French fries, cookies and candy bars are some of the most popular foods globally. They all have one thing in common: they are high in carbs. If you have an ongoing love affair with these and other high-carb foods, this may be the reason why the scale may seem not to be moving in the right direction. Making a switch to low-carb foods can not only do justice to your waistline, but also improve your blood sugar control and your heart health. So what alternatives are available to you?
Here are the top 10 low-carb foods:
Eggs contain a high amount of proteins and some fats, but do not have a significant amount of carbohydrates. They are therefore great low-carb foods. They help you stay full longer and can be cooked in a number of ways. You can have them scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, make an omelet loaded with meat and vegetables or make them into an egg salad. The list is endless.
Beans are a great source of protein and fiber. Green beans are very low in carbohydrates, containing less than 8 grams per serving. The effective carbohydrate count of ½ cup of green beans is 2 grams. Black beans and kidney beans have a slightly higher amount of carbohydrates, offering 8 to 20 grams per serving, but are still considered to be low-carb foods. A ½ cup serving of kidney beans contains about 20 grams of carbohydrates. It is therefore best not to exceed the ½ cup serving a day so as to keep the carb count down. You can add beans to chili, soups, salads, tacos or dips.
A handful of nuts can be an ideal low-carb snack packed with protein, fiber and good fats. There are many varieties that you can choose from, which include almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts. Almonds contain more fiber than any other nut. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Just like with all the other nuts, you need to be keen on serving size. A big serving size has a high amount of calories that may thwart your weight loss progress. Walnuts have fewer carbs than almonds, peanuts, cashews and pistachios. They also have the most antioxidant power. One ounce of walnuts has only about 4 grams of carbohydrates, with half of that coming from fiber. It also has 2 ½ grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
A bowl of edamame is a convenient way to enjoy soybeans that are low in carbs but have a protein content equivalent to that of both eggs and meat. It is rich in iron, zinc, calcium and B vitamins. You can choose to eat it alone or as part of a salad or stir fry.
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5. Peanut butter and celery
Peanut butter may not be a good option for you if you are on a weight loss program. It contains unsaturated fats that are good for heart health, but is high in calories and tastes so good that it may be hard for you not to overeat it. However, scraping it on a celery stick is a good low-carb treat. 2 or 3 celery stalks served with two tablespoons of peanut butter contain only about 8 grams of carbohydrates with 3 grams being from fiber.
6. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt makes a great low-carb snack or meal. In fact, you can think of it as a low-carb, protein-enhanced version of regular yogurt. A 6 ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt has only 7 grams of carbohydrates and double the amount of protein in regular yogurt. It is a great addition to any weight loss meal plan.
7. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a great low-carb choice. One cup of 2% cottage cheese contains only 8 grams of carbohydrates. It is also low in calories, providing only 100 calories per 100 grams. To add some flavor, you can try it with chives or pineapple. You can top with a single tablespoon of chia seeds to get some extra fiber or a teaspoon of cinnamon to get antioxidants that boost your body’s ability to deal with carbohydrates.
8. Kale chips
Kale chips are a healthy alternative to potato chips. They give you the same enjoyable crunch but with much less calories. One cup of chopped kale contains only 7 grams of carbohydrates and 35 calories. You can prepare your own kale chips by following this simple recipe:
- Chop and wash two handfuls of kale
- Toss the kale in a bowl with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
- Spread the kale into a single layer on the baking sheet and bake at 300F for 20 minutes.
Avocado is one of the very low carbohydrate foods available. Half an avocado provides only 9 grams of carbohydrates. You can serve it with a salad of tomato, lettuce and cucumber, and add some flavor using oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. You can make a low-carb avocado and shrimp cocktail snack by tossing a quarter of an avocado in chopped form and a tablespoon of cocktail sauce with 2 ounces of cooked thawed shrimp. You can also stuff a low-carb tortilla or bread with slices of avocado.
Hummus can be a great low-carb food depending on the ingredients used. Most of its varieties tend to be low in carbohydrates because their ingredients are largely plant-based proteins. The main ingredient is usually ground chickpeas. According to the USDA, ¼ cup of commercially prepared hummus contains 9 grams of carbohydrates and about 100 calories. You can make your own lower-carb version by using a different plant-based protein as the main ingredient. For example, tofu only has 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams.
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These 10 foods are low in carbs and very nutritious. They are also versatile because they can be used diversely. Find your own creative way of incorporating them into your diet and enjoy the numerous health benefits.