Tips for a Low Carb Desi diet

A low carb diet is a proven way to help weight loss and can help with health issues. DESIblitz brings you some useful tips for a Low Carb Desi diet.

a lot of South Asian foods include carbohydrate rich foods

Low Carbohydrate diets are seen as one diet that can help with weight loss.

Since 2002, there have been over 20 human studies on diets. In these studies the low carb diets have proven to be most effective. Not only have low carb diets proven to tackle fat loss but they help with lowering the risk of high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.

The way the diet works is by not adding excessive wrong fats or sugar to your food. Therefore, your body essentially resorts to using fat already stored in your body.

A low carb diet requires elimination of bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, processed foods, cereals and anything else that is high nutritional carbohydrate from your food intake.

For British Asian and Desi people this is a major challenge, since a lot of South Asian foods include carbohydrate rich foods as part of their traditional diet.

DESIblitz brings you some key tips on how to follow a low-carb diet with Desi food.

Foods to avoid

You must aim not have any of the following foods on a low carb-diet:

  • Bread, Rice and Pasta – white, brown, wholemeal, pitta, naan, chappati, tandoori roti, tortilla wraps and any other kind of breads. No rice of any kind – basmati, long grain and risotto. No pasta of any kind.
  • Starchy Vegetables – all kinds of white potatoes, red potatoes, fries, chips, corn (makki), peas, beetroot, parsnips, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots.
  • High Sugar Fruits – mangoes, bananas, figs, grapes, cherries, pomegranates, tangerines, pineapple, pears and kiwi.
  • Snacks – crisps, tortillas, samosas, pakoras, mathi, Bombay mix, chevda, boondi and all fried snacks.
  • Sweets – kheer, vermicelli (sewyian), mithai, halwa, gajjar halwa, sooji, karah, sweetened nuts, chocolate nuts, candy and milk chocolate.
  • Sauces and Dressings– do not use bought cooking sauces – make your own. No high in sugar sauces such as ketchup and sweet relishes.

Desi Omelette
Protein is essential food for a low carb diet. Therefore, it is important to include protein in every meal you have.

Choices are ideally white meats such as chicken and turkey, red meats which should be consumed occasionally, fish and eggs

For vegans, plant based protein such tofu, soya, different types of beans, chickpeas, and cheeses including paneer.

Nuts are a great part of the diet. Especially, almonds and peanuts. Avoid having too many as they are high in calories.

Eggs are a great start to the day. They can be easily boiled, lightly fried, poached or scrambled.

A great breakfast option is a Desi omelette made with a little butter, onions, green chillies (if you like it hot), garnished with paprika, salt and black pepper. You can add spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms too.

Best way to have meat is grilled or tandoori it gets rid of the fat.

For example, rub your meat with powdered spices such as piri piri, hot paprika, black course pepper, white pepper, ginger powder and sea salt with a little olive oil and place on open foil under the grill. Serve with a salad.

When cooking meat curries remember you cannot have any bread or rice with them. So, make a big salad or a vegetable sabzi to accompany it.

Low Carb Vegetable Salad
Eat a variety of non-starchy vegetables. These include:

  • Non-starch favourites – radishes, sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, Brussel sprouts, okra, cauliflower, summer squashes, peppers, green onions, eggplant, artichokes and mushrooms
  • Salad Greens – lettuce, spinach and all cabbages.
  • Leafy Greens – Swiss chard or other chard, collard greens, kale and pak choy.
  • Herbs – basil, parsley, coriander (dhaniya), garlic (lasan), ginger (adrak) and cumin seeds (jeera).

Make vegetable sabzis, big salads and eat vegetables raw as snacks. Grilled vegetables with masala spices and olive oil on them are great.

Low Carb Fruit
Choose low sugar fruits. These include:

  • Apples, Lemons, limes, water-melons, peaches, papaya, apricots, guavas, nectarines and grapefruit
  • Berries – raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, red currants and cranberries

Do not eat fruits too late at night, have them during the day.

Low Carb Oils - Olive Oil
Use good cooking oils such as rapeseed oil and extra virgin olive oil for the low carb diet.

You are allowed butter and coconut oil but sparingly. Peanut butter is great for snacks.

Avoid soy, corn, and sunflower oils. Partially hydrogenated oils should always be avoided.

So, when cooking any Desi dishes such as curries, sabzies, salan and daals, make sure you use the right oils. Use butter occasionally.

Low Carb Dairy - Greek Yogurt Raita
For dairy in your low-carb diet, you can include cream, full-fat cottage cheese, sour cream, feta cheese, hard cheeses, ricotta, greek yoghurt, low-fat natural yoghurt and semi-skimmed or fully skimmed milk.

Enjoy Greek or natural yoghurt with your Desi meal. Use cottage cheese or feta cheese in salads.

You can have cheddar cheese, cut into little slices for a snack with an apple for example.

Sauces and Accompaniments
Low Carb Sauces - Mint Chutney
You can have sauces which are not high in sugar or made with the wrong oils.

Great Desi choices are Raita, home made chutney with mint and chillies and immli sauce. Be careful of pre-made achaar in jars. Make your own.

A low carb diet alone will not achieve proper weight loss. You are required to do at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day or at least 3 days in the gym following a good weight loss routine –mix of cardio and weights.

Use the 90/10 rule where you eat the low carb foods for 90% of the time and have a cheat meal, say once a week which can include carbs like brown rice or sweet potatoes.

The diet will teach you to explore food a lot more. You will find gradually that you will eat less as you started feeling fuller for longer on these foods which can result the desired weight loss.

So, give the low carb diet a go and you might lose some of those pounds you have not lost with other approaches.

Nazhat is an ambitious 'Desi' woman with interests in news and lifestyle. As a writer with a determined journalistic flair, she firmly believes in the motto "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest," by Benjamin Franklin.

If you are on medication, pregnant or suffer from any illness it is advisable to consult your doctor before going on any diet.