Do you feel like everyone’s talking about low-carb low-calorie recipes in their diets lately? That’s because this trend, which found its heydey in the 90s/00s, is making its way back into popularity.
If jump-starting your fitness goals is on your to-do list this year, it’s important to remember that all the exercise in the world won’t be effective if you don’t pair it with good eating habits. According to a study that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) did on the American diet, the average person living in the United States eats too much red meat, grains, cheese, fats, and oils, but not enough whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. Plus, we drink waaaaay too many sodas and sweetened beverages for our bodies’ good — almost 78 pounds of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup per year per person. Obviously, this kind of diet is not conducive to any kind of long-term fitness or health goal. If you find that your eating habits are closer to the average American’s than the average athlete’s, there are so many different approaches you can take to eat more healthily. One of those approaches is reducing the amount of carbs you eat.
Now, carbs in themselves aren’t evil, since our bodies are designed to naturally process them for energy. No, the problem with carbs is how much of them we eat — and what we eat them with. Simply speaking, carbs cause our levels blood sugar to rise when we consume them. Insulin makes sure that our blood sugar levels never get too high or too low (causing hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, neither of which is very desirable). This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were only carbs we were consuming, but the average diet is high-carb and high fat. So when we have a cheeseburger for lunch, the carbs in the bun cause our blood sugar levels to rocket up, triggering insulin to be released. Insulin’s other job is to convert any excess blood sugar into fat for storage. So all the fat from the cheese and meat in that burger are going to be stored as fat and deposited on all those pesky problem areas. By lowering your carb intake (or cutting them out altogether), your body will be forced to draw upon other sources to maintain its blood sugar levels, namely the fat stores in your body. Hence, why low-carb diets are so popular and effective for weight-loss goals. They also offer a host of other health benefits.
If you’re considering lowering your carb intake (talk to your doctor about your plans first!), Weekly Sauce has some yummy low-carb low-calorie recipes to get you started.
This delicious and easy omelet features spinach, one of the most popular components of a low-carb diet for its high fiber content and low carb content. Leafy greens in general are an important part of this lifestyle change. The fats from the Parmesan cheese and the egg yolks will make sure that you stay full and satisfied until your next meal. Throw in some mushrooms or onions to up your daily intake of vegetables and important minerals and vitamins.
One of the hardest things about going low-carb is that you have to get rid of wheat flour from your diet. That can mean no baked goods… if you don’t get creative. Coconut flour is a great alternative to flour made from wheat and other grains since it doesn’t contain gluten, and is decidedly low-carb. Topping these babies with some low-carb fruits (like berries) will give you that little kick of sweetness to start your day off right, and is one of our favorite low-carb low-calorie recipes because it features that hint of sweetness.
Consuming adequate amounts of protein is absolutely necessary on a low-carb diet, because once your body starts burning fat for fuel, you don’t want it to tap into your muscle reserves. If you exercise, you’re going to have to consume more amounts of protein (and consequently fat, but keep your carbs low). Fattier cuts of meat, like beef rib roast, give you both fat and protein in one delicious bite. (Pro tip: prepare this roast on a Sunday night and then pack a few slices for lunch during the week — add some mushrooms sauteed in olive oil, salt, and pepper to really make this a five-star meal!)
Pasta is where many people draw the line when it comes to embarking on a low-carb diet. And can you blame them? Pasta is one of the most delicious — and easiest! — dishes to eat or make. If you’re serious about making a low-carb lifestyle change, then you have to say goodbye to pasta (at least, in the beginning of your experimentation). You don’t have to say goodbye to noodles, though. This Paleo twist on a classic homemade staple replaces pasta noodles with “noodles” made out of zucchini. Zucchini is chock-full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and folate, and offers tons of dietary fiber, which will help keep you full for longer than carb-rich pasta noodles would. This recipe is also easily made vegetarian — just ditch the chicken and replace chicken stock with vegetable stock — making it a versatile low-carb low-calorie recipe to add to your repertoire.
With under 300 calories a serving and taking under 30 minutes to prepare, these Italian-inspired peppers are delicious and, more important, easy to make. High in protein and fat and low on carbs, one serving will also provide you with 136% of your daily vitamin C needs and almost half of your vitamin A needs, as well. Experiment with different colors of bell peppers for different flavors and levels of spiciness and sweetness.
When you go on a low-carb diet, fish — especially salmon — becomes your best friend. A little history lesson: once the global industrial revolution (about 140 years ago) took place, vegetable oil began to be mass-produced and, consequently, mass-consumed. Around the same time, people began to notice they were suffering from inflammatory diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Many experts link this increase in illness to increased human consumption of omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils. Fish, on the other hand, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which helps combat the inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids. So, whether or not you decide to make a low-carb lifestyle change, you should definitely try to consume more fish (and other foods with high omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseed oil). This delicious, low-carb recipe is easy to make and even easier to clean up — just toss out the foil when you’re done.
Everyone’s got a sweet tooth, and nearly everyone can remember a time when ignoring that sweet tooth led to a derailed diet plan and a binge session on anything sweet in sight. Once you feel a craving, you should indulge it so that it doesn’t snowball into something bigger. The vanilla, coconut, and cocoa will be sure to satisfy your desire for sugar without giving letting you go overboard, and the fact that you don’t have to bake these means you can get your fix sooner.
There’s something about crunchiness that makes snacking so satisfying. When on a low-carb diet, you can’t indulge that satisfaction by snacking on potato chips, since potatoes are very high in carbs. Try making kale chips in the oven instead. Kale offers fiber, protein, and important vitamins like A, C, and K. Plus, they get so lovely and crispy in the oven! You won’t ever want a potato chip again after trying a kale chip.
Let us know in the comments if you have any low-carb low-calorie recipes we should try out!