Low-Carbohydrate

Brain fog, mood swings, depression, lethargy, chronic inflammation, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and sugar cravings can all relate to blood sugar dysfunction. Imagine eating more sugars and carbohydrates than your body can handle everyday. What is going on biochemically in the body? When you consume sugars and refined carbohydrates, and even too many whole food carbohydrates (depending on the individual), blood sugar will rapidly rise. This signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin rapidly brings sugar from the blood into the cells, which causes a drop in blood sugar. At this point, mood swings (lows), sugar-cravings, shakiness, and lethargy can set in. If you have children who are on the blood sugar roller coaster you will notice hyperactivity (highs) followed by emotional outbursts (lows) a few hours apart. Chronically high blood sugar can also cause inflammation of the vessel walls due to a process called glycation. A low-carbohydrate diet rich in plant foods, moderate amounts of proteins, and full of healthy fats can stop this process.

Note: a low-carb diet is not a grain-free diet, it is balancing proteins, carbs, and fats so total carb count is lower.

What is a Low-Carbohydrate Diet?

A low-carb diet generally means that overall daily carb intake stays below 100 to 150 grams. This means that an individual is prioritizing low-carb foods for most meals, snacks, beverages, and desserts, but is not reducing carbohydrates so much to go into ketosis. A low carb diet includes plenty of healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, coconut milk, nuts and seeds, and some animal fat (preferably from pastured animals). High quality proteins are consumed in moderation, primarily from animal sources. Non-starchy vegetables are prioritized like lettuces, arugula, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, and radishes, but also small amounts starchy veggies like carrots, parsnips, winter squashes, and potatoes. Small amounts of whole grains are also ok on occasion, preferably in the form of whole cooked grains (not grain flours). It is very easy to over consume grain flours, however, when grains are cooked in their whole form, they contain a lot of water and bulk, so it is difficult to over eat them. Think of a half cup of cooked black or brown rice with meals, or a half cup of cooked quinoa sprinkled onto salads. 

Key Aspects of a low-carb diet:

  • Contains no more than 100 to 150 grams of carbs per day
  • Smaller serving sizes for moderate carb foods such as quinoa, black rice, and legumes (see special diet tips on recipes for optimal serving sizes)
  • Contains small amounts of starchy vegetables like carrots, rutabaga, and winter squash (eat these with dinner to help encourage sleep)
  • Contains higher amounts of healthy fats
  • Contains a moderate amount of protein
  • Focuses on high protein and fat breakfasts to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day

If you experience any of these symptoms, then a low-carb diet may benefit you:

  • Blood sugar highs and lows
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Low energy in the afternoon
  • Inability to concentrate / lack of focus
  • Sugar cravings throughout the day
  • Poorly behaved children (yes, diet can have a profound effect on children too)
  • Chronic inflammation 

What do I eat now?

There are so many nutrient-dense meals you can eat on a low-carb diet! In fact, if you are just making the transition, this can be a fun time to explore new foods, flavors, and cuisines. Think about starting breakfast with a three-egg omelette filled with leftover cooked salmon, baby arugula, chives, and a few dollops of organic cream cheese! This is a high-protein and fat breakfast that is very easy to prepare and will keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Lunches can be large green salads with chopped raw veggies, leftover cooked meat like seared chicken breasts, some toasted pumpkin seeds, diced avocado, and your favorite homemade low-carb salad dressing (we have a wide variety to choose form on this site). 

Low carb dinner can be easy! Try things like taco salads with a small amount of cooked black rice or cooked quinoa tossed in. Baked fish, steamed brussels sprouts and roasted carrots can be a simple, nourishing lower carb meal. It may be helpful for you to keep carb counts low for breakfasts and lunches, and include a small amount of complex carbs at dinner. This encourages relaxation and deeper sleep. 

Here is what you CAN eat:

  • all fresh or frozen non-starchy vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, lettuces, kale, arugula, peppers, onions, radishes, etc.)
  • fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, black currants)

  • all meats, preferably from pasture-raised animals

  • wild seafood

  • eggs, preferably from pastured chickens

  • dairy (if tolerated), preferably raw and from grass-fed animals (cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, raw cream, plain whole milk yogurt)

  • small amounts of legumes (cooked chickpeas, black beans, mung beans)

  • small amounts of cooked whole grains on occasion (not grain flours)

  • coconut products (coconut milk, butter, oil, flour)

  • all nuts and seeds (and their butters and flours)

  • low-sugar and sugar-free sweeteners (allulose, stevia, coconut nectar)

How do I start a Low-Carb Diet?

  1. If you are not yet a member on this site, you can join now.
  2. Add some of our sample low-carb meal plans to your user profile or create your own!
  3. Schedule your meal plans onto your meal plan calendar and create shopping lists.
  4. Get inspired with new low-carb recipes added to this site weekly! Join our Nourishing Meals Community Facebook Group to get notified with new recipes and more! Everyone is welcome.