Remember during your childhood days when your parents would ask you to do a simple chore like loading the dishwasher and starting it? You would sigh and possibly even verbally express your dissatisfaction with having to perform such an arduous task. If your parents were like most, they would likely retaliate with the oh so popular, “when I grew up” or “back in my day” speeches to remind you that when they grew up they didn’t have the luxury of dishwashers or many of the other modern conveniences of life. Indeed, our generation has been spoiled with many of society’s more recent innovations. I for one will admit that I now have no clue how I survived for 16 years without the Internet. Speaking of innovation, in the last few years a different kind of revolution has begun in the nutritional products sector: the low-carb revolution.
With the rise in popularity of the ketogenic diet due to constant pimping by the Atkins crew and the South Beach camp, many companies have developed foods and supplements that are low in carbohydrates, but still allow us to enjoy starchy tasting foods. One can literally find a low-carb counterpart to virtually any type of food product these days, including low-carb baking mixes, breads, cereals, pastas, sauces, dressings, dairy products, even a sugar replacement (splenda) that cooks just like real sugar! This onslaught of low-carb products has made dieting much easier than in years past, so much so that I consider my seven month pre-contest diet from this past year a joke when compared to the first, twelve week pre-contest diet I underwent three years ago.
I have only one thing to say to these new, upstart dieters who have only recently begun watching their carbohydrate intake: back when I was growing up, we dieted without these fancy low-carb products! But regardless, they are a nice addition to one’s dieting arsenal, and truly do help stave off the monotony of endless dieting. So, I’ve taken the time to wade through the countless low-carb products I’ve tried, and provide you with descriptions and reviews of what I consider to be some of the best low-carb products to date. I will also offer a few recipes to make diet-friendly, tasty foods. I should also note that these product ratings have been in no way influenced by cost; I rated them purely on taste and quality.
Low-Carb Dairy Products
Carb Countdown Low-Carb Milk by Hood
This may be the best overall low-carb product of the low-carb revolution. Hood makes this low-carb wonder in fat free, 2% reduced fat, whole milk, and 2% reduced fat chocolate milk varieties. Each variation has only 3g of carbohydrates per 8 oz glass and a whopping 12g of protein. This is 50% more protein, and ¼ the carbs of normal milk. I personally have only purchased the fat free and chocolate milk versions. The fat free version has the same consistency as regular fat free skim milk and I honestly cannot taste any difference between Hood’s low-carb version and regular skim milk. The chocolate milk is very thick, and tastes almost exactly like a Yoo-Hoo… I can only describe it as chocolate heaven in a glass. I give this product a very enthusiastic A+
Carb Countdown Low-Carb Yogurt by Hood
Hood scores big again with its line of low-carb yogurts. These 6 oz yogurts contain 12g of protein, 3-4g of carbs and 1.5g of fat. They come in French vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry, Peach, and Strawberry Banana flavors. At first glance when opening the yogurts they appear a bit watery, but simply stirring them with a spoon quickly thickens them up. They have the same consistency as regular yogurt and I think they actually taste better than most normal yogurts! I find that the French vanilla, blueberry, and banana are my favorites, although I enjoy all the flavors. I give this product an A+ rating.
Low-Carb Cold Cereals and Hot Cereals
Morning Start Cereals by Atkins
Surely there cannot be low-carb cereals that taste good—that just isn’t possible right? Wrong. Atkins breaks through the high-carb cereal stigma with Morning Start, containing 13-15g of protein, 8-11g carbohydrates and 1.5-2g fat per 30g serving (a typical cereal serving size). Available in Banana Nut Harvest, Blueberry Bounty, and Crunchy Almond Crisp, these products can help satisfy your craving for starchy cereals without skyrocketing your blood sugar. While not quite as tasty as regular cereal and a bit dry, these cereals are still tasty enough to warrant purchase by those who crave cereal. I give this product a B+ rating.
Keto Cereals by Keto Foods & Snacks
These cereals defy all carbohydrate logic by providing only 3-4g carbs, 18-21g protein and 1-2g fat per 30g serving. Available in corn flakes, rice crisp and chocolate rice crisp, their one downfall is their texture is a bit off from normal cereal and they are not as tasty. I would rate their taste as fair but I still give them an overall rating of B- due to the fact that they have such an impressive macronutrient breakdown.
Total High Protein Cereal by Post
With this cereal, Post has taken their classic version of Total, and increased the protein while cutting back the carbs. The cereal only comes in one flavor, which tastes similar to the original but a bit chalkier. Each 30g serving provides 13g protein, 10g carbs and 3.5g of fat. I give this cereal a B rating, placing it below the Atkins cereals due to its higher fat count.
Low Carb Special K
This is the low carb version of the widely popular (especially among the ladies) Special K cereal. Each 30g serving provides 10g protein, 14g carbs and 3g of fat. While it is a bit higher on the carbohydrate count than the other low-carb cereals, it is by far the tastiest in my opinion. It does not taste like original Special K, but has its own unique flavor, which is quite pleasant. Due to its excellent taste, it receives a B rating.
Keto Hot Cereal by Keto Foods & Snacks
Just when you thought oatmeal couldn’t be any more perfect for dieting… Keto Foods & Snacks make it even better. Providing 17g protein, 12g carbs, 4g fat and with a whopping 9g fiber per serving, this hot cereal comes in apple cinnamon and banana nut flavors. I have only sampled the banana nut and I must confess that it is extremely good, and has a very similar consistency to regular oatmeal. I give this product an A rating.
Nature’s Own Wheat n’ Fiber
Move over regular whole wheat bread, you have met your match. Nature’s Own has created a reduced carbohydrate bread that is soft and fluffy and tastes better than any other bread that I have every tried, period (excluding flavored breads). Each 28g slice provides an excellent macronutrient profile with 6g protein, 7g carbs, 1g fat and 2g of fiber. This product receives an A rating.
Atkins Low Carb Wheat Bread
This is Atkins’ attempt at a reduced carbohydrate wheat bread. This bread is not quite as tasty as Nature’s Own, but still good enough to warrant a purchase if Nature’s Own is not available. This bread boasts 7g protein, 7g carbs, 2g fat and 4g fiber per slice. I must say that the slices are also smaller and not as fluffy as Nature’s Own. I give this product a B rating.
Low Carb Pasta
Carb Fit’s Reduced Carb Pasta (Rotini or Angel Hair)
I believe I speak for everyone when I say that the one product that none of us thought we would ever see in low-carb form was pasta. But low and behold, low-carb pasta has arrived. Each 56g serving of Carb Fit’s pasta provides 26g protein, 17g carbs, 3.5g fat and 8g fiber. The taste and texture leaves something to be desired, but I would not classify the taste as objectionable, and if a decent pasta sauce is used it becomes a pretty tasty meal. I give this product a C+.
Condiments and Toppings
Walden Farm’s Calorie Free BBQ Sauce
That’s right folks, calorie free—it is not a typo. When I first bought this steak sauce, it was on a whim and a prayer as I figured it would taste like junk. How wrong I was. This sauce comes in original flavor, hickory, and thick and spicy. Each one is absolutely delicious. I like each variety even better than the sugary barbeque sauces—not only because they taste great, but because they also have the exact same consistency as regular BBQ sauce. I give this product an enthusiastic A+.
Lawry’s Carb Options Steak Sauce
This is Lawry’s low-carb version of their great steak sauce. It only has 1g of carbohydrate per tablespoon and has a very sweet, pleasant taste and texture to it. I give this product an A-.
Walden Farms Calorie Free Chocolate Syrup
No calories. Tastes unbelievable. Exact same consistency as regular chocolate syrup. Makes dieting a joke. Enough said. A++
Walden Farms Calorie Free Maple Syrup
No calories. Tastes unbelievable. Exact same consistency as regular maple syrup. Makes dieting a joke. Enough said. A++
Atkins Calorie Free Maple Syrup
This stuff tastes good, but they should call it maple water, as it has no viscosity to it whatsoever. It pours out of the bottle like running water out of a faucet. I give it a C+
*I would like to take this opportunity to say that Walden farms also makes calorie free jelly in several flavors that I have not yet tried, but judging from the quality of their products that I have tried, I would not hesitate to purchase it given the chance.
Walden Farms Calorie Free Bacon Bits Dressing
This dressing doesn’t really taste like bacon bits that much, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good. It has a decent flavor and makes a good topping to a chicken salad. I give it a B.
Walden Farms Calorie Free Thousand Island Dressing
This product tastes great and has the same thickness and consistency as regular Thousand Island dressing. I don’t know how Walden Farms does it but they sure do it well! I give this product an A.
*Walden Farms makes dressings in several other flavors which I have yet to try including Honey Dijon, Caesar, Ranch, Italian, Blue Cheese, and French but I expect they will be very good since all of the products from Walden Farms that I have used have been outstanding.
Splenda and Cooking Splenda
Tastes like sugar. Cooks like sugar. No calories. It is this simple… if you don’t have some, GET SOME! A+
Here are just a few recipes I think you may enjoy.
Layne and Isabel’s low-carb cheesecake masterpiece
2 lbs no fat cream cheese
4 whole large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 oz (1/2 cup) low carb no fat milk
1 cup cooking splenda (sucralose)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Using No Fat cooking spray, spray 9″ pie pan
Mix ingredients together using an electric blender in a large bowl
Pour mix into pre-greased pan
Heat at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes
Remove from oven and place in refrigerator
YOU MUST LET THIS SIT AT LEAST 4-5 HOURS IN THE FRIDGE if you want a decent cheesecake.
Macronutrient Totals (per slice):
Chocolate or vanilla protein powder can be added to the mix for flavor and more protein if desired.
If one desires a softer cheesecake, then use 1 lb of light ricotta cheese and 1 lb of fat free cream cheese instead of 2 lbs fat free cream cheese. This changes the totals per slice.
Macronutrient Totals (per slice):
*This cheesecake is extremely good when topped with Walden Farms’ calorie free chocolate syrup and a thin coat of peanut butter or fat free whip cream.
Reduced Carb and Fat French Toast
3 egg whites
2 slices Nature’s Own Wheat n’ Fiber Bread
1 tsp cinnamon
1 packet splenda (or 2 tsp cooking splenda)
Fat free cooking spray
1 slice Fat Free Sharp Cheddar cheese
Optional- Walden Farms Maple Syrup
Place egg whites in plastic container and mix in cinnamon and splenda and beat with fork or whisk until thoroughly mixed. Place bread in container and allow it to soak up the egg white mixture. Place bread in frying pan, and cook over medium heat. Cook each side of bread until it begins to turn white and harden from the egg white. Place ½ slice fat free sharp cheddar cheese on each slice of bread. Place bread & cheese in microwave and cook until cheese begins to melt. Remove French toast from microwave and add calorie free maple syrup to taste.
*This is also quite good when topped with calorie free chocolate syrup.
Macronutrient totals (per 2 slices):
Hold the Carbs, High protein oatmeal
1 serving Keto Foods & Snacks Hot Cereal (40g)
2 heaping tablespoons chocolate protein powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3 packets splenda (1 tablespoon cooking splenda)
Place oatmeal in a bowl. Bring 5 oz of water to a boil in a separate pan and add it to the oatmeal once boiling occurs. Mix with a spoon for 20 seconds. Place in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and add protein powder, cinnamon, and splenda. Mixture may be microwaved a second time if desired consistency has not been reached.
Macronutrient totals (per bowl):
That concludes my run down of what I believe to be some of the best low-carb products available to date. So remember, next time one of these new upstart dieters starts whining about how hard dieting is, remind them that “back in my day,” we didn’t have these fancy low-carb products to diet with.