Low Carb Diet Tricks

Bread, potatoes, pasta and rice might be hard to give up, but a low-carb diet eschews carbs in favor of higher protein and fat consumption. The number of carbohydrates you eat daily depends on the specific diet to which you're adhering -- it could be as few as 50 grams or as many as 150 grams daily, according to MayoClinic.com. A diet is only as good as your commitment to it, and a low-carb diet can be difficult to stick to. A few tricks can make successful dieting an easier task.

Substitute Vegetables

Low-carb diets limit pasta, potatoes and rice, three foods that can be hard to give up. However, certain vegetables can be prepared in a way that mimics your favorite carb-laden dishes. Boil cauliflower and puree it for a mashed potato substitute, or grate it to look like rice. Although there are low-carb pasta options available, julienned zucchini or roasted spaghetti squash can stand in for spaghetti, particularly when topped with tomato sauce and your favorite protein.

Pick Low-GI Fruit

In some cases, fruit is off-limits for low-carb dieters; however, it still offers plenty of nutritional benefits, such as vitamins, minerals and fiber, which keeps you full. If possible, eat fruits that are low on the glycemic index, a scale of how a food that contains carbohydrates affects your blood sugar. Low-GI fruits include apples, cherries, grapefruit, plums and strawberries. Skip high-GI fruits such as bananas. The ripeness of a fruit affects its GI, too, so eat fruits before they become overly ripe.

Read Nutrition Labels

You might think that salad dressing and ketchup are carb free, but check the label -- you'll likely find hidden carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Read nutritional labels on every packaged food you purchase, carefully scrutinizing the ingredient list. The only way to be sure if a product is low carb is to check the number on the nutrition label, making note of the serving size as well. An item might seem to be low carb until you realize that you consume multiple servings in one sitting.

Carry Low-Carb Snacks

Hunger can strike when you're out and about, and finding a low-carb snack can be tricky in convenience stores or fast food restaurants. To ward off hunger, tote low-carb snacks that can soothe hunger pains until the next meal. Shelf-stable, low-carb snacks include nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, celery with nut butter, raw veggies or baked kale chips, made by baking torn kale leaves coated with olive oil.

Choose Restaurants Wisely

It's tricky to stick with a diet of any kind when going out, but between french fries, sandwiches and heavy pasta dishes, low-carb diets are particularly difficult. Read the menu, if it's available online, prior to visiting the restaurant to make sure you have healthy options. When faced with the menu, look for protein- and veggie-heavy items, such as grilled chicken with mixed vegetables. Ask the waiter to take away the bread basket or chips and salsa. In a pinch, order a hamburger and ask for the bun to be left in the kitchen, and finish it off with a side salad.