What is Considered Low Carb?

What is Considered Low Carb?

We often hear about low carb diets and how successful they prove to be in losing weight, but what is exactly is considered low carb? A low carb usually equates to less than 150 grams of carbohydrates a day.

The term “low-carb” means low in carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are usually found in foods like pasta, potatoes, fruit, bread and rice.

It is a rather loose term that varies according to the person who uses it. Some common features though, include consuming foods that are low in carbohydrate and glycaemic. The consumption of carbohydrates leads the body to excrete insulin. 

As carbohydrates get digested, glucose -the effect of insulin excretion- either gets burned by our body if it we need immediate energy or else gets stored as fat. More seriously, after consuming a meal that consists mainly of carbohydrates, the level of insulin in our body goes suddenly up and after a short time suddenly down. This effect causes us to be hungry only after 2 or 4 hours from our last meal, leading us to a vicious circle of being hungry, then eating and finally storing fat.

The main ways to define a low carb diet, following the initial question “What is considered low Carb?”, is to clarify whether you are talking about the actual carbohydrate that an adult consumes daily or about the percentage of the calories in a person’s diet that comes from carbohydrates. 

The usual amount of calories that are allowed in an adult’s diet is about 50-60%. So any percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates that is below that, can be thought of as low carb. 

The most common misconception about low carb diets is that people who follow this kind of eating plan are actually striving to consume a zero amount of carb. That is not only untrue but it is also near to impossible considering that carbohydrates are hidden in most of the food we consume, especially processed food. 

A diet low in carbs, as the name itself demonstrates, tries to reduce the carbohydrates in a low level, not eliminate them completely.

When you shop for groceries, pick the foods that trigger low-glucose response. Some of the foods with a very low glycaemic index are apricots, apples, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cherries, celery, grapefruit, cucumber, green beans, mushrooms, lettuce, plums, onions, spinach, sweet peppers, strawberries, zucchini and tomatoes. Foods in the ‘moderate-glycaemic index’ category are oranges, orange juice, grapes, cantaloupe, peas, peaches, yams, pineapple and watermelon. Stay away from the high-glycaemic index foods such as raisins, potatoes, corn, carrots, beets and bananas.

Among the benefits one could gain from following a low carb diet, is first and foremost the loss of weight and the increase of energy. People find themselves to be less sleepy and have better concentration and some cases have shown that people are experiencing a better mood.

Bad thoughts and feelings seem to be seriously reduced or lifted away. One cannot overstate the beneficial results of low carb eating habits. People have noticed improvements in their metabolism, a benefit that is considered to be a kick start for a diet focused on losing weight, even if the weight loss is initially insignificant. A shift in the metabolism is indispensable on the road to a healthy way of life and weight loss process.

Omelette on a plate

A low carb sample meal plan

While there is an endless supply of different variations to a low carb diet plan one can find and learn about online, it is imperative to at least start off knowing a few basic meal plan ideas to kick start your low carb dieting efforts. So while the following meal plan ideas are enough to start off with, it is important to note that as with anything “variety is the spice of life” So make sure to learn about and expand your low carb dieting meal variations. 

Breakfast

Option 1: 

7 egg white omelette – allow 2 yolks only

  • Cup veggies e.g. mushrooms/capsicums
  • Plain corn thins (as alternative to bread)

Option 2:

1 cup oats (cooked 2 cups) – (place ½ cup water in oats, then cook in microwave or eat cold

(alternative is Special K flakes or plain muesli with no dried fruit)

1 heaped tablespoon of natural pineapple or 2 kiwi fruit or ½ cup frozen berries

Lunch

Option 1:

3 hard-boiled eggs

A large green leaf salad of your choice

2 tablespoons of low carb commercial or homemade dressing

Optional: sprinkle with spicy sweet pecans

Option 2:

200g cooked lean meat: chicken breast, fish of any kind, rump steak, eggs (10 egg white) (230g raw)

1 full cup greens (coleslaw, herb-slaw packs at supermarkets, frozen veggie is fine)

Tablespoon of light oil dressing (Italian, French or olive oil)

1 full cup basmati rice (1 cup raw = 1.5 cup cooked), or medium sweet potato (fist size)

Chopped chicken and greens

Afternoon Snack

Option 1:

1 oz string cheese

Option 2:

20 plain nuts = cashews/almonds or walnuts (inside palm size)

Dinner

Option 1: 

6 egg omelette with 6 slices smoked salmon with salad on side

Option 2:

200g grilled chicken

2 full cup greens (coleslaw packs as mentioned)

2 tablespoon Light cottage cheese – optional

Dessert

Option 1:

8-10 strawberries, dipped in

¼ cup sugar-free chocolate sauce (ganache)

Option 2:

½ cup of low-sugar jelly

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