Choose nonstarchy veggies over corn, peas, potatoes and yams.
Many low-carb foods are also high in protein, fat or both. Low-carb diets are often effective for weight loss when combined with high-protein foods, according to a study published in 2012 in вЂњPhysiology and Behavior.вЂќ Fortunately for low-carb dieters, a variety of healthy foods are low-carb or carb-free.
Lean Meats, Poultry and Seafood
Lean red meats, poultry and seafood are excellent sources of dietary protein and low in carbs. Choose very lean cuts of red meat -- such as flank, round and loin cuts -- to reduce saturated fat content. Choose skinless poultry products and seafood -- such as shrimp, crab meat and baked fish -- without breading. For example, skinless, boneless grilled chicken breast contains 26 grams of protein but no carbs in each 3-ounce portion, and 3 ounces of grilled lean beef tenderloin steak also provides 26 grams of protein but zero grams of carbs.
Eggs and Some Dairy Foods
Eggs and certain dairy foods are protein-rich but low in carbs. Exceptions are milk, regular and fruit-flavored yogurts, and kefir, which are higher in carbohydrates. One egg provides 7 grams of protein but less than 1 gram of carbs. Because egg yolks are high in dietary cholesterol, choose egg whites if you have high blood cholesterol. Two egg whites provide the same protein content as one whole egg, with half the calories. Protein-rich, lower-carb dairy foods include reduced-fat cheeses, low-fat cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt.
Tofu and Seitan
Tofu, a meatless protein made from soy, and seitan -- which is protein-rich wheat gluten -- are plant-based proteins that make excellent additions to any low-carb meal plan. Because these protein-rich foods are derived from plant sources, they are staples in many vegetarian and vegan diets and will benefit anyone on a low-carb diet. A cup of firm tofu or 1/3 cup seitan provides 21 grams of protein but just 4 grams of carbs.
Oils and Nonstarchy Vegetables
Although plant-based oils and nonstarchy vegetables are not protein-rich, they are low-carb foods and packed with essential nutrients. Examples include plant-based oils, such as canola, olive, peanut, soybean and flaxseed oils, which are rich in heart-healthy fats but contain no carbohydrates. Lower-carb veggie choices include lettuce, other leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. Each of these veggies contains about 5 grams -- or less -- of carbs per cup.