Low carb diets restrict the consumption of carbohydrates. Foods that contain easily digestible carbohydrates ( for example : sugar, bread, pasta) are replaced or limited with foods that contain more fats and protein in moderate amounts (such as meat, pultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds) and foods that contain a low amount of carbohydrates ( spinach, kale, chard). The amount of carbs that is allowed depends on the type of the low-carb diet that you are following.
Pretty much all of the low-carb diets are not well defined. They typically encourage getting less than 40% of calories from carbohydrates and some of them restrict carbs to the point to cause ketosis.
A popular belief among people that try to lose weight is that with reducing the carb intake you can avoid weight gain from the calories in other macronutrients. However every weight loss from low-carb diets comes from a reduced overall intake of calories.
Fats and Oils
Generally, the digestive tract of most people cannot tolerate eating a large amount of vegetable oils, mayonnaise or even olive oil over time. Moreover, vegetable oils are abundant in polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids (commonly found in nut oils, margarine, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil and sunflower oil) which are known to trigger inflammation within the body and can lead to a disease if they are the only source of fat. Also, cooking with them is not recommended.
Furthermore, most nuts (except macadamias and walnuts) are high in omega-6 fatty acids so, consume them in moderation. On the other hand, omega 6 and 3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats and they should be balanced. You need about one teaspoon a day. Consuming tuna, wild salmon and shellfish will supply you with balancing omega 3 fatty acids and are an important part of a low carb food list. For omega 6, you can eat a few nuts or some mayonnaise. If you are not a fan of seafood, you can take small amounts of fish or krill oil supplement for omega 3s.
Eggs, avocados, butter, macadamia nuts and coconut oil contain saturated and monounsaturated fats which are tolerated by most people and are chemically stable, so they are less inflammatory. Fats and oils can be combined in dressings, causes and other additions to main meals. Over time, it will become a habit to add a source of fat to each meal.
It is recommended that you avoid hydrogenated fats such as margarine in order to minimize the trans fats intake. If you choose using vegetable oils such as canola, olive, sunflower, soybean, flaxseed and sesame oils, make sure you find “cold pressed”. Avoid heating vegetable oils. Use clean non-hydrogenated lard, beef tallow, coconut oil, ghee and olive oil for frying, since they have high smoke points.
Avocado (very high in fat, so I’m including it here)
Beef tallow, preferably from grass fed cattle
Butter: try to find organic sources
Chicken fat, organic
Duck fat, organic
Ghee (butter with milk solids removed)
Lard such as organic leaf lard (make sure it is NOT hydrogenated)
Mayonnaise (most have carbs, so count them. Duke’s brand is sugar free.)
Olive oil, organic
Organic coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut cream concentrate
Organic Red Palm oil
Peanut Butter: make sure to use unsweetened products, and limit due to Omega 6 content.
Seed and most nut oils: Sesame oil, Flaxseed oil, etc. These are higher in inflammatory Omega 6 fats, so limit amounts, and don’t heat them.
85-90% dark chocolate can be used in small amounts, or use Chocoperfection low carb chocolate.
Sources of Protein
Opt for organic or grass fed animal foods and organic eggs to minimize bacteria, antibiotic and steroid hormone intake.
Websites such as www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.org can help you find local sources of clean, grass fed meats and poultry. These clean proteins are the best choices for a low carb food list.
Meat: beef, lamb, veal, goat and wild game. Grass fed meat is preferred, since it has a better fatty acid profile.
Pork: pork loin, Boston butt, pork chops, ham. Check the label for added sugar in hams.
Poultry: chicken, turkey, quail, Cornish hen, duck, goose, pheasant. Free range is best if it’s available.
Fish or seafood of any kind, preferably wild caught: anchovies, calamari, catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, sardines, scrod, sole, snapper, trout, and tuna.
Canned tuna and salmon are acceptable but check the labels for added sugars or fillers. (Exception: Avoid breaded and fried seafood.)
Shellfish: clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp, squid, mussels, and oysters. (Exception: imitation crab meat. It contains sugar, gluten and other additives.)
Whole eggs: These can be prepared in various ways: deviled, fried, hard-boiled, omelets, poached, scrambled, and soft-boiled.
Bacon and sausage: check labels and avoid those cured with sugar or which contain fillers such as soy or wheat. Specialty health food stores carry most brands of sugar-free bacon.
Peanut butter and soy products such as tempeh, tofu and edamame are good sources of protein, but they are higher in carbohydrate, so track them carefully.
Whey protein powders, plus rice, pea, hemp or other vegetable protein powders. Be aware that whey protein is insulinogenic (meaning it causes an insulin spike) in the body, so if you having trouble losing weight or getting into ketosis, limit amounts or avoid whey.
Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs. Make sure you buy organic vegetables or grow your own to avoid pesticide residues. Avoid the starchy vegetables such as corn, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and most winter squash as they contain large amounts of carbs. Limit the intake of carrots, tomatoes, peppers and summer squashes.
Alfalfa Sprouts, Any leafy green vegetable, Asparagus,Avocado, Bamboo Shoots, Bean Sprouts, Beet Greens, Bell peppers*, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots*, Cauliflower, Celery, Celery root, Chard, Chives,Collard greens,Cucumbers, andelion greens, Dill pickles, Garlic,Kale, Leeks, Lettuces and salad greens (arugula, Boston lettuce, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, mache, radicchio, romaine, sorrel.)
Mushrooms, Olives,O nions*, Radishes, Sauerkraut (watch for added sugar), Scallions, ShallotsSnow Peas, Spinach, Sprouts, Swiss chard, Tomatoes*, Turnips, Water chestnuts.
* Consume these vegetables in moderation since they are higher in carbs.
It is preferable that you use raw milk products. In case you are not able to find, you can choose organic milk products. However, you should be careful with consumption of dairy products since dairy proteins (whey and casein) are insulinogenic (cause insulin spike) in the body, so if you have problems with losing weight or getting into ketosis, you should limit the amounts or completely avoid.
Heavy whipping cream
Full fat sour cream (check labels for additives and fillers. Look for brands such as Daisy which are pure cream with no added milk; carbs and protein will be low.)
Full fat cottage cheese
All hard and soft cheeses: (count each 1 ounce portion as 1 carb generally)
Cream cheese (count each 1 ounce portion as 1 carb generally)
Unsweetened whole milk yogurt (limit amounts as it is a little higher in carb) (Fage full fat Greek yogurt is divine)
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are best soaked and roasted to get rid of anti-nutrients. Also, they are high in calories and higher in carbs per serving. If you are having trouble getting into ketosis or losing weight, reduce or avoid nuts.
Nuts: macadamias, pecans, almonds and walnuts are the lowest in net carbs and can be eaten in small amounts. Cashews, pistachios and chestnuts are higher in carb, so track carefully to avoid going over carb limits.
Nut flours, such as almond flour. Almond flour is an excellent substitute for white flour.
Peanuts are legumes and are rich in protein and in Omega 6 fats, so limit amounts and include protein grams in daily totals.
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, etc..) are also very high in Omega 6 fats, limit amounts.
Most nuts are high in Omega 6 fats, which increase the risk of inflammation in the body, so limit your consumption of nuts as your main protein source.
Clear broth, bone broth
Decaf coffee (caffeine can drive up blood sugar)
Decaf tea (unsweetened)
Herbal tea (unsweetened)
Flavored seltzer water (unsweetened)
Lemon and lime juice in small amounts
Almond milk (unsweetened)
Coconut milk (unsweetened, can or carton)
Soy milk (unsweetened, count protein grams as well)
Avoiding or limiting the consumption of sweetened foods will reset the taste buds. But, if you cannot control your sugar cravings, you can choose some liquid artificial sweeteners.
Stevia, liquid preferred as the powdered usually has maltodextrin in it.
Xylitol (keep any food with this sweetener in it away from dogs)
Splenda*, liquid preferred as the powdered usually has maltodextrin in it.
Lo Han Guo
Inulin and Chicory Root (Just Like Sugar brand)
Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) can be enjoyed occasionally in small amounts, as they are the lowest in carbohydrate. Avoid other types of fruit as most are too high in carb and can interfere with ketosis.
Japanese Shirataki noodles
Pork Rinds (these are great with dip, or as a substitute for bread crumbs, but note they are also high in protein, so limit amounts)
Spices also contain carbs so be careful when adding them to your meals. Commercial spice mixes such as steak seasoning often contain sugar. It is recommended that you choose sea salt over commercial salt, which usually contains some form of powdered dextrose.