As you probably already know, I believe that eating low carb is the healthiest way to live and lose weight. But sometimes I – and I’m sure you too – struggle, because let’s face it: sugar tastes good, bread is really nice and that bowl of pasta is such comfort food.
There might be many reasons you want to eat fewer carbohydrates: Perhaps you want to cut carbs in order to lose weight fast or your doctor has advised you to eat that way for health reasons. Counting macros (=how many grams of carbs, protein and fat you eat) is okay for some people but if you’re just looking for some general tips on low carb diet foods and how to eat low carb, here’s what you can do:
How to eat low carb
The great thing about eating low carb is that it quite naturally gears you towards eating more vegetables.
When I try to lose weight, I like the Primal diet advise on eating 50 – 100 grams of carbohydrates a day for steady weight loss. When you reduce carbohydrates in your diet you replace the carbs you used to eat with vegetables, protein and fat. And that’s what the advise below is all about.
1. Eat less fruit and more vegetables
Yes, fruit contains a lot of vitamins – but also a lot of sugar. Especially if we’re talking about high fructose fruits such as grapes, water melons and bananas.
A piece of fruit or two a day is perfectly fine but if you eat a lot of fruit thinking that it’s good for you try swapping some of it for vegetables or less sugary fruit like kiwi or citrus fruits or have some berries.
2. Eat less potatoes, rice and pasta
When I was young – and that was a while ago – we had potatoes for every single meal. Always. Then came rice and a bit later pasta. Even now the lunch or dinner accompaniment is usually one of these three options, right?
Well, try something different for a change: A salad, roast vegetables or another vegetable side dish. Or if that feels too “out there” you can have half your usual portion of potatoes, rice or pasta and then add something green, for example a side salad.
3. Make low carb versions of your favorite food
It’s OK to have a burger meal – you can even add your favorite cheddar cheese and bacon. Just leave out the bun and have a big salad instead of chips/french fries. Or if you want to have a substitute for bun use salad leaves or a large mushroom.
You can even have some sauce if you can find one that doesn’t contain a lot of sugar/carbs, or make your own BBQ sauce.
You may know that I’ve done Whole30 a couple of times. That concept advises you to not eat healthier options of the “junk food” you used to eat before. I understand their point (=learn to love new healthier flavors) and as it is for just 30 days it’s actually a really good advise. However, in the long run I believe that making healthier versions of your favorite dishes is a smart way to change your diet. You’ll still be enjoying the food you’ve always loved, just with a lot less carbohydrates.
4. Make low carb delicious
Now we’ve already swapped pasta for zucchini and left the buns out of the burger, what else can you do? Low carb food can actually be really, really delicious. Because the great thing is that even though you can’t have much sugar you can still have fat! And you should.
I love chicken wings for example. I don’t feel like I’m “dieting” when I eat them and that’s exactly how you should feel – eating low carb shouldn’t feel like a punishment but a way of life. You can also make pulled pork! And have cheese etc. Plenty of delicious options that you can surely build your meals around.
5. Stop drinking carbohydrates
Remember when I mentioned earlier the Primal Blueprint advise on eating 50 – 100 grams of carbs a day if you want to lose weight? Well, if you have just a can of coke, it means you will already have consumed almost 40 grams of carbohydrates. That’s a lot of carbohydrates!
If you feel you drink too much soda, read my post on how to reduce. Other sugary drinks like fruit juices contain a lot of carbs as well so have the actual fruit instead – it will contain a lot less sugar.
What you should have instead? A glass of water, fruit or vegetable flavored/infused water, carbonated water or (iced) tea.
6. Avoid grains such as bread
I know… Freshly baked bread is sooo good. But remember, eating low carb doesn’t mean that you can never have bread again! You just have to start seeing bread as a treat – something that you can savior occasionally, just not daily.
Even If you’d choose a high fiber option it doesn’t change the fact that it contains a lot of carbs and it’s the carbs that we’re trying to… well, not get rid of but just have less of. Morning cereals and muesli are equally bad – if not even worse options when it comes to carbs.
Have an omelet for breakfast! Or a berry smoothie.
7. Read the labels
If you’re trying to eat fewer carbohydrates it is extremely useful to check the labels. If you haven’t done it before I promise it will surprise you: There’s sugar in everything and it will become your mission to get rid of it.
8. Avoid snacking or choose low carb snacks
I’m not really into snacking. I think we should have three to four meals a day and that should be plenty. However, I do not believe in being hungry either so sometimes having a snack is a good option.
Grain products are obviously very popular: it is so easy to pick something fresh from the bakery around the corner. However, it is just as easy to be prepared:
Have some nuts with you at all times. Buy your favorite varieties and make your own nut mix. You need to be organized though: They are so good you might end up eating a lot and constantly during the day. Have just a small bag with you and choose beforehand when you plan to have them: They’re great for afternoon if you need to work late.
There are plenty of low carb options you can choose from. If you feel like having something savory try cheese or olives. They contain both fat and protein which together make you feel fuller longer.
See other snack options (not all low carb though).
9. Eggs are a great breakfast or evening meal
Eggs are a great alternative to bread and they can truly become your best friend when you eat low carb.
I’m allergic to eggs which still bugs me. I hate it because eating them would make my life so much easier. But if you can eat them, go ahead and do! You can do so many things with them. Eggs are really low carb and contain a lot of protein. Add a good amount of fat while you cook them and some vegetables and you’re good to go!
10. Be mindful when you eat out
There’s lots you can do while eating out:
- Avoid the bread basket. Ask the waiter to not bring it to the table. If it’s there – and you’re hungry – you’ll eat it. You’re better without.
- Have a salad for starters. Plenty of amazing salads these days! My favorite is goat’s cheese salad. Ask for olive oil and vinegar instead of salad dressing.
- Have cooked vegetables instead of chips/french fries.
- Have dry wine instead of beer (better yet water but we’re making baby steps here).
- Have a cheese cake (or just coffee) for dessert instead of chocolate cake.
Now remember, it’s the small changes you make that count.
11. Are you really into baking? Find new low carb recipes
The internet is full of low carb diet recipes (honestly, I don’t know how we managed without the internet when I was young!), for cooking as well as baking. You can use low carb flours such as almond or coconut flour.
12. Choose dairy wisely
Dairy products can be a great or a really bad choice: Great if you’re using products such a feta cheese, bad if you’re going for high-sugar yogurts.
You might also have problems tolerating dairy – and it could cause inflammation in your body so you might want to not go overboard with the amount of dairy you have.
I try to avoid cow’s milk and stick to feta and goat’s cheese instead. However, I refuse to have pasta (zucchini pasta of course!) without Parmesan.
13. Focus on fish and meat
Now, when you’re on a low carb diet and you have to give up a lot of your favorite foods I suggest you make the food that you can eat as delicious as possible. And you can start by choosing your favorite cuts of meat and tastiest fishes you can find. As long as it’s as little processed as possible, anything goes.
Organic and grass fed meat and wild caught fish are always the best options but at least I feel that I cannot really afford them at the moment. If you can, go for it!
14. Remember the fat
A mistake a lot of people seem to make is that when they start following a low carb diet they continue on their previous path of avoiding fat as well. That is a big mistake. You’ll end up feeling miserable. In fact I believe this is one of the main reasons people sometimes think that low carb diet “isn’t for them” after trying it for a few days. It just doesn’t work that way.
You have to add fat to your diet. More than you did before.
Are you eating low carb?
Let us know your tips on how to eat low carb in comments below! 🙂