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Low-Carb Diet

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In broad terms, Low-Carb Diet is limiting the consumption of foods that are high in carbohydrates especially glycemic (raise blood sugar). Low carb diets are not usually based on calories but are instead based on the numbers of carbohydrates consumed. Normally, while dieting, foods that have a higher carbohydrate are not allowed and are only consumed in very small quantities.

Why should I eat a low-carb diet?

Studies show that low-carb diets reduce your appetite and make you eat fewer calories and lose weight pretty much effortlessly, as long as you manage to keep the carbohydrates down. The low carb-diet restricts your intake of carbohydrates like sugars and starches (breads, pasta, etc.) and replaces them with protein and fat.

Carbohydrates in vegetables can be divided into four groups, namely:

No carbohydrate vegetables – These can be eaten in abundance. Some of the vegetables that include in this group are lettuce, mushrooms, horseradish and watercress.

Low carbohydrate vegetables – These foods can be basically taken to fill yourself up. Foods include asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber, fennel, olives, peppers and spinach.

Medium carbohydrate vegetables - Foods belonging to this category should be taken in moderation. Foods include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes, okra and leeks.

High carbohydrate vegetables - If you are on a low-carb diet than its best to avoid these vegetables totally. They are corn, parsnips, potatoes, peas, yams and sweet potatoes.

There are several different low-carb diets that you can have if you are on a weight loss program. The principles of low carb dieting are that starchy and sweet foods should be avoided. Listed below are low carbohydrate diet foods that will give you a good idea of the foods that can be consumed while on a low carb diet.

Foods to limit or avoid while you are on a low carbohydrate diet: Most vegetables are low in carbohydrate content; however, there are some high carb vegetables as well. These vegetables are the starchy vegetables. There are different types of carbohydrates. When we talk about high carb carbohydrates, it is actually the complex carbohydrates which are the starchy foods. The starchy foods are the legumes and starchy vegetables. Beans top the list of high carbohydrate vegetables, followed by vegetables like potato, corn, etc.

Fruits: Although fruits are a healthy option but they are often avoided while taking a low-carb diet as fruits such as grapes, mango, banana, and pineapple have a high glycemic index and high sugar content. If you feel like eating fruits, opt for fruits which are low in sugar such as cranberries, lime and blackberries.

Starchy Vegetables: Starch is the most important carbohydrate in the human diet and is a very essential energy source. Vegetables such as Sweet potatoes, Yams, Carrots, Beet, Acorn squash, Parsnips, potatoes should be avoided as they are starchy. For example, A large, baked or plain potato contains 30% of carbohydrates. ½ cup of corn contains 21% carbs. 1 large sweet potato contains 28% carbs. Yam contains 27 grams carbohydrates per 100 gms Parsnip contains 12 gms of carb per 100 gms Low carbohydrate seeds include flaxseed, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

Grains:  They are a staple source of calories, carbohydrates, B-vitamins, and proteins. Grains contain complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. The amounts vary depending on the type on grain used. Foods made with flour such as cakes, bread, pastries or pasta should be avoided.

Legumes: Legumes such as lentils, beans, peas, soybeans etc contain complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, fiber and vitamins.

Sugar: Cutting down on sugar is a must in low carb diet and sugar turns to fat and excess fat equals weight gain, hence avoid foods such as honey, candy, chocolate, ice cream, sweets or foods containing glucose.

Nuts: Nuts provide high amounts of fat and calories, but they are also very filling and don’t tend to lead to weight gain if consumed in moderate amounts. Chestnuts, cashews and pistachios contain the highest number of carbs with 24g, 6g and 5g per 2tbsp serving.

Some vegetables will also play a big role in your low carb diet. In fact vegetables will account for most of the carbs you do eat, but these are natural and healthy carbs that your body needs.

Can a low-carb diet help in losing weight? Yes to an extent if followed rightly. A low-carb diet mainly limits carbohydrates and emphasizes on dietary protein and fat. There are many types of low-carb diets each with varying restrictions on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you can eat. You can choose to follow a low-carb diet when

  • You want to change your overall eating habits.
  • Lose weight

If you are on a weight lose program, do consult your doctor for a right diet plan, especially if you have any health conditions like diabetes.

What is a diet plan/ healthy eating plan: A healthy eating plan gives your body the right amount of nutrients it needs every day. It also will lower your risk for heart disease and other health conditions. A healthy plan emphasizes on eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free foods, low-fat milk and milk products. It also includes eating lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and nuts. This diet plan is also low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. It mainly controls on portion sizes.

For a weight loss of 1–2 pounds per week, daily intake should be reduced by 500 to 1,000 calories. In general:

  • Eating plans that contain 1,000–1,200 calories each day will help most women lose weight safely.
  • Eating plans that contain 1,200–1,600 calories each day are suitable for men and also may be appropriate for women who weigh 165 pounds or more or who exercise regularly.

Diet details

As the name says, a low-carb diet restricts the amount of carbohydrates you can eat. Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages. Most carbohydrates occur naturally in plant-based foods, such as grains. Food manufacturers also add carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar. Common food sources of naturally occurring carbohydrates include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Seeds
  • Legumes

Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They're then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they're known as blood sugar (glucose). From there, the glucose enters your body's cells with the help of insulin. Some of this glucose is used by your body for energy, fuelling all of your activities, whether it's going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.

Typical low-carb diet: In general, a low-carb diet focuses on proteins, including meat, poultry, fish and eggs, and some non-starchy vegetables. A low-carb diet generally excludes or limits most grains, beans, fruits, breads, sweets, pastas and starchy vegetables, and sometimes nuts and seeds. A daily limit of 50 to 150 grams of carbohydrates is typical with a low-carb diet.

Tips on eating a low-carb diet:

  • Eat a variety of foods that include fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes, yam etc.
  • Substitute brown rice for white rice.
  • Eat low-fat diary milk and milk products.
  • Eat lots of green vegetables and prepare them in small quantity of oil.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Try to cook with minimum oil. Use olive or canola oils as they are high in monounsaturated fats which are actually good for heart. Avoid eating ghee, butter and cream.
  • For vegetarian, tofu is the best source of high quality proteins instead of paneer.
  • Eat rotis/ phulkas made with 100% whole wheat flour and do not put ghee or oil while making rotis.
  •  Salad vegetables like cucumber and iceberg lettuce and broccoli, cauliflower are low in carbs.
  • You can include non-starchy vegetables in low carb diet as well.
  • Fruits like coconut, apples, papaya, peaches and strawberries are low in carbs.

So if you’ve really decided to reduce the carbohydrate in your diet then for what are you waiting for? It’s time to think ahead a bit and make slight changes to get the best results. Choose one or two things to change at a time. You may be surprised that some results can be achieved with less effort than you thought.

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