Burger with no bun? Eggs with no toast? There are only two good reasons in the world to downgrade the classic burger or breakfast plate: You want to lose weight fast or you’re looking for a diet to help control your diabetes.

A low-carb diet restricts your intake of carbohydrates, which are the sugars and starches in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. Most people, however, don’t get the bulk of their carbs from these healthy sources of carbs. Instead, they consume far more sweets and highly refined grains (pizza, pasta, bread, etc.) than they should. A low-carb diet, just by eliminating junk food and emphasizing lean, filling protein, helps people lose weight without being hungry.

But that’s not the only reason low-carb diets can be so effective. “The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lower insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately leads to weight loss,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

On most low-carb diets, you’ll get plenty of animal protein (meat, poultry, fish and eggs) and low-starch vegetables, such as peppers and spinach. Some diets allow you to indulge in high-fat foods, including cream and cheese, so you could put this decadent creamed spinach gratin on your menu. Low-carb diets tend to set a daily limit of 60 to 130 grams of carbs (though the initial week or weeks may be even more restrictive).

Protein-rich breakfasts, such as this vegetable frittata, mean you won’t be ravenous by mid-morning. Snack options include a handful of nuts, a hard-cooked egg or a piece of string cheese. Salads are an easy way to go for lunch. And with these five satisfying low-carb dinners, you won’t miss the starchy side dishes. In time, however, you’ll even be able to add those to your plate – on occasion and in moderation.

Author: Hope Cristol, MyRecipes