What Is Low-Carb Eating?
You’ve probably been hearing and seeing a lot about low-carb diets lately. That’s because they’ve become quite popular over the past few years – and for good reasons.
Scientific studies show that eating a low-carb diet can benefit you in the following ways:
- Boost in weight loss
- Reduction of appetite
- Loss of visceral fat in the abdomen
- Reduction of triglycerides which are bad for heart health
- Increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
- Decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels
- Help the reduction of high blood pressure
- Help in eliminating metabolic syndrome
Low Carb Vs. Keto Diet Vs. Paleo Diet
Both diets are considered low-carb but are different in their makeup. Paleo diets seek to emulate the diet of prehistoric humans, with an abundance of meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Processed sugars are out: only natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey are permitted.
The keto diet has very similar restrictions to carbohydrates and processed sugars (both are not keto-friendly). It emphasizes the inclusion of healthy fats into the diet as a source of energy rather than carbohydrates. The ratios of protein, fat, and carbs are strictly controlled.
The main concept of low-carb eating is simple: Reduce carbohydrate consumption by cutting out high-carb foods like sugar, bread, pasta, rice, and starchy vegetables. Then, replace those foods with others higher in protein and fat. Foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and nuts, plus low-carb vegetables form the foundation of low-carb diets.
Whether you’ve decided to try low-carb eating to lose weight or to boost your health, you can give yourself a strong head start to success by planning your meals ahead of time. Read on to discover our great tips for low-carb meal prep that will turn you into a planning pro in no time.
Plan To Be Successful
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles on our blog, meal planning is a valuable tool — no matter what your end goals are. It helps you save time and money, gives you more control over your food choices, and sets you up for a successful lifestyle.
If you’re new to low-carb eating, you can find many online sites like this one with low-carb food options to get you started. Then, weed out the ones you know you or your family members won’t eat and put a star next to the ones that are favorites. Once you know which food items you can work with, sit down, and begin some serious meal planning.
Tip #1: Dedicate a specific time and day of the week for menu planning. Make it a habit to sit down at the same time every week to highlight the importance of what you’re doing and to stay organized. When you use the same weeknight to do healthy meal prep of your favorite low-carb meal prep recipes, you can avoid the trap of takeout — and quickly get into the habit of easy meal preparation.
Tip #2: Do your main grocery shopping once a week. This helps you stick to your meal plan and avoid temptation. You also save time when you don’t have to run to the store several times during the week.
Tip #3: Find low-carb recipes and meal ideas online, in cookbooks, and in magazines. If you have a wide variety of dishes to enjoy, you’ll avoid boring repetition and trouble sticking to your low-carb meal plan. Get inspiration for low-carb lunch ideas from other cuisines like Mexican or Thai.
Don’t Forfeit Good Health For Faster Weight Loss
Tip #4: Don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal – boosting your health. That means keeping your food choices well-balanced. Don’t cut out bread and pasta just to eat comfort foods like salami and bacon! Stick with lean proteins like chicken breasts and lean ground beef. Even though you’re eating fewer carbs, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a balanced diet overall.
To get the best out of a low-carb eating plan, most dietitians recommend limiting your net carbs to 20 to 57 grams (or 0.7 to 2 ounces per day). This amount is equal to around 80 and 240 calories.
Make sure you add lots of healthy vegetables to your recipes. In fact, you can choose from a long list of yummy veggies like these:
- Bell peppers
- Green Beans
- Garlic and Onions
- Brussels Sprouts
- Spaghetti Squash
- And More!
Tip #5: Buy organic products whenever possible. This ensures that you’re getting the highest quality protein, minerals, and vitamins from your meat, poultry, dairy products, and produce. Buying organic is also better for the environment, the local economy, and ensures a higher level of animal welfare.
Tip #6: Low-carb meal planning should include full-fat products. Fat isn’t your enemy if it’s a healthy fat, like olive oil. That’s why we mentioned buying organic products above. Fat is satiating, making you feel full for a longer amount of time. It also doesn’t cause spikes or dips in blood sugar which can send you searching for a high-carb food solution.
Your low-carb meal prep will be a success when you are organized at the supermarket. Have your detailed shopping list ready the night before, do all your shopping on a set day of the week, and head out early so you can get the freshest and largest variety of food possible.
Tip #7: When you do your meal planning for the week, write down the ingredients you need for each recipe on your shopping list. This way, you can avoid last-minute rushed trips to the store for forgotten items. You can also avoid having to scrap the recipe and going off your diet plan.
Tip #8: Buy your meat, poultry, or fish in bulk. When you get home from the store, carefully wrap, and freeze individual servings for the week or month. (Don’t forget to label each package!) Not only will you save money, but you’ll make low-carb meal prep time easier by having your protein already on hand.
If you find a great deal on a large roast or a whole turkey, you can cook it on the weekend (or whenever you have free time) and cut it into separate portions. Wrap and label the packages and put them in the freezer for the next week or month’s meals.
Plan Well to Avoid “Failure”
Starting a low-carb lifestyle is great for health reasons, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. If you plan for little hiccups along the way, you can avoid going totally off the rails.
Tip #9: Find low-carb snack options for between meal hunger attacks. If you work outside your home every day, you should have something on hand or you might be tempted by undesirable options. Check out this site for some great snack ideas.
Tip #10: Reach for a low-carb fruit if you’re craving something sweet. Even though most fruit is off limits for low-carb eating, it makes more sense to have a healthy, fiber-rich piece of fruit than a cookie. Here’s a list of fruit that satisfy your sweet tooth in a pinch:
- Casaba Melon
- Tart Apples
Tip #11: Find creative substitutions for carbohydrates. Instead of rice, which is very high in carbs, use cauliflower rice. Substitute regular pasta for zucchini noodles. Instead of using tortillas for tacos, get inspired by Asian cuisine and make lettuce wraps. You can make low-carb, gluten-free meatballs by switching bread crumbs for extra parmesan cheese. Even when baking, you can replace all-purpose flour with almond flour.
Meet Your Low Carb Goals
If you’re looking for more tips for low-carb meal prep ideas, general meal planning, or interesting recipe ideas, check out the YoFresh blog! Try our delicious prepared meals if you want to try something low carb and save time!