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Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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Buying guide for Best low-carb cookbooks

The low-carb eating trend has proven that it’s more than just a passing fad. Unlike other diet plans, low-carb eating has staying power. Whether you’re trying to drop weight or just eat a cleaner diet, lowering or altering the amount and type of carbohydrates in each meal can have positive, long-lasting effects on overall health and mood.

Trying to come up with different, fun low-carb recipes can get tiresome, and relying on frozen keto-friendly dinners or expensive meal kits isn’t great for your wallet. Luckily, the market is awash with low-carb cookbooks. Some are written with specific programs in mind, while others offer more general recipes that use less strict ingredient lists. 

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A low-carb cookbook can add variety and a bevy of new meals to your current low-carb dining options.

Key considerations

Quality

Variety is the spice of life, and this applies to low-carb diets, which can quickly become monotonous as you settle into a routine of familiar meals that fit your budget. Recipes should introduce new flavors or combinations of flavors to reawaken your taste buds.

In the same vein, a so-so recipe can derail your low-carb journey. How well does a great-looking dish on the page translate to a delicious meal on your plate? The following pointers can help reduce your chances of running into a disappointing recipe.

Preparation

Do you want a fast and easy lunch or a noteworthy dinner? A recipe’s complexity is an important factor because it affects the preparation time. Sometimes you either don’t have time, don’t want, or are too tired to prepare a large meal, so having a choice of recipes that can be made in 15 to 20 minutes is convenient. At other times, you want a larger, more elaborate meal. A good low-carb cookbook should include an assortment of simple and complex recipes. 

Cuisines

This might surprise some of you, but a chicken breast and steamed veggies every night can get tedious pretty quickly. Low-carb cookbooks that mix familiar American fare like burgers with international dishes like chicken cacciatore or Jamaican shrimp can add tremendous variety to a low-carb diet, helping to build lifelong habits thanks to the wide range of recipes.

Dietary needs and plans

Grain-free? Gluten-free? Diabetic? Low-carb cookbooks don’t cater to every dietary need. This is especially important with more restricted eating due to allergies, sensitivities, or health conditions.

Low-carb cookbooks should state on the cover which low-carb plans are represented by the recipes inside. If they offer grain-free or vegan options, these recipes should be clearly marked so that they can be quickly found and bookmarked by those who are interested in these specialized recipes.

Similarly, if you are following a specific diet plan, such as keto, paleo, Zone, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, or Four-Hour Body, or you’re a vegetarian, pescatarian, or ovo-lacto, each of these eating plans has prescribed methods to ensure long-term success. Consider low-carb cookbooks that are aimed at one or two of the most popular diet plans. These will have more recipes targeted to your specific type of diet.

Nutrition

Do the recipes meet your daily nutritional needs? If you’re following macros, do they land within the low-carb guidelines? Proper nutrition is essential to successful weight loss and sustained health. A low-carb cookbook should help you choose foods from across the nutrient spectrum and not focus on one or two meals or foods. Look for a cookbook that includes the nutritional information for each recipe so you can stay on track.

Cost

A big worry for some people who want to follow a low-carb diet is the cost of the ingredients. Preparing meals from a cookbook full of recipes that include steak is going to add up pretty quickly. One thing that a good low-carb cookbook should help you address is how to plan your meals. It’s one of the most effective ways to eat within low-carb guidelines while staying on a budget. Look for a book that helps you choose an array of meals for a week, then create a grocery list of ingredients that stays within your budget.

Staff Tip 1
Staff Tip
A low-carb diet doesn’t have to be expensive. Check the ingredients against your local supermarket prices to come up with a budget-friendly meal plan from the cookbook.
Staff
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Features

Every low-carb cookbook has recipes in it, but a great one also has some other useful features that may include the following.

Durable cover

Hardcover and some paperback low-carb cookbooks have a thick, splash-resistant cover that stands up to minor spills and splashes and can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Another option is to get a cookbook stand with a piece of clear plastic to protect the pages. 

Guidance

Meal planning sheets: Some low-carb cookbooks include a blank meal planning sheet that you can use once you’re familiar with the basics of a low-carb diet. You can photocopy the page or, in some instances, download additional copies from the companion website.

Grocery guides: The recipes should include a list of ingredients to buy at the grocery store.

Budgeting guides: Not every low-carb cookbook addresses eating well while on a budget, but it’s helpful when such a guide is included.

Tips: A welcome feature in any low-carb cookbook is a selection of tips for success. Continued encouragement throughout the pages can help users stay on track.

Education: Teaching the benefits of low-carb diets is a cornerstone of most of these cookbooks, but it’s also important to know about some of the pitfalls of these diets, such as the possibility of unbalanced nutrition or changes in digestion and energy.

Online resources: A companion website or social media group for a low-carb cookbook or diet plan is a valuable source of support, answers to FAQs, and new recipes and meal ideas.

If you’re following a specific low-carb diet, get the accompanying recipe book, if available, to stay on target with your diet goals.

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Accessories

Vegetable slicer: Spiralizer
This seven-blade slicer is the fastest and easiest prep tool available for zaghetti, veggie chips, and more low-carb options. The Spiralizer also comes with four recipe-filled ebooks to get you started.

Cookware: Calphalon Classic Nonstick Pots and Pans Set
Prevent a cooked-on mess when making low-carb recipes with this set of ten double-walled, hard-anodized nonstick pots and pans. The pots include innovative inserts that keep liquids from boiling over.

Keto magnets: KYONANO Keto Cheat Sheet Magnets
You can instantly reference keto-friendly ingredients and recipes from the front of your fridge with these 12 handy magnetic guides that include nearly 500 foods.

Spice rack: ZICOTO Spice Rack
Low-carb recipes are so much better with a selection of fresh spices. This four-tiered, wall-mounted rack is big enough to store as many as 32 8-ounce jars of your favorites.

Fitness journal: DietMinder Personal Food & Fitness Journal
This journal is flexible enough to use with any low-carb eating plan. It has space for 90 days of meals and workouts to help you stay on track.

Staff Tip 2
Staff Tip
A well-rounded cookbook offers a blend of breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals as well as low-carb snacks and drinks.
Staff
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Pricing

Inexpensive: Electronic versions for e-readers offer the best prices for low-carb cookbooks, ranging from $7 to $15 on average.

Mid-range: Paperback versions of low-carb cookbooks can be found in the $14 to $22 range.

Expensive: For $23 to $32, you can find hardcover cookbooks that resist drips and splashes.

Tips

  • Choose a low-carb cookbook that includes versions of your favorite foods. Picking one that closely fits your lifestyle and includes your favorite foods makes the transition to a new diet easier.
  • Choose an ebook cookbook. Electronic cookbooks are convenient to access while on the road or in a small kitchen where shelf space for cookbooks is limited.
  • Choose a different cuisine. If you’re tired of making the same recipes, try a low-carb cookbook with a new take on classic international cuisines like Indian, Thai, or Chinese.
  • Check to see if the recipes require special equipment. Some low-carb cookbooks require special cookware or bakeware for some or all of the recipes.
  • Check for ingredient lists. Diet-specific ingredients and grocery lists should be part of your low-carb cookbook.
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Does your finished dish match the photo in the cookbook? Some recipes may not look exactly the same but still taste great. Don’t stress. Enjoy!

FAQ

Q. Many of the ingredients are pricier than I expected. Can I substitute cheaper ingredients?

A. In many cases, yes. Some low-carb cookbooks include a section on budget-friendly substitutes. If your cookbook doesn’t have one, you can look up alternatives to specific ingredients online to make sure they’re low-carb friendly. For example, kale is pricey because it’s in demand, but right next to it in the supermarket, you can find turnip greens, chard, and spinach, which are also packed with nutrients, at a fraction of the price. Another method is to plan weekly meals using recipes that have lower-cost ingredients.

Q. I follow a specific low-carb diet plan that works and I love. Will I gain weight if I use recipes from a different diet plan?

A. If you’re on a particularly restrictive low-carb diet, such as a grain-free diet or a specialized diet for a condition like celiac disease, recipes from a low-carb cookbook that isn’t aligned with your primary diet plan might cause weight gain or digestive issues. The best way to avoid this is to read through the recipes that interest you and note any ingredients that are not on your allowed list. You can remove or substitute those ingredients, avoid the recipe entirely, or make it just as it is and monitor how you feel. The key here is to observe and note any changes.

Q. Should I focus on cookbooks for beginners or try cookbooks with recipes that interest me?

A. That’s entirely up to you! Low-carb cookbooks for beginners tend to focus on simple, fast recipes that make it easier to transition into a low-carb lifestyle. General low-carb cookbooks offer a range of recipes with different degrees of complexity. If you’re not sure where to start, grab a beginner’s cookbook first, and then when you want to add variety to your low-carb repertoire, find another low-carb cookbook that interests you.

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