Meal Ideas for No-Carb Diets

Meal Ideas for No-Carb Diets

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Vegetable frittatas make fine breakfasts or lunches.

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Planning your meals for a no-carb diet might seem like a difficult task when you look at how many foods you eat every day contain carbohydrates. Nutritionist Lyle McDonald notes that a zero-carb diet -- known as a ketogenic or keto diet -- doesn't need to contain absolutely no carbs, but your intake should be low enough to keep you in a state of ketosis. For most people, this is under 50 grams of carbs per day, giving you a little more leeway with meal planning.

Ban the Bread at Breakfast

Toast, cereals, juice and pastries are all foods to avoid, as they'll take you way over your carbohydrate limit. Instead, the Atkins website recommends the no-carb diet staple of eggs, either scrambled, poached, boiled, fried or baked. For a leaner protein at breakfast, you could also opt for just the whites or a mix of whole eggs and egg whites. Other options include low-sugar Greek or natural yogurt or smoothies. When making a smoothie, avoid high-sugar fruits and milk, and use vegetables, water or almond milk, berries and protein powder.

Get Slimmer with Salads

A low-carb lunch means no sandwiches, no bagels and definitely no chips. Go for a salad, made with low-carb vegetables, a protein source and some healthy fats. Any green salad items such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber and celery are fine, along with tomatoes, scallions, red cabbage, beets and grated carrot. Your protein could come from chicken, turkey, lean sliced beef, cottage cheese or a meat replacement. As for fats, olives, a tablespoon of olive oil or walnut oil, a handful of crushed nuts or a sprinkling of cheese will add flavor and essential fatty acids.

Ditch Pasta and Rice at Dinner

A typical no-carb plan dinner could be as simple as a piece of grilled steak, chicken or salmon with a side of vegetables. For something a little more interesting, though, make your regular dinner favorites with low-carb substitutes. For a low-carb pizza, nutritionist Mark Sisson of the website Mark's Daily Apple suggests using mashed cauliflower or grilled eggplant as a base. Cauliflower also works as a replacement for rice, while spaghetti squash can be used in place of real spaghetti and swede or squash can replace mashed potato. Using these strategies, you can make lasagne, bolognese, pizza, curries and stir-fries without worrying about the carb content. Even burgers are a possibility. Simply substitute a large lettuce or cabbage leaf for the carb-heavy bun and switch out regular fries for baked carrot, celeriac or rutabaga fries.

Snack Scenarios

Snacks can be a little difficult to plan as you may automatically reach for a piece of fruit, some crackers or a cereal bar under normal circumstances. Dietitian AglaГ©e Jacob recommends looking to almonds, olives or cheese instead. Other types of nuts like macadamias, walnuts and cashews work well, too. If you're well-prepared, you could also cook a piece of lean beef or ham on the weekend and pick at that during the week, or for a quick, convenient on-the-go snack, drink a low-carb protein shake.