Low-carb foods – is low-carb healthy?

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Dear Dr. Mo: I’m considering a low-carb diet. I’m thinking to cut my calories in order to support my weight-loss plan. Is it a good idea and what are some low-carb foods to start with?

Dear reader:Eating a low carb diet as a way to lose weight may sound attractive but it may also backfire as such dieting could drive our body into an energy conserving mode. In this mode, the body stores more fat for a rainy day than it normally would – this is because we provide insufficient amount of calories over a longer period of time and in anticipation of yet another calorie-poor meal, our metabolic engine slows down and conserves energy more and more.

Veggies are a great source of nutrients while being low-carb.

What this actually means is that over time, eating a low carb/low calorie diet may turn out to bring more fat during intermission when ou are not on a diet and even during the diet itself. Read about counting your calories as a tool to plan your weight loss.

Still, low-carb food could be useful to control your blood sugar and to support your weight loss but only in combination with other foods with complex carbs, protein, fiber etc. What I’m saying is that a balanced diet is more efficient and certainly healthier than any extreme diet in which some nutrients are almost completely eliminated – i.e. low carb diets.

Here are a few well-known and smart low-carb choices I’d use every day in combination with other healthy foods to maintain a healthy diet and attain and maintain a healthy weight:

Broccoli

I love this vegetable. It is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol while being a good source of protein, vitamin E, vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of dietary fiber.

Tomato

Whether red, yellow, green, big or small it is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of potassium (heart healthy food),  vitamin A and fiber. Tomatoes are not just low carb – they’re also low-cal — just 32 calories per cup. The color giving fito-pigment and antioxidant Lycopene may protect against heart disease and prostate cancer.

Spinach

This leafy green plant is full of Folate, beta carotene, and vitamin K. It has iron too but its availability to our body may not be as high so for that, you’d better turn to other sources. To get the best out of it, use the fresh plant or frozen ones.

Celery

Celery is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. It is a very good source of dietary fiber and provides for vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate, minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus and Manganese.  Watch for Sodium however as Celery does have it.

Brussels Sprouts

These mini cabbages are full of vitamins C and A and folic acid. Of course they pack enough of fiber too. Best is to steam them and add a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice – this will preserve the most of the nutritional content.

Cabbage

Fall and early winter are good times to consider this nice veggie full of vitamins C and K. It also has antioxidants and fiber to add to this plant’s nutritional punch.

Cauliflower

Another vegetable full of vitamin C – one serving contains more than half your daily requirement. In addition, it has fiber, calcium, and some iron.

Baby carrots

These little ones are a great and healthy snack. They are a good source of vitamins C, B6 and A. They contain folate, potassium and copper and of course, dietary fiber.

Use these examples to add to your daily selection of low carb but healthy choices but remember that depriving yourself of calories is not an efficient way to attain and maintain a healthy weight. What you need is a balanced diet, which will have enough of everything you need and not too much or too little.

You may also wish to browse this website as I have written in response to readers’ questions about different aspects and options when it comes to a healthy weight loss and a healthy diet. I wish you success.

Yours in health,

Dr. Mo