Carbohydrates or carbs have become a buzzword in the always-evolving diet universe. The number of people seeking to reduce carb intake, or cut it out completely, is enormous. This change in eating behaviour has made different low-carb diets popular for decades. There are keto and Atkins, for starters. But there is always something new to try, and one of them is a no-carb diet. A no-carb diet, popularly known as a zero-carb diet, is even more restrictive than other low-carb diets you see around. While most diets try to keep your daily carb count very low, the goal of a no-carb diet is to cut carbs out of your diet near-completely. It means you cannot even have a cookie or a small portion of pasta here and there.
The no-carb diet banishes digestible carbs, including fruits, whole grains, and most vegetables. So, you will see weight loss from slashing carbs severely. But is an absolutely zero-carb goal something you can continue to stick around? Keep reading to learn more about the no-carb diet, its benefits, a sample meal plan, and potential downsides.
What to Eat on a No-Carb Diet?
An ideal plate in a no-carb diet contains more protein and non-starchy vegetables. The base of your meal must include those foods which won’t raise your carb count. There are so many low-carb foods, but how you cook and prepare them also counts. For example, you cannot add sugar to your coffee or tea. And when the diet plan says chicken, it should not be battered or stuffed with carb-loading ingredients.
Here are some foods you can include while on a no-carb diet.
- Deli meats
No-Carb Fats and Oils
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds that are very, very low in net carbs
- Black tea
- Unsweetened coffee or black coffee
- Sparkling water
- Herbal tea
- Water with lemon or lime or other citrus fruits and mint
Almost Zero-Carb Seasonings and Condiments
- Black pepper
- Curry powder
- Onion powder
- Dijon mustard (free from additives)
- Liquid Aminos
- Regular (full-fat) mayonnaise
The greener the vegetables, the better for a low-carb diet. Choose green leafy veggies over starchy ones, especially those that are cruciferous. Examples include:
- Bell peppers
High-fat and Low-carb Fruits
The PHH Note
Eat more plant-based fats than animal-based ones to manage your LDL cholesterol while on a no-carb diet. Your options are limited in a no-carb zone but not completely dry. Some shellfish, surprisingly, have trace amounts of carbs, but you can’t have them battered and fried. Instead, choose grilled, baked, or sautéed seafood and meats.
Foods to Avoid on a No-carb Diet
A no-carb diet eliminates multiple food groups because of its highly restrictive nature. For example, foods that contain more digestible carbohydrates are strictly off-limits. While there is no specific answer to how many carbs you should eat on a no-carb diet plan, the aim is to avoid carbs as much as possible. Some start between 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day and reduce over time.
Here are some foods you need to steer clear of while on a no-carb diet.
- Baked goods, including cookies, pastries, cakes, and other gluten-free options
- Breakfast cereals
- Starchy vegetables, such as potato, sweet potato, beets, corn
- High-sugar fruits, such as banana, dates, mango, oranges, apples, pear
- Sugar in any form, including honey, maple syrup, table sugar, and sweetened fruit juices (natural or not)
- Grain-based foods like crackers, rice, pasta, bread and beer
Sample Two-day No-carb Meal Plan
Please Note: Of the given values, a cup is a standard tea cup, and a bowl is a standard soup bowl.
- Kale and spinach smoothie: 1 glass
- Mushroom and sprouts salad: 1 cup
- Hard-boiled eggs: 2
- Dried seaweed: 1 sheet
- Lamb with roasted tomatoes and Brussel sprouts: 1 bowl ( Roughly 250 grams)
- Black coffee: 1 cup
- Carrots and lettuce wraps: 3
- Oven-baked chicken and vegetables: 1 bowl ( roughly 250 to 350 grams)
- Plain Lemon Water: 1 glass
- Egg omelette with spinach and bell peppers: 2 egg whites and one yolk
- A small bowl of blackberries and strawberries: 1 cup
- Pesto chicken with shaved radishes and broccoli: 1 bowl
- Kale chips: 1 cup
- Diet soda: 1 glass
- Spinach salad with olive oil dressing: 1½ bowl
Disclaimer: A standard bowl should contain 250-350 grams of cooked food. Therefore, the choice of utensils becomes essential while following a regimen.
Downsides of a No-carb Diet
Studies show that diets like the no-carb diet are not realistic, safe means of dieting. Aside from the irritability and confusion that can come with starting any diet, avoiding all carbs may leave you with adverse health outcomes in the long run. So do not compromise your general health to take off those few pounds that sneaked up on you or to achieve a slightly toned belly.
Here are some possible side effects to consider.
Absence of Essential Nutrients
Carb avoidance reduces the intake of crucial nutrients, such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and prebiotics. As a result, it creates a nutritional shortfall, which can come with all kinds of complications. For example, eliminating plant-based foods can lower your vitamin C and potassium intake.
No-carb diets are deficient in fibre since they limit plant-based foods. Avoiding fibre-rich veggies and fruits directly puts a full stop to feeding healthy gut bacteria, causing digestive distress like constipation.
Most restrictive diets can make it hard to dine out socially, and a no-carb diet is no exception. Going without carbs makes social eating a challenge since the joy of eating with friends and family can get overshadowed by the constant worry about sticking to your meal plan. You may also avoid get-togethers due to the terrible keto breath from following a no-carb diet.
The PHH Note
A no-carb diet pushes the low-carb dieting trend to the extreme. You need to be wary of any diet restricting any food group. Following a needlessly restrictive diet fosters an unhealthy relationship with food, poor digestion, nutritional deficiencies, and a rocky relationship with your mental health.
Potential Benefits of a No-carb Diet
Replacing or reducing your carb causes weight loss, primarily due to the loss of water weight. In a no-carb diet, you eat fewer overall calories while focusing more on satiating protein and fat. These factors contribute to better weight management. However, a zero-carb diet is not absolutely necessary for weight loss unless a medical condition calls for it.
Better Metabolic Parameters
Adopting a low-carb diet may increase insulin sensitivity or help you control your blood sugar, although not necessary. In addition, the two-week no-carb diet plan may help reduce the risk factors for excess body fat buildup around the waist and arterial thickening.
A zero carbohydrate diet, also known as a no-carb diet, is highly restrictive since it essentially bans carbs. It can be more extreme than typical low-carb diets, making it most likely unnecessary and unhealthy.
Eating no carb at all means that you’re wiping out an entire macro group. And for most, it may look like an easier way to lose weight, but the no-carb diet isn’t sustainable with no long-term success. Before starting any diet, talk to a health professional first. Now more than ever, it is necessary to realise the importance of a balanced diet that includes diverse food groups and essential macronutrients. When you have the proper diet and exercise, achieving your weight management goals is much easier. Subscribing to PHH makes customising nutrition simpler based on your lifestyle and dietary preferences.