Low Carb Diet Meal Plans – What You Need To Know To Succeed

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low carb diet
Low fat diets are now well and truly a thing of the past.

They have lost all popularity, and are no longer considered an effective tool to lose weight OR improve health.

This loss in popularity has come off the back of a large change in mindset within the health and fitness industry.

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This shift in mindset has led to the suggestion that carbohydrates may actually be the cause of rapid weight gain (and the health implications associated) within the population, as opposed to the earlier suggestions that fat was the issue.

With this suggestion has come the increasing popularity of low carb diets!

What is a low carb diet?

There a number of different types of low carb diets.

These diets have number of similarities, and while some small aspects may change, the key points remain the same.

Low carb diets represent a way of eating typified by the restriction of carbohydrate intake.

This often includes the limitation (or exclusion) of breads, pastas, grains, and sugary foods from the diet.

Now, no need to panic.

This restriction in carbohydrates is often in conjunction with a moderate protein and moderate fat intake.

This means that while following a low carb diet, you won’t be able to eat your favourite sweets, you will be able to eat a lot of tasty fats.

Did someone say bacon?

What are the positives of undertaking a low carb diet?

Now you might be asking yourself ‘why in the world would I want to undertake a low carb diet?’

There are actually a number of positives associated with low carbs diets.

Not only do you get the chance to eat a lot of delicious fats, they have also shown to improve health.

Low carb diets have shown to stimulate significant weight loss [1].

This means that eating a low carb diet might be what you need to lose those stubborn pounds of fat.

This also means reducing the risk of disease and illness that comes with being overweight or obese.

Additionally, low carb diets have shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

This reduced risk comes from a reduction in resting blood pressure, reduced levels of blood cholesterol, and a reduction in blood sugar levels [2].

As an added bonus, eating a diet lower in carbohydrates has shown to significantly reduce feelings of hunger throughout the day.

This reduction in hunger can reduce your intake of snacks throughout the day.

This can lead to additional weight loss, and even further improvements in health [3]

So, to summarise.

Low carb diets have the potential to stimulate weight loss, while also improving health.

These are some pretty big positives!

Foods to avoid on a low carb diet

As mentioned above, there are some key restrictions associated with low carb diets.

With these restrictions, it is best to avoid some foods as much as possible.

This doesn’t mean you have to eradicate them from your diet completely, but if you do eat them, it should be VERY rarely.

As a treat or a as a ‘cheat meal’, if your into that sort of thing.

These restrictions should be prioritised in the order as follows.

Sugar

This one is fairly self-explanatory.

Sugar is pure processed, refined carbohydrates.

As such, it should be avoided at all cost.

This means limiting your intake of soft drinks, ice cream, candy, fruit juices, and many more.

Similarly, you should try to avoid adding sugar to warm beverages such as tea and coffee.

Grains

While arguably better than sugar, due to their lower GI rating, the consumption of grains should also be limited as much as possible.

Grains still have an exceptionally high carbohydrate content.

With this high carb content grains don’t actually have a massive amount of nutritional value.

This makes them more expendable than other carbohydrate dense foods.

This includes wheat, barley, rye, breads, pasta, and rice.

Diet and low fat products

Just because something advertises that it is good for your health, does not mean it really is.

This is very true of products that are advertised as either ‘diet’ or ‘low-fat’.

Often these products reduce fat content, and substitute it with an increased sugar content.

These should be avoided because of that increased sugar content.

This includes low fat dairy products, cereals, crackers, and other things of that nature.

Highly Processed Foods

This one is less obvious than some of the others but is still very applicable.

Highly processed foods often contain a number of hidden preservatives, in conjunction with high GI carbohydrates.

If you’re not sure where the ingredients it contains come from, you should probably avoid it.

Fruit and Starchy Vegetable

These are at the bottom of the list because they don’t have to be avoided COMPLETELY.

But, they do still contain a relatively high carbohydrate content.

As such, their intake should be limited.

Green leafy vegetables should be substituted for these where possible, as they are rich in nutrients and contain very little carbohydrate content.

Foods that should be prioritised on a low carb diet

There are a number of foods that your diet should be based around.

These are low in carbohydrate content, and have undergone minimal (or NO) processing.

Meat

Meat is going to be a key food involved in your low carb diet.

Meat in rich in essential vitamins and minerals, high in protein, and low in carbohydrate.

This includes beef, lamb, pork, and poultry.

Ultimately, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to low carb dieting.

As such, meat should be included in almost all of your daily meals.

Fish

Similar to meat, fish is high in protein and contains a number of essential nutrients.

The type of fish is not important, although freshly caught should be favoured over tinned or store bought if possible.

Eggs

Eggs are the superfood of low carb dieters.

They are high in protein, contain a huge amount of essential vitamins and minerals, while also providing a large amount of healthy fats.

Seriously perfect for breakfast.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables should be included in almost every meal if possible.

These are high in minerals such as zinc, iron, and magnesium.

Additionally, they contain very little energy content.

This makes them perfect for those following a low carb meal plan, as they provide a heap vitamins and minerals without the carbohydrate content typically associated with vegetables.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are the perfect snack.

They are high in vitamins and minerals, and contain essential fats that promote cell health.

It is worth mentioning that nuts and seeds are very energy dense, and as such should be eaten in moderation.

High Fat Dairy

That’s right, you read correctly.

Delicious, high fat, dairy.

This means full cream milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Not only delicious, but also high in calcium, among a number of other minerals.

Additionally, the consumption of full fat dairy has been linked to fat loss and a number of improved markers of health [4].

Example Menu for a day

So now we know what foods we should and should not eat, we can start putting it all together.

Breakfast

Omelette made with 4 eggs, tomatoes, peppers, cheese, and ham.

Or.

Bacon and eggs with roast tomatoes and spinach.

Lunch

Chicken Caesar salad (full fat, low sugar, dressing) without croutons, and a handful of almonds.

Or

Turkey and hummus lettuce wraps with avocado and shredded carrot.

Dinner

Steak and Salad

Or

Chicken eggplant frittata with cheese and tomato

Boom!

It’s that easy!

There is an easy way to integrate a low carb diet into your daily schedule.

Bonus. Low carb snacks.

I realise that people get hungry throughout the day, so we have also provided a lit of snacks that fit in nicely with the low carb way of eating.

Full fat yoghurt, baby carrots, nuts, hard boiled eggs, a single piece of fruit (1 won’t hurt, occasionally), some cheese and meat, cottage cheese.

In conclusion

Opting to undertake a low carb diet does not have to be difficult.

It merely requires the restriction of some foods, while increasing your intake of others.

Eating a diet lower in carbohydrates can have a number of positive effects on health while also promoting fat loss.

Plus, you get to eat lots of delicious meats and dairy.

It is a win win!

Editor's Tip: Did you know you can use the Noom App to lose weight or just get fit, without the need for supplements? Find out what's possible with healthier, lifelong and sustainable results!
Don't spend a fortune on supplements!

References:

1. Foster, Gary D., et al. “A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity.” New England Journal of Medicine 348.21 (2003): 2082-2090. Viewed at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207

2. Meckling, Kelly A., Caitriona O’Sullivan, and Dayna Saari. “Comparison of a low-fat diet to a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, body composition, and risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in free-living, overweight men and women.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 89.6 (2004): 2717-2723. Viewed at: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/jc.2003-031606

3. Nickols-Richardson, Sharon M., et al. “Perceived hunger is lower and weight loss is greater in overweight premenopausal women consuming a low-carbohydrate/high-protein vs high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105.9 (2005): 1433-1437. Viewed at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000282230501151X

4. Huth, P. J., DiRienzo, D. B., & Miller, G. D. (2006). Major scientific advances with dairy foods in nutrition and health. Journal of Dairy Science89(4), 1207-1221.Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16537954


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About the Author John Wright

John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry!

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