Recipes and Cooking Healthy Recipes Healthy Eating 11 Tips for Starting a Low-Carb Diet That You Can Easily Maintain Consider these helpful tips when switching to a low-carb diet. By Sheena Chihak, RD Sheena Chihak, RD Instagram Sheena Chihak is a registered dietitian, former food editor and current edit lead for BHG with over 15 years of writing and editing experience for both print and digital. Learn about BHG's Editorial Process Updated on March 20, 2023 Reviewed by Julie Lopez, RD Fact checked by Emily Estep Share Tweet Pin Email Switching to a low-carbohydrate diet requires more than just swapping meat for pasta and eggs for your morning bagel. The following tips, suggestions, and advice will help ease the transition from a high- to a low-carbohydrate diet. Read on for easy ways to navigate a low-carb diet at restaurants, at home, and on the go. We're even sharing our best low-carb recipes including ideas for dinner and filling side dishes. Antonis Achilleos Make Every Carbohydrate Count When you eat carbohydrates, reach for complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread and pasta, legumes, nonstarchy fruits, and vegetables. Pick Produce that Triggers Lower Glucose Response Fruits and vegetables with the lowest glycemic index include apples, apricots, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumber, grapefruit, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, plums, spinach, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Moderate-GI produce includes cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, orange juice, peaches, peas, pineapple, yams, and watermelon. High-GI fruits and vegetables include bananas, beets, carrots, corn, potatoes, and raisins. Low-Carb Side Dishes to Round Out Your Healthy Meal Read Labels Food labels are required to show how many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving. By reading labels carefully, you can track how many carbohydrate grams are in all the foods you eat. Think Ahead When Dining Out You can eat in restaurants when you're on a low-carbohydrate diet. Pick a restaurant whose menu doesn't revolve around bread or pasta; a seafood restaurant is an excellent choice. Second, plan your day's diet around the restaurant meal. If you've got your heart set on a hunk of French bread at dinner, go light on carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch. Third, when you place your order, don't be afraid to ask the server to leave off the bun or breading. You're paying for the meal, after all, and it should be served the way you like it. Stock Your Kitchen Fill the pantry and fridge with nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish, lean meats and poultry, dairy products, and low-carbohydrate snack bars. Go Nuts About Nuts A variety of studies have shown that peanuts and other nuts, which are rich in monounsaturated fats, help contribute to weight loss and heart health. What's more, they are rich in magnesium, folate, fiber, copper, vitamin E, and arginine, all of which play an important role in the prevention of heart disease. Smear peanut butter on a sliced apple, sprinkle chopped almonds on a salad, or reach for a handful of nuts instead of a bag of potato chips. Have an Oil Change Select heart-healthy monounsaturated oils such as peanut, olive, and canola oil for cooking and salad dressings. Watch Your Condiments Carbohydrates hide in condiments such as relish and ketchup, which each have about five grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, and barbecue sauce, with about seven grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. Choose Lean Meats If you're switching from a low-fat to a low-carbohydrate diet, you might think you now have a license to eat lots of fatty meats. Forget it. Fatty meats are high in saturated fat, which is bad for your heart. Select lean beef, pork, or poultry. Remove any skin and trim visible fat. Fill Up on Fish Seafood is high in protein and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids that protect against heart attack and are vital to the proper function of brain and nerve cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly abundant in higher-fat, cold-water fish such as mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, sardines, and lake trout. All seafood, including shellfish and crustaceans such as oysters and shrimp, contain omega-3 fatty acids. Get Out and Move Exercise is a crucial part of any diet. It speeds up metabolism, burns calories, strengthens and tones muscles, increases flexibility, boosts mood, improves circulation, and so much more. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking, biking, or swimming at least five days a week, and more if you can fit it in. Make exercise more enjoyable by working out with friends, giving yourself non-food rewards when you reach your goals, and trying new sports. Combining moderate exercise with a healthful, low-carbohydrate eating plan will help you lose weight and stay healthy. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Better Homes & Gardens is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources—including peer-reviewed studies—to support the facts in our articles. Read about our editorial policies and standards to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. "Eating nuts: A strategy for weight control?" Harvard Health Publishing. "Types of Fat." The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Pendick, Daniel. "Peanuts Linked to Same Heart, Longevity Benefits as More Pricey Nuts." Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. "Consuming High Amounts of Saturated Fats Linked to Increased Heart Disease Risk." Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dyall, Simon C. “Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience vol. 7 52. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00052 Sokoła-Wysoczańska, Ewa et al. “Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Their Potential Therapeutic Role in Cardiovascular System Disorders-A Review.” Nutrients vol. 10,10 1561. doi:10.3390/nu10101561 "Benefits of Physical Activity." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.