What is a low carb diet? What does a low carb diet mean? Is a low-carb diet healthy? Is there a list and recipes for this? What should I avoid and what should I eat? Who should not do this diet? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.
What is a low carb diet?
A low-carb diet, or low-carb diet , is a diet that primarily limits carbohydrates found in sugary foods, pasta, and bread. Instead of consuming carbohydrates on a low-carb diet, you can consume whole foods that contain natural proteins, fats, and vegetables.
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In addition to the low-carb diet, there is another diet known as the ketogenic diet , in which the intake of 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day is even less, causing the body to enter a state known as ” ketosis “. The ketogenic diet uses fats as the main energy source instead of carbohydrates. However, this diet is very restrictive and is only necessary in some cases.
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What are the benefits of a low-carb diet?
Following a low-carb diet can provide several health benefits, such as:
- Since the increase in protein and fat consumption keeps hunger away for a longer time, it gives a feeling of fullness.
- In addition to regulating and controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing good HDL cholesterol.
- It helps control diabetes by regulating blood sugar.
- It improves intestinal function as it contains more fiber-rich foods.
- It promotes weight loss due to reduced calories, increased fiber and glycemic control.
- It combats fluid retention by stimulating urine production, eliminating excess fluid accumulated in the body.
However, it is very important to seek guidance from a nutritionist to make a low-carb diet safe , as the calculation of carbohydrates varies according to each person’s needs and history. In addition, the nutritionist will help to recognize the amount of carbohydrates in each food so as not to exceed the set daily limit.
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How to do a low carb diet?
To follow a low-carb diet , you must exclude simple carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, refined flour, additives, and sweets. Additionally, and depending on the amount of carbohydrates you are trying to target, it may be necessary to limit your consumption of complex carbohydrates, such as bread, oats, rice or pasta.
The amount of carbohydrates that should be removed from the diet varies according to the metabolism of each. A “normal” diet is usually high in carbohydrates, including around 250 grams per day, and so a low-carb diet should be introduced gradually to allow the body to acclimate and reduce side effects such as headaches, dizziness or mood swings.
When following a low-carb diet, it is important to eat 3 main meals and 2 snacks, to allow small portions of food to be consumed during the day and to reduce the feeling of hunger. These snacks should include, for example, eggs, cheese, nuts, avocados and coconut. Lunch and dinner should be rich in salads, protein and fat, and contain very few carbohydrates.
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What foods are allowed on a low-carb diet?
Foods allowed on a low-carb diet include:
- Small amounts of fruit and vegetables, preferably raw, with skin and pulp, to increase fiber and improve the feeling of fullness
- Lean meats, especially skinless chicken or turkey
- Fish, preferably fatty ones like salmon, tuna, trout or sardines
- Egg and cheese
- Olive oil, coconut oil and butter
- Nuts, almonds, pistachios and peanuts
- Seeds in general, such as chia, flaxseed, sunflower, and sesame
- Unsweetened coffee and teas
When it comes to cheese, milk and yoghurt it is important to control the quantities correctly . Coconut or almond milk, which has a much lower carbohydrate content, can be substituted for milk. It is also important to follow a low-carb diet with 2 to 3 liters of water per day.
Foods allowed in moderation
Some foods contain moderate amounts of carbohydrates, which may or may not be included in the diet, depending on the daily carbohydrate goal. Some examples include lentils, potatoes, rice, whole grain bread and pumpkin. In general, people who do regular physical activity tend to tolerate more carbohydrates in the diet without gaining weight that easily.
The amount of carbohydrates in foods
The following tables show some foods and their carbohydrate content per 100 grams:
|The Apple||0.8 gram|
|OTHER FOODS||CARBOHYDRATE AMOUNT|
|Skimmed milk||4.9 gram|
|natural yogurt||5.2 gram|
|coconut milk||2.2 gram|
|brown rice||23 gram|
|mozzarella cheese||3.0 gram|
|black beans||14 gram|
|cooked rice||28 gram|
What foods are not allowed on a low-carb diet?
It is important to avoid all foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates on a low-carb diet. Therefore, it is a good option to carefully look at the food label before consuming it. However, some examples of the types of food to avoid include:
- Sugar: Soft drinks, industrial juices, sweeteners, desserts, foods such as ice cream, cakes, and cookies
- Flours: Wheat, barley or rye and foods such as bread, biscuits, snacks, toast
- Trans fats: Packaged potato chips, frozen food, and margarines
- Processed meats: Ham, turkey breast, sausage, sausage, salami, mortadella, pastrami
- Others: White rice, white pasta, farofa, tapioca, and couscous
An important tip to keep in mind is to try to avoid any industrial products, as they often contain high concentrations of carbohydrates. Therefore, natural products and fresh vegetables should be preferred.
3-day low-carb diet menu
The following table shows an example of a 3-day low-carb diet menu:
|THOSE DAYS||1 DAY||2 DAYS||3 DAYS|
|Breakfast||120 grams of plain yogurt + 1 slice of whole grain bread + 1 slice of mozzarella + 1 tablespoon of mashed avocado||1 cup of unsweetened coffee with 100ml coconut milk + 1 medium tomato and 2 scrambled eggs with 15g basil||100 ml unsweetened coconut milk with 1 cup of coffee + 1 slice of whole grain bread, 25 grams of smoked salmon + 1 tablespoon of mashed avocado|
|morning snack||Unsweetened coffee with 100 ml of coconut milk + 20 almonds||120 grams of plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds + some nuts||1 medium tangerine + 10 almonds|
|Lunch||Lettuce salad made with 120 grams of ground beef and 100 grams of zucchini noodles + 25 grams of carrots, 10 grams of onions and 1 teaspoon of olive oil||1 tablespoon of olive oil added to 120 grams of salmon + 1 glass of vegetable mixture (pepper, carrot, zucchini, eggplant and broccoli) accompanied by 2 tablespoons of brown rice||120 grams of chicken breast + half a glass of pumpkin puree + 1 medium tomato, 10 grams of onion, 1/3 diced avocado, lettuce salad flavored with 1 spoon of olive oil and vinegar|
|afternoon snack||A glass of strawberry jelly||100 grams of avocado with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 200 ml of coconut milk||1 glass of water prepared with 1 cabbage leaf, half a lemon, 1/3 cucumber, 100 ml of coconut water and 1 teaspoon of chia|
|Dinner||Spinach omelet prepared with 2 eggs, 20 grams of onion, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 125 grams of spinach, salt and pepper||Baked gratin prepared with 1 eggplant and 100 g tuna + 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese||Cooking 1 small red pepper stuffed with 120 g minced meat, 1 spoon of Parmesan cheese in the oven|
|CARBOHYDRATE AMOUNT||60 GRAM||54 GRAM||68 GRAM|
The amounts in the menu may vary according to age, gender, physical activity level and disease history. It is therefore ideal to always consult a nutritionist so that a complete assessment and nutrition plan is made to suit each individual’s needs.
Recipes for a low-carb diet
Here are some recipes that can be included in a low-carb diet:
1- Pumpkin noodles
A 100-gram serving of this low-carb recipe contains approximately 59 calories, 1.1 g of protein, 5 g of fat and 3 g of carbohydrates.
Things you will need:
- 1 small zucchini cut into thin slices
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
How is it prepared?
Slice the zucchini into spaghetti-style pasta. There are also special slicers that cut vegetables into spaghetti, you can use them. Heat coconut oil or olive oil in a pan and lay out the zucchini strips. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the zucchini begins to soften. Add salt, garlic and pepper. Turn off the stove and add sauce and enjoy your meal.
2- Spinach tortilla
An 80-gram serving (a quarter of the recipe below) of this low-carb diet recipe provides approximately 107 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 2.5 grams of carbohydrates.
Things you will need:
- 550 grams of spinach
- 4 lightly beaten egg whites
- half chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped onions
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- Liquid oil
How is it prepared?
Put the spinach leaves in a pan, cover it and leave it on the fire until it wilts, uncovering it from time to time. Then take it off the heat and let it sit on a plate for a few minutes. Put olive oil, onion, green onion, salt and pepper in the same pan and cook until the onion turns yellow. Then add the egg white and spinach, let the dish cook for another 5 minutes until the bottom turns yellow. Then turn it over and cook for another 5 minutes until the bottom turns yellow.
3- Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
A 65-gram serving of the recipe below, which is suitable for a low-carb diet, contains approximately 106 calories, 5 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 5 grams of carbohydrates.
Things you will need:
- 400 grams of cherry tomatoes
- 8 tablespoons of goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 clove of crushed garlic
- Salt and white pepper to taste
How is it prepared?
Wash the tomatoes and cut off the top like a small lid, scoop out the inside with a small spoon, being careful not to pierce the tomato as you do this. Stuff the tomatoes with goat cheese. In a separate bowl, mix the oil with garlic, salt and pepper and place on the tomatoes.
Who should not do a low-carb diet?
A low-carb diet should not be done by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by children or adolescents growing up . In addition, the elderly and people with kidney or liver problems should also avoid this type of diet, always follow diets designed by a nutritionist.