Last week I delved into what low carb really means and gave a few of the most common rationales for eating low carb.
To recap, low carb helps to keep the blood sugar more balanced and stable, is closer to what our ancestors ate and what we were designed to eat, and is beneficial for our gut health and weight loss.
Generally the science is showing that limiting your intake of carbohydrates, especially refined, processed, cereal grains and starches will improve your overall health, help you to lose weight and minimize the risk of disease.
In my own life I aim to eat low carb and I recommend it for most clients. Given the latest research I do believe it is a very healthy, safe and doable approach for most people.
My top tips for healthy low carb eating:
- Eliminate processed, refined carbs. There is nothing in these products that actually add to your health in fact they are likely harming it. Ditch the pasta, breads, cereals, cookies, granola bars, french fries, muffins, pretzels and rice cakes.
- Replace the sugars and starches with real whole foods. These include good quality animal proteins, eggs, fish, vegetables, low glycemic fruits, seeds, nuts and healthy oils like olive and coconut. Don’t be afraid of fat and animal protein. Fat does not make you fat.
- Minimize grains. From an ancestral perspective our bodies don’t really know how to process grains and most of them are very carbohydrate dense. As a start move away from wheat, corn, rice and oats and their flours and move to quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice and millet. Over time you can slowly minimize these as well.
- Boost your veggie intake. Your body prefers the carbs in vegetables rather than grains because all the fibre slows the influx of glucose into the blood stream and keep the insulin levels more balanced. The majority of what you eat should come from veggies that are grown above ground. These include all the leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower, peppers, cabbages, squashes, zucchini, cucumbers, peas.
- Eat your root veggies raw. When you cook veggies grown below ground – the tubers and root veggies like sweet potatoes beets and carrots – the starches turn into simple sugars. But eaten raw in salads or al dente they contain resistant starch and fibre that is good for your gut and elimination.
- Go for the low glycemic fruits. All fruit is high in fructose so if you are trying to lose weight you’ll want to minimize fruit, but generally you can enjoy apples, pears, kiwi, watermelon, citrus fruits and berries. Eat the peel when you can to get the good fibre and have a handful of nuts to slow the fructose down.
- Avoid anything that says low-fat, low-cal and diet products. These items have the good stuff taken out of them and all kinds of artificial chemicals, sugar and sweeteners added in to make them taste good. These are not healthy products.
Here are few low carb meal suggestions:
- 2 medium poached eggs with a couple slices of nitrite free bacon.
- Full-fat, plain yogurt with strawberries, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds sprinkled with cinnamon.
- A smoothie made with spinach, avocado, blueberries and almond milk.
- Big green salad with tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, shredded carrot and grilled chicken with an apple cider, dijon and olive oil dressing.
- Home made turkey soup with carrots, turnips, onion and cabbage.
- Tuna mixed with avocado served on romaine hearts and topped with slice tomato.
- Grilled lamb kabobs served with a side salad and grilled veggies.
- Haddock poached in lemon and dill with asparagus sautéed in coconut oil and steamed kale.
- A bunless burger topped with cheese, onions and guacamole and a side caesar salad (no croutons).