List Of Carbohydrate Foods For A Low Carbohydrate Diet

Looking For A List Of Carbohydrate Foods?

This list of carbohydrate foods will help you balance the sugar content of your diet by including complex carbohydrates foods into your eating plan. If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, or thinking of going on one, it is essential that you understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates, and their effect on the glycemic load.  Complex carbohydrates have a higher level of fibre and starch and take longer to digest and therefore release sugar into the blood at a slow but steady rate. This is important for maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing peaks and troughs especially in diabetics. It is also useful to know which foods have a low carbohydrate content, so if you’re on a low-carbohydrate diet you can include these foods into your eating plan. The list of carbohydrate foods provided below is a simple visual guide to low-carb foods.

How Are Complex Carbohydrates Foods Different to Simple Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are an important part of the diet. The body breaks them down into simple sugars, the major source of energy for the body. There are two major classes of carbohydrates:

Simple Carbohydrates 

  • Contain mainly of simple sugars, so are broken down quickly by the body for energy.
  • Examples are white and brown sugar, sugar syrups, glucose, fruit juice concentrates.
  • Refined products like white bread, white pasta, sugary cereals, cookies, cake and candy contain a high amount of simple carbohydrates.

Complex Carbohydrates 

  • Contain mainly fibre and starch so are broken down slowly by the body.
  • Examples are bran, oats, barley, maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, and lentils. Also whole unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts.
  • Products made from whole grains such as brown pasta, brown rice and wholegrain breads have a higher amount of complex carbohydrates.

Low Carbohydrate Food List

The chart below compares the amount of carbohydrate in different foods. It is clear that the lowest levels of carbohydrate are found in fruits and vegetables. In addition, food with negligible amounts of carbohydrates are meat, poultry, fish and oil.

Sample Low Carbohydrate Diet

Meal Foods To Have


  • Omelette, scrambled, fried of boiled eggs
  • Fresh berries and low fat yoghurt
  • Protein Shake
  • Handful of mixed nuts - brazil, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans
  • Grilled mushrooms with a cheese topping
  • Tomatoes with Feta cheese
  • Vegie sticks with guacamole dip


  • Deli slices of beef, turkey, chicken, rolled up in cheese with some lettuce and mayo
  • Burgers - just remember to take out the buns!
  • Seafood
  • Vegetable soups
  • Salads - add some chicken or steak and spice it up


  • Prawn cocktail
  • Grilled fish
  • Steak and vegetables

Diabetic Diet Plan

This list of carbohydrate foods which are lower in carbohydrate content is also useful for type 2 diabetics who need to focus on weight loss to improve the body’s ability to utilize insulin. The key principle of a diabetic diet plan is to significantly reduce carbohydrates, and more importantly, high glycemic load carbohydrates. The idea is to replace carbohydrate rich foods with low carb substitutes. Examples of foods that diabetics can include in a diabetic diet plan are:

Food Group Examples
Low GL Carbohydrates
oats, barley, beans, chickpeas, lentils, whole grains, brown rice, whole meal pasta
green leafy vegetables, artichoke, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, beetroot, cabbage, carrots
Low GL Fruits
berries, melons, plums, apples, citrus fruits, grapefruit
Milk and Dairy Products
low fat milk, yoghurt
lean white meats, salmon, mackeral, sardines, soy protein. Avoid fatty meats.
olive oil, canola oil, avocados. Avoid fried foods as these contain saturated fats.
Nuts and Seeds
flaxseed, hemp, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds

A well regulated and monitored diet is very important for good control of blood glucose in diabetics. The aims of healthy diabetic weight loss diets are to reduce sudden changes in blood glucose levels, reduce hypercholesterolemia and maintain a healthy weight.

Sugar Substitutes & Artificial Sweetners

There are a variety of sugar substitutes on the market today, and the safety of some of the products in use has been called into question. Artificial sweeteners are widely used in place of sugar by diabetics and dieters alike. Two products that may be potentially unsafe are Saccharin and Aspartame, and although only small amounts are required it is considered safer to use a natural sweetener such as Stevia instead. There are two types of sugar substitutes; sugar alcohols and non-caloric sweeteners. Sugar Alcohols or low-calorie sweeteners include sorbitol and mannitol. These contain the same amount or slightly lower calories than sugar and therefore do not help people trying to lose weight. They are commonly used in chewing gum and candy. Sugar alcohols and low calorie sweeteners are absorbed more quickly into the body than sugar and have been known to cause stomach upsets. Non-caloric sweeteners or true artificial sweeteners such Saccharin and Aspartame are used in snack foods and drinks. Laboratory experiments done with rats suggest a link between aspartame and cancer and also between saccharin and cancer. As there were inconsistencies in the findings, the FDA has ruled that these products are safe for human consumption. 


Stevia sweetener is a natural artificial sweetener and sugar substitute that has no calories and can help regulate your blood sugar. It is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar, and is extracted from Stevia Rebaudiana, a plant native to Paraguay and Brazil. Stevia is available in several forms:

  1. Fresh, dried and ground leaves. The leaves contain the sweet glycosides Steviosideand Rebaudioside A, and are used in brewing teas and for cooking, but do not dissolve.
  2. Liquid extracts. These are dissolved in water, alcohol or glycerin.
  3. Powdered extracts. These are processed from the leaves by extracting the sweet glycosides and removing the unwanted plant matter. The quality of this white powder depends on the purity of the glycosides and ratio of Rebaudioside A over Stevioside. The purer the glycoside (80-95%), and higher the ratio, the better the product, and less of an aftertaste.

In the light of potential harm that artificial sweetners may cause, it may be prudent to use Stevia instead, as it is a natural product, and not man-made as the rest of the sugar substitutes in use today.

The takeaway is that carbohydrates are necessary for a healthy diet. However, some carbohydrates are healthier than other. When choosing, remember that complex carbohydrates are the healthier choice.  A carbohydrate-free diet is not healthy. However, try to eat foods that contain complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates when chosing from the list of carbohydrate foods.

More Healthy Lifestyle Articles...

Scroll to Top