A low carb diet is best for anyone who wants to lose weight, control diabetes as well as other conditions.
Carbohydrates has been touted as ‘the enemy’ in any fitness journey but it has its uses still. Some high-carb foods obviously need to be avoided, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, cake and candy but not all carbs are bad.
There are some that need to be limited or avoided when going on a healthy journey and some will be discussed below.
Bread is a staple food in many cultures and it’s no different in Nigeria. It comes in many forms, bread loaves ( Agege Bread), rolls, sliced bread, flatbreads, such as tortillas for the more sophisticated palate. Unfortunately, all of these are high in carbs. This is true for whole-grain bread as well as bread made from refined flour.
Limit your intake or avoid it all together if you want to go on a low carb diet.
Most people assume fruits are healthy and can be taken in whatever quantity. However if you are going on a low carb diet fruits such as Banana, Mango, Pineapple, Pear, Apple, are very high in sugars and should be limited or eaten in moderation.
Berries are lower in carbs and higher in fiber than most fruits. Peaches, Avocado, and Honey dew are better low carb options. Vegetables such as Cucumbers, Celery, Tomatoes can also be a replacement.
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yam, sweet potatoes, and corn are also very high carb options even though they are generally unprocessed. Limit intake if you are starting a low carb diet.
Pasta such as spaghetti, noodles and macaroni are very versatile and inexpensive and they are usually easy to prepare as well. They are also very high in carbs and are not the best option during a low carb diet.
On a low-carb diet, eating spaghetti or other types of pasta isn’t a good idea unless you consume a very small portion and this isn’t usually realistic for most people. If you’re craving pasta but don’t want to go over your carb limit, try making ‘zoodles’ made from Zucchini which is an alternative for noodles and a healthier alternative as well.
Sugary breakfast Cereals are very high in carb content but even the healthier whole grain options are still high in carb content. A bowl of whole grain cereal can put you over your daily intake and the milk isn’t even taken into account.
A cup of regular or instant oatmeal contains 32grams of carbs while Steel cut oats which is generally considered as the healthier alternative contains 29grams of carbs and 5grams of fiber as compared to the 4grams in instant oats. Depending on your personal goal, you may want to skip this option all together.
Most people are unaware that it is possible to drink your carbs as well. Beer contains 13grams or carbs for a 12-ounce can. Even light beer has about 6grams of carb as well. Wine contains even fewer carbs while hard liquor contains none. Wine can be enjoyed in moderation on a low carb diet but beer should be avoided as you won’t compensate for it by eating lesser later. If you want to drink wine and dry spirits are a better option.
Yogurt, which is a go to healthy food can also have its pitfalls. Sweetened Yogurt can have up to 47grams of carb which is even higher then a serving of ice cream. Stick to plain yogurt topped with berries if you must eat it.
Juice is one of the worst beverages you can ingest on a low carb diet. Although it provides some nutrients, fruit juice is very high in fast-digesting carbs that cause your blood sugar to increase rapidly.
A 12-ounce glass of apple juice can contain 48 grams of carbs which is even higher than soda (soft drinks) which has 39 grams of carbs.
What’s more, juice is another example of liquid carbs that your brain’s appetite center doesn’t process in the same way as solid carbs. Drinking juice can lead to increased hunger and food intake later in the day. It’s best to limit intake of this or avoid on a low carb diet.
The misconception about Beans is that it is a protein source. This is, however, false. A cup of cooked beans has 41 grams of carbs of which 15 grams is fiber. Eat portion controlled measurements to avoid going overboard with it.
Rice is a staple in most Nigerian homes but if you’re going for a low carb diet, it will have to take the back burner for a while. Rice has 53grams in one cup of cooked rice. You can replace it with Cauliflower rice with just 5grams of carbs in one cup. It’s a better alternative. All you need to do is grate the vegetables into smaller pieces to mimic the grains of regular rice. Basmati Rice which most believe to be healthier contains 35grams of carbohydrates and is only slightly better than regular rice.
When following a low-carb diet, it’s important to choose foods that are highly nutritious, yet low in carbs.
Some foods should be minimized, while you’re better off avoiding others altogether. Your choices will depend in part on your personal carb tolerance and on what you are trying to achieve.