A healthy low-carb diet is a wonderful thing. Far from being protein overload, a well-followed low-carb diet is brimming with a delicious variety of vegetable -focused dishes.
It’s important that a healthy low-carb diet is ultimately enjoyable as this will make the lifestyle much easier to follow.
Many people that switch to a low-carb diet for health reason often wonder why they never followed the diet as they realise not only how healthy it is but how satisfying it is too.
A healthy low-carb diet should have:
- A strong instake of vegetables
- Include healthy, natural sources of fat
- A moderate amount of protein
- Low in starchy and sugary foods
- Low or very low in fruit
- Very little or no processed food
Any healthy diet should include a strong intake of vegetables and a low-carb diet is no different.
An advantage that many people find with a low-carb diet is that, because the diet involves little to no grains, it is easier to have room for larger portions of vegetables.
One of the keys to making a healthy diet work for you is to put care into the cooking and preparation of vegetables. With a bit of attention paid to them, vegetables will form a truly delicious part of meals.
Most of the energy in a healthy low-carb diet should come from natural sources of fats including meat, oily fish , dairy, nuts, avocado, coconut based foods, olives, oils (including olive oil, coconut oil, other nut oils, avocado oil).
Fat is particularly good because it provides energy in a very gradual way which can help to keep you feeling satisfied for a number of hours.
Be aware that some healthy fat sources, such as nuts and cheese, are also quite rich in protein. You may need to be aware of this if you are quite a high amount of protein and are struggling to lose weight.
A healthy low-carb diet should not include unhealthy fatty foods, that are also high in carbohydrate, such as pies, crisps, chips and fries, sausage rolls etc.
Protein can come from a number of forms including fish, meat, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts, legumes and lentils.
A number of these foods are good sources of protein and fat as well.
Be aware that beans, legumes and lentils contain a fair amount of carbohydrate. If you are looking to follow a very-low-carb ketogenic diet, you will need to have very little or none of these foods.
Starchy and sugary foods
People following a very-low-carb diet will want to avoid grains and starchy foods altogether, however, those on a less strict low-carb diet may wish to have some grains, albeit in small portions.
People on a strict low-carb diet will want to avoid sugary foods wherever possible. If on a less strict diet, you may allow yourself to have small amounts of sugary foods.
Dark chocolate , with high cocoa content (say 85% or above), tends to be quite popular with people on low-carb diets as small portions do not contain too much carbohydrate.
Fruit has a relatively low focus within a low-carb diet. People following a very-low-carb diet should be very strict on fruit and either stick to small quantities of berries, that are low in carbohydrate, or avoid fruit completely.
Even those on a less strict low-carb diet will want to keep fruit intake fairly low.
It can be hard to regulate what your child buys or chooses at school, packed lunches can be helpful for ensuring they eat right at school
Any healthy diet should be low in processed food As a general rule of thumb, processed foods are energy dense and nutrient poor.
This means that whilst these foods contain relatively high amounts of calories, they won’t fill you up or provide the body with the nutrients it needs. The result is that you can eat a huge load of calories and still be hungry soon after eating these foods.
Water and salt
Keeping hydrated and having an adequate intake of salt are part of a healthy low-carb diet.
Going onto a low-carb diet can result in excreting more salt and fluid than normal and having too little salt or water can result in side effects such as headaches, leg cramps, dizziness, brain fog, constipation or feeling woozy.
Ensuring you have sufficient water and salt in your diet should minimise the risk of these side effects.
Note that salt is needed in our diet and many of the negative headlines about salt are less to do with salt itself and more about unhealthy processed foods that salt is found within.
The fact that unhealthy foods, such as crisps, fries and ready meals, have a high salt content means that salt has simply become guilty by association.
As stated, it is highly recommended to cut down on processed food.
Salt , however, is perfectly healthy when used as part of flavouring for healthy, home prepared, low-carb meals.
When starting a low-carb diet, it is important to take salt, either in your food or in a drink of water, to minimise side effects occurring. Some people may wish to drink vegetable or bone broths as these are a good way of getting salt as well as other vitamins and minerals.