Frequently when women join my free and private community and receive their 30 day Low Carb Connector Guide, they are surprised to see the food list and my recommendation to eat 4-6 cups of veggies per day. They are even more surprised to see a keto salad on the menu and a keto salad recipe. Low carb and eating veggies… for some this goes against everything they were taught.
Understanding what a properly formulated low carb diet looks like is essential to achieving your health goals. Whether it is weight loss, blood sugar regulation, hormonal balance or any other health goal you may have, none of it will be achieved and sustained long term without first focusing on nourishing your body.
Low Carb Lifestyle
We can all agree that a low carbohydrate diet is the main target to reduce the total intake of carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar and impact insulin metabolism. The range of carbs included in your low carb diet will be determined by the goal you are trying to achieve. If your goal is to achieve a state of ketosis; you will likely need to be below 30 grams of total carbohydrates per day. If you want a low carb diet because of a metabolic or blood sugar dysregulation, you will likely want to be below 50 grams per day. If you are beginning your journey in the low carb lifestyle, you will start to see benefits by reducing your total intake of carbohydrates per day and focusing on real food.
This is the simple definition of a low carbohydrate diet as promoted by the weight loss and fitness industry. Unfortunately achieving your health goals, irrelevant of what they are, is not as simple as just lowering your carbohydrate intake. We must ensure that we are supplying our body with all the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Isn’t that the reason why we eat in the first place – for nourishment?
Nutrient density means how many nutrients you get from food given the number of calories it contains. In other words, nutrient-dense foods give you the “biggest bang for your buck.” You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn’t cost you much in terms of calories. Nutrient-dense foods such vegetables are the opposite of energy-dense food (also called “empty calorie” food) such as alcohol and foods high in added sugar or processed grains.
Nutrients for our body are provided by the food we chose eat. Carbohydrates are some of the vehicles that nature engineered to carry the various nutrients our body needs for optimal functioning. Think of vitamins, mineral or antioxidants which are carried in part in our body via carbohydrates such as vegetables. Yes, we do get vitamins, minerals and some antioxidants via healthy fats and protein but we can’t exclude carbohydrates as a carrier of nutrients for the human body.
I think a ‘well formulated low carb/keto diet’ that is beneficial for both blood glucose and overall health is a high fibre nutrient-dense diet. This will give you a better chance of achieving good health without affecting your blood sugar levels or negatively impacting your hormone levels. Plant-based carbohydrates have been part of the human diet for as long as we can trace it back. It is true there are a few cultures (for example, the Inuit in Canada’a north) that successfully lived with almost no plant based carbs but this represents a very small percentage.
Fiber & Gut Bacteria
Not only are vegetables a vehicle for nutrients but also a good source of fiber. One of the main roles of fibre is to feed the healthy bacteria in your digestive system. In my online seminar Introduction to GAPS Diet, I discuss the role of gut bacteria (also known as micro biome) to our overall health and the negative impact of gut health on our overall health. One thing to know is that bacteria is a live organism and to thrive, it needs to eat. My keto salad recipe ensures that you adequately feed your gut bacteria.
The food for our gut bacteria is fiber.
The problem is that most carbohydrates, proteins and fats get absorbed into the bloodstream before they make it to the large intestine. There is nothing left for the gut bacteria. This is where fiber steps in… humans don’t have the enzymes to digest fiber and therefore it reaches the large intestine relatively unchanged.
However, intestinal bacteria DO have the enzymes to digest many of these fibers. This is the most important reason that (some) dietary fibers are important for our health. It feeds the “good” bacteria in the intestine, functioning as prebiotics. In Latin, the term “biotic” means bacteria and the term “pre” means before. Prebiotic means food for bacteria. It is also good to know that “pro” combined with “biotic” is good bacteria =probiotic. To learn more about probiotic food, click here.
When the bacteria present in our gut ferments the fiber, it produces gas. This is the reason why high-fiber diets can cause flatulence and stomach discomfort, but this usually goes away with time as your body adjusts. Consuming adequate amounts of soluble, fermentable fiber is very important for optimal health because it optimizes the function of the friendly bacteria in the gut (refer back to my online seminar to learn more about the health benefits of gut bacteria). You can also read this great article.
Low Carb Vegetable List
Low carb vegetables can provide maximize nutrient density and fibre content. In my Crave Cure program, I teach all my ladies to consume 4-6 cups of vegetables per day. Leafy green vegetables are probably the #1 source of low carbohydrate fiber and the most nutrient-dense food available. These are what my keto salad recipe calls for — lots of greens! The next best sources are asparagus, avocado, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, brussel spouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplant, olive and seaweed.
Keto Salad Recipe: Low Carb, Nutrient-Dense and Delicious
Try my delicious keto salad recipe and get a load of these health-giving greens!
- 2 cups spinach, chopped
- 1 cup red leaf lettuce, chopped
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 strips pastured-raised bacon (nitrate free), chopped
- 1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
- sea salt and black pepper
- 2 tbsp. Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise or Easy Mayo
- 2 tbsp. Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard dressing or Dijon mustard
- On a plate, layer the spinach and red leaf lettuce and top with tomatoes and bacon.
- Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half and layer on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the dressing on top of the vegetable, bacon and eggs.