One reason for the popularity of low-carb diets is that once you are used to ingesting a much smaller amount of carbs, you won't feel as deprived as you might on a low-fat and/or calorie-counting diet. When you are snacking on luxuriously creamy cheese instead of empty, crunchy carbs, you almost feel like you're not dieting at all. However, not all dairy products are appropriate for a low-carb diet and it may surprise you to see which ones you need to ration most carefully. Here are some tips to help you.
- Skill level:
Divide dairy products into categories and then acquaint yourself with the best and worst choices within each one. You can consume dairy products on their own as beverages or you also enjoy them in combination with other foods, such as cream for coffee or a sour cream dip for fresh veggies. Finally, you eat stand-alone dairy products as a snack or meal, utilising them as a primary source of protein. It makes sense to consider them in these three groups.
Cut milk drinks from your regime. There is virtually no difference in the carb count of whole, 2%, 1% and fat-free milk. Do without it for at least the first two weeks of your low-carb diet. The best alternative to milk is soy milk, which can have between 2 and 5 carbs per 237 ml (1 cup), depending on the brand. Choose carefully because most soy milk is sweetened. If you can't find a brand that is sweetened with a sugar alternative, buy unsweetened soy milk and adjust it to the desired level of sweetness with Splenda. Almond milk has 2 or 3 carbs per 237 ml (1 cup), but most varieties are sweetened. A popular substitute for milk, Calorie Countdown, has a mere 3 carbs per 237 ml (1 cup) and is virtually indistinguishable from 2% milk. However, it can be hard to find at the supermarket. Yoghurt drinks are very high in carbs. Avoid them completely during your diet.
Enjoy skinny lattes made with Splenda and soymilk at a coffee shop, but when enjoying a cup of coffee at home, it makes more sense to lighten it with double cream. A tablespoon of double cream has slightly under half a carb, an important consideration if you drink coffee or tea throughout the day. Don't put evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk in your coffee or tea, as both are extremely high in carbs. If you are having a slice of low-carb toast, by all means enjoy it with real butter. The amount of butter you'll spread on that slice of toast has virtually no carbs, but if you were to use margarine instead, you'd be adding almost as many carbs as the bread. Have all the butter you want with any cooked vegetables. If you have found a breakfast cereal that is relatively low in carbs (Special K qualifies) and want to have cereal and milk for breakfast, use the Calorie Countdown milk. Other dairy products that you typically enjoy with food, such as sour cream on baked potato, or whipped cream on dessert, don't pose much of an issue on a low-carb diet because it's unlikely to include many baked potatoes or desserts. However, a quick, easy and very enjoyable low-carb dessert is to sweeten a cup of Greek yoghurt with Splenda and stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of unsweetened strawberries or raspberries. Berries of various types are the fruits that are lowest in carbs.
Treat yoghurt and cheese with caution. The carb count of yoghurt varies dramatically from one brand to another and is higher for low-fat yoghurt than full-fat yoghurt. The best yoghurt to choose for your low-carb lunch or snack is Greek-style yoghurt, such as that manufactured by FAGE, which is strained. Most of the carbs in yoghurt are actually in the whey, so straining produces a lower-carb version. Stick with plain yoghurt and sweeten it with Splenda; fruit-flavoured yoghurt adds in more carbs. Yoghurt that contains live cultures (as opposed to yoghurt that is merely made with them) may actually be lower in carbs than the label indicates because the bacteria consume some of the lactose. Cheese is more straightforward. In general, soft and semi-soft cheese is lower in carbs, with Camembert and Brie averaging 6 g (0.2 oz) of carbohydrate per 28 g (1 oz). Medium-firm cheeses, such as cheddar and swiss, are slightly higher, at 7 or 8 g (0.25 to 0.28 oz). Be careful with cottage cheese, however; a 62 g (1/2 cup) serving has 15 g (0.52 oz) of carbs.
Tips and warnings
- Read labels religiously while using a low-carb regimen. Many foods you consider appropriate may have additives that sends the carb count sky high.