What is zero carb diet and what foods can you eat
A zero carb diet largely bans carbohydrates, instead of encouraging weight loss foods that are high in protein and fat. In some cases, you can also eat foods high in fiber.
A no carb diet is an extreme version of a low carb diet. Eliminates almost all carbohydrates, including whole grains, fruits and most vegetables.
While studies show that reducing carbohydrate intake can help you lose weight and can have health benefits, eliminating carbohydrates completely is very restrictive and probably unnecessary.
This article provides a detailed overview of a zero carb diet, including the potential benefits, disadvantages, and weight loss foods you should eat and avoid.
What is a zero carb diet?
A zero carb diet is a diet that eliminates as much as possible of digestible carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. They are found in cereals, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, pasta, bread and pastries.
Therefore, one who follows a zero carb diet should avoid most of these foods and instead eat weight loss foods that contain mainly protein or fat, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, oils and butter.
There is no strict rubric for a carb-free diet. Some people who eat it eat nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables and fruits that are high in fat such as avocado and coconut.
Although these foods have some carbohydrates, they are high in fiber. Therefore, they have only a small number of digestible or pure carbohydrates, which is calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber from the total number of carbohydrates.
A no carb diet is like a ketogenic diet, which limits your carbohydrate intake to less than 30 grams a day and encourages you to get 70% or more of your daily calories from fat.
Depending on what you choose to eat, a carb-free diet may be more restrictive than keto.
How to follow a diet without carbohydrates
Some online sources recommend keeping your net carb intake at 20-50 grams per day on a carb free diet, but there are no specific macronutrient ranges or a specific protocol.
Simply put, when following a zero carb diet, avoid all high-carbohydrate foods. A zero carb diet eliminates all carbohydrate-rich foods, such as cereals, pastries and fruits, encouraging foods high in protein and fat.
Specifically, you should eliminate whole grains and processed cereals, pastries, fruits, milk, yogurt, beans, legumes, pasta, bread, sugary drinks and starchy vegetables such as peas and corn.
Foods and beverages allowed on a carb free diet include meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, oils, water, and plain coffee or tea.
If you are less strict, you can also eat nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables and high-fat fruits such as avocados and coconut, as these foods are the best weight loss foods low in pure carbohydrates.
Since this diet focuses on limiting a specific macronutrient, there are no recommendations for daily calorie intake or portion size.
Can zero carb diet help you lose weight?
In general, reducing your carbohydrate intake can help you lose weight. Replacing carbohydrates with protein or fat can help you feel fuller and eat fewer total calories, which in turn promotes weight loss.
In addition, very low carb diets usually promote rapid weight loss in the first few weeks due to the rapid drop in water weight. This is because each gram of carbohydrate contains about three grams of water in your body.
A study of 79 obese adults found that over a 6-month period, those who reduced their carbohydrate intake to less than 30 grams per day lost about 8.8 pounds (4 kg) more than those who reduced their fat intake to less than 30% of their daily calories intake.
Other studies offer similar results and suggest that following a very low carb or ketogenic diet for more than 12 months may result in more prolonged weight loss compared to low fat diets.
However, the research is mixed. Some studies have found that low carb diets are no more effective for long term weight loss than other diets that also reduce overall calorie intake, such as low fat diets.
With these results in mind, following a carb free diet is likely to result in weight loss – at least in the short term. A diet low in carbohydrates high in protein and fat can help reduce your overall calorie intake and lead to weight loss. However, a zero carb diet is not necessary to achieve these results.
However, you do not need to completely eliminate carbohydrates to achieve weight loss. Gradually reducing your carbohydrate intake and, most importantly, reducing your total calorie intake are less restrictive ways to lose weight.
Other Benefits of a Carbohydrate Free Diet
There are no studies on diets that completely eliminate carbohydrates, but research on very low carb diets and ketogenic diets shows that they can have many benefits.
- It can benefit heart health
- Reducing carbohydrate intake can improve heart health.
In particular, very low carb diets have been shown to lower blood triglyceride levels. Elevated triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease.
A study in 29 overweight men found that reducing carbohydrate intake to 10% of daily calories for 12 weeks reduced triglyceride levels by 39%, compared to baseline levels.
Other studies suggest that very low carb diets may also increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which may help protect against heart disease.
- more research is needed
- lead to better control of blood sugar
Reducing carbs – especially processed carbs and sugar – can help control blood sugar, which can be especially helpful for people with diabetes.
Some studies show that low carb and keto diets are effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
A 6-month study of 49 obese adults with type 2 diabetes found that those who followed a keto diet had significantly greater reductions in hemoglobin A1c – a measure of average blood sugar – than those who did not.
Reducing carbohydrate intake can prevent blood sugar spikes and thus can help prevent the complications of diabetes. However, it is not necessary to completely exclude carbohydrates from your diet. Diabetes can also be controlled with diets higher in carbohydrates.
Other potential benefits of a very low carb diet include:
- Low blood pressure. Some studies show that reducing your carbohydrate intake may help lower your blood pressure.
- Abdominal fat reduction. Limited research shows that very low carb diets are better than low fat diets in reducing belly fat, a type of fat associated with inflammation and certain diseases.
- Lower risk of metabolic syndrome. Reducing carbohydrate intake can help prevent some of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndromes, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and belly fat.
Eating a very low carb diet can help improve heart health and control blood sugar. However, you do not have to cut out carbohydrates altogether to enjoy these benefits.
Disadvantages of a zero carb diet
A diet without carbohydrates can have many disadvantages.
May cause constipation and low energy
Since a zero carb diet restricts fruits, most vegetables, beans, and whole grains, it can be very low in fiber.
Fiber is important for digestion, as it helps maintain a normal gut. Because of this, a zero carb diet can lead to constipation and indigestion.
In addition, carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. Therefore, a diet without carbohydrates can lead to low energy and fatigue, especially in the beginning.
The metabolic changes that occur in your body when you cut down on carbs can also cause poor mental function, nausea and sleep disturbances in the short term.
Some nutrients may be missing
A zero carb diet may not provide enough vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin C, which are abundant in fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods.
In addition, increased urination resulting from carbohydrate restriction can lead to sodium and potassium deficiencies over time.
Eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods can help ensure that you get enough of the nutrients you need. In addition, it is more sustainable than a zero carb diet in the long run.
Particularly restrictive with unknown long-term effects
There are insufficient studies on the long-term effects of a very low-carbohydrate diet, so it is particularly difficult to assess the long-term effects of a low-carbohydrate diet.
Due to this lack of research, following a zero carb diet for a long time could have serious health consequences.
As a zero carb diet is extremely restrictive, very high in fat and has not been well researched for safety reasons, it is not suitable for people with eating disorders, children, people with hypercholesterolemia and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
A zero carb diet restricts fiber-rich foods and most weight loss foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. This can lead to constipation, low energy and possible micronutrient deficiencies.
Weight loss foods
Foods that are usually allowed in a zero carb diet include:
- Meat and animal products low in carbohydrates: chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, venison, bison, pork, eggs, butter, lard, cheese
- Seafood: salmon, tilapia, cod, shrimp, sardines, herring, crab
- Spices: herbs and spices
- Zero-calorie drinks: water, black coffee and plain tea
- Nuts and seeds (those with low carbohydrate content): almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, cashews
- Non-starchy vegetables (those with low carbohydrate content): broccoli, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, leafy vegetables, rutabaga, turnips, brussels sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms
- Fruits with a lot of fat: coconut, avocado
A zero carb diet restricts high-carbohydrate foods and is based mainly on meat, dairy, seafood and low-carbohydrate plant foods.
Weight loss foods to avoid
A zero carb diet is extremely restrictive and eliminates many food groups, such as:
- Cereals: rice, lighthouse, barley, quinoa, wheat, bread, pasta
- Sweets and pastries: cakes, cookies, candies, soft drinks, sugary drinks
- Fruits: apples, oranges, bananas, berries, kiwi, pears
- Starchy vegetables: peas, corn, squash, potatoes
- Beans and legumes: black beans, beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Dairy: milk and yogurt
- Spices with added sugar: ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressings
- Alcohol: beer, wine, alcoholic beverages, mixed drinks with sugar
Restricted foods in a zero carb diet include cereals, sweets, pastries, fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, milk, yogurt, and alcohol.
Weight loss diet menu
The following is a sample weight loss diet menu of five days for a zero carb diet.
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, sliced avocado
Lunch: romaine lettuce with ground turkey, cheese and dressing with olive oil
Dinner: salmon, zucchini noodles, sunflower side
Snack: beef, cheese
Breakfast: eggs, steak, pepper strips
Lunch: tuna-fish lettuce wrap, carrots dipped in avocado puree
Dinner: lamb chops, spinach salad with walnuts and dressing olive oil
Snack: boiled eggs, pistachios
Breakfast: eggs, turkey sausage, avocado
Lunch: scallops, grilled brussels sprouts with parmesan cheese
Dinner: Pork chops, roasted tomatoes and turnips
Snack: sunflower seeds, brie
Breakfast: eggs with grated chicken, jalapeño, cheddar cheese
Lunch: turkey burgers with rutabaga potatoes
Dinner: meatballs and zucchini noodles with roasted tomatoes
Snacks: sardines, macadamia nuts
Breakfast: cheese eggs with broccoli, chicken sausage
Lunch: steak and arugula salad with dressing olive oil, cashews
Dinner: shrimp with coconut crust, grilled asparagus and mushrooms
Snack: turkey, avocado
A zero carb diet is very restrictive and is based mainly on animal foods and plant foods that are very low in carbohydrates.
Why choose a zero carb diet?
A zero carb diet eliminates almost all carbohydrates and encourages high fat and protein intake. It can enhance weight loss, heart health and blood sugar control.
However, you do not have to cut out all the carbs to enjoy these benefits. In addition, this diet can reduce energy levels and increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life, such as eating a balanced weight loss diet.
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