Low carb diets have become increasingly popular. Whether you’re diabetic or just looking to lose some weight, you may be wondering what the low carb diet trend is all about. This article will tell you about the low carb diet and then offer some great ideas to low carb dinners in case you’ve got no idea what to cook! There is no reason you should compromise flavor and comfort when it comes to a good meal just because you’re on a diet.Make sure you get very lean ground beef. You can cook that next, seasoning carefully to avoid unhealthy additions. Then, layer everything into a crock pot as usual and enjoy! If you want a unique spin on the classic dish, is fantastic!
Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are all necessary for a functioning body. Carbs give your body energy that gets broken down to be used or stored. If you don’t immediately need the carbs, they get stored. If your body doesn’t use the stored carbs, they turn into fat.
Low carb diets follow the idea that bodies that don’t get any extra carbs will have to use all the carbs they’ve been given instead of converting any into fat. It’s a weight loss option for a lot of people. If you’re diabetic, this is a diet you must follow to stay as healthy as possible.
Here are some pieces of information you will need to know to start preparing meals and cooking on a low carb diet. Following these will ensure you get a diverse and nutrient rich meal plan.
Know Low Carb Foods
This seems obvious, but honestly, it’s what a lot of people don’t actually know. Familiarize yourself with these low carb foods so you can begin putting meal plans together.
Lean meats are very low in carbohydrates. Cook with chicken, pork, and sirloin. If you must, you can also use more red meats provided that they’re the super lean cuts with no fats inside them. Fish and eggs are a couple great options.
Leafy green vegetables are fabulous. Have as many of those as you want. Cauliflower and broccoli are also good options, and if you grind cauliflower then fry it in a skillet, it also makes a fantastic alternative pizza crust to traditionally carb heavy breads. Seeds and nuts are great, and that includes nut butters.
You can also have unsweetened dairy products like plain Greek yogurt, which makes a great alternative to sour cream and mayonnaise, and plain whole milk. Coconut and olive oil are also low carb. You can have some fruits, like blueberries and strawberries, but select carefully because fruits can become very high carb and high sugar quickly.
Serving sizes are very important with low carb diets, which usually restrict you to 20 to 50 grabs a day. Choose foods with low carb count but high nutritional value per serving and follow the right serving size to ensure your count is accurate. These foods are all 15 grabs of carbs each, so you can incorporate them into recipes.
Apples and oranges around the size of a tennis ball have around 15 grams of carbs. So does 1 cup of berries, 1 cup of melon cubes, half a banana, 2 tablespoons of raisins, 8 ounces of milk, 6 grams of plain yogurt, ½ cup of corn, ½ cup of peas or legumes, 1 small baked potato, 1 slice of bread, and 1/3 cup of rice.
As you can see, these all have the same number of carbs, but several options are far more nutritionally wise than others. Spend your carbs carefully or you will end up unsatisfied, hungry, and even unhealthier than before you started.
Plan Your Meals
It takes some foresight to stick to a low carb meal plan. You need to sit down and pick out recipes then plan each meal and snack ahead of time. If you plan your meals in advance, you are more likely to avoid unhealthy foods.
Prep your meals ahead of time, too. This will stop you from making the wrong choice at a fast food restaurant if you’re out of time to cook anything or too tired to cook after a long, hard day. Just grab a prepped, healthy meal from your fridge.
Advanced preparation means taking some care with meals that will keep for a few days. Here are some low carb meals that hold up well to advanced preparation: egg muffins, Greek yogurt bowls, protein pancakes, chicken lettuce wraps, and protein with vegetable stir fry that skips the rice.
Your body needs to eat regularly. Snacking between meals will keep your energy high and your body moving. This is especially true with low carb diets. Carry some low carb snacks to get you through the day, including hard boiled eggs, unsweetened yogurt, carrots, a handful of nuts, and cheese. Just remember to watch your portion sizes.
As mentioned above, there are some foods that are healthier than others despite having the same carb count. Simple carbs are easy to digest sugars. Refined carbs are processed foods like white sugar and flour. If you’re starting a low carb diet, the first step you’ll need to take is to drastically reduce your simple carbs. Not only are they high carb to low nutritional value in nature, but they also prevent you from your ideal weight. The exception to this rule of thumb is with fruits. Although fructose is a simple carb, fruits are so packed with nutrients that the benefits outweigh the type of carb.
Complex carbs will take longer to digest. These must be broken down first. Most of the foods that are packed with nutrients have complex carbs. This includes beans, whole grains, and fruits like bananas, which have tons of fiber. These carbs will also fill you up more quickly, so you’re less likely to overeat or feel hungry later.
One thing you can do if you’re feeling really overwhelmed is pick up your favorite dinner recipes and substitute the high carb foods for low and no carb alternatives. Here are some ideas for that!
If you love your taco night, then instead of shredded lettuce and taco shells, try using large lettuce leaves. Replace the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt, which has the same flavor profile and far fewer carbs. Watch how much cheese you add and follow portion sizing.
You can replace buns with lettuce too. In fact, more and more fast food restaurants are offering lettuce wrap options. If you aren’t keen on lettuce, try a hollowed out portobello mushroom cap instead. At places like Subway, skip the bread and just get the salad. You’ll actually end up with more food than they’d put on the sandwich, anyway!
If you are a fan of French fries, trade them for squash. Butternut squash is a delicious fall harvest food, and you can cut then bake them to make French fries and potato chips that are far lower in carb count.
Lasagna can be made with eggplant instead of noodles. You can also sub in pretty much anything from the low carb list to get the lasagna flavor without the carb overload. Consider zucchinis, legumes, and beans and make a lasagna casserole instead with the beans.
Pizza crusts can be traded for a lot of options. Frying some cheese in a skillet will make a crisp but flavorful option. If you’re worried about staying healthy, then skip the cheese in favor of a cauliflower crust. These have become so popular, that some stores are selling them, so you don’t even have to go to the effort of making them yourself!
For spaghetti noodles, you can replace them with nearly any vegetable. It will just require a special tool. A lot of kitchen aisles will have the thing you need to turn zucchinis and cucumbers into noodles. Another popular veggie to use for pasta is the spaghetti squash. If you cut it in half down the center, you’ll get short and thin strands.
Cutting it around the width into several inch thick wheels will make it much easier to cook, and you will end up with the longer strands that traditional spaghetti noodles have. One of the awesome things about this is that it actually soaks up the flavor of the sauce more, so less sauce will go much farther!!
Find Friendly Restaurants
Sometimes, eating out is inevitable. It’s part of American social culture, and it’s also far more convenient when we’re on the run. The good news is that more and more restaurants are offering friendly, low carb options on their menus.
If you have to go out, try suggesting places that are friendly to low carb diets. Sweet Tomatoes (also known as Souplantation) is a great all you can eat recipe filled with healthy salad fruit and veggie options. Enjoy yourself without going overboard and try to avoid their bread and pasta section. Panera also has some great options.
Nearly every restaurant will make your burger or sandwich into a lettuce wrap upon request. In-n-Out calls this Protein Style. If they can’t do that, then you can just request the sandwich without the bun and order a side salad to turn it into an enjoyable meal.
Call ahead to restaurants to find out what the options are. Familiarize yourself with local fast food restaurants in case you’re stuck and need to hit up a drive through. Knowing their options ahead of time will prepare you to make a good drive through decision.
Remember, that different bodies function in different ways. Not everyone should follow a low carb diet. If you’ve got kidney problems, steer clear. If you have teenagers in the house, they shouldn’t follow this diet either because they’re still developing.
If you see any of the following symptoms start, then stop following the diet until you can talk with your doctor: cramping, constipation, high cholesterol, headaches, lethargy, nausea, rashes, poor athletic performance, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues.
Now that the general tips and foods you can pair together have been covered, here are some amazing recipes you can cook to stay low carb!
Spaghetti Squash Pasta
One of the best things for people who want to splurge because of their hearty appetites is spaghetti squash pasta. Thanks to a variety of different meats and sauces, you don’t even need to worry about cooking this so many times per week.
Spaghetti squash is really easy to make. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and scoop out the seeds in the center of whichever way you slice your squash. You can drizzle it with olive oil since that’s low in carbs. Bake it for a little over half an hour. You will know it is done if your fork can scrape out “noodles” easily with the pulpy interior.
Just switch up the sauces to vary your meals! One delicious combination is arugula pesto, which offers less carbs than basil for a much more affordable price. Take 3 cups of arugula, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of pine nuts, 2 garlic cloves, 1 ½ cups of olive oil, and put them all in a food processor. Top it with grilled chicken for a healthy low carb protein and enjoy!
For a fancier option, try lemon ricotta. Get 2 cups of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, 2 teaspoons od lemon zest, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and you’re ready! Mix the ricotta, lemon zest and juice, Parmesan, and olive oil together. Toss it in the noodles and enjoy. This can be topped with keto friendly chicken meatballs!
Chinese food is a go to comfort for a lot of people. It’s immensely satisfying and very filling. There’s a low carb option or you that can be made even quicker than a trip to Panda Express! You can make this in an Instant Pot or a skillet. If you use the skillet, the important thing is to let the chicken simmer in sauce for 12 to 14 minutes!
Did you know that a low carb version of shepherd’s pie exists? Substitute the potatoes for cauliflower mash. Cook your cauliflower until golden, add some water, reduce the heat, and cover until it’s soft, which is usually 7 to 9 minutes. Put it in a food processor until it’s smooth like mashed potato.