Your 7-day low-carb meal plan
Before starting any healthy eating programme, please read how to choose your meal plan to make sure you follow the plan that's right for you.
This nutritionally balanced meal plan is suitable for those wishing to closely manage their carbohydrate intake. It's also calorie counted for your convenience, and contains at least five portions of fruit and veg per day.
Please note that the full nutritional information and exact specifications for all meals and snacks is available in the PDF only, and not listed below.
The weekly overview
Breakfast: Wholemeal toast with scrambled eggs
Lunch: Cauliflower and leek soup
Dinner: Lower-fat cauliflower and broccoli cheese with a medium grilled salmon fillet
Pudding: Greek yogurt with raspberries
Choose from snacks including fruit, nuts and rye crackers with avocado.
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with raspberries and pumpkin seeds
Lunch: Chickpea and tuna salad and strawberries
Dinner: Beef goulash
Pudding: Rhubarb fool
Choose from snacks including granary bread with peanut butter, avocado, Greek yogurt, crudites and nuts.
Breakfast: Porridge with almonds, blueberries and pumpkin seeds
Lunch: Mackerel salsa wrap
Dinner: Chicken casserole with broccoli
Pudding: Greek yogurt with strawberries and blueberries
Choose from snacks including nuts, wholemeal rice cakes with peanut butter and crudites with guacamole.
Breakfast: Mushroom omelette with mushrooms and grilled tomato
Lunch: Creamy chicken and mushroom soup and Greek yogurt with raspberries
Dinner: Beefburger with green salad
Pudding: Summer berry posset
Choose from snacks including oatcakes with light cream cheese, nuts and avocado.
Breakfast: Scrambled egg on granary toast with mushrooms
Lunch: Beef and barley soup and Greek yogurt
Dinner: Italian-style braised lamb steaks with brown rice and broccoli
Pudding: Microwave mug: Chocolate, banana and almond cup with half-fat creme fraiche
Choose from snacks including nuts, cheese and guacamole with crudites.
Breakfast: Wholemeal toast with grilled bacon and mushrooms
Lunch: Bang bang chicken salad
Dinner: Coq au vinwith broccoli
Pudding: Hot chocolate
Choose from snacks including raspberry smoothie and nuts.
Breakfast: Scrambled egg with smoked salmon on granary toast
Lunch: Ham, leek and Parmesan frittata with avocado, celery, cucumber and lettuce
Dinner: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, green beans and gravy
Pudding: Greek yogurt with rapsberries
Choose from snacks including olives, nuts, dried fruit and oatcakes with light cream cheese.
The low-carb meal plan aims to help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet while reducing the amount of carbs you eat. Varying amounts of carbohydrate are shown each day to help you choose which works best for you.
The amount and type of carbohydrates people with diabetes should consume each day has been widely debated recently. Most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and therefore provide an important source of fuel for our bodies. Because total carbohydrate intake has the greatest effect on blood glucose levels, some question whether people with diabetes should reduce their intake of carbohydrates to improve blood glucose control.
Low-carb diets and Type 1 diabetes
If you have Type 1 diabetes and are a healthy weight and have good blood glucose control, you do not need to reduce your carbohydrate intake. If you have Type 1 diabetes and are either overweight or trying to lose weight, then reducing overall energy intake including calories from carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol will help. It's important to speak to your healthcare team for specific advice, as you might need to adjust the amount of insulin you take to reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia.
Some people with Type 1 diabetes may choose to reduce their carbohydrate intake in order to manage their blood glucose levels and therefore reduce the amount of insulin they require. However, there is no research to confirm a benefit to blood glucose control if people with Type 1 diabetes reduce their carbohydrate intake. The most effective way to improve blood glucose levels in Type 1 diabetes is to match insulin with carbohydrate (carbohydrate counting).
Low-carb diets and Type 2 diabetes
Evidence suggests that low-carb diets are safe and can improve blood glucose levels in the short term, as well as helping to achieve weight loss and reducing the risk of heart disease in people with Type 2 diabetes. However, in the long term, low-carb diets are not more effective than other types of diet. Research suggests that the best type of diet is one that you can maintain in the long term, so it's important to talk to your healthcare professional about what you think will work for you.
If you treat your diabetes with insulin or any other medication that puts you at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels), following a low-carb diet may increase this risk. However, your healthcare team can help you adjust your medications to reduce your risk of hypos.
What is a low-carb diet?
Currently, there is no agreement about the definition of a low-carb diet - but, anything providing less than 130g/day of a 2000kcal diet (26 per cent of energy) is considered 'low-carb'. Anything less than 30g/day of 2000kcal diet (6 per cent energy) is considered very low-carbohydrate ketogenic and is not recommended as research suggests this is not sustainable even in the medium term.
If you decide to follow a low-carb diet, it's important that the carbohydrates you do choose support a healthy, balanced diet. You should include fruits and vegetables, beans and pulses, dairy and wholegrains. Cutting down on refined carbohydrates, added sugar, cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks etc is a good way to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Some people suggest replacing carbohydrates with fats (and particularly saturated fat), however this will increase your risk of heart disease and may make it more difficult to lose weight as fat is high in calories.
General healthy eating information
To help us manage our weight and choose a healthier diet, reference intakes (RIs) have been devised and give a useful indication of how much energy the average person needs and how a particular nutrient fits into your daily diet.
RIs are not intended as targets, as energy and nutrient requirements are different for all people depending on your age, sex and activity levels. The term ‘reference intakes’ has replaced ‘guideline daily amounts’ (GDAs), which used to appear on food labels. But, the basic principle behind these two terms is the same.
RIs values are based on an average-sized woman doing an average amount of physical activity. This is to reduce the risk of people with lower energy requirements eating too much, as well as to provide clear and consistent information on labels.
As part of a healthy balanced diet, an adult's reference intakes for energy and carbohydrate in a day is 2000 kcal and 260g, respectively. Although this figure exists for the general population, there is limited evidence for the exact amount of carbohydrate people with diabetes should consume on a daily basis and a lower intake may be appropriate for some people.
The ‘low-carb' meal plan should be adjusted according to your needs. Remember, we don't all need to eat the same amount of calories. Men, who are generally heavier and have more muscle compared to women, require more calories. Young children also need fewer calories than adults. In contrast, older boys from 11 years and girls from 15 years and above, are likely to need more calories. So, adjust portion sizes accordingly to meet your needs.