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When you hear the words “low-carb diet,” you may think of bacon, meats and cheese. But low carb doesn’t have to mean high calorie or unhealthy. 

According to the CDC, nearly 50% of Americans have tried to lose weight in the last 12 months. If you are among those 140 million-plus who are looking for a healthy weight loss plan, you may have considered a low-carb diet.

Low-carb diets have been used for weight loss since the 1860s. They made a resurgence in the 1970s with the Atkins diet, and again in the last few years with the keto diet. If you’re ready to try low carb, you may be wondering, How do I determine which foods are low carb?

When looking at carbs and how they affect our bodies, it’s important to consider fiber. Fiber impacts how long it takes the body to digest food, how much blood sugar levels are changed by the food, and the number of net carbs in food. To calculate the net carbs in any food, take the total grams of carbs and subtract the grams of fiber.  

Now that you understand net carbs, let's look at 20 of the best low-carb, low-calorie foods to reach for. 


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Calories: 27
Net carbs: 2.4
Serving size: 1 cup

High in potassium, B vitamins, and folate, asparagus is considered an anti-inflammatory vegetable. It's an excellent source of nutrition in any diet.

Atlantic Cod

Calories: 120
Net carbs: 0
Serving size: 6 oz

Cod is a great low-calorie, low-carb source of protein. It's high in omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to combat inflammatory diseases and improve cardiovascular health, brain health, and eye health. You can also get potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, and calcium from eating cod. 

Brazil Nuts

Calories: 186
Net carbs: 1.4 g
Serving size: 1 oz (6 pieces)

High in fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron, Brazil nuts provide healthy fats and protein. Brazil nuts can also positively impact metabolism, reproduction, and immune system functioning by offering 100% of our recommended daily value of selenium.


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Calories: 60
Net carbs: 11.2
Serving size: 1 cup

Cantaloupe is a mild, sweet melon that is both high in fiber and water and low in calories and carbs, making it a good choice for those who are looking for a satiating fruit. It also provides a quality source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.


Calories: 17
Net carbs: 2
Serving size: 1 cup

Cabbage is in a group known as cruciferous vegetables containing phytochemicals that studies have shown are promising for their cancer-fighting abilities. High in vitamins C, A, and K, as well as fiber, folate, potassium, and magnesium, cabbage is an ideal component of any low-calorie, low-carb diet.


Calories: 25
Net carbs: 2.8 g
Serving size: 1 cup

Like cabbage, cauliflower is a cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable that is high in fiber and plant-based protein and low in calories and carbs. A solid source of vitamin C, K, potassium, and calcium, cauliflower is a hydrating food with a high concentration of water.


Calories: 14
Net carbs: 1.4
Serving size: 1 cup

One of the lowest calorie food on this list, celery is also high in vitamins A, C, K, and potassium. This water and fiber-filled veggie can be eaten raw or cooked and makes an excellent substitute for chips, thanks to its crunch factor. 

Cottage Cheese (low-fat, 1%)

Calories: 163
Net carbs: 6.2
Serving size: 1 cup

With 28 grams of protein per cup, it's no wonder bodybuilders and athletes keep cottage cheese in their diets. The creamy, slightly salty cheese can be swapped for ricotta and cream cheese to lighten recipes and contains vitamin B12, selenium, folate and calcium.  


Calories: 16
Net carbs: 3 g
Serving size: 1 cup

With their high water content, cucumbers are not only low-calorie and low-carb, but they are hydrating as well! They are a good source of vitamin K, A, C, potassium, and chlorophyll. Like celery, cucumbers make an excellent substitute for traditional chips since they are crunchy and can be dipped in your favorite low-carb spread for a healthy snack.


Credit: Photo: Aaron Kirk

Calories: 78
Net carbs: 0.6 g
Serving size: 1 large egg

Low-calorie, low-carb, and high in protein, eggs are an excellent source of B vitamins and vitamins A, D, E, and K, and are also one of the best nutritional sources of choline—a key nutrient in cell growth and maintenance and in brain and bone health.

Plain Greek Yogurt 

Calories: 220
Net carbs: 18
Serving size: 1 cup

In addition to a solid amount of protein, Greek yogurt provides probiotics that benefit gut health. Note that if you opt for flavored Greek yogurt, you may be increasing the carbs with added sugar. Instead, add sweetness to plain yogurt with one of the fresh fruits on this list.

Lupini Beans

Calories: 30
Net carbs: 5 g
Serving size: ¼ cup

When you think of low carb, you don’t often think of beans, but Italian lupini beans are the exception to the rule. These super legumes are high in protein and in prebiotic fiber that is essential to gut health. They are rich in B vitamins, phosphorous, and calcium and are a good source of antioxidants.


Credit: Randy Mayor

Calories: 62
Net carbs: 12
Serving size: 1 cup

Oranges pack a hefty dose of vitamin C, are a good source of potassium, and are the highest-ranking fruit on the satiety index of common foods, meaning that they keep you full due to their high water and fiber content. As a reminder, this is true of the whole fruit, not the juice.


Calories: 65.5
Net carbs: 17
Serving size: 1 cup

Naturally sweet peaches may seem too good to be true on this list of low-carb, low-calorie foods. Peaches are high in vitamin C, A, and beta-carotene and are a deliciously sweet summer treat.


Calories: 196
Net carbs: 1 g
Serving size: 1 oz (19 half pieces)

While their calorie count may be higher than some other foods on this list, pecans are very low carb and are a good option for getting healthy, monounsaturated fats into your diet. They also provide a good source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.


Calories: 65
Net carbs: 6.7 g
Serving size: 1 cup

Raspberries have the highest fiber content of any berry. Berries are also lower in natural sugars than many other fruits and are packed with vitamins and nutrients, are antioxidant-rich, and even provide anti-inflammatory properties.


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Calories: 7
Net carbs: 0.4
Serving size: 1 cup

With the lowest calorie content of any of the foods listed, spinach may also be one of the most nutritious. The dark, leafy greens contain calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate. Added bonus: You can eat a large amount of spinach as the base for a delicious salad or dish without adding many carbs or calories.


Calories: 49
Net carbs: 8.2 g
Serving size: 1 cup

Not only are they sweet and delicious, but research indicates that strawberries can help improve insulin resistance when eaten each day. With high fiber and water content, berries are also lower in natural sugars than many other fruits, which can be helpful to those looking to lose weight.  


Calories: 47
Net carbs: 11g
Serving size: 1 cup

True to its name, watermelon has a high water content, making it a hydrating food. In addition, it is a good source of potassium, vitamin C, B6, and magnesium.

White Mushrooms 

Calories: 16
Net carbs: 1.6 g
Serving size: 1 cup

Mushrooms are low in calorie and carbs and high in nutrition, providing a good source of vitamins C, D, and B6, as well as folate, iron, zinc, manganese, and thiamin, among other minerals. Their mild flavor and hearty texture make them a satisfying addition to any dish.

The Bottom Line 

Low carb and low calorie does not have to mean low nutrition. While there are many options available for low-carb treats and snacks, it is important to remember that whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods should make up the bulk of your diet. These foods are not only whole foods, but they are nutritious, low in carbs, and low in calories.

Julie Floyd Jones is an Atlanta, Georgia based Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified Yoga Instructor. Julie is the Program Director for Excellence in Exercise, where she works with corporate partners to provide wellness solutions for employees globally. She is the founder of Training & Champagning Curated Wellness Retreats and Thrive.