A Dietitian’s Guide To Doing Low Carb Right

A Dietitian’s Guide To Doing Low Carb Right

I’m going to teach you 3 key principles to keep in mind if you want to do low carb in the healthiest way possible.

The surge in popularity of low carbohydrate styles of eating, including keto, is not lost on me.

It’s certainly true that for a diligent health professional like myself commenting on low carb diets is the ultimate catch 22.

Allow me to explain why.

On the one hand, I believe strongly in the value of a diverse dietary pattern which leverages the unique attributes of each and every family of foods.

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On the other hand, I value in equal measure an individual’s curiosity and autonomy when it comes to seeking out personalized nutrition guidance and trying different dietary patterns to determine which provides them the most joy.

I also appreciate that a significant number of people find a home with various types of lower carbohydrate diets and that the concept, and the results resonate with them.

Which brings us to the content of today’s article, where I’m going to teach you 3 key principles to keep in mind if you want to do low carb in the healthiest way possible.

Let’s get to the good stuff. 

If you like the sound of that, you’re in the right place because I’m going to teach you how a dietitian would do low carb right in 5 steps.

Step  1 – Diversify Your Protein Intake

Individuals pursuing a low carbohydrate diet may find that they enjoy more flexibility to allow protein-rich foods like meat, eggs and dairy to play a bigger role in their routines in the absence of carbohydrates.

My main message here is to make sure that you don’t rely only on these foods.

When possible and desired, I strongly recommend ensuring both marine and plant-based protein products also play a role in your routine.

Fish, particularly fatty varieties like salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel, stand out as very important considerations because they are, quite literally, the only foods that naturally contain very large amounts of both Vitamin D3 and the potent long chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

It is also true that low carb plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh and edamame are extremely valuable to help moderate saturated-fat intake from higher fat meat and dairy.

By the most scientific measures of protein quality like the DIAAS scale, these soy-based foods score very similarly to common animal protein sources like beef and are worthy of inclusion in your routine if you enjoy them.

Step 3 – Make Your Limited Carbs Count

Depending on how low carb one is aiming to go, it is probably unlikely that significant amounts of healthful carbohydrate containing foods like quinoa, sweet potato, steel cut oatmeal and certain fruits will be able to be included. 

That is part of the low carb bargain, of course – but there are certain very important families of foods that contain small amounts of carbs but large amounts of other beneficial components that can and should be strategically incorporated. 

Per serving, each of these options have less than 10 grams of carbohydrate (after accounting for the dietary fiber, which is indigestible and contributes no caloric value)

Berries – Berries are among the only foods that contain large amounts of unique compounds known as anthocyanins which are associated with long-term health.

Citrus – In addition to their high vitamin C content, citrus fruits of all varieties contain unique antioxidants known as flavonoids which are not found in other foods.

Pulses – ½ cup cooked    Legumes contain a potent blend of fiber, magnesium, calcium and potassium. 

They are also among the lowest glycemic index foods and will have little to no affect on your blood sugar levels but contribute greatly to satiation and still offer that starch-like consistency for those who may miss it while pursuing a lower carbohydrate lifestyle.

Step  3 – Diversify Your Fat Intake

One of the sentiments that I sometimes encounter in individuals pursuing low carbohydrate diets is a propensity to consume large amounts of animal fat particularly from sources like cheese, butter and red meat.

While there is nothing wrong with the moderate incorporation of those items in any diet, we absolutely must acknowledge the astronomical nutrition value of plant-based fat sources like tree nuts, avocado and coconut. 

Tree nuts and avocado in particular are among very few sources of heart healthy monounsaturated fats and also contain many nutrients which most people fall short in such as fiber, magnesium and potassium.

The fiber is particularly important, as it is at risk of being lower than average on a lower carb diet – particularly one that isn’t carried out correctly.

Certain types of seeds, particularly chia and flax, are also incredibly important as one of few sources of plant-based omega 3s and should also be taken note of.

They are great to add to yogurt or salads for those pursuing a lower carbohydrate diet. 

Aim for at least one serving of plant-based fats daily which could be around 1/3 cup of nuts or 1 avocado.

By Andy DeSantis

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