Choosing high protein, low carbohydrate foods can be a good idea not only for those with diabetes, obesity, or metabolic syndrome, but most of us in general. A low carb diet will help keep blood sugar stable, thus helping you to keep excess weight off, and more specifically that dangerous belly fat that wreaks havoc with your health. Low carb eating also burns fat faster than a high carb diet, especially if those carbs are bad quality the likes of refined grains and free sugars.
This list of low carbohydrate foods will help you to understand the difference between high quality fat burning foods versus low quality fat promoting foods.
LOW QUALITY FAT PROMOTING FOODS:
- Anything containing refined sugars, such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, sweets, and confectionery.
- Anything deep-fried, such as fish, chips, most junk foods and fries.
- Fatty processed meats.
- Fats and oils, such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarines, canola oil, corn oil, soy bean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil.
- Wheat and other gluten containing products. Many people are intolerant, or feel bloated on various grains or gluten products and you will often find you start to lose weight, feel healthier and have more energy when you cut down on them, or ideally, cut them out completely. Ideal alternatives to these would be corn, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Refined flour products such as white pasta, white bread, or white rice.
These above foods will hinder your weight loss efforts, and make you feel and look crappy, and who needs the stress of that on top of everything else in life? By swapping these foods for healthier versions you will not only be adding years to your life, but life to your years as the famous saying goes.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
A low carb diet is not necessarily the same as a ketogenic diet which actually forbids ALL carbohydrates. This kind of diet may be way too strict for you and probably won’t put you in the best of moods – not if you want the energy for exercise and living a full life. However, some people this can work for depending on their reasons for doing it, and also how their body reacts to it, and for obvious reasons it IS especially good for diabetics.
Personally, a totally carb free diet doesn’t work for me, and makes me feel depressed, lethargic, and generally not very happy. I get on best on a low GI plant based diet as it gives me copious amounts of nutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber – all of which are perfect for vitality and energy. And some of the biggest recent studies are proving that the ketogenic diet is not healthy long term due to high consumption of animal proteins and fats, and low consumption of fiber and key nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
How to Eat a Low Carb diet:-
A low carbohydrate diet on the other hand, will mean keeping to a minimum starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, corn, peas, beetroot, and yams. Also, grains such as wheat, rye, millet, amaranth, spelt, and oats are all high carb – but the worst offender that you should absolutely steer clear of on a low carb diet is of course the demon that is free SUGARS!
Free sugars, or fast sugars as they are otherwise known are the kind found in junk foods; but surprisingly, the so called ‘healthier’ kinds, like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and brown rice syrup are ALL high carb too, and so also need to be eaten in moderation on the low carbohydrate diet.
I would, however, suggest that you should eat some starchy vegetables; and also fruits, pulses, and wholegrains in moderation. It will still keep you low carb at 1-2 portions a day, but that’s good as this is not a ketogenic diet (you’ll need more if you are in training, or exercising a lot). Exercise will not only help you to maintain your weight loss, but the release of those good feeling hormones that it is guaranteed with a good workout will also keep you happy.
High Sugar Fruits:
- Dried fruits
Medium Sugar Fruits:
- Cantaloupe melon
- Oranges of all kinds
- Honeydew melon
Low Sugar Fruits:
List of Low Carbohydrate Foods to help Burn Fat
As this is a plant based eating website, it means that I have only added plant foods to this list as they are much more nutrient dense and full of antioxidants. These are not only vital for anti aging, but also lower your risks of many modern day diseases, boost energy and vitality, strengthen the immune system, detoxify your system, AND make you look and feel a million bucks in the process. However, if you do eat animal products then meat and dairy products are all low carbohydrate and okay on the low carb diet.
Fat Burning Foods
These type of foods are also low GI, which means their sugars are released into the bloodstream slowly, giving you sustained energy over a period of time (so less snacking and sugar cravings… hurrah), and these low GI foods will also help you to burn fat much more efficiently.
These specific fat burning foods should be incorporated into your diet wherever possible for best results (but don’t forget, as is the case with ALL foods, you need to eat everything in moderation and add them into your total day’s calories).
The list below goes in order from the lowest carbohydrate food to the highest, and gives amounts per 100 grams: Note that not all nuts and seeds are on the list for the simple reason that some of them are actually high in carbs and should be eaten sparingly, such as cashews, chestnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.
You can use numbers 15-20 on this list as part of your 1-2 carb portions per day on the low carb diet; but you will need more if you’re doing a lot of exercise or training. You can also use pulses and lentils instead of pastas, rice and grains, but be aware they are higher carbohydrate value than anything on this list, but still lower carb than your ordinary low GI carbs.
- Oils of all kinds 0g
- Soy/Tempeh/Tofu 1.9g
- Brazil Nuts 4g
- Pecans 4g
- Pumpkin seeds 5g
- Macadamia Nuts 5g
- Olives 6g
- Walnuts 7g
- Peanuts 7g
- Hazelnuts 7g
- Pine Nuts 7g
- Chia seeds 7g
- Avocados 9g
- Almonds 10g
- Butternut Squash 12g
- Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao) 13g
- Green Peas 14g
- White Potatoes 17g
- Sweet Potatoes 20g
- Cooked Quinoa 21g
I haven’t put these on the actual list as they often come in at different carbohydrate values depending on the type and brand, but they can play an integral role in a low carb diet due to them being filling and low GI. They usually come in at either zero or very low carb, and can be used as actual meal replacements. They are especially good in you want to boost your metabolism to burn fat fat more efficiently; or you’re in training and want to cut fat and build muscle.
You should always choose a good quality protein powder if you want to see maximum results, and to also be sure you are getting a great amino acid profile that will cover all bases.
Unlikely High Carb foods:-
You may find this list has some very interesting facts that you may not have realised when it comes to carbohydrates in foods. For instance, white potatoes come in at 17g carbs versus cashew nuts that are actually a whopping 30g carbs. Who would have ever guessed that potatoes actually contain almost half the carbs as a nut!
The difference between them (and this is where it can get a bit complicated) is that cashews are actually low GI due to their high fat and protein content, and so they are considered healthier in that respect than white potatoes that have very little fat and protein. The presence of fat and protein in a food will slow down the sugar release into the bloodstream. To understand this in more detail then please learn more about low glycemic foods, as it will open your eyes to how a low GI diet combined with the low carbohydrate diet is one of the best long term, sustainable weight loss strategies there is.
WHAT IS A LOW GI DIET?
A low GI diet is different to a low carb diet in the respect that it focuses more on how quickly carbohydrates in a food hit the bloodstream. Too fast and you will have a much bigger insulin response to clear those sugars out of the blood, which is not good in terms of weight loss as those sugars are usually stored as fat (the dangerous belly fat kind), which is why low GI foods are much healthier for long term health.
Pretty much everything on the above list is considered low GI because they all contain the other elements of fat and protein, apart from the latter part (numbers 15-20) – the white potatoes especially. But this is where correct food combining comes into play. If for example you ate mashed white potatoes alone, then they would be extremely high GI and would therefore encourage fat storage, but if you eat them combined with other foods that contain fats and protein this would then lower the GI of the potatoes, and in fact the whole meal.
Correct food combining:-
So the moral of the story without complicating things too much, is the correct food combining of fats, carbs and proteins in ALL of your meals and snacks. Obviously, go very easy on the fats, and make sure when you do eat them that they are healthy and of good quality. It’s easy to do when you understand the 3 macro nutrient food groups of fat, carbohydrates and protein. Below is a list to give you a hand, and don’t forget a lot of them overlap each other and contain 2 or 3 elements in the one food, so therefore have been added to more than one food group.
- All kinds of oils
- FruitsDried Fruits
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash, parsnips, carrots
If you have any questions about low carb eating, or you need any extra advice then I would be happy to help. Please post any comments below this thread, and thanks for visiting zestforever!