Whether you’re on a diet or you’re just trying to get healthier, eating less carbs has immense health benefits. High carbohydrate intake increases your hunger levels and causes you to eat more. Substituting with protein, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables keeps you fuller for longer, leading to weight loss.
According to research, reducing carbohydrates causes twice or thrice more weight loss than just lowering fats. It also helps to regulate blood pressure, triglycerides (HDLs and LDLs), and blood sugar.
On the other hand, proteins are needed for cell regeneration, tissue repair, and growth. Protein is digested slower than carbs, so it keeps you fuller for longer. As a plus, most protein-rich foods are also rich in fiber and great for the gut.
If you’re worried that cutting carbs means that you have to give up all the good stuff, this article gives you healthy and tasty options that are low in carbs, high in protein, and great-tasting. Use them as ingredients to make healthy, tasty recipes for your whole family.
Low-Carb Food Options to Consider
1. Whole Eggs
Eggs are an inexpensive and highly nutritious way to get your protein, and they are highly versatile. One large egg will give you 7-8g protein, about 25% of your recommended daily amount (RDA) of choline (muscle control, mood, and memory), and Vitamin D (bone and tooth health). It has just 0.4g of carbs and 0.2g of sugar.
For added benefit, choose recipes that limit the amount of added carbs, fats, or sodium. Hard or soft-boiled eggs are an excellent option for a low-carb, high-protein breakfast.
2. Grass-fed Beef
Beef is a great source of protein when taken in moderation. Lean grass-fed beef provides a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids and has lower fat content than many other types of meat. Pair your beef with nutrient-dense options like vegetables. A 4 oz.-serving gives 24g of protein with 7g of fat – no carbs or sugars.
Chicken and poultry meats are affordable white meat, and it is a versatile ingredient for main meals or as an addition to soups, stir-frys, or salads. Choose skinless chicken breast or pieces in your recipes to cut out some of the fat. Rotisserie chicken can be eaten on its own or added to salads.
Chicken is a natural source of selenium (improves immunity), and it is low in saturated fats (skinless). A 3-ounce serving gives 26g of protein, 3g of fats and no carbs or sugar. With only 63mg of sodium, chicken has lower sodium than pre-packaged deli meats. Use for breakfast sandwiches or pre-packaged lunches.
4. Oily Fish
Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends 2-3 servings of fish per week, especially oily fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines? Canned tuna is a protein-packed seafood option to add to your diet, and it comes in different flavors.
Salmon has 26g of protein in a 4-ounce fillet, and it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aiming for 8-12 ounces of mixed oily fish is the best way to keep your arteries and brain healthy, and reduce inflammation. Fish has no carbs or sugars.
Tofu is an inexpensive and versatile vegetarian source of protein. It has a long shelf life, so you can keep some in the fridge to add to quick snacks or vegetarian recipes.
You can also add tofu to smoothies for extra protein, or make a quick tofu scramble for breakfast along with your eggs. It has 22g of protein in a half-cup serving, 4g of carbs, and 3g of fiber. It also has 11g of fat and very low sodium – only 18mg.
6. Cow’s Milk
Low-fat cow’s milk is not only a source of protein, but it is also a rich source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, and riboflavin. One cup of low-fat milk has 8g of protein, 3g fat, 12g of carbs, and 12g of sugar.
Seitan is a useful source of protein for vegetarians who are looking for more variety in their low-carb, high-protein meals. Seitan is a gluten protein that is isolated from wheat – “washing” of wheat flour leaves behind seitan. A 2.5-ounce serving gives 17g of protein, 4g of carbs, 2g of sugar, and 1g of fiber.
Seitan can be used like tofu, in place of any meat-based recipe when you want to make it vegetarian. It goes without saying that this isn’t for you if you have Celiac’s disease or you’re otherwise allergic to gluten. It also has high sodium (340mg), so be conservative with your use of added seasonings or soy sauces.
Edamame is a rich source of plant protein and fiber, and it packs the aisles of vegetarian snack foods. It is also rich in iron, and it can be added to salads, soups, stir-frys, and other recipes. Some brands have even begun packaging dried, roasted edamame to give convenient, healthy, high-protein snacks on-the-go.
One cup gives 18g of protein, 14g of carbs, 8g of fats, 8g of fats, and 3g of sugar – quite the nutritional powerhouse.
Legumes are a rich source of protein, low carbs, and soluble fiber. They’re popular ingredients in stir-frys, soups, sides, and even stews. Garden peas contain 4g of protein, 10.5g carbs, and 4g sugar per half-cup serving. They are healthy because of the minerals and vitamins in addition to protein.
Chickpeas provide probiotic fiber, meaning they help the body’s probiotics to thrive and strengthen your immunity. They are fiber-rich, meaning your food digests for longer, and sugar is released into the bloodstream in smaller amounts. One cup gives 39g protein, 35g fiber, 12g fat, and 121g carbs.
10. Greek Yoghurt
Buy plain and unsweetened low-fat Greek yogurt – check the nutritional information to ensure it has at last five added probiotic bacterial strains. Consuming this yogurt builds your beneficial bacteria, important for various functions in your gut and other places. A 170g-cup of low-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt contains 17g of protein, 0.7g fat, 6g carbs, mostly as sugars.
If you need sweetening, choose brands without artificial sweeteners, and instead go for varieties with natural sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia.
Going on a low-carb, high-protein diet can help you to quickly lose weight and keep it off as you stick to the diet. It’s important not to cut out carbs drastically if you’re just starting such a diet. Instead, reduce gradually to avoid entering a “carbohydrate slump.”
Similarly, try to choose natural sources of the best high-protein, low-carb food instead of processed ones. Processing can remove some fiber, which is extremely beneficial, as well as adding undesirable ingredients like sugar.