Eating fewer carbs can have impressive health benefits. It has been shown to significantly reduce hunger levels, which tends to lead to automatic weight loss, without the need for calorie counting. At least 23 studies have found that low-carb diets can cause up to 2–3 times more weight loss than low-fat diets. Decreasing your carb intake can also have numerous other health benefits, such as reducing your blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides or improving your “good” HDL cholesterol.
Plus, eating low-carb doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply base your diet around real foods that are low in carbs to lose weight and improve your health.
Here are 44 low-carb foods, most of which are healthy, nutritious and incredibly delicious.
Total Carbs vs Net Carbs
The carb content for a standard serving and the number of carbs in a 100-gram portion are listed at the end of each chapter.
However, keep in mind that some of these foods are high in fiber, which may lower the digestible net carb content even further.
1–6. Eggs and Meats
Eggs and all types of meat are close to zero carb. Organ meats are an exception, such as liver, which contains about 5% carbs (13).
Eggs (Almost Zero)
Eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet.
They’re loaded with various nutrients — including some that are important for your brain — and compounds that can improve eye health (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Carbs: almost zero.
Beef is highly satiating and loaded with important nutrients like iron and vitamin B12. There are dozens of different types of beef, from ribeye steak to ground beef to hamburger.
Like beef, lamb contains many beneficial nutrients, including iron and vitamin B12. Lamb is often grass-fed, and tends to be high in the beneficial fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (14).
Chicken is among the world’s most popular meats. It’s high in many beneficial nutrients and an excellent source of protein.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, it may be a better choice to go for fattier cuts like wings and thighs.
Pork, Including Bacon (Usually Zero)
Pork is another delicious type of meat, and bacon is a favorite of many low-carb dieters.
Bacon is a processed meat, and therefore definitely not a health food. However, it’s generally acceptable to eat moderate amounts of bacon on a low-carb diet.
Try to buy your bacon locally, without artificial ingredients, and make sure not to burn it during cooking.
Carbs: zero, but read the label and avoid bacon that is cured with sugar.
Jerky (Usually Zero)
Jerky is meat that has been cut into strips and dried. As long as it doesn’t contain added sugar or artificial ingredients, jerky can be a perfect low-carb snack food.
However, keep in mind that a lot of the jerky available at stores is highly processed and unhealthy. Your best bet is to make your own.
Carbs: Depends on the type. If it’s purely meat and seasoning then it should be close to zero.
Other Low-Carb Meats
Fish and other seafoods tend to be incredibly nutritious and healthy.
They’re particularly high in B12, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids — all nutrients of which many people don’t get enough.
Like meat, almost all types of fish and seafood contain next to no carbs.
Salmon is one of the most popular types of fish among health-conscious individuals — for good reason.
It’s a fatty fish, which means it contains significant amounts of heart-healthy fats — in this case omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon is also loaded with vitamin B12, iodine and a decent amount of vitamin D3.
Like salmon, trout is a type of fatty fish that is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients.
Sardines are oily fish that are generally eaten almost whole, including their bones.
Sardines are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and contain almost every single nutrient that you body needs.
Shellfish (4–5% Carbs)
It’s a shame that shellfish rarely makes it onto people’s daily menus, as they’re one of the world’s most nutritious foods.
In fact, they rank close to organ meats in their nutrient density and are low in carbs.
Carbs: 4–5 grams of carbs per 100 grams of shellfish.
Other Low-Carb Fish and Seafood
Most vegetables are low in carbs. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables have particularly low levels, and the majority of their carbs consist of fiber.
On the other hand, starchy root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in carbs.
Broccoli is a tasty cruciferous vegetable that can be eaten both raw and cooked. It’s high in vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber and contains potent cancer-fighting plant compounds.
Carbs: 6 grams per cup, or 7 grams per 100 grams.
Tomatoes are technically fruits or berries but usually eaten as vegetables. They’re high in vitamin C and potassium.
Carbs: 7 grams in a large tomato, or 4 grams per 100 grams.
Onions are among the tastiest plants on Earth and add powerful flavor to your recipes. They’re high in fiber, antioxidants and various anti-inflammatory compounds.
Carbs: 11 grams per cup, or 9 grams per 100 grams.
Brussels Sprouts (7%)
Brussels sprouts are highly nutritious vegetables, related to broccoli and kale.
They’re very high in vitamins C and K and contain numerous beneficial plant compounds.
Carbs: 6 grams per half cup, or 7 grams per 100 grams.
Cauliflower is a tasty and versatile vegetable that can be used to make various interesting dishes in your kitchen.
It’s high in vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
Carbs: 5 grams per cup, and 5 grams per 100 grams.
Kale is a very popular vegetable among health-conscious individuals, offering numerous health benefits.
It’s loaded with fiber, vitamins C and K, as well as carotene antioxidants.
Carbs: 7 grams per cup, or 10 grams per 100 grams.
Eggplant is another fruit that is commonly consumed as a vegetable. It has many interesting uses and is very high in fiber.
Carbs: 5 grams per cup, or 6 grams per 100 grams.
Cucumber is a popular vegetable with a mild flavor. It consists mostly of water, with a small amount of vitamin K.
Carbs: 2 grams per half cup, or 4 grams per 100 grams.
Bell Peppers (6%)
Bell peppers are popular fruits/vegetables with a distinct and satisfying flavor. They’re very high in fiber, vitamin C and carotene antioxidants.
Carbs: 9 grams per cup, or 6 grams per 100 grams.
Asparagus is a highly delicious spring vegetable.
It’s very high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K and carotene antioxidants.
What’s more, it’s very high in protein, compared to most vegetables.
Carbs: 3 grams per cup, or 2 grams per 100 grams.
Green Beans (7%)
Green beans are technically legumes, but they’re usually consumed in a similar manner as vegetables.
Calorie for calorie, they’re extremely high in many nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium.
Carbs: 8 grams per cup, or 7 grams per 100 grams.
Though they’re technically not plants, edible mushrooms are often categorized as vegetables.
They contain decent amounts of potassium and are high in some B vitamins.
Carbs: 3 grams per cup, and 3 grams per 100 grams (white mushrooms).
Other Low-Carb Vegetables
- Swiss chard
With the exception of starchy root vegetables, almost all vegetables are low in carbs. That’s why you can eat a lot of them without going over your carb limit.
Though fruits are generally perceived as being healthy, they’re highly controversial among people following a low-carb diet.
That’s because most fruits tend to be high in carbs, compared to vegetables.
Depending on how many carbs you are aiming for, you may want to restrict your fruit intake to 1–2 pieces per day.
However, this does not apply to fatty fruits like avocados or olives. Low-sugar berries, such as strawberries, are another excellent choice.
The avocado is a unique type of fruit. Instead of being high in carbs, it’s loaded with healthy fats.
Avocados are also extremely high in fiber and potassium and contain decent amounts of other nutrients.
When looking at the listed carb numbers below, keep in mind that the majority, or about 78% of the carbs in avocado are fiber. Therefore, it contains almost no digestible net carbs.
Carbs: 13 grams per cup, or 8.5 grams per 100 grams.
The olive is another delicious high-fat fruit. It’s very high in iron and copper and contains a decent amount of vitamin E.
Carbs: 2 grams per ounce, or 6 grams per 100 grams.
Strawberries are among the lowest-carb and most nutrient-dense fruits you can eat. They’re very high in vitamin C, manganese and various antioxidants.
Carbs: 11 grams per cup, or 8 grams per 100 grams.
Grapefruits are citrus fruits that are related to oranges. They’re very high in vitamin C and carotene antioxidants.
Carbs: 13 grams in half a grapefruit, or 11 grams per 100 grams.
The apricot is an incredibly delicious fruit. Each apricot contains few carbohydrates but plenty of vitamin C and potassium.
Carbs: 8 grams in two apricots, or 11 grams per 100 grams.
Other Low-Carb Fruits
28–31. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are very popular on low-carb diets. They tend to be low in carbs, but high in fat, fiber, protein and various micronutrients.
Nuts are often eaten as snacks, while seeds are rather used for adding crunch to salads or recipes.
In addition, nut and seed flours, such as almond flour, coconut flour and flaxseed meal, are often used to make low-carb breads and other baked goods.
Almonds are incredibly tasty and crunchy.
They’re loaded with fiber and vitamin E and are one of the world’s best sources of magnesium, a mineral that most people don’t get enough of.
What’s more, almonds are incredibly filling and have been shown to promote weight loss in some studies (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Carbs: 6 grams per ounce, or 22 grams per 100 grams.
The walnut is another delicious type of nut.
It contains various nutrients and is particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid.
Carbs: 4 grams per ounce, or 14 grams per 100 grams.
Peanuts are technically legumes, but tend to be prepared and consumed like nuts.
They’re very high in fiber, magnesium, vitamin E and other important vitamins and minerals.
Carbs: 5 grams per ounce, or 16 grams per 100 grams.
Chia Seeds (44%)
Chia seeds are currently among the world’s most popular health foods.
They’re loaded with many important nutrients and can be used in various low-carb-friendly recipes.
What’s more, they’re one of the richest sources of dietary fiber on the planet.
When looking at the listed carb numbers below, keep in mind that about 86% of the carbs in chia seeds are fiber. Therefore, they contain very few digestible net carbs.
Carbs: 12 grams per ounce, or 44 grams per 100 grams.
Other Low-Carb Nuts and Seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
If you tolerate dairy, then full-fat dairy products are excellent low-carb foods. Nonetheless, be sure to read the label and avoid anything with added sugar.
Cheese is one of the tastiest low-carb foods and can be eaten both raw and as an ingredient in various delicious recipes. It pairs particularly well with meat, such as on top of a bunless burger.
Cheese is also highly nutritious. A single thick slice contains a similar amount of nutrients as an entire glass of milk.
Carbs: 0.4 grams per slice, or 1.3 grams per 100 grams (cheddar).
Heavy Cream (3%)
Heavy cream contains very few carbs and little protein, but it’s high in dairy fat.
Some people on a low-carb diet put it in their coffee or use it in recipes. A bowl of berries with some whipped cream can be a delicious low-carb dessert.
Carbs: 1 gram per ounce, or 3 grams per 100 grams.
Full-Fat Yogurt (5%)
Full-fat yogurt is exceptionally healthy, containing many of the same nutrients as whole milk.
Yet, thanks to its live cultures, yogurt is also packed with beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Carbs: 11 grams per 8-ounce container, or 5 grams per 100 grams.
Greek Yogurt (4%)
Greek yogurt, also called strained yogurt, is very thick compared to regular yogurt. It’s very high in many beneficial nutrients, especially protein.
Carbs: 6 grams per 6-ounce container, or 4 grams per 100 grams.
Many healthy fats and oils are acceptable on a low-carb, real-food-based diet.
However, avoid refined vegetable oils like soybean or corn oil, as these are very unhealthy when consumed in excess.
Once demonized for its high saturated fat content, butter has been making a comeback. Choose grass-fed butter if you can, since it’s higher in certain nutrients.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Zero)
Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet.
It’s a staple on the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, loaded with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Coconut Oil (Zero)
Coconut oil is a very healthy fat, packed with medium-chain fatty acids that have powerful beneficial effects on your metabolism.
These fatty acids have been shown to reduce appetite, boost fat burning and help people lose belly fat (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Other Low-Carb Friendly Fats
- Avocado oil
Most sugar-free beverages are perfectly acceptable on a low-carb diet.
Keep in mind that fruit juices are very high in sugar and carbs and should be avoided.
Water should be your go-to beverage, no matter what the rest of your diet looks like.
Despite having been demonized in the past, coffee is actually very healthy and one of the biggest source of dietary antioxidants.
What’s more, coffee drinkers have been shown to live longer and have a lower risk of several serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25, 26Trusted Source).
Just make sure not to add anything unhealthy to your coffee — black is best, but some full-fat milk or heavy cream is fine as well.
Tea, especially green tea, has been studied quite thoroughly and shown to have various impressive health benefits. It may even slightly boost fat burning (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
Club Soda / Carbonated Water (Zero)
Club soda is basically water with added carbon dioxide. It’s perfectly acceptable as long as it’s sugar free. Read the label to make sure.
43–44. Other Foods
Lastly, here are some foods that don’t quite fit any other category.
This may surprise some people, but quality dark chocolate is a perfect low-carb treat.
Choose real dark chocolate with at least 70–85% cocoa content. This ensures that it doesn’t contain much sugar.
Dark chocolate has numerous benefits, such as improved brain function and blood pressure (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Studies also show that people who eat dark chocolate have a much lower risk of heart disease (31Trusted Source).
When looking at the listed carb numbers below, keep in mind that about 25% of the carbs in dark chocolate are fiber, which lowers the total digestible net carb content.
Carbs: 13 grams per 1-ounce piece, or 46 grams per 100 grams. This depends on the type, so make sure to read the label.
Herbs, Spices and Condiments
There is an endless variety of delicious herbs, spices and condiments. Most of them are very low in carbs but pack a powerful nutritional punch and help add flavor to your meals.
Some notable examples include salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, mustard and oregano.
If you want to learn more, check out this article on 10 delicious herbs and spices with powerful health benefits.
Eating fewer carbs can have impressive health benefits and doesn’t have to be complicated.
Most low-carbs foods are healthy, nutritious and incredibly delicious.
What’s more, they’re highly diverse, covering many major food categories, including meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and many more.
A healthy, low-carb diet based on real foods can help you lose weight and improve your health.