As any mom knows, the thought of a nice dinner at a seafood restaurant is enough to cause leaps of joy and pure excitement. Not only do you not have to prepare the meal, but you also won't have to clean it up. It's a win-win, until you start perusing the menu and realize that you have a limited selection of meals that are low in carbs. Don't give up on your evening out, though, because there are low-carb options at most seafood restaurants. You just have to be savvy enough to know what to look for.
Carbohydrates are a critical part of your daily diet because they supply the energy you need to be active. According to MayoClinic.com, a person following a 2,000-calorie diet should consume between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates each day. If you're trying to lose weight, cutting your calories will help you achieve that goal, but it also means that you'll need to consume fewer grams of carbohydrates, too. If you've decided to eat about 1,200 calories a day, that translates to between 135 and 195 grams of carbs on a daily basis.
Fresh fish, prepared without additional ingredients, does not contain carbohydrates. Order a plain salmon, haddock, halibut, tilapia, cod or trout entree and you'll enjoy a protein-rich meal that doesn't have carbohydrates, but that does provide a good dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The trick is to order steamed, grilled or baked fish that isn't breaded or prepared with any type of coating. Skip the fried fish, too. The batter used to fry a fish fillet contains carbohydrates, and these entrees are also high in saturated fat. For example, fresh catfish is carbohydrate-free, but a 3-ounce portion of fried catfish contains almost 7 grams of carbohydrates.
Mollusks and Crustaceans
Mollusks, such as clams, oysters and scallops, contain between 3 and 5 grams of carbs per 3-ounce serving, making them a good choice at a seafood restaurant. Eat them fresh, however, because fried versions contain more carbs. Shrimp, lobster and crab don't contain carbs, provided that you eat them steamed or boiled. Have an order of steamed crab legs, shrimp cocktail or a split lobster tail, and you'll have a meal that provides plenty of protein to fill you up, but that's also low in fat. Like fish, skip the fried shrimp and the crab cakes because they contain bread crumbs and other ingredients that add carbohydrates to your meal. An order of fried shrimp, for example, contains 9.75 grams of carbs.
Most seafood restaurants offer meat entrees, such as chicken and steak, in addition to their fish and crustacean entrees. If you order a plain chicken breast or a grilled steak, you won't consume any carbs. Though not available at all seafood restaurants, a broiled or grilled plain pork chop is another option that doesn't contain any carbs. Skip pasta entrees because the noodles contain between 38 and 40 grams of carbohydrates per cup. The same goes for rice. A cup of rice contains about 150 grams of carbohydrates, which is a large portion of your daily limit.
A cup of lettuce contains less than 2 grams of carbohydrates, so a main course salad can be a good choice. Order your salad heavy on the vegetables, which do contain small amounts of carbohydrates, but they are healthy carbs that increase the fiber content of your meal. Top your salad with fresh meat, such as shrimp or grilled fish, because it will add protein to your meal without increasing the carb count.
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Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.