List of Low-Carbohydrate Foods

Karen Frazier
Foods to Eat for Low Carb Diet

With all the food restrictions that come with plans like the Atkins Diet or South Beach Diet, low-carbohydrate dieters often experience confusion about just what they can eat. Many foods are naturally low in carbohydrates. Use this list as a reference as you embark on your low-carbohydrate diet plan.

Low-Carbohydrate Foods

In compiling a list of low-carbohydrate foods, it is important to keep in mind that not all nutritionists recommend a strictly low-carbohydrate diet as a healthy way to lose weight. Check with your doctor for underlying health issues, and make sure you educate yourself about the basics of low-carbohydrate eating before undertaking a low-carbohydrate diet.

The printable of the low-carbohydrate food list can be helpful. If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.

Self Nutrition Data lists the carb counts of the low-carb foods listed below in their searchable database.

Unprocessed Animal Proteins

Most unprocessed proteins come from animal sources and are extremely low in carbohydrates, containing one gram of carbohydrates per three ounce serving or fewer.

It's important to exercise some care in choosing processed meats such as hot dogs and sausages. Try to select processed meats with no added sugar and less than two grams of carbohydrates per serving, and overall try to limit intake of processed meats.

The following unprocessed meats contain one gram of carb or less per three ounce serving:

  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork products
  • Seafood
  • Game meat

Eggs

Eggs are a naturally low-carbohydrate food. Per egg, they contain two grams of carbs or less.

Processed Animal Proteins

As previously mentioned, processed animal proteins may contain some carbohydrates. How many depends largely on the recipe the meat processor uses, as well as how much sugar is in the meat. Therefore, when selecting processed meats (such as ham, sausage, salami, and bacon) it is important to read the manufacturer's labels to determine the level of carbohydrates they contain.

Dairy

Most full-fat dairy is low in carbohydrates; however, you should limit quantities to one to two ounces daily. Choose the following full-fat dairy products.

Product Serving Size Carbs Per Serving
Heavy cream 1 ounce 1 gram
Butter 1 tablespoon 0 grams
Hard cheese (cheddar, Swiss, etc.) 1 ounce 0 to 2 grams
Soft cheese (cream cheese, brie, etc.) 1 ounce 1 gram
Sour cream 2 tablespoons 1 gram
Cottage cheese 4 ounces 4 grams
Plain unsweetened yogurt 1 cup 11 grams

Vegetables

You can eat most vegetables in relatively unlimited amounts on a low-carbohydrate diet plan. It's best to avoid or minimize starchier vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, beets, peas and corn.

Low-Carb Vegetables
Vegetable Serving Size Carbs per Serving Vegetable Serving Size Carbs per Serving Vegetable Serving
Size
Carbs per Serving
Alfalfa Sprouts 1 cup 1.2 grams Eggplant 1 cup 5 grams Spaghetti Squash 1 cup cubes 7 grams
Cucumber 1 medium 4 grams Cauliflower 1 cup 5 grams Jicama 1 cup slices 11 grams
Artichoke Hearts 1/2 medium 7 grams Summer Squash 1 cup chopped 4 grams Tomatoes 1 medium fruit 5 grams
Bok Choy 1 cup, shredded 1.5 grams Sauerkraut 1 cup 6 grams Fennel 1 cup sliced 6 grams
Celery 1 stalk 2 grams Okra 1 cup 7 grams Brussels Sprouts 1 cup 8 grams
Mushrooms 1 cup 2 grams Asparagus 1 cup 5 grams Onions 1/2 cup chopped 7.5 grams
Radishes 1 cup, sliced 4 grams Turnips 1 cup 8 grams Peppers 1 cup chopped 9 grams
Leeks 1/2 cup 6.5 grams Bamboo Shoots 1 cup 8 grams Celeriac 1/2 cup chopped 7 grams
Broccoli 1 cup 6 grams Spinach 2 cups 2 grams Lettuce 2 cups 2 grams

Other vegetables, like salad greens, spinach and green onions, also are very low in carbohydrates. You can eat a huge salad without worrying about consuming too many carbs.

Fruits

Limited amounts of fruit can be part of a healthy low-carb diet plan. However, some fruits are often restricted on low-carb eating plans because they are high in sugar, a form of simple carbohydrate. These include things like pineapple (4.8 carbs) and grapes (7.9 carbs). Other fruits are very high in carbohydrates, such as mangos (35.2 carbs) or dried fruit (63.6 carbs). Follow your plan carefully with respect to these items.

Low-Carb Fruits
Fruit Serving Size Carbs per Serving Fruit Serving Size Carbs per Serving
Strawberries 1/2 cups of halves 6 grams Limes 1 fruit 7 grams
Rhubarb 1 cup diced 6 grams Plums 1 fruit 8 grams
Watermelon 1/2 cup of balls 6 grams Peaches 1 small 13 grams
Cranberries 1/2 cup 6.5 grams Grapefruit 1/2 fruit 13 grams
Cantaloupe 1/2 cup of balls 8 grams Guava 1 fruit 8 grams
Raspberries 1/2 cup 7.5 grams Sweet Cherries 1/2 cup 11 grams
Apricots 1 fruit 4 grams Avocados 1/2 fruit 6 grams
Honeydew 1/2 cup of balls 8 grams Nectarine 1 small 15 grams
Blackberries 1/2 cup 7.5 grams Apple 1 small 21 grams
Blueberries 1/2 cup 10.5 grams Pear 1 small 23 grams
Lemons 1 fruit 12 grams Papaya 1 small 15 grams

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great snack foods for low-carb diet plans; however, quantity matters. Limit daily intake to one to two ounces unless indicated otherwise. All nuts should be either raw or dry roasted, and beware of honey-roasted products or those that contain other added sugar.

Nut/Seed Serving Size Carbs per Serving
Flaxseed 2 tablespoons 6 grams
Chia seeds 1 ounce 12 grams
Sunflower seeds 1 ounce 7 grams
Cashews 1 ounce 9 grams
Macadamia nuts 1 ounce 4 grams
Almonds 1 ounce 5 grams
Coconut flakes 1 ounce 4 grams
Coconut milk (unsweetened) 1/2 cup 3 grams
Walnuts 1 ounce 3 grams
Pecans 1 ounce 4 grams
Pine nuts 1 ounce 4 grams
Pistachios 1 ounce 8 grams
Almond butter 1 tablespoon 3 grams
Peanut butter 1 tablespoon 3.5 grams

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are generally low-carbohydrate foods. Limit to one or two tablespoons. Below is a partial list of low-carbohydrate herbs and spices:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Turmeric
  • Tarragon

Fats

Pure fats contain no carbohydrates. Consider one of these options:

  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Fish oil

Sauces and Condiments

If you use them in limited amounts, a number of jarred sauces can be part of a low-carbohydrate diet. Check for added sugar and avoid those that have sugar in any form. While these are general estimates, be sure to read labels for carb counts for specific brands.

Sauce Serving Size Carbs
Salsa 1/4 cup 4 grams
Marinara sauce 1/4 cup 9 grams
Hot sauce 2 teaspoons 0 grams
Broth 2 cups 2 grams
Mayonnaise 2 tablespoons 0 grams
Ranch dressing
(or similar creamy dressing)
2 tablespoons 1-2 grams
Vinaigrette 2 tablespoons 4 grams
Mustard 2 teaspoons 1 gram
Tartar sauce 2 tablespoons 4 grams
Vinegar (white, red wine) 2 tablespoons 0 grams
Balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons 3 grams
Apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons 0 grams

Libations

Limited amounts of alcoholic beverages can be part of a low-carbohydrate diet. It is important to note that the body processes alcohol differently than other nutrients, and this can cause blood sugar to be erratic. Beware of mixers, which often contain high levels of sugar and carbohydrates.

Limit alcohol intake to occasional drinks, and limit quantities as suggested below.

  • Dry white wine (three ounces) - 3 grams
  • Dry red wine (three ounces) - 3 grams
  • Low-carbohydrate beer such as Michelob Ultra (one beer) - 2.6 grams
  • Hard liquor such as whiskey or vodka (one shot) - 0 grams

Healthy Foods

It is possible to eat a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet. By choosing a variety of proteins, vegetables and fruits from the list of low-carbohydrate foods above and working closely with your doctor, you may be able to experience better health through low-carbohydrate eating.

List of Low-Carbohydrate Foods