Low-Carb Food Groups
Build your meals with choices from the low-carb food groups
A naturally low-carb diet consists of foods eaten by our pre-agricultural era ancestors (i.e. paleo diet). This diet does not require that you count carbs, calories, fat, or even portion sizes. Your sense of hunger and cravings, unimpaired by the effects of foods that are inappropriate to your biology, will guide you to the appropriate ratios of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, appropriate portion sizes, and the appropriate frequency with which to eat. Dietary needs are unique to each individual and will vary from day to day.
To save time on food preparation and cooking, you might find it convenient to prepare extra servings of dinner to use in breakfast and lunch the following day.
The Four Low-Carb Food Groups
- Meats, Organ Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Seafood
- Vegetables (excluding starchy tubers such as potatoes)
- Fruits and Berries
- Nuts (except peanuts which are actually legumes), Seeds, Eggs, and Healthful Oils
Meats include wild game, skinless poultry, fish, and seafood, as well as organic grassfed beef and pork. Wild game animals survive on wild plants which are more nutritious than the grains fed to livestock. Mass-produced meats are far higher in unhealthy saturated fat and contain imbalanced ratios of poly-unsaturated omega 6 and omega 3 fats.
Luncheon meats and other processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and ham are not recommended because they often contain additives such as sugar and salt that adversely affects our health. Many processed meats also contain problematic additives such as gluten (grain protein) and nitrites.
Fish and seafood are similar to lean game meat in composition: high in protein, low in fat, and high in omega 3 fats. Farmed fish, however, are often lower in omega 3. Unfortunately, fish and seafood are often contaminated by environmental pollutants such as mercury and pesticides. Older fish, predatory fish, and fatty varieties of fish contain the most concentrated levels of these contaminants. To minimize your risk of eating contaminated fish and seafood: avoid freshwater fish, choose fish that come from cleaner waters such as the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, and choose non-predatory species. See also: Seitan and TVP: New Staples of the Vegan Diet.
Healthy Carbs: Vegetables and Fruits
Our natural source of healthy carbohydrates, vegetables and fresh in-season fruits, are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytosterols. Our paleolithic ancestors at an estimated one hundred to three hundred different varieties of plants each year, which provided more than one hundred grams of fiber each day.
The parts of vegetables that grow above ground tend to be lower in carbohydrates and higher in nutritional value than the root parts of vegetables. Leafy green vegetables, flowers, stems, sprouts, herbs, edible wild plants, sea vegetables, and fruiting vegetables (cucumber, squash, tomato, etc.) are particularly healthful.
Modern root vegetables are typically higher in carbohydrates than their paleolithic counterparts. Healthful root vegetables to be consumed in moderation include raw onion, garlic, ginger, and red radish. The indigestible fiber in these plants, when eaten with the skins and peels, helps to support normal microbial flora of the intestinal tract. People who suffer from constipation or candidiasis may benefit from including roots in their diets.
Nuts, Seeds, Eggs, and Oils
Nuts, seeds, and healthful oils are a natural source of healthy, mono-unsaturated fats. Walnuts, in particular, have a good omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Choose raw, unsalted nuts and seeds. Roasted nuts often contain unhealthy oils and processed salt.
Wild eggs are lower in saturated fat and higher in omega 3 fat than domestic chicken eggs. Cooking eggs slowly on low heat creates less artery-clogging, oxidized cholesterol than on high heat such as frying on a griddle.
Healthful oils include raw virgin coconut and olive.
Our bodies have evolved to consume a high-(healthful)fat, moderate protein, low-(healthful)carbohydrate diet. This ratio is significantly different than the low-(all types)fat, low-(all sources)protein diet, high-(all types)carbohydrate diet that is currently recommended by most health organizations. Current dietary recommendations have not taken into account the differences in fats, protein sources, and carbohydrates. While it is wise to limit saturated fats, it is unwise to limit healthier mono- and polyunsaturated fats. It is wise to limit or eliminate grain carbohydrates, but not fruits and vegetables.