Doughnuts, cookies and cakes are terrible sirens -- they lure you into a carbohydrate binge, and when you emerge, you are 10 pounds heavier. Choosing meals and snacks that are low in carbohydrates, particularly refined carbs like white flour and sugar, is a good way to improve your health and slim down. Keep in mind, however, that carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy. Don't cut healthy carbs like whole grains, fresh produce and nuts from your diet entirely.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
A low-carb diet is a meat lover's dream. Most fresh meat, poultry and fish have little to no carbohydrate content and plenty of protein to keep you feeling full. Eat a lean ground beef hamburger topped with cheese, shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Pick up your fork, because you'll need to forgo the bun to keep the meal low carb. Make a stir-fry with pork and shrimp and a healthy handful of low-carb vegetables, including broccoli rabe and white mushrooms. Instead of fixing a sandwich with bread, wrap lunch meat with a piece of cheese and lettuce.
Unsweetened dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese are another low-carb source of protein and calcium. Mix cottage cheese with diced tomatoes, salt and pepper for a light lunch. Make a fruit and yogurt parfait with plain Greek-style yogurt -- which is higher in protein than regular varieties -- fresh berries and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or nuts. Spread cream cheese on a handful of low carb crackers and top with grape halves. To protect your heart health, purchase low-fat dairy products whenever possible.
Some low-carb dieters eschew fruits and vegetables altogether, but that is a serious mistake. Fresh produce contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs. Choose fruits and vegetables that are naturally low in carbohydrates. Good choices include watermelon with 5.5 grams of carbs per half-cup serving and strawberries and cantaloupe, which both contain 6.5 grams of carbohydrates per half-cup. Vegetables are naturally lower in sugar and carbohydrates. Make a salad with arugula, which only has 1 gram of carbohydrates per cup. Top the salad with cucumbers -- 2 grams of carbs per half-cup -- and two stalks of celery for an additional 2.5 grams of carbohydrates.
Although some conditions like diabetes necessitate a low-carb diet, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet for most people. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an adult should get between 45 and 65 percent of their daily calories from healthy carbohydrates. Instead of cutting carbs out completely, try to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and other healthy carbohydrates.
Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.