If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, and let’s face it, many of us have, you’ll likely have tried dieting in order to get the weight off and feel better about yourself.
When dieting, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice when deciding on which diet to follow, yet not all diets are as effective, healthy, or as safe, as the others.
Low carb diets such as keto and Atkins, which were once thought to be fads, have withstood the test of time and have proved to be effective for people looking to lose weight, and improve their health and wellbeing in the process.
The good thing about low carb diets is the fact that there are numerous low carb foods and low carb protein bars which are designed to help keep you on track without breaking your diet.
The basic premise behind low carb diets is that you restrict carb intakes and force your body to burn fat to produce ketones instead, which it uses for energy.
Limiting carb intakes can be tough, which is why we’re compiling this list of the best low carb diet foods. Check them out and see what you think.
What’s the difference between Atkins and keto?
Before we proceed any further, we’ll begin by taking a look at what the key differences are between keto and Atkins.
People often assume that keto and Atkins are the same diets, just dressed up fancily with different names just for brand recognition when in reality the two are very different to one another.
Okay, first off, they are indeed both low carb diets and they do both promote weight loss by forcing your body into ketosis, but that is where the similarities end.
Atkins is a low carb, moderate/high fat, high protein diet which was designed primarily for weight loss purposes. Keto is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet that was actually originally designed for medical purposes to help treat patients suffering with seizures.
Atkins allows followers of the diet to gradually increase their carb intakes, which eventually will knock you out of ketosis. Keto is more restrictive and requires the follower of the diet to keep carb intakes low at around 20g – 50g max per day.
So, to summarize, keto diets are more restrictive in that you need to constantly keep carb intakes very low, whereas on Atkins you can gradually phase more higher carb foods and drinks in as time progresses.
What foods are high in protein and low in carbs?
In this next section we’re going to take a look at several of the best foods and drinks to consume when following a low carb diet.
From keto protein bars to smoked salmon, here are several of the best foods and drinks when following a low carbohydrate diet:
First on our list of foods and drinks for low carb diets are eggs.
Eggs are one of, if not the most versatile food sources in existence as they can be used in a whole variety of different ways to prepare a number of different and delicious meals.
Eggs are virtually free of carbs, they’re a great source of protein and amino acids, and the yolks also contain plenty of healthy fats.
Eggs are the only food able to boast a complete essential and non-essential amino acid profile as they contain every amino acid, both essential and non-essential, required by the human body.
1 egg typically contains 6 grams of protein and just 1 gram of carbs. On top of that, eggs contain important minerals including choline, which is great for the brain.
Within the yolk, as well as the healthy fats, you’ll also find antioxidants in the form of lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the cells and have been found to be especially beneficial for your eyes.
Egg yolks do contain cholesterol, but they contain both good and bad cholesterol, and as long as you don’t consume too many, this will not impact your cholesterol levels in a negative way at all. in fact, in moderation, egg yolks can help reduce dangerous LDL cholesterol while boosting healthy HDL.
If you’re following keto, which requires you to consume large quantities of fats as your primary macronutrient, avocados are a godsend in the culinary world.
Avocado is sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s butter’. This is because, when ripe, avocados have a rich, creamy, buttery texture.
Avocados are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, which promote optimal muscle function. In fact, avocados contain more potassium, gram for gram, than bananas, which are renowned for their high potassium contents.
Avocados despite being rich in calories and fats, have been found to help reduce blood pressure and lower blood triglyceride levels.
Half an avocado only provides around 2g of net carbs. Net carbs are carbohydrates minus the fiber contents and sugar alcohols.
We’ll be including a section on oily fish a little later on in this article, but first we’re going to discuss oily fish in more detail because it’s so important.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are loaded full of heart-healthy essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s. omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce LDL cholesterol, they’re very potent anti-inflammatories, they help to improve brain health and cognitive function, they regulate your hormones, they help to lubricate your bones and joints, and a whole lot more besides.
Furthermore, these fishes are ideal on low carb diets such as keto and Atkins because they taste great, they can be prepared in many different ways, they’re virtually carb free, and they’re a great source of protein and fats.
Low carb bars
First and foremost, low carb protein bars should never be consumed as a substitute for a whole meal. When it comes to the best keto bars, you should only consume these bars if whole foods are not available, or as a snack between meals.
Years ago, protein bars were exclusively made with oats and grains, which, while being healthy and tasty, were no good for people looking for keto protein bars.
Nowadays, we have low carb protein bars which allow you to increase your protein intakes, without having to worry about consuming unnecessary carbohydrates and sugars.
There aren’t many diets out there that permit the consumption of chocolate, yet low carb diets are definitely the exception.
If you check out some of the best keto bars currently on the market, you’ll notice that these low carb protein bars are nearly always topped with dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is actually considered a superfood due to its high antioxidant contents.
Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols which help to reduce insulin resistance, improve cardiovascular health, boost circulation, and protect the cells from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals.
Does this mean that you’re free to stuff your face with dark chocolate and still lose weight while remaining in ketosis? Sadly not. Most dark chocolate brands still contain enough naturally occurring carbs and sugars to knock you out of ketosis if you have too many.
Therefore, we recommend that you only have a few squares now and then, or that you maybe use it for baking to make yourself some delicious low carb bars to enjoy as a snack between meals.
Ordinarily, cheese is not associated with weight loss as it is high in calories and fat, which normally is not conductive with burning fat.
However, on low carb diets such as Atkins and keto, cheese is perfectly acceptable and is a staple used in a variety of different recipes and dishes.
Cheese is great because there are so many different varieties to choose from, with each one tasting very differently to the last and having a different texture, scent, and appearance.
The good news for low carb dieters is the fact that virtually all cheeses are low in carbs and are high in protein and fats. Granted, some of the fats found in cheese are not healthy, but in moderation, cheese is perfectly acceptable on keto or Atkins, and is a great way for people to lose weight and get in shape.
A 28 gram (one ounce) serving of cheese provides just 1 gram of carbs, along with 7 grams of protein and a whopping 20% of your recommended daily intake for calcium.
Cheese can also promote weight loss on keto and Atkins because it contains CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid which has been linked with weight loss.
Cheese is great on low carb diets because it is filling, you can add it to dishes, and you can even use it creatively, I.E as a wrap or a base for foods such as keto pizza perhaps.
Low carb veggies
It doesn’t matter which diet you follow, you should always, always make sure you are eating plenty of fresh vegetables if you want to improve your health and longevity.
People often assume that low carb diets are all about eating keto protein bars, bacon, sausage, cheese, steak, and other tasty foods normally off limits on diets. In truth, vegetables should be consumed with virtually every meal you consume.
Vegetables are full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants and they’re also delicious and low in calories.
Now, some vegetables are higher in carbs than others, but most are generally lower in net carbs. The trick is to avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes and root veggies like carrots, as these contain starches and natural sugars which would be too high for people on low carb diets.
Instead, look for green leafy veggies such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower.
These vegetables are a great way of boosting your nutrient intakes for the day, plus they also taste fantastic in the process.
Regardless of which diet you follow, low carb or otherwise, you should always be sure to drink plenty of water.
Water hydrates your muscles, and your organs and ensures that your body functions as it should. Your body itself is made up of more than 70% water, which in itself is indicative of just how important optimal hydration is.
Mineral water are especially beneficial as they’re packed full of important minerals which the body thrives upon.
Aim to drink around 2.7 – 3.5 litres of water a day when following a low carb diet.
How much protein should you eat on a low carb diet?
When it comes to protein intakes on low carb diets, everybody is different. As an example, a 6ft 5inch, 275-pound bodybuilder on keto would likely need to consume more protein each day than a 5ft 2-inch, 120-pound woman also on keto.
A general guideline, regardless of your size, though, is to consume 1.2 – 1.7g of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you are particularly large and active, this could be as high as 2g of protein.
The majority of your protein intake should come from whole foods, like those listed previously, though protein shakes and low carb bars are also acceptable between meals, or as a last resort.
Which protein shakes are low carb?
Protein shakes, as well as keto protein bars, also have their place on low carb diets, but which protein shakes are low carb?
Well, to begin with, protein shakes such as: pea, brown rice, lentil, soy, and hemp protein are no good as they are made from foods high in carbs.
Poor quality whey protein shakes are also no good as they will likely contain too much lactose, which is a milk sugar. A high quality whey isolate will likely be acceptable as much of the lactose and impurities will have been removed, leaving you with just the protein.
Avoid protein shakes which contain sugars for sweetness, and always read the labels.
As you can see, there are plenty of delicious foods to be consumed on low carb diets, and if you plan in advance and snack on the best keto bars and use low carb protein shakes, those, combined with the foods listed above will yield impressive results.
Remember, low carb diets are not designed to be quick fixes, and in fact, for many people, keto is a lifestyle rather than a diet.
As long as you monitor your carbs and stay on track, however, not only will you burn fat, but you’ll also feel better and improve your health as a result.