If you want to drop a few pounds, you may be able to jump-start weight loss by following a two-week diet that limits carb intake to 20 to 50 grams a day. This very-low-carb plan gets your body into fat-burning mode while keeping your appetite at bay. To stay within your carb allowance, enjoy meals that include naturally carb-free protein foods such as poultry, seafood, meat and tofu and low-carb veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower. Eating meals and snacks every few hours will help keep your energy levels up as you lose the weight.
Before you start it, be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure a two-week low-carb diet is safe for you. After the two weeks are up, or as you get closer to your goal weight, you may want to slowly increase your carb intake. Consult a dietitian if you'd like some guidance.
Start Each Day With a Low-Carb Breakfast
Although it's not necessary, it may help with meal planning if you decide to have a set amount of carbs at each meal. For example, if you're on a 30-gram low-carb diet, you might have 8 to 9 grams of carbs at each meal, leaving a total of 3 to 6 grams for snacks. At breakfast, this might include a vegetable omelet filled with 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers, 1/4 cup of chopped onions and an ounce of Swiss cheese for 9 grams of net carbs. When carb counting, use "net" carbs -- which are total carbs minus the fiber -- to calculate your totals. Eggs with veggies make an easy breakfast on your two-week-long diet. You can make omelet alternatives such as scrambled eggs, crustless frittatas and baked egg muffin cups. For variety, mix it up a bit and throw in some low-carb pancakes and waffles made with low-carb flours such as almond or coconut. You can also make a low-carb porridge with unsweetened almond milk and a variety of seeds such as chia, flax and sunflower.
Protein and Greens at Lunch
Keep carbs low at lunch by focusing on carb-free proteins and low-carb veggies. Salads with protein fit the bill. For example, toss 2 cups of mixed greens with five cherry tomatoes, half a cup of sliced cucumbers, grilled tuna, six walnuts and 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing for 9 grams of net carbs. Or whip up a chicken stir-fry with 1 cup of bok choy, 1 cup of broccoli and 1/2 cup of mung bean sprouts cooked in vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce -- for a lunch with 8 grams of net carbs. If you're eating out at lunchtime, opt for chicken wings and a bunless burger. Round it out with a mixed green salad and low-carb dressing such as ranch or blue cheese.
Low-Carb Dinner Meals
At dinner you may have more time to be a creative cook. You may want to make enough so you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Make low-carb "noodles" by cutting yellow squash or zucchini into thin strips and cooking them until soft. Top a cup of your veggie noodles with meatballs -- made without breadcrumbs -- and 1/4 cup of the lowest-carb canned tomato sauce you can find. While the carb counts may vary depending on your meatball recipe and sauce, this meal has about 9 grams of net carbs. Grill a steak with a portobello mushroom side by side. Serve up a big side salad with 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing. Enjoy this hearty dinner for only 8 grams of net carbs. Sub in chicken, pork, shrimp or any other protein for the steak, along with a low-carb veggie such as broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus to mix it up on your two-week plan.
Snacks for a Two-Week Low-Carb Plan
Keep a variety of low- or no-carb snacks available so you're not tempted to grab chips or sweets. A 1/2-cup serving of cottage cheese, 2 cups of mixed greens topped with ranch dressing or 1/2 cup of fresh raspberries each has 4 grams of net carbs. For 1 to 2 grams of net carbs, enjoy 24 almonds, 10 pecans or an ounce of mozzarella cheese. For a savory roll-up snack, use three slices of turkey, each wrapped around a lightly steamed asparagus spear. If you don't have any carbs left, hard-cooked eggs, rolled slices of roast beef or beef jerky will work.