vitamins.
Food products, such as sausage, contain other ingredients and should be considered separately.
Below is what to eat on a low-carb diet in terms of meat.
- Game meat such as venison, bison, rabbit, etc.
Eggs are another popular low-carb option because they contain zero carbohydrates and are composed entirely of fats and protein.
Whole large eggs, especially the yokes, are mineral and vitamin-rich as well as a source of healthy fats. The main vitamins and minerals are as follows.
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B5
Additionally, eggs include trace amounts of vitamins and over 70 essential body minerals. These include the following.
- Vitamin E
- Many others
One large egg provides 6 percent of one’s DRI. For protein, a large egg provides 6.29 grams of protein. Calculate RDA by including your body weight.
Seafood is another category that serves as healthy low-carb food when eaten by itself.
Additionally, seafood is a healthy source of many vitamins and nutrients, depending on your chosen seafood. Some of these vitamins and nutrients are listed below.
- B-complex vitamins (B1, B3, biotin, B12, etc.)
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA)
Wild-caught seafood is typically preferable to farm-raised seafood in terms of flavor and nutrient density. However, some types of wild-caught fish and seafood are unsafe to consume due to their containing parasites. In these cases, farm-raised options are preferable.
Seafood offers a wide range of good low-carb foods. Here is a list of popular seafood suitable for a low-carb diet plan.
- Other lean or fatty fish
All vegetables contain some carbohydrates; hence, they are not suitable for those embarking on a strict no-carb diet. However, many vegetables qualify as excellent low carbohydrate foods.
When calculating the number of carbohydrates gained from a vegetable, one consideration is always to ascertain the net carbs. The simple calculation subtracts the fiber from the total carbs in grams.
Below is a list of what to eat on a low-carb diet in terms of vegetables.
- Arugula – 0.8 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Asparagus – 1.9 net carbs (serving size seven medium spears)
- Bamboo Shoots – 2.25 net carbs (serving size 1/4 cup)
- Bell Pepper – 3.3 net carbs (serving size 1/2 large bell pepper)
- Bok Choy – 0.8 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Broccoli – 4 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Brussel Sprouts – 4.6 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Cabbage – 4.5 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Carrots – 4.9 net carbs (serving size one large carrot)
- Cauliflower – 3.2 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Celery – 1.4 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Cucumber – 2.3 net carbs (serving size one small whole cucumber)
- Eggplant – 2.3 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Green Beans – 4 net carbs (serving size 1/2 cup)
- Jalapeno – 0.5 net carbs (serving size one pepper)
- Kale – 0.1 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Kohlrabi – 3.5 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Leek – 2.75 net carbs (serving size 1/4 whole leek)
- Mushrooms – 2 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Mustard Greens – 1.6 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Okra – 4 net carbs (serving size eight pods)
- Onion – 2.15 net carbs (serving size 1/4 medium onion)
- Radish – 1.6 net carbs (serving size twenty medium radishes)
- Snow Peas – 4.9 net carbs (serving size one cup)
- Spinach – 0.9 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Swiss Chard – 1.5 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Tomato – 2 net carbs (serving size 1/2 cup)
- Turnip – 2.8 net carbs (serving size one small turnip)
- Watercress – 0.6 net carbs (serving size two cups)
- Zucchini – 4 net carbs (serving size one medium zucchini)
Other low-carb vegetables include various forms of lettuce, and greens such as collard and mustard greens, beetroot, rutabaga, parsnips, and artichokes.
In terms of nutritional benefits, vegetables are considered extremely nutrient-dense in terms of their ratio of calories to nutrients. This means that your body can quickly break them down and receive essential materials. Vegetables are a good source of the following.
- Dietary Fiber
Like vegetables, fruits are nutrient-dense as well as relatively low in calories. They contain a host of healthy and essential nutrients. Some of these are listed below.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Dietary fiber
- Insoluble fiber
While many fruits contain high levels of fructose and hence are high in carbohydrates, berries qualify as low-carb if enjoyed in small servings.
- Raspberries – 3.67 carbs, 0.37 protein (serving size 1/4 cup)
- Blackberries – 3.46 carbs, 0.5 protein (serving size 1/4 cup)
- Strawberries – 1.38 carbs, 0.12 protein (serving size one large strawberry)
- Blueberries – 1.97 carbs, 0.1 protein (serving size ten blueberries)
Avocados, technically a fruit, are popular among low-carb diets due to their high supply of healthy fat.
A single avocado offers 29.47 grams of fat, 4.02 grams of protein, and 3.65 grams of carbohydrates. Additionally, avocados offer the following vitamins and nutrients.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
6. Nuts and Seeds
While typically high in fat and protein, nuts and seeds also contain a significant amount of fiber, which means that they are part of a low-carb diet when eaten in small amounts.
Here is a list of nuts and seeds that are good additions to a low-carb diet.
- Walnuts – 18.49g fat, 4.32g protein, 1.99g net carb (serving size one ounce)
- Pecans – 20.4g fat, 2.6g protein, 1.23g net carb (serving size one ounce)
- Macadamia nuts – 21.48g fat, 2.24g protein, 1.52g net carb (serving size one ounce)
- Brazil nuts – 93g fat, 6.68 net carbs (serving size one cup shelled)
- Chia Seeds – 5g fat, 2g protein, 0 net carbs (serving size one tablespoon)
- Sunflower Seeds – 7g fat, 4g protein, 2g net carb (serving size 1/2 cup)
As mentioned earlier, seeds and nuts are rich in healthy fats, protein, and dietary fiber. Included in their nutrients are as follows.
- Mono-and polyunsaturated fats
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin E
7. Dairy Products
While dairy products do not qualify as no-carb foods, most are safe to eat on low-carb diets. Common products include the following.
- Real butter – 11.52g fat, 0.12g protein, 0.01g net carb (serving size one tablespoon)
- Heavy cream (40% fat or more) – 5.51g fat, 0.31g protein, 0.42g net carb (serving size one tablespoon)
- Sour cream – 3.02g fat, 0.46g protein, 0.61g net carb (serving size 1 tablespoon)
- Greek yogurt – 11.03g fat, 4.87g protein, 6.05g net carb (serving size 1/2 cup)
- High-fat cheese – approximately 9g fat, 5g protein, 1g or less of net carb (serving size one ounce)
Dairy products host several healthy nutrients, such as those listed below.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Pantothenic Acid
Take care to avoid milk, as regular, reduced, and skim are not part of the low carbs food diet plan, while raw butter does make the list of healthy low-carb foods even though it comes from the same source.
8. Fats and Oils
Fats and oils are composed of fatty acids and are devoid of carbohydrates. Virgin oils such as virgin coconut oil and virgin olive offer a wide range of health benefits. They are superior to hydrogenated oils, which contain trans-fatty acids that can raise potentially harmful Low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Healthy fats and oils include the following.
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Bacon grease
- Sesame oil
Beverage choices are severely limited on low-carb diet plans. Sodas, fruit juices, and smoothies are typically high in carbohydrates.
Common beverages to enjoy include the following.
- Tea (black and herbal)
- Water (with or without lemon)
- Mineral water
- Wine (in small amounts)
- Zero-sugar soft drinks
Drinking plenty of water is vital for people on low-carb diets. Especially those in their first month. Even though your diet may consist of higher amounts of fats, should your body go into ketosis (which is likely), you’ll find that fats are more rapidly expelled from your system, resulting in dehydration.
The vast majority of chocolate treats and desserts contain sugar, which means they are high in carbohydrates and not part of a low-carb diet.
However, dark chocolate, a superfood, when unsweetened or with no-calorie sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit, is low enough in carbohydrates to be enjoyed in small servings on a low-carb diet.
Here are some of the nutrients found in dark chocolate.
- Vitamin K
11. Herbs, Spices, and Condiments
Herbs and spices typically contain no calories and are entirely suitable for a low-carb diet. In addition, these add aromatics and flavors to dishes, whereas different herbs have medicinal properties.
However, this applies to the individual herb or spice in question. Spice blends often contain sugar, dextrose, or other ingredients that are not suitable for a low-carbohydrate plan.
Sauces vary considerably, and the label should always be checked to see what ingredients and amount of carbohydrates are included.
Typical sauces that are included in low-carb diets are as follows.
- Tabasco and other hot sauces
- Cream cheese
- Ranch dressing
- Caesar dressing
How to Prepare a Meal Plan for Low-Carb Diet
You can prepare a low-carb diet meal plan following these steps. Whether a low-carb diet is more expensive or cheaper in the long run than a diet high in carbohydrates is a point of debate. Low-carb meal plan preparing steps include the following.
- Create a list of your favorite low-carb foods.
- Order them into the categories covered above.
- Double check the fat, protein, and net carbohydrates of each food
- Consider some of your favorite meals to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert.
- Brainstorm a few meal options from the ingredient or search for low-carb recipes.
- Create enough recipes and meals until you have breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, and dessert for every day of the week.
- Calculate the net carbs and total fat value of each meal
- Repeat this process to create next week’s meal plan at the end of the week.
Initially, cutting out high carbohydrate foods such as rice, bread, pasta, fruit, and processed food products will be more expensive.
You will likely find yourself “craving” less, in the long run, hence eating less.
Another argument in favor of low-carb diets is that the individual saves money in the long term through medical costs. Fewer trips to the doctor, less prescription medication, and potentially less hospitalization can justify the upfront costs associated with a low-carb meal plan.
How Many Calories can you Eat while on a Low-Carb Diet?
The average daily intake of calories needed is 2,000. However, depending on how low in carbohydrates your low-carb diet of choice is, that could range anywhere from 20 to 100 grams of total net carbohydrates per day.
How Much Fat should you Consume Daily on a Low-Carb Diet?
Daily fat intake should be 40 percent of the total calories consumed. For weight loss purposes, the total daily calories consumed should be 1,500. That means 600 calories or 67 grams of fat. In other say, you can consume 67 grams of high-fat healthy food.
What are the High Fat Low Carb Foods?
Low-carb, High-Fat foods consist of foods high in calories from fat and consist of little to no carbohydrates. Many of these, such as ribeye steak, also feature a high degree of proteins. However, others, such as olive oil, do not.
How Much Protein should you Consume Daily on a Low-Carb Diet?
At least 20 percent of your total daily caloric intake should come from protein. You can supply these from high-protein foods.
How Much Fiber should you Consume on a Low Carb Diet?
For a total daily intake of 2000 calories, it’s recommended that 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day be consumed.
However, some fibers are high-fiber and low-carb. While others are safe for a low-carb diet.
Fibers that include low-carb include the following.
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Unsweetened coconut
- Some berries