Here’s our expert guide to the very best low-carbohydrate meals, including easy recipes for a low-carb breakfast or brunch; light lunch ideas that won’t leave you feeling bloated; and meat, fish and vegetarian dinner ideas that avoid pasta, white rice and all those other refined carbs, and use delicious, nutritious ingredients instead.
Perfect for the 5:2 diet, or just if you fancy a lighter meal, all of our recipes are triple-tested and bound to impress. Plus we’ve included the exact amount of carbs per serving for each recipe.
Low carb breakfast/brunch ideas
Baked avocado with smoked salmon and egg
A protein-rich egg, salmon and avocado breakfast will keep you going for longer, and if you want to eliminate carbohydrates altogether, just leave the rye bread soldiers out.
Carb count: 1.8g
Of all our low carb breakfast recipes, this has to be our favourite. A beautiful marriage of haddock and egg, baked in a creamy, dreamy sauce and flavoured with mustard. Again, just leave out the toast if you’re being strict.
Carb count: 1.2g
Crab, chilli and herb omelette
This crab, chilli and herb omelette is low calorie, gluten-free, high-protein and ready in just 20 minutes – perfect for a midweek meal! Plus there’s not a stodgy carb in sight.
Carb count: 1.7g
Drink this healthy green smoothie in the morning for a quick, nutrient-packed pick-me-up, perfect if you’re following a low carb diet. Cucumber, spinach, lime and kiwi are a great combination and the avocado adds a lovely texture.
Carb count: 10.9g
Low carb lunch or salad ideas
Asian hot and sour fish soup
This Asian hot and sour fish soup is quick, easy and under 300 calories – the perfect light, fragrant meal to warm you up. Omit the rice or noodles and add some extra spinach for a filling carb-free meal.
Carb count: 5.4g
Sumac chicken and green bean salad
This sumac chicken and green bean salad is ready in just 20 minutes and comes in at under 300 calories. Plus, have you noticed? There’s a complete absence of stodge here…
Carb count: 13.9g
Cajun prawns with pineapple salsa
These prawns tick so many healthy boxes – they’re really low fat and a good choice if you’re going on the 5:2 diet. Plus, they look pretty!
Carb count: 6.1g
Asian hot and sour turkey soup
Turn your turkey leftovers into an easy hot and zingy soup – ready in less than 20 minutes. Chilli and soy make a great flavour base for a healthy but hearty dish.
Carb count: 3.7g
Steak salad with chive buttermilk dressing
The best steak supper for two. Dispense with fries for a low carb option and try a quick homemade chive-buttermilk dressing with a healthy romaine lettuce and radish salad.
Carb count: 7.1g
Purple sprouting broccoli with pancetta and soft-boiled eggs
Soft-boiled eggs make the fastest meal. Nutritious, good-value and perfectly matched with salty pancetta – they make a delicious dish, especially when paired with purple sprouting broccoli. A speedy recipe for two. Serve with Parmesan, and crusty bread on the side.
Carb count: 2g (Seriously low!)
Rocket, seared beef and shallot salad
Seared steak makes a filling but healthy supper salad combined with shallots, rocket and a fresh lemon dressing. On the table in 15 minutes, this is a quick afterwork recipe for two.
Carb count: 1.2g
Low carb dinner ideas (meat)
Coffee-rubbed steak with lemon coriander butter
Packing a real flavour punch, this on-trend steak rub is guaranteed to change your life. Our delicious December 2016 cover recipe for tender T-bone steak is really quick and easy to make but the real challenge is trying not to drool as the herby butter discs slowly melt into the coffee-infused meat…
Carb count: 3.9g
Lemon chicken with charred leeks and fennel
Looking for a delicious low carb 30minute meal? This recipe for lemon chicken with charred leeks and fennel is a really easy midweek meal for one. It’s ready in just 20 minutes and is under 300 calorie, but is so packed with flavour that you won’t notice.
Carb count: 8.9g
Lamb kofta in sweet-sour tomato sauce
This recipe for lamb kofta in sweet-sour tomato sauce is guaranteed to make the whole family happy. It’s packed full of flavour and ready in under an hour.
Carb count: 8.2g
Harissa lamb cutlets with tahini yoghurt sauce
These harissa lamb cutlets with tahini yogurt sauce are easy to make, ready in just 30 minutes and under 500 calories.
Carb count: 5.9g
Pork fillet with pepper stew
This recipe for pork fillet with pepper stew is easy to make and ready in under an hour and 5:2 diet friendly, but is packed full of flavour.
Carb count: 6.9g
5:2 chicken curry
This 5:2 chicken curry recipe bulks up on veg to keep the calories low. Freeze in portions for quick, midweek meals.
Carb count: 10.6g
Steak with mushroom cream and winter greens
This recipe for steak with garlic mushroom cream and winter greens is really quick and easy to make but feels like a real treat.
Carb count: 4.9g
Paleo chicken piccata
This recipe for paleo chicken piccata is fast, healthy and easy to freeze. Serve with a green salad or cauliflower rice to keep things paleo diet-friendly and low calorie
Carb count: 1.5g
One-pot chicken with cannellini beans and chorizo
A healthy, high protein one-pot, this chicken with cannelloni beans and chorizo is really easy to make and requires minimal hands-on time, making it a great midweek meal
Carb count: 10.5g
Easy chicken mole
This recipe for cheat’s chicken mole uses a clever product to mean it’s ready in less than an hour and is under 300 calories – perfect for a midweek treat.
Carb count: 9.6g
Low carb dinner ideas (fish)
Lettuce-wrapped fish with citrus butter
This recipe for lettuce-wrapped fish with citrus butter is easy, ready in just 30 minutes, and under 300 calories, but looks great and is so packed with flavour that you won’t notice you’re being virtuous.
Carb count: 2.7g
Coconut ginger fish parcels
These coconut ginger fish parcels are easy to make, ready in just 30 minutes and under 500 calories – perfect for a midweek meal.
Carb count: 6.8g
Cod, cherry tomato and green olive tray roast
This recipe for cod, cherry tomato and green olive tray roast is so quick and easy to prepare but looks impressive when you pull it out of the oven. Serve with a big bowl of buttered orzo.
Carb count: 6.2g
South Indian hake curry
This south Indian hake curry feeds four in under an hour and is under 500 calories per serving – perfect for a midweek meal.
Carb count: 6.1g
Spiced mackerel fillets with shallot and lemon chickpeas
This recipe for spiced mackerel fillets with shallot and lemon chickpeas is quick and easy to make and under 500 calories.
Carb count: 13.5g
Grilled cod with salsa rossa
Simple but packed with flavour from the garlic, chilli and cinnamon, this colourful recipe for grilled cod with salsa rossa is quick and easy to make as well as being low in calories
Carb count: 7.7g
Vegetarian low carb meal ideas
Tofu steak with beetroot noodles and dukka
Once you’ve mastered the art of courgetti, branch out and try spiralising different vegetables! This quick and easy tofu steak with beetroot noodles and dukkah is a great vegetarian meal for one, ready in half an hour
Carb count: 9.6g
Greens and beans salad
This greens and beans salad is a quick and easy vegan salad for four. It’s under 300 calories so is a good recipe for a lighter dinner or quick lunch.
Carb count: 13.3g
Kale waldorf salad with buttermilk dressing
A clever update on a classic. With a good amount of crunch and tangy dressing, it makes for a really useful side dish, or light supper.
Carb count: 10.2g
Vegan quinoa sushi
Using quinoa instead of rice means these rolls are higher in protein (and lower in carbs). We’ve kept them vegan too, no fish means leftovers will keep for a healthy lunchbox the next day.
Carb count: 5g
Broccoli and roasted red pepper frittata
This broccoli and roasted red pepper frittata makes for a quick, healthy and delicious midweek meal. It’s on the table in just 20 minutes, plus it’s low cal and 5:2 diet-friendly
Carb count: 5.5g
Looking for more low calorie meal ideas? Try our 5:2 recipe collection, or our best ever low calorie breakfast recipes:
5:2 recipe collection
Best ever low calorie breakfast recipes