Over the past several weeks I have been helping out an old friend with his attempts at a low carbohydrate diet. We have covered them on this site before but recent events have reignited my interest…
To cut a long story short – he was after a list of low carb foods for weight loss reasons but he was a little confused about the misinformation that his Google searches brought up.
I couldn’t really understand this at first so I ‘Googled’ the query myself…and I soon realized where the confusion was coming from…
One article will tell you this…then the next article will work the opposite way…then the NEXT article would say that the first two options were wrong…no wonder people get this (relatively simple) diet wrong so frequently.
To be honest with you, all the research actually got me interested in the health results…so I agreed to join my mate in his low carb journey to see where it ended up.
I also thought it would be a great way to make sure this article ROCKED! 🙂
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Why is Bread Bad For You?
Before we jump into the low carb foods section of this article I thought it was important that we looked into the reason behind so many turning towards this type of diet.
The truth of the matter is that white bread and refined grains DO NOT contain nutritious elements and many dietitians lean towards whole grains instead.
But are the whole grain bread options really that much better for you????
Well apparently not!
Over the last few years grains, especially gluten grains like wheat, have been under intense scrutiny.
Many respected members of the health community now claim that bread and other sources of gluten grains are unnecessary at best and potentially harmful…
#1 High in Carbohydrates & Can Spike Blood Sugar Levels
So most of us on a diet reach for the whole grain bread options on supermarket shelves…but did you know that it isn’t made with actual ‘whole’ grains?
They are simply grains that have been super-smashed down into fine grain flour, making it a substance which is digested rapidly.
On top of this, the starches contained within these fine flour products are broken down quickly in the digestive tract.
This means that they finally enter our blood as glucose…which in turn causes a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.
When our blood sugar levels shoot up this fast they tend to return just as fast!
And what does this mean?
Well, it means we are going to get hungry again shortly after eating.
#2 The Gluten Levels in Bread
A large majority of the breads available to us at supermarkets are made up of gluten grains. Gluten causes an immune response in the digestive tract of susceptible individuals.
Now this will effect different people in different ways but this gluten is known to cause digestive issues, pain, bloating, tiredness and other symptoms.
#3 Sugar & Other Nasties!
Most breads contain a high level of sugar and anti nutrients. These anti nutrients are nasty little blighters that manage to block the absorption of minerals like calcium, iron and zinc.
Sugar needs no introduction really – we all KNOW that it is not at all good for you!
#4 Looking For Essential Nutrients?
The nutrition content of most breads is extremely low – to be honest, most other food choices will contain a higher level of useful nutrients!
Not only is it low in nutrients compared to other ‘proper’ food options, it literally reduces the absorption of nutrients from other foods.
On top of this, the proteins that bread contain are pretty much useless to our body’s setup.
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Low Carb Food to Eat
I decided to include that section on ‘the bad side of bread’ above because this is the information that my friend stumbled upon…and decided to make a change!
To put it simply – he is on a ‘no bread and no potato’ diet (this diet also includes avoiding rice!).
But low carb diets are not as simple as this. It’s time to take a look at the foods you should be targeting and the foods you should be avoiding…
What You SHOULD be Eating…
- Plenty of meat – it’s always best to go for grass-fed meats if at all possible. Lamb, beef, pork and chicken (chicken is always my favorite!).
- Plenty of fish – it’s always best to go for wild-caught fish if at all possible. For example – salmon, trout or haddock.
- Eggs – my favorite choice for a healthy breakfast! Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are the best.
- A good selection of veggies – broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrot sticks make a great healthy snack and spinach is an awesome choice of side for your dinner!
- Plenty of fruit – this goes without saying really but fruit should be a part of EVERY health-conscious diet! Go for apples, oranges, pears, blueberries and strawberries.
- A selection of nuts and seeds – since starting on this low carb journey I’ve got well into the taste of sunflower seeds! You can also go for almonds, walnuts or peanuts (keep control of the peanuts though – they can be a bit naughty for a diet!).
- High-Fat Dairy – cheese, (proper) butter, heavy cream or yogurt (NOT the low fat versions of yogurt).
- Fats and Oils – coconut oil, REAL butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.
The Foods You SHOULD be Avoiding…
- Sugar – this list is actually way too long to fit on here, but most of us know what foods are considered high-sugar anyway…right? Stay away from soda drinks, smoothies and fruit juices, any sort of candy or ice cream!
- Gluten Grains – wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Remember the Why is Bread Bad For You section above? Stay away from bread and pasta.
- Trans Fats – stay away from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
- These specific oils – cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, grape seed, corn, safflower and canola oils.
- Artificial Sweeteners – Try to avoid anything that contains Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. As an alternative try using Stevia.
- Low Fat and Diet-labeled products – some of these diet-based brands are not what they are cracked up to be! Try to avoid low fat dairy products along with diet cereals or crackers (etc.).
- Supermarket processed foods – there’s a simple rule of thumb that goes along with this: if it was made in a factory then STAY AWAY FROM IT!
Low Carb Diet Tips
To most people it sounds like one MASSIVE diet and lifestyle change…but a low carb diet is really not that difficult to get into!
Sure, the first 24 hours were a bit of a bummer for me and I even felt a little faint…that’s where the seeds and nuts came into play!
What you drink also plays a BIG part in a successful low carb campaign! Stick to tea, coffee or water (I like that sparkling water you can get – cheap and cheerful!).
You are also going to feel like a snack every now and again…and traditional snacks are rammed full of carbohydrates!
So if you feel the need to snack between meals, try some fruit, a bit of (full fat NOT low fat) yogurt, carrots, nuts, seeds or my favorite…cheese and olives!
Just remember that overdoing it on the cheese or nuts may well hamper your weight loss efforts! 🙂