I’ve created this simple and easy guide to help you get started on a low carb diet. It gives you a ground level start of a low carb or keto diet, a typical foods list and some quick recipes to get you started!
Welcome to the Ultimate Aussie Guide to planning a Low Carb Diet. If you are fed up trying to find products for low carb recipes, or just starting a low carb or keto diet, you’ve come to the right place. Our charts and plans are all Aussie centric so they are super easy to follow.
If you’re new to low carb, we understand that it can all be more than a little bit overwhelming trying to understand what you can eat, how much you can eat, when you can eat and what other rules and restrictions may be in place.
I’ve written this guide to try and help you with some of the questions you may have. Suffice, to say, I don’t have all the answers; I am neither a trained dietician nor nutritionist, however I do spend much of my time scouring well informed resources so that I can share them with you here.
What is a Low Carb Diet?
A low carb diet primarily focuses on eating protein rich foods along with non-starchy vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds. Foods to avoid include grains, legumes, other high-carb fruits, wheat based breads, lollies and other refined sugar foods, pasta, processed sugar based sauces and dressings and starchy vegetables such as white potatoes.
A low carb diet plan is generally a moderate to high fat intake, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates. It allows the body to burn its own fat source instead of ingested carbs and therefore, it keeps insulin spikes lower.
Many different people will tell you what a low carb diet is and often the answer comes down to how strict they choose to be around eating carbs.
Here are the most general guidelines:
- Low carb diet – Under 50g net carbs per day
- Moderate low carb diet – Under 100g net carbs per day
- Keto diet – Under 20g net carbs per day (some people can go a little higher to 25 or 30g net carbs per day)
Personally, I prefer to just focus on making low carb food choices, choosing to fast intermittently and have only one or two meals per day.
What are Net Carbs?
Net carbs are the total carbs of a food minus any fibre and non-digestible low glycemic sweeteners, like erythritol.
The reason we don’t count these is because the body doesn’t use them; they are either not absorbed or absorbed but not metabolised.
Some people on a low carb diet choose to count total carbs instead of net carbs. This makes it more difficult to fit in more leafy greens and low carb vegetables (which are filled with fibre), so you should only try that if you don’t get results with a net carb method.
Benefits of a Low Carb Diet
Following a low carbohydrate diet can be beneficial to many people in many different ways. While it’s safe to say that most people are initially drawn to this way of eating (WOE) predominately for weight loss, they and others often find that many other benefits follow from decreased cravings for unhealthy foods to improved cholesterol levels and a reduction of inflammation in the body which in turn can help to improve conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and Hashimotos Thyroiditis.
Low carb diets have other numerous benefits, including:
- Rapid and sustained weight loss
- Stable mood & energy levels
- Blood sugar control
- Reduced cravings & appetite
- Lower blood pressure
- Higher good cholesterol
- Skin improvements
- Digestive support
- Improved mental clarity
You become a fat burner, not a sugar burner and still get to eat lots of tasty, nutritious food that fills you up, curbs your cravings, and helps you to lose weight and, more importantly, keep it off!
These reasons alone make the low-carb diet a great choice for those who are trying to improve their health.
How does eating a Low Carb Diet help me burn fat?
A simple explanation is, that when you stop feeding your body sugar and switch to eating protein and healthy fats, your body switches from using glucose as an energy source and taps into your fat reserves instead.
As you lower the carbohydrates in your diet, you start to use up your stores of glycogen and lower your insulin levels. When you lose your fear of eating healthy fats, you find that you are satiated for longer. Your meals sustain you for longer and you may find that you naturally drop to requiring only one or two meals per day. This also helps your insulin levels to remain stable, switching your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner.
How do carbs affect blood sugars?
What do you eat on a Low Carb diet?
A lot of the things you love! The great thing about following this way of eating is that you really don’t feel deprived. Even when you get those inevitable sugar cravings in the beginning, there are ways to satisfy those urges simply by substituting sugar with other things.
All meals are based on whole, natural foods that are low in carbs, moderate in protein and moderate to high in healthy fats. Think meat and simple veggies with some olive oil or organic butter for instance.
Here’s a simple chart to help you get started.
Meat – all types of beef, pork, chicken, lamb etc. Do not trim the fat and keep the skin on the chicken
Fish – all types especially those high in Omega 3 such as salmon, mussels, tuna, sardines
Vegetables – all types that are grown above the ground. Leafy greens, spinach, silverbeet, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, avocados, zucchini, eggplant, capsicums, mushrooms, lettuce
Cheese – choose the full-fat varieties.
Cream – full fat, double, whipping.
Full fat milk – avoid all flavoured milk and keep it to just a splash in tea and coffee or in recipes.
Nuts and seeds – a great snack but don’t overindulge on the higher carb nuts such as cashews or macadamias.
Eggs – a great ingredient in lots of dishes or try boiled as a snack to keep you going through the day.
Fruit – it’s best to choose low-sugar, low-carb, nutrient-dense berries such as blueberries or blackberries.
Fats – use healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, macadamia oil.
Where do I start?
The easiest place to start is with the first meal of the day. Normally breakfast consists of sugary cereals, or toast and orange juice. The problem with these foods is that they are high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition.
They may give you a sudden boost of energy, but that soon wears off as soon as your blood glucose levels drop, and you are left hungry and ready for another high-carbohydrate sugar load by mid-morning… sending you into another sugar spike and inevitable crash.
Enjoying a nutrient-dense low-carb breakfast will stop your usual morning sugar roller coaster and keep your stomach happy until lunchtime.
Next, you can work on lowering carbohydrates at lunchtime, then at dinnertime. This puts a halt to that 3pm slump and late evening munchies.
And, if you ever fancy giving intermittent fasting a go, the best place to start is by stretching out the time of day where you break your fast, so that your first meal of the day is around 12 noon or later.
As we’ve mentioned before, there doesn’t have to be strict rules. Following a low carb diet is the most flexible diet out there that still works for the majority of people who follow it for a long period of time.
What to avoid on a low-carb diet?
All processed sugar drinks – this includes soda, flavoured milk, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit smoothies fruit juices.
All cakes, biscuits, jams, sweets.
Seed Oils – Stop using oils such as sunflower, canola, corn, soy or margarine. They are high in inflammatory Omega 6, ultra-processed, bleached, deodorised, unstable and easily oxidised.
All cereals – no matter what they say on the box, all cereals are high in carbohydrates.
Bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar etc. There is nothing in these items that our body needs or wants. There are plenty of low carb recipes that you can make to replace these nutritionally deficient items.
Most Fruits and all fruit juices – while full of vitamins and minerals, fruit is also high in natural sugars. Choose nutrient-dense, low-sugar fruits such as berries.
All wheat products and grains – have a high GI, raise your blood sugar and increase appetite. Avoid all grains including wheat, oats, barley, spelt, sorghum.
Pasta – high in carbohydrates and offer minimal nutrition.
Rice – try substituting rice for more vegetables or cauliflower rice.
Diet or low-fat products – check the labels and you will see how processed and higher in carbs they are compared to their regular version
Occasional foods and drinks to enjoy on a low carb diet.
While you still have weight to lose, it’s best to be a little bit stricter with your carbs, but we all love a treat now and then. Here are a few things you can have on those special occasions.
- Alcohol – avoid cocktails, beer, liqueurs and sweet wines
- Dark chocolate – choose high 85% + cacao chocolate that is generally lower in sugar and carbs.
- Low-carb baking – there are plenty of recipes available to cure a sweet craving
- Potatoes and starchy vegetables – if you can tolerate a moderate level of carbs, some nutrient dense highly coloured starchy vegetables such as carrots, beetroot or sweet potato can be enjoyed occasionally and in limited quantity.
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All the information on this site is intended for providing information only. It does not constitute medical or nutritional advice, is not tailored to any reader’s personal situation and readers should seek their own medical advice before making any decisions related to their nutrition and health.