Here at LVWellness & Aesthetics, we want to help provide you with the tools to assist you in achieving your overall wellness and weight loss goals!
Too many times, you hit up your favorite grocery store in order to prepare your meals for the week and end up lost on where to begin, what to cook and which foods are really low carb. This can be such a frustrating process with all of the new diets coming out since the introduction of The Atkins diet back in the late 1980s.
Whether you are just now beginning a carb conscious regimen or have been doing this since Dr. Atkins introduced the world to low carb dieting (aka Keto), this brief guide should help you in making smarter choices to help you lose the weight and keep it off!
We offer a full Carb-conscious guide to all of our Hormone and Weight Loss Patients.
Using sugar as a sweetener
Note that many sweeteners – white or brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar and dates – have a number of exactly 100. This is because these sweeteners are made up of sugar. To get the same amount of sweetness as white sugar, you’ll get about the pretty much an identical effect of these sweeteners, on blood sugar, weight and insulin resistance. Sugar is bad, no surprise, so these are bad options, especially if you’re on a low-carb diet. Avoid.
Even worse than sugar: fructose
Amazingly, there are sweeteners that are even worse than sugar. Regular sugar contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose. These sweeteners contain more fructose than glucose. While these sweeteners are slower to raise blood glucose – resulting in a deceptively low GI – they have even more harmful effects. Fructose in excess can result in fatty liver and insulin resistance, which increases the long-term negative effects of carbohydrates you eat later. These sweeteners with excess fructose – high fructose corn syrup (soda), fruit juice concentrate, honey and agave syrup – can likely have a slightly worse long-term effect than pure sugar. Thus we give them a number of 100+. Worst of all, with the highest fructose content of all? Agave syrup.
This is not to say that sugar is good. Clearly sugar is potentially very bad. But these sugars are super sugars. They are not good options on a low-carb diet.
As stated above, we see potential negative effects of all sweeteners. However, if you’re going to use one there are worse and less bad choices. Here are our top 3 suggestions: Stevia, Erythritol and Xylitol!
What sweeteners are good on a low-carb diet? Check out the visual guide to the left. The ones to the left have less of an impact on people’s weight and blood sugar, the ones to the right are worse. The numbers above are based on the effect the sweetener has on blood sugar and insulin resistance, for an equal amount of sweetness compared to white sugar (100 percent pure sugar). If you’re aiming to stay low carb, try to avoid the sweeteners to the right in the picture to the left. The best options are to the left. We suggest primarily using stevia, erythritol or xylitol.
Negative effects of all sweeteners
Note that while the sweeteners to the left have small or non-existent direct effects on blood sugar levels, they still have other potential negative effects. All sweeteners maintain cravings for sweet foods. Also, when added to caloric foods – e.g. a muffin – they result in a significantly increased feeling of reward when eating it. So by adding sweeteners to your foods you’re significantly increasing the risk that you’ll end up eating more than you need. This can slow down weight loss, or cause weight gain.
There are scientific studies showing that even adding non-caloric sweeteners to diet beverages may make it harder to lose weight.
This means that all sweeteners, including the non-caloric ones above, have potentially negative effects. If you’re able to, you may be better off just avoiding all of them. Note that on a low-carb diet cravings for sugary foods tend to decrease over time, making it easier and easier to avoid them. However, most people enjoy something sweet once in a while. If so, we suggest trying to do it only occasionally.
Low-carb alcohol – the best and the worst drinks
What alcoholic drinks are low carb? What are the best options on a low-carb diet, and some common mistakes? This guide will tell you what you need to know.
First of all: consuming too much alcohol will slow down your weight loss, and may undermine your health gains on a low-carb diet. Alcohol is burned before anything else by the body, slowing down fat loss. However, if you can drink alcohol in moderation it’s usually not a major issue as long as it’s low in carbs. Low-carb options include wine, champagne and pure spirits like whiskey and vodka. High-carb drinks? Beer and sugary cocktails.
Above you’ll find all the details, the options with fewer carbs are to the left. How many carbs? Each of the numbers is the grams of carbs in a typical glass. The lowest-carb option is a flute of champagne with 1 gram of carbs. Dry white and red wine have around 2 grams per serving (some are even lower). A typical beer has 13 grams!
If you are eating a moderate low carb diet, of about 20 to 50 carbs a day, dry wines can be enjoyed on a regular basis with little weight-loss impact from the carbs. If you are on a very strict low-carb or keto diet, consuming under 20 grams of carbs a day, a glass of wine on occasion is also fine. If, however, you find you are not losing weight, cut back on alcohol. A glass of dry wine contains about 0.5 grams of sugar as well as small amounts of glycerol and other carbohydrate remains of the wine-making process, which usually amount to less than 2 grams of total carbs. It is unlikely that a glass of dry wine will impact blood sugar or insulin levels.
Sweeter wines, like Rieslings and Gewurztraminers, have about 4 carbs in a typical glass. Even sweeter dessert wines, like Moscato, Tokaj, Ice Wines, or fortified wines like Port, Sherry and Madeira, are all sweeter and contain more fructose, with carb counts per glass of around 5 grams or more.
Alas, most beer is a no-go when you’re eating low carb. Its hops and fermented grains are like drinking liquid bread — and the big beer bellies it can produce proof-positive that it contributes to abdominal obesity. Not a good choice for weight loss or diabetes reversal.
However, carb counts can vary depending on the brand of beer, and there are a few lower carb options.
If you drink hard liquor, this is how many grams of carbs are in a typical drink. Whiskey, vodka, brandy, gin, tequila and other pure alcohols have zero carbs and so are fine on a low-carb diet. Don’t add juice, soft drinks, or other sweeteners like sweet cream. Adding tonic to zero carb gin boosts its carbs to 16 grams per serving! Have vodka, soda water and lime instead for a no-carb summer drink.
Alternatively, if you insist, use diet tonic (with artificial sweeteners) for a zero carb gin & tonic. Though we generally recommend to avoid sweeteners. Think vodka and orange juice is a healthy choice? That gives you a whopping 28 grams of carbs, almost as bad as a rum & coke for 39 grams.
The numbers are the amount of carbs (sugar) in a bottle.
Sometimes called alcopops, spirit coolers, wine coolers, hard lemonades, these pre-mixed, packages drinks are loaded with sugar and carbs. Do not drink if you want to stay low carb — you are drinking sugar.
Top 10 Low-Carb Fruits
Let’s say you occasionally want to eat a fruit (or some berries) while still staying relatively low carb. What fruit would be the best choice?Below, you’ll find the best options, ranked by grams of net carbs per serving (one medium-sized fruit or half a cup). The lowest-carbs options are at the top. All numbers are net carbs.
Raspberries – Half a cup contains 3 grams of carbs.
Blackberries – Half a cup contains 4 grams of carbs.
Strawberries – One cup contains 6 grams of carbs.
Blueberries – Half a cup contains 6 grams of carbs.
Plums – One medium-sized contains 6 grams of carbs.
Clementine – One medium-sized contains 7 grams of carbs.
Kiwi – One medium-sized contains 8 grams of carbs.
Cherries – Half a cup contains 9 grams of carbs.
Cantaloupe – One cup contains 11 grams of carbs.
Peach – One medium-sized contains 13 grams of carbs.
As a comparison, a medium-sized orange contains about 15 grams of carbs, a medium-sized apple about 18 grams and a medium-sized banana about 25 grams of carbs.
So how about fruit? As you can see, all fruits contain quite a few carbs (mostly in the form of sugar). That’s why fruits are sweet! Fruit is candy from nature.
For easy comparison all numbers are still grams of digestible carbs per 3½ ounces of the fruit. A medium-sized apple (4 ounces) may contain about 18 grams of carbs.
So how much fruit can I have?
This means that on a keto/strict low-carb diet (<20 grams per day) you’re probably better off having some berries instead. Or perhaps a small fruit like a plum or a couple of cherries, once in a while. You can eat plenty of vegetables instead. You can easily get any nutrient in fruit from vegetables – without all the sugar. So there’s no need for certain types of fruit.
Even on a more moderate low-carb diet (20-50 grams per day) you’ll have to be careful with fruit – probably no more than about one a day.
On a liberal low-carb diet (50-100 grams per day) you may be able to squeeze in two or three fruits a day, if that is your biggest source of carbs.