How to Pick Protein Foods for a Low Carb Diet


Being on a low-carb diet means that your protein sources have to be as low in carbs as anything else you eat. If you eat meat, for example, you can only eat it breaded and fried if the breading is low-carb. The same goes for meatloaf, which typically has many more carbs than you would suspect. Not all meat is carb-free by itself, either. Read on to learn how to choose the protein sources you need without the carbs you don't.

  • If you eat meat, most cuts of beef, pork, poultry and lamb have less than a carb per serving. How you cook or prepare them can change that, however. Avoid any kind of liver or any internal organs, like chicken giblets. With the exception of ricotta, cottage cheese and Gjetost (or Brunost, as this brown Norwegian cheese is also called), cheese is also a good low-carb source of protein.

  • If you eat fish and seafood, fish has no carbs. Seafood can, however. Oysters, mussles, clams and abalone can have the most. Still, the carb content for a modest serving is low. For example, 3 oz. of cooked Pacific oysters has 8.4 carbs.

  • If you do not eat meat, fish, or seafood, try seitan. It has the highest amount of protein of the vegetarian meat substitutes. Plus, it is a good source of iron and has little fat and no cholesterol. You can make seitan at home; but you can also buy it at a natural foods store. Use it as you would beef. You can buy a chicken-flavored seitan, as well. Another good source of protein is tofu.

  • Drink soy milk for extra protein. Choose one without sweetening so that you can have the benefits of soy protein without unnecessary carbs.

  • Don't forget to eat your vegetables. They have protein, too. Beans and peas have as much protein as the same amount of tofu. Broccoli and asparagus have half as much protein as the same amount of tofu.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember to subtract the grams of fiber from the grams of carbohydrates per serving. That number is the grams of carbohydrates you will digest.
  • Know the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, should be avoided. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs. They also help fortify your immune system. You can include complex carbohydrates in a low-carb diet.

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