Cutting Calories on Low-Carb Diets

Chilled Summer Gazpacho
Alexandra Grablewski/Getty Images

If you're new to low-carb eating, you're probably missing your pastries, cookies, ice cream, and the like. While it's no substitute for those sugary treats, fat can be the saving grace on a low-carb diet. Foods high in fat such as nuts and seeds, olives, oils, and dairy products such as cream and cheese are filling enough to satiate you and delectable enough to satisfy cravings. Plus, there is no solid evidence that eating a low-fat diet makes a person healthier (all other things being equal), so you don't have to worry that you're doing something bad for your health.

But what if, for some reason, you need to lower calories on your low-carb diet? Sorry in advance to all the nut butter lovers: Fat is the best thing to cut down on.

Why You May Want to Cut Down on Fat

There are circumstances where even dedicated low-carbers may want to know ways to cut the fat in their diet. Since different people do well on different diets, you may be living with someone who does better on a lower-fat diet. Some people don't need to eat many calories, especially the elderly and those who weigh less, and eating too much high-fat food fills them up and leaves them with insufficient calories to get proper nutrition.

And finally, even though low-carb diets tend to fill people up so they naturally limit their eating, some low-carbers find that at some point, they need to at least keep an eye on calories. Fat consumption is perhaps the easiest way to do this because cutting back on even a small amount of fat can significantly reduce calories.

So how do we find foods that are low in both carbohydrates and fat? Here are some ideas. (Note: Some of these examples aren't necessarily fat-free, and even though salmon is not really a low-fat choice, it is so good for you (with its healthy fat) that I'm including some salmon recipes.)

Load up on Low-Carb Foods That Are Also Low-Fat

Many foods are naturally low-carb, low-fat, such as low-starch vegetables, low-sugar fruit, and broth-based soups, such as Rainbow Soup with vegetables (you can also add lean meats). Try these nutritious vegetable side dish recipes that are low-carb, low-fat:

Eat More High-Protein Foods

Lean, high-protein foods cooked without sauces in ways that don't add fat (baking, grilling, poaching or microwaving) work well. Try these low-carb, low-fat main dishes that are high in protein:

Use Low-Fat Substitutions in Your Favorite Low-Carb Recipes

There are quite a few recipes where you can easily vary the fat content. For example, use low- or- non-fat dairy products instead of full-fat, lean cuts of meat, such as chicken breast instead of skin-on chicken thighs and turkey instead of pork, light mayonnaise in place of regular, or applesauce in place of butter. Alternately, you could lower the carb content in your favorite low-fat recipes with easy, low-carb substitutions, such as low-carb pasta alternatives or artificial sweeteners.

Was this page helpful?