10 Low Carb Veggies to Fuel Your Workouts

Add these delicious veggies to your list of foods to eat more often.


BY RACHEL TAVEL |

When it’s time to load up on carbohydrates, it might seem like second nature to eat pasta, or bread. But one thing you should also turn to: vegetables.

Vegetables are easily overlooked as a source of carbohydrates because they’re highlighted for being such good sources of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Truth is, though, a lot of vegetables are low in carbs and could be a great source of energy for less intense workouts.

While carb loading definitely has its place in your training to help fuel intense, long workouts and increase glycogen storage, there are times when you might prefer low-carb options. During low-training periods, for example, your body won’t require as many carbs as it does during high-mileage weeks.

For those times, consider fueling with low carb vegetables. Many vegetables consist of less than 10 grams of carbohydrates per cup, making them a healthy addition to any diet because they also pack in a ton of micronutrients and sometimes fibre too.

Robert Graham, M.D., M.P.H., doctor of internal and integrative medicine, recommends the following low-carb leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, which are high in fibre, antioxidants, and various anti-inflammatory compounds.

One simple rule to remember: Vegetables that are grown above ground (tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli) tend to contain fewer carbs than those that are grown below ground (potatoes, parsnips, onions, carrots).

1. Spinach

(1.1 g carbs and 0.7 g fibre per 1 cup raw)

Spinach has been hailed as a “superfood” for years thanks to its ability to provide plenty of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium and iron—all of which support healthy bone, muscle, and immune system function. Make a spinach salad with your favourite fruits and veggies, sauté it with garlic and olive oil to add it as a side dish to any meal (instead of rice or potatoes, perhaps), or throw it in a tomato and egg scramble for an extra hearty breakfast.


2. Kale

(6 g carbs and 2.6 g fibre per 1 cup)

Like spinach, kale is packed with vitamins and minerals, but this dark leafy green is heartier and more fibrous. Plus, it boasts anti-inflammatory benefits. Toss it in olive oil and sea salt, then bake for crunchy kale chips, chop it and mix with your favourite salad dressing, protein, and other veggies to make a salad, or add to soups, stews, and smoothies for an extra dose of greens.


3. Cauliflower

(5 g carbs and 2.1 g fibre in 1 cup chopped)

Cauliflower has become a popular substitute for all things starch (think: rice, pizza crust, pasta, gnocchi, and more). While this veggie is white, it is chock full of fibre, B vitamins, antioxidants, and phytokines that help improve digestion, reduce the risk of cancer, and may even improve memory and learning. Toss with spices and roast it whole or sliced, pulse it in a food processor to create “rice,” or try replacing your usual pizza base with a store-bought crust.


4. Zucchini

(3.5 g carbs and 1 g fibre per 1 cup sliced)

Zucchini is a squash that contains more potassium per serving than one banana. This mineral helps maintain healthy blood pressure and fluid balance. You’ll also get tons of fibre, a good dose of vitamin C, and a range of energising B vitamins. Use a spiraliser to create “noodles” that replace pasta, chop it up to add to a stir-fry, or shred it to add vegetables to energy muffins.


5. Tomato

(7 g carbs and 2.2 g fibre in 1 cup chopped)

Tomatoes come in many shapes and sizes and are an easy addition to any meal. Plus, studies suggest they may help fight cancer, improve vision, and boost heart and muscle function. Snack on cherry tomatoes, throw them in a salad, or roast them in the oven with some olive oil and rosemary to pair with scrambled eggs for a low-carb breakfast.


6. Brussels Sprouts

(8 g carbs and 3.3 g fibre per 1 cup)

These mini cabbages are high in nutrients and rich in antioxidants that promote bone and skin health as well as reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes. Slice thin and toss with a vinaigrette for a salad, sear on the stovetop in olive oil and rosemary, or roast in the oven with your favourite marinade. You’ll be wishing you ate more when you were a kid.


7. Broccoli

(6 g carbs and 2.4 g fibre per 1 cup chopped)

If you’re not eating some broccoli every week, you should start. This green comes with vitamin K, C, folic acid, potassium, and vitamin C—an important vitamin for the collagen formation that is necessary for strong muscles and bones. It can be steamed, sautéed, “riced,” or roasted to maximise its appeal. Eat it raw with some hummus or toss it in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, and other vegetables on this list for a delicious veggie stir-fry.


8. Bell Peppers

(9 g carbs and 2 g fibre per 1 cup)

Bell peppers come in many varieties and all are good sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fibre. Plus, the spicy options add a flavour boost to bland food, making it more satisfying. Enjoy them grilled or sautéed in stir-fry dishes, blend up and add to soups or sauces, or snack on them raw with hummus.


9. Onion

(11 g carbs and 2 g fibre per 1 cup sliced)

A below-ground vegetable, onions are slightly higher on the carb-meter, but they add flavour and depth to pretty much every recipe. Particularly high in vitamin C, they boost immune health, collagen production, tissue repair, and iron absorption. Sauté with garlic, roast them in wedges, or slice raw.


10. Carrot

(11 g carbs and 3 g fibre per 1 cup shredded)

Carrots make a great go-to snack and add colour to this list. That bright orange indicates a mega dose of beta carotene and other nutrients, which help lower cholesterol and improve eye health. Grab a bag of mini carrots to have an easy-to-nibble snack anywhere you go, or shred some with raisins, oil, and vinegar for a delightful side salad.

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