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12 Complete Low-Carb Menus

Healthy High-Fiber Low-Carb Menus


Updated July 11, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

These 12 days of menus are suggestions to get you started on a healthy low-carb diet. They each fulfill a full day's requirements for vitamins (except in most cases vitamin D), minerals (except, in some cases, calcium), and fiber. They range between 20 and 50 grams of net carb (total carb minus fiber) and from 1500 to 1700 calories. If you are eating more calories, but want to keep the carbs the same, add protein and/or fat. If you are eating more carbohydrate, add more vegetables and fruit (or, if your plan allows, whole grains and other foods from the low-carb pyramid).

1. Low-Carb Menu #1

Steak Dinner
Photo © Heiko Martin
This menu illustrates a principle I found when when creating these menus - that it takes about 30-40 daily grams of net carbohyrate to make it easy to obtain all the essential nutrients. The full version of this menu, at 26 grams of net carbs, has all the vitamins and minerals as noted above. There is also an Atkins Induction version at 20 grams of net carb, but it doesn't quite make it, nutrient-wise. What is difficult at 20 grams becomes much easier at 30 or 40.

2. Menu #2

tuna salad
Photo © William Mahar

You'll see that a lot of these menus have flax meal in them.  This is because flax is jam-packed with fiber and nutrients including Omega-3 fats.  This menu includes one type of my flax-based muffins, but there are other low-carb muffins you could try instead.




3. Menu #3 - Includes Sandwich for Lunch on Low-Carb Bread

Sandwich with Flax Bread
Photo © Emily Dolson

This menu has 30 grams of net carb. The bread for the sandwich at lunch is my low-carb flax meal bread. To see how easy it is to make the bread, check out this video.



4. Menu #4 - No Cooking

fast food
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
This high-protein, low-carb day requires no cooking, and includes a fast-food lunch. You don't even need a microwave! This menu has 33 grams of net carb, plus 25 grams of fiber.

5. Menu #5 - Includes Fruit and Yogurt

Photo © Ruben Joye

This menu includes some fruit and yogurt, and has 40 grams of net carbohydrate.

These menus contain at least the daily minimums of vitamins and minerals. Do you have room for carb in your eating plan? By all means, add more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits. These will give you the most "bang for the buck" in terms of nutrients. To get a variety of antioxidants, eat a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits. For more information about getting the most nutrition for the least carbohydrate, see Making Your Carbs Count


6. Menu #6 - Good for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet

South Beach Diet Book
Image Courtesy of Pricegrabber
This menu is designed to be compatible with Phase One of the South Beach Diet, but works on almost any low-carb plan. It has 30 grams of net carbohydrate, and can be varied easily.

7. Menu #7 - Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito
John Burwell
This menu would be good for most low-carb diets, although not for the Phase 1 of South Beach or Atkins Induction. It has 45 grams net (effective) carbohydrate and 27 grams of fiber.

8. Menu #8 - Includes Dessert

strawberry dipped in chocolate
Photo: Berit Myrekrok/Getty Images

Dessert can easily be added to most of these menus, as many of my low-carb desserts have only a few grams of carbohydrate per serving. The example in this menu gives you the nutrition of strawberries AND the power of chocolate!

This daily menu has 43 grams net carbs and 30 grams of fiber.


9. Menu #9 - With Pancake Breakfast

pumpkin pancakes
Laura Dolson
One of the great things about low-carb eating is that you can eat according to your hunger, rather than having someone else decide the right amount of food for you. If you are still hungry, you can always add more protein or fat to these menus.

The photo here is of pumpkin pecan pancakes, which can be substituted for the almond meal pancakes in the menu for one extra gram of carbohydrate each. The entire day has 34 grams net carb plus 29 grams of fiber and 93 grams of protein.

10. Menu #10 - Very High Nutrient

salmon salad in tomato
Photo © Sebastian Vera

You may have noticed that many of my menus have salmon in them. This is due to their high nutrient value. Find out more about eating salmon, including farmed vs wild salmon. Any oily fish can be substituted for salmon. Of course, you can always put in any protein you like, as protein foods mostly have no carbohydrate.

This menu has a Mexican dinner. The day's total of net carbohydrate is 50 grams.

11. Menu #11 - Easy Menu

grilled chicken on salad
Photo © Paul Johnson

This is a very easy menu – no cooking except for the dinner, which is a non-fussy skillet meal. See other chicken skillet dinners It contains 49 grams of usable carbohydrate and 36 grams of fiber.

12. Menu #12 - High Protein, South Beach Friendly

Salmon Dinner
Photo © Karen Struthers

This menu, with 32 grams of effective carbohydrate and 103 grams protein, works for Phase 2 of the South Beach diet (there is one serving of fruit).

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