Low Carb Meals

Why Should You Include Low Carb Meals in Your Diet?

Carbs are found in grains, starchy vegetables (potatoes and corn), fruit and milk. Fats and oils contain no carbs, while meats and organ meats are low in carbs as well (think raw beef liver).

Carbs provide energy for the brain and body, and can help you feel satiated. But avoiding carbohydrates could lead to nutritional deficiencies, disordered eating habits and decreased lean muscle mass.

1. Weight Loss

If you’re struggling to lose weight, trying to limit carbs can help. However, this is not a magic bullet and should be done in conjunction with exercise and other healthy diet habits. Low carb meals should include protein, fiber and healthy fats. Ideally, these foods will be low in sodium as well. Choosing whole grain options over refined flour can also help lower carb counts.

A low-carb diet can be an effective short-term dietary treatment for type 2 diabetes, improving glycemic control and reducing medication use, according to a 2020 study published in BMJ. In addition to weight loss, a low-carb diet can improve triglyceride levels and reduce inflammation.

When your body is eating fewer carbohydrates, it has to turn to other sources for energy. This may make you feel less hungry as a result. It’s also possible that a low-carb diet can boost your metabolism, which could help you burn more calories.

While the exact mechanism isn’t completely understood, researchers are aware that a diet high in fat, protein and fibre-filled vegetables increases “fullness” hormones and decreases hunger hormones, such as ghrelin. This can help you eat smaller portions, making it easier to lose weight.

Eating a low-carb diet requires avoiding many foods, such as bread, pasta, rice and cereals, as well as potatoes and some fruits. In addition, you’ll want to avoid fatty meats and dairy products. This can leave you with a limited number of food choices that meet your nutritional needs. To be successful, you’ll need to plan your meals and prepare ingredients ahead of time. For example, you may find it helpful to keep a bag of frozen shrimp and shirataki noodles on hand so that you can make a quick low carb meal when needed.

Low Carb Meals

2. Better Digestion

A low carb diet cuts out sugary foods and highly processed snacks and replaces them with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and healthy fats like fatty fish, olive oil, avocados and seeds. This allows your digestive system to relax, and it may improve gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Cutting out the carbs in your diet helps to reduce blood sugar levels, which in turn may improve your state of mind by lowering triglycerides and cholesterol. This may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

In general, a high-carb diet increases the risk of obesity and inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. However, a low-carb diet, which focuses on high-quality meats and vegetables, can help to reduce these risks if you follow the right guidelines.

It is important to stick with a low-carb diet for the long haul. Sharply cutting out healthy carbs can cause withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, hunger, mood changes and lack of energy. These symptoms are due to the body’s inability to get the glucose it needs for fuel. The body is relying on stored fat for fuel instead, which can make people feel grouchy and increase cravings.

It is also important to include enough resistant starches in a low-carb diet, as these are essential for gut microbiome health. The bacteria in the gut digest the fiber from these foods and produce short-chain fatty acids that support healthy insulin management, weight loss and immune function. Additionally, the gut lining is strengthened by the fatty acids produced from these foods. This strengthens the barrier that keeps out pathogens, regulates appetite hormones and produces the hydrochloric acid needed for comfortable digestion.

3. Lower Cholesterol

Although carbs have been unfairly vilified by low-carb diets, when part of a heart-healthy meal plan, they can help lower LDL cholesterol (sometimes called “bad”) and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol to support a healthy heart. Carbohydrates are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts/seeds. Some carbohydrates, like sugars and refined carbs, are digested quickly to send immediate energy to your body, while others take longer to break down. Whole food-based carbohydrates, such as whole grains, many fruits, starchy vegetables and beans/legumes, are often low in sugar and contain valuable nutrients.

Aim for at least 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber per day, which is thought to help bind up and eliminate your dietary cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, rye, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit and some legumes. You can also find soluble fiber in a variety of beverages, including water, unsweetened tea and coffee.

Another way to lower your cholesterol is to avoid saturated fats and trans fats, which can raise LDL cholesterol levels. This can be done by avoiding foods and beverages like fried food, full-fat dairy, processed meats, red meat and butter.

Aim to eat a balanced diet that includes lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, a moderate amount of whole grains and healthy fats, such as those from fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and plant-based oils. A registered dietitian can help you develop a healthy eating plan that meets your calorie and nutrient needs. They can also recommend other foods and meal options that are beneficial for lowering cholesterol, such as the Mediterranean or DASH diets. Adding these to your diet can be a great way to start feeling and looking your best!

4. Better Heart Health

Carbohydrates can be found in a wide variety of foods, from whole grains and beans to fruit, vegetables and dairy. Eating a well-rounded, low carb diet can help you reduce saturated fat intake and increase heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (35).

Limiting the amount of carbohydrates in your diet can also help to lower your blood sugar and prevent diabetes. Excess glucose is a common cause of high triglyceride levels, which can lead to heart disease. A low carb diet helps to regulate glucose better, which can improve your triglyceride levels and overall heart health (36).

Eating a diet that is high in protein can increase satiety and may help you feel full faster and more effectively than eating a similar-calorie meal comprised of carbohydrates alone (37). Incorporating lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and dairy into your meals can provide the protein and healthy fats needed for good health.

The best way to avoid unhealthy carbohydrates is to consume fewer processed and packaged foods, such as cookies, cakes, candies, crackers and soda. Instead, opt for low carb snack foods that are higher in protein and fiber (like nuts, cheese and veggies) and lower in saturated fats (like avocados and low-fat dairy).

Many people cut out carbohydrates completely as part of a weight loss plan. While a low-carb diet has been shown to support weight loss, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before making such a drastic change to your daily dietary choices. Eating a balanced diet can support both low-carb and high-carb diets, so it’s important to include a wide range of foods in your daily meals. You can try these delicious zucchini “enchiladas” to incorporate more nutritious carbohydrates into your diet.

5. Increased Energy

The type of food you eat affects your energy levels. Carbs break down in the digestive system to sugar, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream and used for energy. This creates the classic roller coaster of energy highs and lows. A low carb diet encourages your metabolism to use fat for fuel, which provides a more steady energy source. Many people who switch to a low-carb diet report higher energy levels as a result.

Low carb meals include foods like non-starchy vegetables, avocados and fruits (non-tropical) in addition to lean meats, eggs, seafood, nuts and seeds. These foods are high in the nutrients you need for health, including fiber, vitamins and minerals. Incorporate these into your meal plan along with satiating protein and healthy fats to make it balanced. For example, try making these chicken enchiladas using zucchini ribbons instead of tortillas for a delicious low-carb dinner.

It’s important to get enough sleep and stay hydrated when following a low-carb diet to maintain your energy. A lack of these can cause fatigue, bloating and other unpleasant side effects. It can also affect your ability to perform physical tasks.

If you’re new to a low-carb diet, you may experience an initial period of fatigue or tiredness as your body adjusts. This is especially true if you cut back dramatically on carbohydrates without lowering the amount of calories you eat.

The good news is that this phase usually lasts just a few days or weeks. As long as you’re getting enough sodium and drinking plenty of water, your body should be able to adapt quickly. If you struggle to find the right balance of low carb and other foods, you can consult a dietitian or nutritionist who can recommend a healthy eating plan that’s right for you.

Low Carb Meals

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