Carbohydrates have long been a gray area for the physique-minded individual. On the one hand, you need some carbs in your diet to provide the energy necessary to fuel an intense workout. Go overboard, however, and you can easily end up with a midsection that’s a few cans short of a six-pack.
Low energy, a gut, and lackluster muscle growth are telltale signs that you may have become too chummy with pasta, cereal, and other carb-heavy grub. And without question, any stroll through the supermarket can be tantamount to starch madness as you try to steer your cart away from the deluge of foods saturated with refined carbs and simple sugars at the expense of muscle-building protein.
The key to winning the war on flab is knowing where to turn to for low-
Carbohydrate foods that are still chockfull of what your transforming physique needs—namely protein, vital minerals and vitamins, and less hazardous unrefined complex carbs.
We’ve put together an ultimate grocery list of the low-carb edibles to power your active lifestyle. We’ll take you aisle-by-aisle for our top picks. Who’s hungry?
- Zucchini carb count : 7 grams per 1 medium squash
zucchini, or les courgettes in french parlance, is a great vegetable to have on hand to trim the carbs from your diet. When cut into noodle-like strands using a serrated vegetable peeler or spiralizer, zucchini becomes a wonderfully tender substitute for more carbohydrate-dense spaghetti as a base for your meat sauce.Grated zucchini can be used for hash browns in lieu of potatoes or can be added to pancake batter at the expense of some of the flour. Or for an inspiring low-carb snack, slice the zucchini ends off and use a flat-blade vegetable peeler or mandolin to make long, wide strips. Place some smoked salmon and arugula on the end of each zucchini ribbon and roll up.
Nutrition bonus : while not often considered a so-called “superfood,” zucchini does harbor a range of essential nutrients including vitamin b6, potassium, manganese, and vitamin c.
- Cauliflower carb count: 5 grams per cup
there’s a good reason why cauliflower has been dubbed the “skinny starch.” once cooked, cauliflower’s unique texture can be used as a lower-carb alternative for mashed potatoes (minus the spuds, you’ll save about 23 grams of carbs in a serving), mac and cheese, creamy soups, and even pizza crust. Or pulverize a whole raw head in a food processor and use as a substitute for couscous or rice.
Nutrition bonus : As a member of the brassica plant family along with broccoli and kale, cauliflower delivers a wallop of antioxidants.
- Swiss chard carb count : 1 gram per cup
nutrient-dense dark, leafy greens should always be a low-carb addition to your grocery cart, and swiss chard is no exception. You can steam or sauté the leaves, or consider using whole uncooked leaves as an alternative to carb-heavy tortillas when making tacos and wraps.
Nutrition bonus: swiss chard delivers a massive amount of vitamin k, which a study in “the journal of nutrition” found was capable of reducing the risk for cancer and heart disease.
- Mushrooms carb count : 2 grams per cup
from white to cremini to more exotic shiitake, these edible fungi are low in carbs but rich in great umami flavor. Large and meaty portobello mushroom caps can stealthily be used as an alternative to hamburger buns, or as a replacement for gut-busting pizza crust by laying on all your favorite pizza toppings.
Nutrition bonus : Mushrooms of all types have been praised for their high amounts of immunity-boosting compounds.
- Celery carb count : 1 gram per stalk celery is made up of about 95 percent water, so it’s no surprise that there’s a dearth of carbohydrates. Slice and add to salads, or simply smear on some nut butter for a snack that’s big on nutrition but low in six-pack-killing processed carbs.
Nutrition bonus : celery is a good way to obtain an extra dose of vitamin k, which can bolster bone strength.
- Cherry Tomatoes carb count:6 grams per cup with better flavor than the bland larger tomatoes sold at the supermarket, cherry tomatoes are a convenient way to bolster the nutritional firepower of your diet without any serious carbohydrate backlash.Pop them in your mouth for a sweet snack au naturale, or toss a pint with a bit of oil and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit until tender and shrivelled for roasted flavor bombs.
Nutrition bonus: these rosy orbs are a source of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene.
- Spaghetti Squash carb count: 7 grams per cup
think of spaghetti squash as mother nature’s low-carb answer to pasta. Once cooked, the flesh of the squash pulls apart into slightly nutty-tasting, noodle-like strands minus the carbohydrate deluge. Simply slice a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place the squash halves in a microwavable dish, flesh-side down.
Loosely cover the squash with a paper towel or parchment paper and microwave on high for 8-12 minutes, or until the flesh is very tender. Let the squash stand for five minutes, then scrape out the squash flesh with a fork into strands. Top the squash with your favorite protein-rich meat sauce.
Nutrition bonus: the benevolent gourd delivers notable amounts of vitamin c, a nutrient shown to help reduce muscle soreness and oxidative damage following intense exercise.
|Other Low-Carb Veggies||Other Low-Carb Fruits|