In recent years, low-carb diets have gone from an extremely popular phenomenon to something of a fad. Not too long ago, dieters were crazy for the Atkins Diet, on which eaters indulged in even the fattiest meats while shunning breads, grains and even some vegetables. Seemingly overnight, low-carb dieters shed pounds and dubbed carbohydrates the enemy.
Eventually, nutrition experts questioned the validity of low-carb diets. While many conceded that participants lost weight, most experts felt low-carb dieting was not a healthy weight-loss method, due to the fact that many dieters passed on fruits and vegetables and opted to eat high-fat meats and cheeses instead.Since the early days of low-carb diets, something of a balance has been struck. High-protein, low-carb diets are considered a sensible way to lose weight and eat healthy. To make such a diet work, participants need to educate themselves about beneficial low-carb foods and practice healthy low-carb cooking techniques.
These days, there are many low-carb foods lining the shelves of most grocery stores. From whole-wheat breads to low-carb desserts, many food manufacturers are making food items that make low-carb dieting easier than ever. Pasta lovers who are following low-carb diets can even choose to indulge in whole-wheat pastas, though some find low-carb pastas a far cry from the real deal.
In addition to pre-packaged low-carb foods, low-carb dieters can also look for foods that are naturally low in carbohydrates. The trick is to look for items that are also low in sugar.
Low-Carb Diets: Finding Low-Carb Fruits
On a low-carb diet, stick with the following fruits:
Bananas and citrus fruits have a higher sugar content, so try to avoid them on a low-carb diet.
When shopping for vegetables, choose those that contain very little starch. Leafy greens are safe, but carrots and potatoes are generally not considered safe for those on a low-carb diet.Most lean meats play an important role in a low-carb diet. Lean meats that are readily available include:
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- extra-lean ground turkey breast
- filets of beef tenderloin
- pork tenderloin
- reduced-fat or fat-free deli ham.
To keep your lean meats healthy and low-carb, don”t bread or fry the meat when cooking. Instead, opt for broiling, baking or grilling.
Armed with the knowledge of which foods best comprise a low-carb diet, you can begin cooking.
Faux Mashed Potatoes
This tasty recipe is a low-carb variation on mashed potatoes. Instead of starchy potatoes, this recipe calls for healthy cauliflower.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- skim milk, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Cut the cauliflower into small chunks.
- In a large skillet, steam the cauliflower in water until softened, approximately eight to 10 minutes.
- Place the cauliflower in a blender with the garlic.
- Blend the ingredients, adding the skim milk until the consistency is to your liking.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Low-Carb Lettuce Wraps
A popular way some people have been cutting carbs is with lettuce wraps. In this tasty recipe, lettuce is used in place of high-carb tortillas, taco shells or bread.
- 1 serving of cooked lean ground beef, ground turkey, shredded chicken or deli turkey
- 4 large pieces of lettuce
- dried pepper flakes, minced ginger and minced garlic, to taste
- Take the meat of your choosing and divide it evenly on top of the pieces of lettuce.
- Sprinkle the meat with the spices.
- Wrap the lettuce around the meat, securing with a toothpick if necessary.
Low-Carb Diets: Marinades
Another idea for those who wish to lower their intake of carbohydrates while adding flavor to their food is to use marinades. A flavorful marinade can help you succeed at tasty low-carb cooking without having to resort to frying or other high-fat cooking methods.
Similarly, cooking with a rub of spices is also a good way to incorporate flavor to food without adding excess carbohydrates.
Marinating Meats, Poultry and Fish
Marinating meats, poultry and fish is simple. Great low-carb marinades include:
- balsamic vinaigrette
- lemon juice
- low-calorie oil-based dressings.
To properly marinate your cut of meat, follow these simple tips:
- Store your meat, poultry or fish in a container that is basically the same size as the cut of food.
- Add the marinade to the container.
- Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. With some marinades, you can marinate the items for as long as 24 hours.
- When you are ready to cook, take the items out of the marinade and discard the marinade. It is not safe to reuse marinade.
Low-Carb Diets: Finding Balance
Many people claim a low-carb diet is essential for weight loss, but others maintain you need carbs in the form of whole grains as a source of fiber. Whatever you decide, be sure to maintain a balanced diet.
It”s also important to remember that there are plenty of ways to get vitamins, minerals and even fiber while eating low-carb foods. If you feel your diet is lacking in any of these, ask your doctor about possible supplements.