Cutting carbs can have impressive benefits.
It has been shown to cause a significant reduction in hunger levels ().
This tends to lead to automatic weight loss, without the need for calorie counting ().
Cutting carbs can also have numerous other benefits for metabolic health ().
This includes a reduction in blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides, higher HDL (the "good") cholesterol, and others (, , , , ).
Fortunately, eating low-carb does NOT have to be complicated.
Just base your diet around real foods that are low in carbs and you will lose weight and improve your health.
This is a list of 44 low-carb foods. Most of them are healthy, nutritious and incredibly delicious.
Under each food, I have listed the carb content for a standard serving, as well as the number of carbs in a 100 gram portion.
However, keep in mind that some of these foods are high in fiber, so sometimes the digestible ("net") carb content is even lower.
Eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet.
They are loaded with all sorts of nutrients, including important brain nutrients and compounds that can improve eye health (, ).
Carbs: almost zero.
All types of meat are close to zero carb. One exception is organ meats like liver, which is about 5% carbs ().
Beef is highly satiating and loaded with important nutrients like iron and B12. There are dozens of different types of beef, from ribeye steak to ground beef to hamburger.
Like beef, lamb meat contains numerous beneficial nutrients, including iron and B12. Lamb is often grass-fed, and tends to be high in a beneficial fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA ().
Chicken is among the world's most popular meats. It is high in many beneficial nutrients, and an excellent source of protein.
If you're on a low-carb diet, then it may be a better choice to go for the fattier cuts, like the wings and thighs.
Pork is another delicious type of meat, and bacon is a favorite of many low-carb dieters.
Bacon is a processed meat, so it definitely isn't a "health food." However, it is generally acceptable to eat moderate amounts of bacon on a low-carb diet.
Just try to buy your bacon locally, without artificial ingredients, and make sure not to burn your bacon when cooking it.
Carbs: zero. But read the label and avoid bacon that is cured with sugar.
Jerky is meat that has been cut into strips and dried. As long as it doesn't contain added sugar or artificial ingredients, then jerky can be a perfect low-carb snack food.
However, keep in mind that a lot of the jerky available at the store is highly processed and unhealthy. Your best bet is to make your own.
Carbs: Depends on the type. If it's just meat and seasoning then it should be close to zero.
Other Low-Carb Meats
Fish and other seafoods tend to be incredibly nutritious and healthy.They are particularly high in B12, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients which many people don't get enough of.
Like meat, pretty much all fish and seafood contains next to no carbohydrate.
Salmon is among the most popular types of fish among health conscious individuals, for a good reason.
It is a type of fatty fish, meaning that it contains significant amounts of heart-healthy fats, in this case omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon is also loaded with B12, iodine, and contains a decent amount of vitamin D3.
Like salmon, trout is a type of fatty fish that is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients.
Sardines are oily fish that are generally eaten almost whole, with bones and everything.
Sardines are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and contain almost every single nutrient that the human body needs.
It is a shame that shellfish rarely makes it to people's daily menus. However, they are among the world's most nutritious foods, ranking close to organ meats when it comes to nutrient density.
Shellfish tends to contain small amounts of carbohydrates.
Carbs: 4-5 grams of carbs per 100 grams of shellfish.
Other Low-Carb Fish and Seafood
Most vegetables are low in carbs. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are particularly low, with the majority of the carbs in them consisting of fiber.
On the other hand, starchy root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in carbs.
Broccoli is a tasty cruciferous vegetable that can be eaten both raw and cooked. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber, and also contains potent cancer-fighting plant compounds.
Carbs: 6 grams per cup, or 7 grams per 100 grams.
Tomatoes are technically fruits/berries, but are usually eaten as vegetables. They are high in vitamin C and potassium.Carbs: 7 grams in a large tomato, or 4 grams per 100 grams.
Onions are among the tastiest plants on earth, and add powerful flavor to recipes. They are high in fiber, antioxidants and various anti-inflammatory compounds.
Carbs: 11 grams per cup, or 9 grams per 100 grams.
Brussels sprouts are highly nutritious vegetables, related to broccoli and kale. They are very high in vitamin C and vitamin K, and contain numerous beneficial plant compounds.
Carbs: 6 grams per half cup, or 7 grams per 100 grams.
Cauliflower is a tasty and versatile vegetable that can be used to make all sorts of interesting things in the kitchen. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
Carbs: 5 grams per cup, and 5 grams per 100 grams.
Kale is a very popular vegetable among health-conscious individuals. It is loaded with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and carotene antioxidants. Kale has numerous health benefits.
Carbs: 7 grams per cup, or 10 grams per 100 grams.
Eggplant is another fruit that is commonly consumed as a vegetable. It has many interesting uses, and is very high in fiber.
Carbs: 5 grams per cup, or 6 grams per 100 grams.
Cucumber is a popular vegetable with a mild flavor. It consists mostly of water, with a small amount of vitamin K.
Carbs: 2 grams per half cup, or 4 grams per 100 grams.
Bell peppers are popular fruits/vegetables with a distinct and satisfying flavor. They are very high in fiber, vitamin C and carotene antioxidants.
Carbs: 9 grams per cup, or 6 grams per 100 grams.
Asparagus is a highly delicious spring vegetable. It is very high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K and carotene antioxidants. It is also very high in protein compared to most vegetables.
Carbs: 3 grams per cup, or 2 grams per 100 grams.
Green beans are technically legumes, but they are usually consumed in a similar manner as vegetables.
Calorie for calorie, they are extremely high in many nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium.
Carbs: 8 grams per cup, or 7 grams per 100 grams.
Mushrooms technically aren't plants, but edible mushrooms are often categorized as vegetables. They contain decent amounts of potassium, and are high in some B-vitamins.
Carbs: 3 grams per cup, and 3 grams per 100 grams (white mushrooms).
Other Low-Carb Vegetables
- Swiss chard
With the exception of starchy root vegetables, pretty much all vegetables are low in carbs. You can eat a lot of vegetables without going over your carb limit.
Even though fruits are generally perceived as being healthy, they are highly controversial among low-carbers.
That's because most fruits tend to be high in carbs compared to vegetables.Depending on how many carbs you are aiming for, you may want to restrict your fruit intake to 1-2 pieces per day.
However, this does not apply to fatty fruits like avocados or olives. Low-sugar berries, such as strawberries, are also excellent.
Avocados are also extremely high in fiber and potassium, and contain decent amounts of all sorts of other nutrients.
Carbs: 13 grams per cup, or 8.5 grams per 100 grams.
Keep in mind that the majority (about 78%) of the carbs in avocado are fiber, so it contains almost no digestible ("net") carbs.
The olive is another delicious high-fat fruit. It is very high in iron and copper, and contains a decent amount of vitamin E.
Carbs: 2 grams per ounce, or 6 grams per 100 grams.
Strawberries are among the lowest carb and most nutrient-dense fruits you can eat. They are very high in vitamin C, manganese and various antioxidants.
Carbs: 11 grams per cup, or 8 grams per 100 grams.
Grapefruits are citrus fruits that are related to oranges. They are very high in vitamin C and carotene antioxidants.Carbs: 13 grams in a half grapefruit, or 11 grams per 100 grams.
The apricot is an incredibly delicious fruit. Each apricot contains little carbohydrate, but plenty of vitamin C and potassium.
Carbs: 8 grams in 2 apricots, or 11 grams per 100 grams.
Other Low-Carb Fruits
Nuts and seeds are very popular on low-carb diets. They tend to be low in carbs, but high in fat, fiber, protein and various micronutrients.Nuts are often eaten as snacks, but seeds are rather used for adding crunch to salads or recipes.
Nut flours and seed flours (such as almond flour, coconut flour and flax seed meal) are also often used to make low-carb breads and other baked foods.
Additionally, almonds are incredibly filling, and have been shown to promote weight loss in some studies (, ).
Carbs: 6 grams per ounce, or 22 grams per 100 grams.
The walnut is another delicious type of nut. It is particularly high in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, and also contains various other nutrients.
Carbs: 4 grams per ounce, or 14 grams per 100 grams.
Peanuts are technically legumes, but tend to be prepared and consumed like nuts. They are very high in fiber, magnesium, vitamin E and various important vitamins and minerals.
Carbs: 5 grams per ounce, or 16 grams per 100 grams.
Chia seeds are currently among the world's most popular health foods. They are loaded with many important nutrients, and can be used in all sorts of low-carb friendly recipes.
Chia seeds are extremely high in fiber, and may be the richest source of dietary fiber on the planet.
Carbs: 12 grams per ounce, or 44 grams per 100 grams.
However, keep in mind that about 86% of the carbs in chia seeds are fiber, so in reality they contain very few digestible ("net") carbs.
Other Low-Carb Nuts and Seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
If you tolerate dairy, then full-fat dairy products are excellent low-carbohydrate foods. Just make sure to read the label and avoid anything with added sugar.
Cheese is among the tastiest low-carbohydrate foods, and can be eaten both raw and in all sorts of delicious recipes. It goes particularly well with meat, such as on top of a burger (without the bun, of course).
Cheese is also highly nutritious. A single thick slice of cheese contains a similar amount of nutrients as an entire glass of milk.
Carbs: 0.4 grams per slice, or 1.3 grams per 100 grams (cheddar).
Heavy cream contains very little carbohydrate and protein, but is high in dairy fat. Some low-carbers put it in their coffee, or use it in recipes. A bowl of berries with some whipped cream can be a delicious low-carb dessert.
Carbs: 1 gram per ounce, or 3 grams per 100 grams.
Carbs: 11 grams per 8 ounce container, or 5 grams per 100 grams.
Greek yogurt, also called strained yogurt, is very thick compared to regular yogurt. It is very high in many beneficial nutrients, especially protein.
Carbs: 6 grams per container, or 4 grams per 100 grams.
There are many healthy fats and oils that are acceptable on a low-carb, real food-based diet.
Just make sure to avoid refined vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil and others, because these are very unhealthy when consumed in excess.
Once demonized for the high saturated fat content, butter has been making a comeback. Choose grass-fed butter if you can, it is higher in some nutrients.
It is loaded with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and has impressive benefits for cardiovascular health.
Coconut oil is a very healthy fat, loaded with medium-chain fatty acids that have powerful beneficial effects on metabolism. They have been shown to reduce appetite, boost fat burning and help people lose belly fat (, , , ).
Other Low-Carb Friendly Fats
- Avocado oil
Most sugar-free beverages are perfectly acceptable when eating low-carb.Keep in mind that fruit juices are very high in sugar and carbs, and should definitely be avoided.
Water should be your go-to beverage, no matter what the rest of your diet consists of.
Despite having been demonized in the past, coffee is actually very healthy.
It is the biggest source of antioxidants in the diet, and coffee drinkers have been shown to live longer and have a lower risk of several serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's (, , , , , ).
Just make sure not to add anything unhealthy to your coffee. Black is best, but some full-fat milk or heavy cream is fine as well.
Club soda is pretty much just water with added carbon dioxide. It is perfectly acceptable as long as there is no sugar in it. Read the label to make sure.
This may surprise some people, but quality dark chocolate is actually the perfect low-carb treat.
Just make sure to choose real dark chocolate with a 70-85% cocoa content (or higher), then it won't contain much sugar.
Dark chocolate has numerous benefits, such as improved brain function and reduced blood pressure (, ). Studies also show that dark chocolate eaters have a much lower risk of heart disease ().
You can read about more health benefits in this article.
Carbs: 13 grams per 1-ounce piece, or 46 grams per 100 grams. This depends on the type, so make sure to read the label.
Keep in mind that about 25% of the carbs in dark chocolate are fiber, so the total digestible carb content is lower.
There is an endless variety of delicious herbs, spices and condiments that you can eat. Most of them are very low in carbs, but pack a powerful nutritional punch and help add flavor to meals.
Some notable examples include salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, mustard and oregano. This article lists 10 delicious herbs and spices with powerful health benefits.