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Easy Low-Carb Food Ideas

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Easy Low-Carb Food Ideas
Stir-fry veggies and chicken for a quick, easy low-carb meal. Photo Credit: ajafoto/iStock/Getty Images

Low-carb eating is simple because you don't have to track macronutrients or calories if you don't want to. Just stick to eating lean proteins, watery, fibrous veggies and healthy fats and you'll adhere to your plan. While complicated low-carb recipes exist, low-carb meals can also be some of the simplest to prepare.

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Easy Low-Carb Breakfasts

Eggs are carb-free, so prepare them in myriad simple ways. Fry them up with a few slices of deli ham for a quick savory breakfast. Scramble them with shredded cheddar cheese, a handful of baby spinach leaves and chopped pepper. Hard-boil half a dozen eggs early in the week to grab and go on busy mornings. Pair hard-boiled eggs with a mozzarella cheese stick or an ounce of plain roasted nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, which add about 2 grams of net carbs, and 1/4 cup of chopped cantaloupe for an additional 3 grams.

"Net" carbs are those that impact your blood sugar. You figure net carbs by subtracting the fiber grams from the total carbohydrate grams.

Low-Carb Lunches

A protein salad is about the easiest lunch available. Use prewashed greens, such as romaine or spring mix, as the base and top with various low-carb veggies, such as raw broccoli florets, grated jicama and sliced mushrooms. Top with a lean protein of choice; options include chicken breast, lean steak, boiled shrimp or diced deli turkey. Toss with creamy Italian or Caesar dressing -- just make sure it has no added sugar -- and lunch is ready to go. Most restaurants offer similar salads, but avoid the ones with fried meats, croutons and starchy vegetables to keep the carb count down.

For an alternative to salad, stack slices of cheese and luncheon meat on large romaine or butter lettuce leaves. Add a squeeze of mayonnaise and roll up for a nearly no-carb sandwich alternative. Have 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds with 4 grams of net carbs, or pumpkin seeds, with 1.5 grams of net carbs, on the side.

Quick Low-Carb Dinners

Pick up a rotisserie chicken and crudite tray for an easy low-carb dinner. Just skip the carrot sticks and stick to the lower-carb celery, cucumbers and peppers. If you've got time, broil a filet of salmon for three to four minutes per side and serve with broccoli that's been steamed in the microwave in five minutes. Squeeze lemon juice on top, which adds 2 grams of net carbs per 2-tablespoon serving. Use a counter-top grill to cook up a thin steak to have alongside prewashed salad greens and blue cheese dressing. Eggs make for a low-carb dinner, too. Whip up a satisfying omelet with cheese, mushrooms, red onion and green pepper.

Low-Carb Snack Foods

You'll skip standard, high-carb snack foods you pick up at the convenience store, such as chips, crackers, fruited yogurt and candy bars. Instead, go to the refrigerated section and grab a cheese stick, packet of deli meat or hard-boiled egg. Stash a package of nuts in your glove compartment or backpack for days that you're on the run. Most beef or turkey jerky is also portable, carb-free and requires no refrigeration.

Make an easy at-home, low-carb snack by spreading 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on celery sticks for 4 grams of net carbs. Alternatively, dip red pepper strips and cucumber coins into avocado mashed with lime juice and garlic salt for a simple dip that contains about 2 grams of net carbs per avocado half used.

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