Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbohydrate Intake
Cutting back on carbohydrates can have major benefits for your health. Many studies have shown that reducing carbs can help you lose weight and control diabetes or prediabetes. Here are some easy ways to reduce your carb intake.
Eliminate Sugar-Sweetened Drinks
Sugar-sweetened beverages are very unhealthy.They're high in added sugar, which is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity when consumed in excess. If you want to eat fewer carbs, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages should be one of the first things you do.
If you want to drink something refreshing with a taste, try adding some lemon or lime to club soda or iced tea. If needed, use a small amount of low-calorie sweetener.
Avoid White Rice
White rice is pure carbohydrate that has had all the goodness stripped out of it. If you need to have rice, have brown basmati. It has a much lower GI (glycemic index) than white rice so is less prone to spike insulin and store as fat. It's best to limit consumption of rice when trying to lose weight as all forms of rice contain carbohydrates.
Cut Back on Bread
Bread is a staple food in many diets. Unfortunately, it's also quite high in carbs and generally low in fibre. This is especially true for white bread made from refined grains, which may negatively impact health and weight.
Even nutritious breads such as rye contain about 15 grams of carbs per slice. And only a couple of those are fibre, the only component of carbs that isn't digested and absorbed. Although whole grain bread contains vitamins and minerals, there are many other foods that provide the same nutrients with much fewer carbs.
Stop Drinking Fruit Juice
Unlike whole fruit, fruit juice contains little to no fibre and is full of sugar.
Although it provides some vitamins and minerals, it's no better than sugar-sweetened beverages in terms of sugar and carbs. This is true even for 100% fruit juice. For instance, 350 mls of 100% apple juice contains 48 grams of carbs, most of which is sugar.
Choose Low-Carb Snacks
Carbs can add up quickly in snack foods such as chips, pretzels and crackers. These types of foods are also not very satisfying.
Having a low-carb snack that contains protein is the best strategy when hunger strikes between meals.
Eat Eggs or Other Low-Carb Breakfast Foods
Even small amounts of some breakfast foods are often high in carbs. For instance, one half-cup (55 grams) of granola cereal typically has around 30 grams of digestible carbs, even before adding milk.
Conversely, eggs are an ideal breakfast when you're trying to cut back on carbs.
Use These Sweeteners Instead of Sugar
Using sugar to sweeten foods and beverages isn't a healthy practice, particularly on a low-carb diet. One tablespoon of white or brown sugar has 12 grams of carbs in the form of sucrose, which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Although honey may seem healthier, it's even higher in carbs.
However, here are a few safe sugar-free sweeteners that may even have some modest health benefits:
Stevia: Stevia comes from the stevia plant, which originated in South America. In animal studies, it has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Erythritol: Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that tastes like sugar, does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels and may help prevent cavities by killing plaque-causing bacteria.
Xylitol: Another sugar alcohol, xylitol also helps fight the bacteria that cause tooth decay. In addition, animal research suggests it may reduce insulin resistance and protect against obesity.
Ask for Veggies Instead of Potatoes or Bread at Restaurants
Eating out can be challenging as far as carbs are concerned. Even if you order meat or fish with no crumbed coating or gravy, you'll typically receive a starch on the side. This is often potatoes, pasta, bread or rolls.
However, these starches can add 30 grams of carbs to your meal or more. It depends on the portion size, which is often quite large.
Instead, ask your server to substitute low-carb vegetables in place of the high-carb foods. If your meal already includes a side of vegetables, you can have another serving, as long as the vegetables are the non-starchy type.
Replace Milk with Almond or Coconut Milk
Milk is nutritious, but it's also fairly high in carbs because it contains a type of sugar called lactose. A 240 ml glass of full-fat or low-fat milk contains 12-13 grams of carbs.
Adding a splash of milk to your coffee or tea is fine. But if you drink milk by the glassful or in lattes or shakes, it may end up contributing a lot of carbs.
Eat Healthy High-Protein Foods
Eating a good protein source at every meal can make it easier to cut back on carbs, and it's particularly important if you're trying to lose weight. Protein triggers the release of the "fullness hormone" PYY, reduces hunger, helps fight food cravings and protects muscle mass during weight loss.
Protein also has a much higher thermic value compared to fat or carbs, meaning your body's metabolic rate increases more when digesting and metabolising it.