Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. They are also necessary for proper fat metabolism and for sparing protein from being used as an energy source. Because each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories, a low-carbohydrate diet can help you reduce your calorie intake and lose weight. Knowing which foods are carbohydrate-free helps you stick to your carbohydrate limit.
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Yolks and Whites
Eggs are carbohydrate-free, and the protein in eggs is very high quality, according to the University of Michigan. While the white of a large egg provides 3.6 grams of protein and no fat or cholesterol, one large egg yolk provides 2.7 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat and 184 milligrams of cholesterol. Cholesterol in your diet can raise your risk for heart disease, and healthy adults should consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. In moderation, whole eggs and egg yolks can fit into a balanced diet. Vitamins A, D and E, and lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients in egg yolks that are not in whites. Make hard-boiled eggs for a portable snack, or scramble eggs or egg whites with zucchini, avocado and salsa for breakfast.
Lean Meat Choices
Meat and poultry are carbohydrate-free and sources of high-quality protein. Lean meat and poultry are sources of heme iron, which is easier for your body to absorb than the non-heme iron found in plant sources. Chicken breast, beef and pork tenderloin, beef sirloin tip, pork center loin, Canadian bacon and turkey breast are choices that are low in cholesterol-raising saturated fat. Stuff portabella mushrooms with ground turkey for a low-carbohydrate main course.
Fatty fish are carbohydrate-free and a source of protein, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. Consuming at least 8 ounces per week of seafood with omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your risk for heart disease. Top sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, anchovies, sardines and tuna. Seafood can contain mercury, an environmental contaminant that can harm the nervous system. Avoid king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish and shark, which are the species more likely to have high levels of mercury.
Cheese is nearly carbohydrate-free. An ounce of cheddar, provolone or blue cheese provides less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving, and an ounce of feta cheese has 1 gram of carbohydrates. Cheese is a source of calcium, which is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining strong bones. But eat cheese in moderation because of its high amount of saturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol levels, and sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure.
Think About This
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and dairy products are examples of carbohydrate sources that should be part of an overall balanced diet. Low-carbohydrate meals can include roasted chicken with eggplant and zucchini slices; broiled salmon with spinach and sliced almonds; and turkey breast and cheese roll-ups with diced lettuce and Greek yogurt. Keep in mind that some carbohydrates are necessary for good health, so talk to your doctor before going on a low-carbohydrate diet.