More than 18% of the world’s population follows a vegetarian diet. It focuses on plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, lentils, grains, seeds, and nuts. In addition, vegetarians abstain from eating meat, fish, and poultry. But vegetarian or vegan diets can be heavy in carbs, from grains, starchy vegetables, and bread. However, it is entirely possible to eat a low-carb vegetarian diet. You have to replace sugars and starches in your diet with healthier alternatives such as vegetables, healthy fats, fruits, and nuts.
Carbohydrates play an essential role in our bodies. If we eliminate them from our diet, we are more likely to overeat them later. In addition, they contribute to the proper functioning of your heart muscles, kidneys, brain and central nervous system. They also aid in digestion, keep blood cholesterol levels in check, and keep you feeling full.
A low-carbohydrate diet consists of few carbohydrates, plenty of protein, and healthy fats. Therefore, the diet puts a focus on fats and proteins. It also limits the intake of sugary and starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.
A low-carb diet promotes healthful ageing, cardiovascular health, and weight loss. It also includes better blood sugar control and a reduced risk of heart disease. When your blood sugar levels are more stable, you have more energy, sleep better, and feel better. It’s the foundational support for your body on many levels, including healthy skin, organ function, and hormones.
Low-carbohydrate diets also increase “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering blood pressure, triglycerides, and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, a low-carb diet can aid in reversing many of the symptoms of metabolic syndromes, such as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
How Many Carbs Should You Eat?
There are no precise ranges as to what constitutes a low-carb diet. The amount of carbs a person can consume varies by your goals and diet plan. Each individual must find a diet plan tailored to their specific needs and objectives. Before making any significant dietary changes, you should consult with a dietician. A healthcare professional will assess your current health and recommend whether or not a low-carb diet is appropriate for you.
The daily targets for a low-carb diet for the average adult male or female can be broadly classified as follows:
- 100-150 grams per day is a good maintenance range for people who exercise frequently.
- 50-100 grams per day should result in automatic weight loss and is a good maintenance range for people who do not exercise frequently.
- 20 to 50 grams per day should help you lose weight quickly without feeling hungry with this low carbohydrate intake. However, this carbohydrate range has the potential to put you into ketosis.
Vegetarian diet could easily fall into the lowest range, but vegans would find such a diet impractical. Hence, vegans should stick to the 100-150 grams range.
Vegetarian Diet: Low-Carb Foods
There is an enormous variety of low-carb food varieties from plants. A lot of these food varieties are additionally high in protein and fat.
Dairy products with no added sugar are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat. Therefore, they are ideal for a low-carb diet for vegetarians. The carbs per 100-gram serving of various dairy products are listed below.
- Milk: 4.5 gms
- Soft Ripened Cheese: 0.5 gms
- Cheddar cheese: 2.4 gms
- Greek Yoghurt: 3.6 gms
- Paneer/Cottage Cheese: 1.2 gm
- Buttermilk: 29 gms
- Butter and ghee: 2.3 gms
Some low-carb diets specifically state that fruit should be avoided, at least for a portion of the diet. That’s because fruits have a higher carbohydrate content than most vegetables due to the higher amount of naturally occurring sugars. But these sugars aren’t all bad; in moderation, they can all serve a healthy purpose without causing carbohydrate overload for most people. In addition, some fruits contain fewer carbs per standard serving due to their higher water content or fewer absorbable carbs due to their high fibre content.
The following is a list of fruits and their carbohydrate content (per 100 gm serving):
- Watermelon: 7.5 gm
- Strawberry: 7.6 gm
- Plums: 7.6 gm
- Cantaloupe: 8.1 gm
- Avocado: 8.5 gm
- Honeydew: 9 gm
- Peach: 9.5 gm
- Pineapple: 11 gm
The majority of vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Furthermore, many of them are low in carbs and high in fibre, making them ideal for low-carb diets.
The following is a list of vegetables and their carbohydrate content (per 100 gm serving):
- Bell Pepper: 6.7 gm
- Broccoli: 6.2 gm
- Mushrooms: 6.8 gm
- Asparagus: 3.8 gm
- Tomato: 3.1 gm
- Spinach: 3.6 gm
- Cucumber: 3.6 gm
- Cauliflower: 4.9 gm
- Lettuce: 2.8 gm
Beans are generally known as nutritious food. They’re high in protein and fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals. However, they contain some carbs, incorporating them into a low-carb diet can be difficult but it’s always a good pick for 100-150 grams per day carbs diet. The net carbs per 100-gram serving of various beans are listed below.
- Black Beans: 40.7 gm
- Navy Beans: 42.4 gm
- Kidney Beans: 60.6 gm
- Black Soybeans: 23.4 gm
- Chickpeas: 63 gm
- Lima Beans: 63.4 gm
- Pinto Beans: 42.6 gm
- Lentils: 63.4 gm
- Black-Eyed Peas: 54.5 gm
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are power-packed with protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and are low in carbs. They also help burn energy and regulate body weight because their fats aren’t entirely absorbed. The carbs per 100-gram serving of various nuts and seeds are listed below.
- Pecans: 13.9 gm
- Chia seeds: 42.1 gm
- Hazelnuts: 16.7 gm
- Walnut: 14 gm
- Brazil nuts: 12 gm
- Flax seeds: 28 gm
- Hemp seeds: 8.7 gm
- Sesame seeds: 23 gm
A healthy, low-carb diet should include a small amount of fat. Fat contains essential fatty acids, which the body cannot produce independently. It also helps absorb vitamins A, D, and E by the body. Most of them contain 0gm carbs, but you should eat them in moderation. Some healthy fats are virgin and cold compressed olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, mustard oil, unsalted butter, virgin coconut oil, nuts and seeds.
Designing a Vegetarian Low-Carb Meal Plan
With your low-carb vegetarian shopping list in hand, you can combine the foods listed above into a meal-by-meal low-carb vegetarian meal plan. For example, the following are meal options.
- Blueberry oats smoothie
- Stir-fried vegetables and Paneer with multigrain toast
- Quinoa vegetable patties
- Poha with sprouts
- Greek yoghurt mixed with berries
- Dosa with paneer stuffing
- Cauliflower toast with avocado
- Sprouts salad with nuts
- Carrot and cucumber stick with hummus
- Spicy roasted peanuts
- Celery sticks with cauliflower hummus
- Zucchini roasted cottage cheese and walnut salad
- Green salad with edamame and beans
- Cauliflower grilled cheese sandwich
- Black bean lettuce wrap
- Jowar spinach roti with paneer bhurji
- Yellow lentil soup with stir fried veggies
- Green smoothie
- Baked kale chips
- Fruit bowl
- Mix seeds and nuts
- Chia pudding
- Muskmelon and orange juice
- Broccoli and cauliflower gratin
- Spinach wheat noodles with cottage cheese
- Eggplant and zucchini whole-wheat pizza with cottage cheese
- Creamy cauliflower mushroom risotto
- Butternut Squash soup with roasted tofu
Who Should Not Follow a Low-Carb Diet?
Almost everyone can safely follow a low-carb diet. Rapid weight loss or significant changes in blood sugar, on the other hand, may necessitate additional support and knowledge for people in three situations:
People on Diabetes Medication
Avoiding carbohydrates that raise blood sugar reduces the need for diabetes medication. Once you begin eating a low-carbohydrate diet, you will most likely need to reduce your insulin doses and the doses of other diabetes medications. You should test your blood sugar frequently and adjust your medication accordingly when you start this diet. However, it would help if you do it with the help of a doctor or other health care provider who is familiar with diabetes.
People on Blood Pressure Medication
If you take blood pressure medication and begin a low-carb diet, the diet may work too well! Moreover, this could indicate that you have low blood pressure. You might become too healthy for your current medication dosage. Low carb nutrition can lower blood pressure in a few days, but it can also take months or even a year to reach full effect.
Suppose you experience symptoms of low blood pressure, such as weakness, fatigue, or dizziness. In that case, you should check your blood pressure right away. If your blood pressure is low, such as below 120/80, you should talk to your doctor about lowering or stopping your medication.
A moderately low-carb diet can help you lose weight while still providing you and your baby with all their necessary nutrients. On the other hand, a breastfeeding mother should not follow a strict low-carb diet because it can weaken her while breastfeeding.
Most people can eat as few carbs as they want because they’ll enter nutritional ketosis. In this normal and healthy metabolic state, the body relies on fat and ketones for energy. However, a study found that, in rare cases, deficient carb intake during breastfeeding can lead to a dangerous condition known as ketoacidosis. It appears to be related to the metabolic changes and increased nutritional demands of producing milk. Therefore, to be safe, a liberal low-carb diet with at least 50 grams of carbs per day may be preferable.
Everyone starting a low-carb diet should drink plenty of fluids, with water being the best option. Also, make sure you’re getting enough salt. When you first start, drink one to two cups of emon water with salt per day or increase the salt in your food to help with the “low-carb flu.” Above all, talk to your doctor about any medication changes and relevant lifestyle changes.
Vegetarian Low carb diets are becoming more popular. They help with weight loss and have other health benefits, such as regulating blood glucose levels and lowering the risk of stroke.
Traditional low-carb diets tend to be high in meat. However, the wide variety of plant-based alternatives makes the diet easy for vegans and vegetarians. Numerous delicious plant-based foods are low in carbohydrates and high in fat, protein, vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants. “Mindful” carbohydrate approach in which you choose slow-burning carbohydrates such as starchy veggies, whole grains, and legumes over refined carbs. You avoid simple sugars that are easy to overeat and can keep us riding the ups and downs of this diet. This practice will also ensure that you maintain your nutritional baselines healthy, the ultimate goal.
However, always consult your dietician before making any dietary changes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are high protein, low-carb vegetables?
A. The majority of vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. In addition, many of them are low in carbs and high in fibre, making them ideal for low-carb diets. Bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, lettuce, and cauliflower are good examples.
Q. What food has zero carbs?
A. Meat, eggs, fish, cheese, oils, butter, water, and plain coffee or tea are examples of foods with zero or less than one gram of carbs.
Q. Do cucumbers have carbs?
A. Cucumbers are among the best low-carb vegetables with just 3.6 gm per 100 gm serving. They are full of Vitamin B, C, K and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, copper, and magnesium.
Q. Are chickpeas high in carbs?
A. Yes, Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fibre and contain 63 gms carbs in a 100-gms serving.
Q. Can a low-carb diet cause a low heart rate?
A. According to research, cutting carbs can harm your heart and increase your risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart rhythm disorder. As a result, before making any significant changes to your diet, you should always consult with a healthcare provider.
Q. When did the low carb diet start?
A. The low-carb diet trend began in 1972 with cardiologist Robert Atkins’ book “Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution”. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, low-carbohydrate diets became some of the most popular diets in the United States. According to some estimates, at their peak, up to 18% of the population followed one or more low-carbohydrate diets.
Q. Can a low carb diet cause headaches?
A. Headaches are a common side effect of adopting a low-carb diet. They could occur as a result of eating fewer carbohydrates, particularly sugar. You can avoid this by drinking plenty of fluids and maintaining electrolyte balance.