by Kate Harveston
Many people prefer to eat foods tantalizing to their taste buds, but which also improve their overall health. The notion of food as medicine is far from new, but increasing access to information has awakened many as to how to eat more healthfully. Wanting to eat better, however, can prove difficult without a road map.
Eating a diet high in lean protein, the right types of fats and a plethora of colourful fruits and vegetables leads to improved physical and mental health outcomes. Following a sound diet decreases the chances of developing type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease or certain cancers. Additionally, noshing on the right foods keeps energy levels high and crushes cravings.
Why Eat a Low-Carb Diet?
Low-carb diet plans such as the ketogenic diet have taken the nation by storm, but how do such diets work? According to nutritionists, when you stop eating carbs for a period of six hours or more, insulin levels in the blood plummet. This prompts the body to turn to fat as a source of fuel instead of metabolizing sugars.
While extreme low-carb eating plans prove difficult and unhealthy to follow long-term, individuals prone to insulin resistance can often reset the way their body produces insulin by temporarily eliminating carbs.
Those at imminent risk of developing type II diabetes can often decrease their chances of diagnosis by making dietary changes and continuing healthy eating patterns for life. And generally speaking, diets higher in fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils tend to correlate to better overall nutrition and health outcomes.
High-Protein Low-Carb Dinner Recipes for Vegans
Those following vegan eating plans have to work a little harder to get their protein, but the good news is, it’s possible to consume all required amino acids, the building blocks of protein, from plants. Here are some recipes to keep you sated even if you eschew animal products.
1. Vegan keto walnut chilli
This delish dish weighs in at less than 400 calories, so those hoping to lose a few pounds can’t go wrong. This recipe calls for a laundry list of ingredients, so prep it on the weekend and freeze in individual serving size containers for weekday meals. For a full recipe, visit Abbey’s Kitchen.
2. Crowd-pleasing vegan Caesar salad
While traditional Caesar salad weighs in with a ton of calories as well as carbs from the croutons, this dish uses roasted chickpea croutons to reduce the carbohydrate content. The extra virgin olive oil does add fats, but they’re the heart-healthy kind, so dig in! Check out the full recipe at Oh She Glows.
3. Vegan tofu and spinach scramble
Need a high-protein vegan meal but don’t have much time? Turn to this tasty powerhouse dish fueled with spinach — and Popeye surely had it right when he downed a can to build his muscles. A full recipe can be found on this website.
4. Spiralized vegetable noodles with smoked tofu and spicy peanut sauce
Zucchini makes the noodles so this dish stays low in carbs. The smoke adds an interesting taste and texture to the tofu and the spicy peanut sauce adds additional protein. Serve with a garnish of your favourite veggies. Check out the full recipe at Supergolden Bakes.
5. Layered raw taco salad for two
Foods in their raw form retain all their nutrients, so munching on this taco salad helps folks get their vitamins and minerals. Adding chopped nuts like cashews and macadamias keep protein levels high, too. This full recipe is available at Oh She Glows.
High-Protein Low-Carb Dinner Recipes for Vegetarians
Vegetarians come in different forms. Some consume eggs but no other animal products, while others may consume dairy as well. Here are some tips for those reducing their meat consumption without going fully vegan.
6. World’s best vegetarian omelette
Those who include eggs as an ingredient in cooking will benefit from consuming several vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium and iodine. Those concerned with animal welfare should stock up on eggs from local, humanely-raised hens. This type of eggs will be better for your health too. Go crazy adding colourful spring veggies to this delish breakfast or anytime treat. A full recipe is available at My Gorgeous Recipes.
7. Frittata with asparagus, tomato and Fontina
Frittata makes for classic brunch fare, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great for dinner, too! This dish takes relatively little prep time, and the tangy asparagus and tomato really pack a flavour Visit Kitchen Joy for a full recipe.
8. Low carb spanakopita cottage cheese casserole
This is a lovely high protein recipe for little carbs and few calories. Each slice only contains around 160 calories, so go ahead and pair it with a glass of light white wine. The garlic adds lovely flavour as well as antioxidants. The full recipe is available at Mom Foodie.
9. Egg salad two ways
Egg salad helps those who eschew meat keep their protein intake high, and this dish perks up otherwise boring hard boiled eggs. Try substituting low-fat mayonnaise to further reduce the calorie count. Those who like things spicy will adore either version of this perfect dinnertime salad. Visit Keto Connect for a full recipe.
10. Vegetarian Keto Lasagna
Eggplant in this dish makes a wonderful substitute for meat and it’s low in carbs and high in phytonutrients. You’ll also get lots of filling fibre to keep you sated long past midnight. The cheeses are all low fat, making this dish friendly for your waistline as well. You can find a full recipe on the Keto Diet
High-Protein Low-Carb Dinner Recipes for Pescetarians
Pescatarians eat fish, and many also consume dairy and eggs (though not necessarily). As fish contains a ton of omega-3 fatty acids and possesses other heart-healthy benefits, those who indulge do well to add fish or seafood to the menu a few times weekly.
11. Baked salmon in foil
While this recipe calls for the oven, those who prefer their pads to smell like something other than fish (or who are showing consideration to roommates with sensitive sniffers) can toss these foil-wrapped salmon on the barbie to cook outdoors. Most of the herbs already dwell in many cupboards, so all you’ll need to pick up from the store are the fillets. Check out Well Plated for a full recipe!
12. Scott Ure’s clams and garlic
With only six ingredients, those handy with a steam pot can put together this elegant meal or appetizer. Since you only need one cup of wine in the dish, split the rest with your meal! All Recipes offers a full explanation of how to whip this one up.
13. Broiled tilapia with fresh herbs
Another six-ingredient meal, this one has you dining in a half hour or less. The mayonnaise in the dish keeps the fish super-moist, and the dill highlights the delicate flavour. Visit the Martha Stewart website for the recipe.
14. Shiitake and prawn miso soup
Need dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes? Turn to this simple soup! With only a few ingredients, this dish cooks up quickly and tastes great, especially on damp, rainy days. To view a full recipe, visit this page.
15. Keto Thai Green Curry
While the original recipe for this dish is both low-carb and vegan, pescatarians can add in a flaky fish such as haddock for an added protein punch. Additionally, while the recipe suggests veggies to use, feel free to substitute others if preferred. The sauce is what makes this dish magic. Check it out at Headbanger’s Kitchen.
High-Protein Low-Carb Dinner Recipes for Meat Eaters
Not everyone prefers to dine meat-free when following a low-carb diet and luckily for those who eat meat it’s very easy to consume lots of protein. But eating meat doesn’t need to mean downing a 2,000-calorie steak-and-potatoes dish smothered in butter and sour cream. Instead, you can enjoy some healthy low-carb dishes that are filling and nutritious and won’t leave your stomach feeling heavy.
Here are some healthy high-protein low-carb ideas for those who regularly eat meat or only once in a while:
16. Healthy beef and broccoli
To make this dish taste best, select the leanest cuts of beef possible. The thinner you slice the beef, the more quickly this dish will cook up. Not a fan of broccoli? You can substitute sugar snap peas, aubergine, broccolini, bell peppers — any low-carb veggie you may like — and the dish is paleo-friendly, too. Serve with a leafy veg salad on the side for extra nutrients. One Lovely Life offers an excellent recipe!
17. Zucchini pasta with chicken and pistachios
This dish also delights those following keto, paleo and other low-carb eating plans. While the recipe calls for making zucchini noodles from scratch, you can substitute store-bought ones to speed up prep time. Visit Happy Body Formula to view the whole recipe.
18. Avocado chicken salad
Chicken and avocado go together like franks and beans. Before I went vegan, I discovered this myself when I ran out of the mayonnaise I typically use to keep the grilled chicken moist and substituted a bit of guac instead — the flavour was amazing! This salad combines these flavours with a hint of herbs, making this the perfect main or side dish the next time you dine al fresco in the beautiful spring weather. Gimme Delicious offers a great recipe for this one.
19. Oven “fried” chicken
You and the family can enjoy the taste of classic fried chicken without all the fat and calories by making it at home in the oven. Those on tight budgets will delight at the prices of many chicken cuts at the market. While boneless, skinless breasts equal convenience, those willing to chop up their own can save considerable cash. View the full recipe at The Spruce Eats!
20. Easy spiced pork chops
Letting pork chops marinate inside a reusable food storage bag lets them soak in the flavour, no breading necessary. Pair these tasty spiced chops with nice kale and spinach salad or atop low-carb zucchini noodles. Pork need not contain nasty nitrates in order to taste delicious! Check out the recipe at Step Away From The Carbs.
Switching to Cleaner Eating Regardless of Lifestyle
Whether you identify as a vegan, a carnivore or anywhere in between, eating a low-carb, high-protein diet comes with considerable health benefits. Those suffering from insulin resistance often find switching to such a diet helps alleviate their symptoms. Opting for an extremely low-carb plan, if limited in duration, can jump-start weight loss in many individuals who otherwise struggle to keep off added pounds.
Roughly 60 per cent of American adults currently weigh in as overweight or obese. Those carrying too much extra fat increase their risks of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. They also increase their risks of developing certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer.
Eating Well for Life and Lifestyle
Food brings pleasure, and those following specific diets need not resign themselves to a lifetime of kale smoothies to maintain their health. By experimenting with the recipes above, anyone can enjoy increased energy levels and overall nutrition regardless of their lifestyle.
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania. She has written for a variety of sites on nutrition, fitness, and self-care. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her at her personal blog, So Well, So Woman, or follow her on Twitter @KateHarveston.
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