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First, let’s back up and talk about carbohydrates. There are 3 main types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.
Yes, sugar and fiber are actually carbohydrates! It gets a bit confusing because when people talk about carbs, they are usually referring to starch only, such as those found in bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and beans. They are usually not thinking of sugar or fiber.
We all know that fiber is excellent for us, and we should eat as much fiber as possible. Unlike sugar and starch, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and leaves the body undigested. Foods with a lot of fiber in them make them less digestible, and as a result, less sugar is delivered to the body. Fiber promotes removal of waste from your body and helps lower cholesterol.
Since fiber is so good for us, when we say “no/low carb foods”, let’s assume we are NOT referring to fiber, and that we mean “no/low sugar and no/low starch foods”.
In weight loss programs, consumption of low carb foods is a very popular and frequently effective dieting strategy. This is why most recommended weight loss diets focus on low or absolutely zero carb foods.
For instance, the Atkins diet has its induction phase diet plan consisting of extremely low carb and high protein foods. If you strictly follow this diet, then you have to abstain from any food that is rich in carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, rice, plus some fruits and vegetables.
While there are quite a number of foods that have low carbs, foods with zero carbohydrates are much more limited.
Below are foods that have absolutely no carbs based on the National Nutrient Database published by the US Department of Agriculture.
The following fresh unprocessed meats have no carbs. Note that any meat that is processed typically has carbs, including beef in fast food burgers and beef jerky:
In addition, the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that eating processed meat such as burgers, hot dogs and deli meat significantly increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes as explained in the short video below. Another good reason to eat more unprocessed no carb meat instead of processed meat.
The following fresh unprocessed fish have no carbs:
The following oils have no carbs. Keep in mind that oil has a lot of calories, so you should not over-consume oil:
Following are foods with virtually no carbs or extremely low carbs, again based on the National Nutrient Database published by the US Department of Agriculture.
In reality, since your body needs the fiber and nutrients from vegetables, most of which contain starch, a zero-carb diet is probably not possible. In terms of going on a low-carb diet, opinions differ on whether severely limiting carbs is good for your health or even for your long-term weight loss.
If you are or thinking of going on a low-carb diet, be sure to watch your energy levels. If you have low energy levels for a prolonged period of time, you may need to increase your carb intake.
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