If you are just starting out and switching to a lower-carb way of eating, this awesome graphic showing easy low-carb hacks (keto cheat sheet) can be printed and stuck on your fridge or pantry door.
It will make the task of starting low-carb and keto much easier and more sustainable.
Click on the above image to open the pdf for printing, or click here to pin for later.
Low-carb and keto for beginners
If you are new here, you may wish to read how to start low-carb and keto. it explains everything you need to know.
it will explain how low-carb and keto works, what to enjoy, what to avoid and the advantages of a low-carb and keto diet.
Simple low-carb keto swaps
This handy chart will give you some great ideas when starting your low-carb or keto diet.
Knowledge is power, and once you understand know the low-carb tricks, low-carb swaps and keto hacks, you can make better choices.
It can be confusing when you have decided to cut back on sugar, bread and pasta. How do you cook easy healthy family dinners? How do you pack simple low-carb lunch boxes?
Don't worry, because not only will the chart above help you with your initial steps to ditching the carbs, I have additional charts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks and desserts.
Read more: 31 Easy Low-Carb Swaps - meals, drinks, snacks, desserts
Low-Carb Hacks - Meals
Most burger retailers these days will allow you to ask for a bunless/breadless burger. They will either wrap the burger and the fillings in lettuce leaves, or compensate by giving you extra salad in the box.
Swap fries for a salad with an oily dressing instead. We rarely go to McDonalds, but if we did, I would choose a small burger (kids) meal, a diet coke or water, and swap the fries with a garden salad. I then open the burger and put the meat patty, sauces and cheese on top of the salad. Voila, the regular meal would have been 870 kCal, 133g carbs, my new meal is only 204kCal and 4g carbs!!!!!
It just takes a bit of thinking, and it's cheaper to buy a kids meal. When making burgers at home, use lettuce leaves, mushrooms or capsicum as a bun substitute.
More Low-Carb Dinner Recipes ...
For most of us, givign up bread may be the hardest swap to make and the hardets low-carb hack to make on a regular basis to begin with because we are so used to the convenience of putting a filling between 2 pieces of bread, or in a wrap.
Lunch can be salads packed with protein and good fats (for example, chicken and avocado, caesar salad, bacon, sun-dried tomato, cheese, olives), and leftovers are KING!
Make extra portions for dinner, and save them for lunch.
If you love low-carb meal prep, choose meals which will be great for lunch for the next few days, such as chicken tenderloins and bacon, and roast meat, Grain Free KFC, Paleo Scotch eggs, mini quiche, cream cheese stuffed meatballs, mini meatloaf....
"Cook once, serve twice". This really is the fastest way to have lunch prepared for a few days, and cheaper.
Use lettuce leaves as a wrap, egg wraps, or even start by buying the thinnest bread you can find to cut down on the amount you eat. Take a look at what my children eat in their lunch boxes to give you some ideas. There is 2 weeks of their lunch boxes.
More Low-Carb Lunchbox Recipes ...
Begin to make vegetable pasta (zoodles) using a spiralizer or a julienne cutter. Cut your carbs and double your nutrients by eating more vegetables this way. Win, win.
Processed Meats -
Eat only real meat that is as close to nature as nature intended.
There is a huge difference between processed meat, such as quality homestyle pepperoni and ham cooked on the bone, compared to ultra-processed meat, such as ham shaped into a dinosaur, beef jerky with suagr, hotdogs, and "crab meat", which is often crab flavouring and potato starch.
Enjoy cold roast meat. Only buy sausages which are more than 85% meat and have no wheat fillers or sugar.
Buy the best bacon you can find, with the least amount of preservatives and sugar/honey.
Eat leftovers, and make extra portions for each meal. Bake keto chicken drumsticks and flavout them any way you like.
Low-Carb Hacks - Snacks & Drinks
Snack foods -
As your appetite dimishes (and it does with low-carb and keto nutrition), you lose your cravings, so your need for snack foods will lessen.
Packaged snack foods such as pretzels, corn chips, microwave popcorn, are incredibly high in carbs, sugar, trans fats and preservatives. Start snacking on cheese cubes, pepperoni slices, olives, and my favourite, slices of cucumber instead of crackers then load them up with your favourite toppings like cheese, pate, sundried tomato.
Soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, flavoured milks -
The choice is simple, never have these again, but how?
Sugary drinks, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, flavoured milks, smoothies and sports drinks are ALL incredibly high in sugars. They add very little nutrition, cause tooth decay, increase appetite and are part of the obesity and T2 diabetes epidemic.
They are unnecessary to our diet and cause chronic high blood glucose and triggers insulin demand leading to insulin ressitance.
Instead, a cheaper and healthier alternative are homemade flavoured water recipes.
But if you or your kids are hooked on sugary drinks, use my Stepwise Method, and slowly reduce the drinks one by one, week by week.
Why not begin by diluting the orange juice with water each time until your children (or you) gets used to the taste. It will then be an easier transition to stop having them altogether. Fruit juice and flavoured milks, contain just as much sugar as a coke. If you really want the taste of juice, have a glass of water then a piece of fruit which will contain the all the fibre, vitamins and minerals of whole fruit.
Low Carb Hacks - Sweets & Baking
Ice Cream -
I have some easy low-carb and keto ice cream recipes, with sugar-free magic shell.
Or perhaps make some great low carb cheesecakes, no bake lemon cheesecakes, chocolate swirl baked cheesecake, or lime cheesecake.
Sweets & Confectionery -
It takes a while to develop the taste, but slowly introduce dark chocolate. Each time you buy chocolate, buy a higher cacao %.
Each square will have less sugar, more cacao, and taste slightly bitter which will encourage you to eat less and savour each square (ever noticed and entire block of chocolate can just magically disappear?).
High sugar chocolate is so easy to overeat, then you crave more when your blood sugar crashes. Stop the sugar roller coaster. Eat chopped up nuts and dark chocolate instead of nutty M&M's.
More Low-Carb Sweet Treat Recipes ...
Don't worry, you don't have to completely give up alcohol, but make better choices and limit the number of drinks you have.
Alcohol will always be metabolised before any sugar in your body, so alcohol will slow down weight loss and fat burning.
Choose spirits with low sugar mixes such as diet drinks or carbonated water. Go for red wine or dry white wine. Do not drink dessert wines, sticky wines, beers or liqueurs.
Drink in moderation from a health perspective, a carb perspective and a "gives me the munchies, stops all my willpower" perspective.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Alcohol
Find recipes which have already been devloped using ground almonds, desiccated coconut, ground linseed or coconut flour.
If you want to adapt a favourite recipe, choose ones that have the smallest amount of flour, and they will generally be more successful than a recipe which is based predominantly on flour.
Use ground almonds or ground linseed, then add seasoning, herbs and spices to flavour.
Margarine & Seed Oils -
Margarines are vegetable oils which have been hydrogenated to transform a liquid oil into spreadable margarine. Vegetable oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids which are inflammatory.
Go back to baking with butter ("I trust a cow more than a chemist"), olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil. These are high in omega 3's which are anti inflammatory, they contain nutrients and vitamins, instead of preservatives.
Read more: Ultimate Guide To Healthy Fats And Oils
Frosting & Icing -
A great alternative is a chocolate ganache (cream and chocolate) or a cream cheese frosting. Even a simple cream cheese frosting is the perfect finish to a low-carb cupcake.
Which sugar substitute to use is such a personal choice. I use granulated sweeteners in all my recipes. They measure spoon for spoon in place of sugar.
Whilst others prefer liquid and concentrated sweeteners. Find what works for you, and what taste you find acceptable.
I use far less than is recommended because my sweet tooth has decreased so dramatically. Others may use honey, dried fruit, rice malt syrup or agave in thebelief they are natural and beter for you. But make no mistake, theyse are all natural sugars and they will still rasie your blood glucose accordingly.
Some claim they have protein and micro nutrients, but the small MICRO nutrients, will never undo the damage that chronic high blood glucose does to your body nor the inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance.
I personally don't use these because they are still seen by your body as sugar. They will still raise your insulin, still make you have a sugar crash, and encourages some people to eat more, thinking they are good for them. The small amount of health benefit from say dried fruit or honey, is far outweighed by the damage sugar does to us.
And please avoid agave syrup, it is 80-90% fructose, so is just a naturally occurring High Fructose Corn Syrup.
But really, which sweetener you choose to use is always a personal choice depending on your beliefs, how much weight you have to lose, how much you consume, and taste preference.
Low Carb Hacks - Pantry & Fridge
Toast & Jam - The wheat and jam are a sugar hit you can do without in the morning. Try a smoothie with coconut cream, berries, greens, nut butters, and anything else you want to experiment with.
Rice - Try cauliflower rice. Grate the raw cauliflower in the food processor, then cook in coconut cream and flavourings. Fewer carbs, more nutrition. If this doesn't appeal, eat less rice each time, and don't go back for seconds. Eventually you won't want to waste your carbs on rice which doesn't offer much in the way of flavour or nutrition.
Fruit & Flavoured Yogurt - Take a look at the nutrition lable for fruit yogurt, or a flavoured yogurt and you will see how high they are in sugar.
These banana flavoured yogurt pots have 16g (FOUR teaspoons) of sugar in each pot, yet they still receive the Heart Foundation Tick!!! Try natural yogurt, that only has milk, milk products and cultures. Add some berries for flavour, or cinnamon. Sprinkle coconut or chocolate grain free granola on top.
Cereals - read my post on cereals and you will begin to understand what is wrong with our modern food production.
Grains are used for fattening livestock (when really they should be eating grass). Try scrambled eggs, leftovers, smoothies, bacon, yogurt, berries instead.
Eat quality protein and healthy fats to your day, rather than having a sugar crash at 10am then you reach for a cake or a biscuit, then you feel guilty so you skip lunch, then you crash again, reach for another biscuit to get an instant fix, then crash again while making dinner. Sounds familiar? Fill up on good fats and moderate protein. Feel fuller for longer.
Mashed Potatoes - Try mashed cauliflower instead, just don't tell the children what it is. Flavour it with butter, or garlic. Put some grated cheese on top too. Again, less carbs, more nutrition. My children used to gag on cauliflower, not anymore.
Low Fat Products - start buying full fat products again. When fat is removed from products for either health claims or shelf life, it is replaced with cheaper sugar and sugar compounds.
Next time you are at the supermarket, and compare the sugar/carbs of a low fat product with a regular product. For example, low fat cream cheese has 15% carbs, whereas cream cheese spreadable, has 4%. If you increase your fat intake but don't continually cut the carbs, you will end up with a standard high fat high carb SAD diet (Standard American Diet).
I'm sure you will have some great suggestions and your own low carb hacks. I would love you to add them at the end of this page.
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Eat some protein and good fats to start you off for the day really well fed, rather than having a sugar crash at 10am then you reach for a cake or a biscuit, then you feel guilty so you skip lunch, then you crash again, reach for another biscuit to get an instant fix, then crash again while making dinner. Sounds familiar? Fill up on good fats and moderate protein. Feel fuller for longer.
I am in the journey for a few weeks.
I try to eat real food, but I find out that even if I eat till satisfied, I still can get hungry within 3 hours. It makes me think that the past(the one that takes in cookie/biscuit when hungry) doesn't seem too bad as well, as this keto WOE is not easy sometime as well.
When hungry, you don't even have time to find proper food to eat yet = always hungry and need to suffer through
Yes, I've used crushed pork rinds as a breadcrumb substitute for chicken or pork chop coating. Another option is grated Parmesan cheese mixed with herbs & spices (basil, oregano, garlic & onion powder, cayenne) or a mixture of crushed pork rinds and Parmesan cheese with the herbs & spices.
Really happy to have found your site, I have spend so much time looking for recipes since making the switch! Instead of ice cream I eat Greek yoghurt mixed with some frozen berries. After a few minutes the berries are semi-thawed, the yoghurt is really cold, and it takes no effort to make at all 🙂
Even better (at least my crew thinks so) is "mashed potatoes" made with rutabaga! Potato salad made with them is difficult to distinguish from the "real." Give it a try!
Love your recipes & information!.
Thank you Kelly, what a lovely comment 🙂
One of my best investments has been a spiral vegetable cutter which allows you to make "noodles" out of veggies.
We now have quick-fried Zucchetti (zucchini 'spaghetti') with all our favourite pasta sauces - meat/bolognaise, Alfredo (ham, cream mushroom), chillie tomato, seafood, etc. Sweet potato noodles (drizzled with olive oil and baked in the oven) are also delicious, especially with curries. Daikon (the big Japanese radish) "noodles" go great with stir-fries. You can use many vegetables - turnips, beets, marrows, butternut, Kholrabi, celeriac, even carrots.
This hack has really expanded my repertoire of dishes and everyone in the family now prefers veggie noodles to wheat pasta.
Wish me luck! A New idea and a new start!
Crushed pork rinds work amazing as a 'breadcrumb' we use them for fried chicken all the time!
That's what I was going to post too! I also use them to make "stuffing" to go with turkey for the holidays.
I love your site, but noticed you use a lot of coconut cream. I live in Canada and I've never seen this product. We have a boxed powder but I don't think that's what you use. We also have coconut milk, again, I don't think the consistency is the same as what you use in your recipes. What can I use instead - or how do I get me some??
Hi Dina, take a look at my Low Carb Starter Kit page which shows you everything I keep in my pantry. Generally coconut cream is about 25% fat and here it is sold in tins or 1 litre cartons.
I use a large mushroom instead of the bun for burgers, and shoulder bacon grilled till it's crispy works as a toast replacement. I've even made an egg sandwich using it that you can eat with your hands 🙂
Hi! Regarding the alcohol swap.. I have a book that says white wine is better than red. It says that red has more sugar, and to not be fooled by the taste.
Theres a great article in Marks Daily Apple which discusses alcohol. Red wine is a great choice because it is low carb and it contains polyphenol and reservatrol. But if white wine is your thing, it still does contain these, just in smaller amounts.
please can we have a printable version of the swop graphic to stick on the fridge.
thanks so much.
Thanks for the suggestion. Completing that task, just tested all of my (very limited) IT knowledge. You can now click on the image and a PDF file will appear in another page, then you can print it on 1 piece of A4. 🙂
Thanks for that......it is going on my fridge 🙂