Skip To Main Content

Substitutions and Recipes for Starting a Low-Carb Diet

From gluten-free and liquid to paleo and flexitarian, everyone seems to be on a diet these days. If you’re considering a lifestyle change, which diet do you choose and how will you stay on track?

In the longstanding battle between low-fat and low-carb diets, a recent study reveals low-carb diets are more effective for weight-loss. In this month’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from Tulane University report that after a 12-month study, 59 participants on a low-carb diet had greater decreases in weight, around eight pounds, and better health outcomes in comparison to 60 participants on a low-fat diet. Neither group had calorie restrictions; the low-carb group liberally ate vegetables, fats and proteins. This study shows that a low-carb diet doesn’t mean you have to count calories—just change what you eat.

You may be wondering how to start a low-carb diet and stay committed. Many people fail at dieting because they start with drastic changes to their meal plan rather than making small, incremental changes over time. When people try to eat less or limit themselves to low-fat food, cravings kick into overdrive and their body’s metabolism slows down to save energy. Instead, start swapping your everyday food for low-carb options without limiting your daily food consumption.

To jumpstart your small diet changes, get some ideas of what to stay away from and what food swaps you can use today.

The worst types of carbs include starches, liquid carbs and foods from refined flour such as:

  • Starches: pasta, potatoes and rice.
  • Liquid carbs: beer, fruit juice and pop.
  • Foods from refined flour: pasta, cereal* and bread**—especially white/bleached flour.

*Swap to fiber-rich foods that are less processed.

**Swap to low-carb breads or wraps because they have less starch.

Easy food swaps for starting a low-carb diet:

  • Wrap tacos with iceberg lettuce instead of shells or tortillas; do this for any sandwich.
  • Use roasted Portobello mushrooms instead of hamburger buns.
  • Instead of using toast for bruschetta, top roasted eggplant with onions, tomatoes and capers for a healthier Italian appetizer.
  • Substitute potatoes for a cauliflower salad, see recipe below.
  • Use Shirataki noodles, made from devil’s tongue yam, for spaghetti dishes.
  • Bake zucchini chips instead of opening a bag of potato chips; see recipe below.
  • Make a homemade pizza with a spinach crust pizza rather than baking a frozen pizza.

Zucchini Crisps

Finish up zucchini season with a low-carb snack recipe. Bake zucchini crisps in your oven to satisfy your salty cravings while staying committed to your low-carb diet. These crisps require only 20 minutes of your time and are approved for all Atkins phases. Topped with parmesan cheese for extra flavor, this vegetable snack has 2.3 grams of net carbs and 2.2 grams of protein per serving.

Cauliflower “Potato” Salad

Get ready for the upcoming cauliflower season with a low-carb mashed potatoes-alternative. This flavorful side goes great with any dinner entrée and is easy to make. The cauliflower “potato” salad is approved for all Atkins phases and has 3.8 grams of net carbs.

Frittata Lorraine

Graduate from scrambled eggs to this tasty low-carb recipe. You don’t have to sacrifice staple breakfast items either—enjoy this frittata with bacon and shredded cheese. All Atkins phases can enjoy this delicious dish while packing in 15.9 grams of protein and only 1.6 grams of net carbs in the morning.