The Low Carb Diet Basics

As Garfield the cat once said "Diet is DIE with a T". Just the word diet conjures up imagines of hunger, celery sticks, and endless glasses of water.

When you think low carb, don't think DIET, think Improved Eating Plan or low carb lifestyle, because this is what low carb eating really is; a way of eating that you can easily stick to your entire life, not something temporary to lose weight.

Roasted Asparagus and Veal SteakRoasted Asparagus and Veal Steak - A great low carb meal!

What is a Low Carb Diet?

In a nutshell, a low carb diet is one that restricts the number of carbs you consume (such as sugar and flour) while it focuses on more healthy, natural foods such as meat and vegetables.

Although there are numerous types of low carb eating plans, the one that is best is the one that works for you. If you need to lose weight, most people find that restricting their carbs to 40 grams or so each day allows them to lose weight, but not go crazy from hunger or food restrictions.

If you are pretty much at your ideal weight or if you are a fairly active person, you can aim for 80-150 grams of carbs each day.

Again, we want to stress that the perfect diet for you is the one you will stick to. If you can't survive without a glass of wine with dinner, then an eating plan that calls for no alcohol is not going to work for you.

Nothing is written in stone. Allow yourself some flexibility so you don't find yourself miserably sitting in a corner at a party, munching carrot sticks, while everyone else is enjoying a glass of wine and a piece of cake. Your diet should not become you life, but it should make your life more becoming.

The Nitty Gritty Basics

What you can eat: Meat, fish, eggs, nuts (except peanuts), fruit (in moderation) vegetables (that are grown above ground, so no potatoes) non-gluten grains, high fat dairy products (such as hard cheese) healthy fats and oils (coconut oil and avocados)

What you can't eat: Anything with sugar, flour, wheat, seed oils (safflower seed oil or sunflower seed oil), low fat products, pasta (not even whole wheat) rice, or highly processed foods

Foods to Avoid As Much As Humanly Possible

  • Sugar, including soft drinks, fruit juice, candy, ice cream, and fruit flavored drinks.
  • Gluten Grains, including wheat, spelt, rye, barley and anything made from them, which includes crackers, cookies, pasta, or bread
  • Trans Fats. If the labels says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, don’t eat it or buy it.
  • Vegetable or Seed Oils (olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are the exception) other oils, such as canola, corn, safflower seed oil, peanut oil, or sesame seed oil are off limits.
  • Products labeled Diet or Low Fat, including yogurt, milk, sour cream or cream cheese. Eat full fat products.
  • Artificial Sweeteners. These are controversial, but if you can live without them, you should. Use Stevia instead for your morning coffee.
  • Highly Processed Foods, such as Cheetos or frozen dinners, or canned fruit.

Foods You Can Enjoy Everyday

  • Meat, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey. Grass fed and organic is best
  • Fish, including salmon, tuna, trout, haddock, and sardines. Wild caught is usually best
  • Eggs. Free range or organic eggs are best
  • Vegetables grown above the ground, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. Carrots and radishes are fine, but potatoes are not.
  • Fruit. No more than 1 piece a day. Berries should be your first choice, but apples, oranges and pears are good choices. Avoid bananas.
  • High Fat Diary, including hard cheeses, butter, yogurt, heavy cream, and sour cream.
  • Nuts and Seeds in moderation. No more than 1 ounce per day. This includes almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts. No peanuts.
  • Fats and Oil. Avocados, coconut oil, butter, lard, cod liver oil, and olive oil.

Occasional Foods

Eat these no more than once per week and watch the portion. Be sure you stick to your 40 gram per day limit.

  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Rice, oats, quinoa
  • Beans or lentils
  • Dark chocolate (with at least 85% cocoa) no more than 1 ounce per day
  • Wine, no more than 5 ounces per day


  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Water
  • Sparkling water
  • Diet sodas (if you can’t live without one)

One Week Menu Plan

The following is a one week low carb (40 grams or less) sample diet for one person. Recipes are easily found online.

Eggs with spinach - Low carb breakfastEggs with spinach - perfect low carb meal for breakfast


  • Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled in butter, coffee
  • Snack: Handful of nuts
  • Lunch: Low Carb Tuna (or chicken) Cheese Melt, green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • Dinner: Pesto Chicken Casserole with Feta cheese and olives. Roasted veggies.
  • Evening snack: Dairy Free Latte


  • Breakfast: Creamed coconut milk with nuts and berries, coffee
  • Snack: Hardboiled egg
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast with herb butter and side salad
  • Dinner: Low carb Tex-Mex casserole with guacamole
  • Evening Snack: Buffalo chicken celery sticks


  • Breakfast: Mushroom omelet
  • Snack: Beef jerky
  • Lunch: Bacon, lettuce, tomato hamburger (minus bun) side salad
  • Dinner: Pork chops in red pesto sauce, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce
  • Evening snack: Parmesan tomato "chips"


  • Breakfast: Ham and Egg sandwich (no bread)
  • Snack: Slice of easy pumpkin quick bread
  • Lunch: Chili or lemon salmon with spinach
  • Dinner: Garlic chicken with side salad
  • Evening snack: Celery sticks with nut butter


  • Breakfast: Coconut Porridge
  • Snack: Salty lime roasted cashews
  • Lunch: Low carb tortilla tacos
  • Dinner: Steak with Béarnaise sauce, side salad, grilled veggies
  • Evening Snack: salt and vinegar zucchini chips


  • Breakfast: Classic bacon and eggs
  • Snack: String cheese
  • Lunch: Turkey breast with cream cheese sauce, side salad
  • Dinner: Hamburger patties with creamy tomato sauce, fried cabbage
  • Evening Snack: Celery sticks with cream cheese


  • Breakfast: Low carb frittata
  • Snack: Frozen berries with real whipped cream
  • Lunch: Pastrami sandwich (no bread) , side salad
  • Dinner: Bone broth soup with vegetables
  • Evening Snack: Green bean fries

If you find that you are hungry in between meals, think veggies, nuts or meat as snacks. Always include plenty of low carb vegetables in your daily meals to help fill you up.