11 Simple Ways to Cut Carbs

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11 simple ways to cut carbs

There’s a lot of talk about carbohydrates as the enemy of modern food culture, but that’s not exactly the case. Carbohydrates are important for your health. In fact, complex carbohydrates—which come from whole, unprocessed plant foods—are usually packed with nutrients. (1)

However, in some circumstances, cutting carbs can have some real health benefits. This is especially true when it comes to simple carbohydrates, which come from highly processed foods and provide no additional nutrients.

Studies show that a low-carb diet can help weight loss and better control diabetes or prediabetes in overweight adults. (2) (3) (4)

If you’ve been advised by a nutritionist or doctor to reduce your carb intake as part of a healthy lifestyle (which usually includes other aspects like exercise), here are 11 easy ways to cut back on carbs.

1. Limit your consumption of sugary drinks

Most sugars, whether fructose, lactose, maltose, sucrose or glucose, are considered simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates provide quick energy, cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.

Consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas or sweetened iced teas, can add a lot of extra carbohydrates in the form of sugar to your diet. (5) (6)

For example, a non-diet cola contains 35 grams of carbohydrates and a small sweetened iced drink contains 29.5 grams of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates come almost entirely from sugar. (7) (8)

Regular consumption of sugary drinks is linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, so cutting back on these drinks can help reduce the risk of the disease. (9) (10)

2. Cut down on refined bread

Many types of bread, especially whole wheat bread, contain vitamins and minerals. Unrefined (natural) whole grain bread is also considered a complex carbohydrate, meaning it takes longer to digest and gradually affects blood sugar.

Although bread made from refined flour, such as white bread, does not always have more carbohydrates than whole grain bread, the process of refining the grain can reduce the micronutrient and fiber content of the bread.

When the amount of fiber is low, the sugar and carbohydrates in the bread are quickly processed by the body, which can lead to spikes in blood sugar. Over time, this can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. (11) (12)

By sticking to a moderate amount of whole grain bread or reducing your daily bread intake in general, you can eat fewer simple carbohydrates, which can raise your blood sugar.

3. Consider fruit juice

Unlike whole fruit, fruit juice contains little or no fiber and is usually high in fructose, a form of fruit sugar that is also considered a simple carbohydrate.

Although it contains some vitamins and minerals, fruit juice is very similar to sugar-sweetened beverages (such as cola) in terms of sugar and carbohydrates. ( 13 )

For example, 100 grams of 100% apple juice contains 11.3 grams of carbohydrates, most of which are sugar. ( 14 )

If you want to consume less carbohydrates, choose a piece of fruit instead of fruit juice. Even fruit is usually just as sweet and contains fiber, which can help reduce blood sugar spikes in people with diabetes. ( 15 )

Read more: The 21 Day Smoothie Diet – Should You Try It?

4. Start your day with eggs or other low-carb breakfast foods

Breakfast foods can have hidden amounts of carbohydrates and sugar, even if they look “healthy” at first glance.

For example, a cup of store-bought granola can contain about 68 grams of carbohydrates. ( 16 )

Although they may contain vitamins and fiber, breakfast cereals can be high in simple carbohydrates due to added sugar. Long-term consumption of foods containing added sugar can cause blood sugar spikes in those already living with diabetes. (17) (18)

If you’re looking for options that are lower in simple carbohydrates, consider adding more eggs to your morning routine.

One egg contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. Eggs are also a great source of high-quality protein, which can help you feel fuller for longer and possibly eat less for the rest of the day. (19) (20)

What’s more, eggs are extremely versatile and can be prepared in a number of ways, including hard-boiled for breakfast on the go.

Other low-carb breakfast ideas include low-sugar yogurt, nut butter on celery sticks, or low-carb bread with vegetables.

5. Use sugar alternatives

While many people like to sweeten their coffee or tea with sugar, this can add excess carbohydrates.

Although honey is a natural sweetener, it is also pure sugar. One tablespoon contains 17 grams of carbohydrates, all from sugar. ( 21 )

If you want to keep your coffee sweetened, there are many sugar sweepers that usually contain little or no sugar at all:

  • Stevia. Stevia comes from the stevia plant, which is native to South America. Many studies have shown that stevia can potentially lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. ( 22 )
  • Erythritol. Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that tastes like sugar, doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels, and can help prevent tooth decay by killing plaque-causing bacteria. (23) (24)
  • xylitol. Another sugar alcohol, xylitol, also helps fight cavity-causing bacteria. In addition, research suggests that it may be beneficial for blood sugar regulation. ( 24 )

6. Replace white flour with alternative flours

White flour is often the basis of many baked goods, including bread, muffins and cookies. White flour is considered refined flour, which means that many of the nutrients and fibers have been processed.

Less fiber means they are digested quickly and can cause insulin spikes in people with type 2 diabetes. You may also feel less satisfied when you eat something made from refined flour. ( 25 )

If you’re craving baked goods, try replacing white flour with whole wheat flour, which has more fiber and a better nutritional profile. ( 26 )

You can also consider replacing white flour with coconut or almond flour, as these alternatives are lower in carbohydrates. However, these flours have a higher fat content than white or whole wheat flour. (27) (28)

When buying food made from alternative flour or when baking with it yourself, be aware that the texture of the final product may be thicker due to the absence of gluten (in the case of almond or coconut flour) or due to less refinement (in the case of wheat flour). .

7. Emphasize non-starchy vegetables

Vegetables are a valuable source of nutrients and fiber. They also contain phytochemicals (plant compounds), many of which act as antioxidants to help protect you from disease. ( 29 )

But if you’re trying to keep your carb intake low, it’s important to focus on non-starchy vegetables.

Non-starchy vegetables include: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. ( 30 )

8. Eat foods high in protein

If you’re a carb lover but still trying to cut back on them, one of the best ways to meet your nutritional needs is to focus on high-protein foods.

Protein has been shown to help increase satiety, meaning it helps you feel fuller for longer. It can also help you eat less throughout the day. ( 31 )

In addition, protein has a slightly higher caloric value than fat and carbohydrates, which means that your body needs more calories to digest it. ( 32 )

By emphasizing foods higher in protein (while supplementing your diet with complex carbohydrates), you may even gain an additional weight loss benefit. ( 33 )

9. Add healthy fats

Cutting back on carbs can mean you not only eat more protein, but also more fat.

Focusing on healthier fats can help you stay on track if you’re following a weight loss or weight maintenance program.

Foods high in fat include fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and dairy products and are considered healthy fats. (34) (35)

As with everything, moderation and variety are key.

10. Pay attention to food labels

Food labels provide valuable information about the carbohydrate content of packaged foods.

Paying attention to portion size is also important, especially when eating foods that can be high in sugar (simple carbohydrates) and in smaller portions than many people traditionally eat.

For example, cereal packaging and advertisements often mislead with pictures of serving sizes, causing people to eat more than one serving at a time. ( 36 )

11. Be mindful of your carbs when you eat out

Eating out can be a challenge in the beginning stages of a low-carb diet or if you decide to temporarily reduce your carb intake.

Even if you order meat or fish without breading or sauce, you’ll usually get a side like potatoes and rice or bread. These starches can add 30 or more grams of carbohydrates to your meal, depending on the portion size, which is often large. (37)

Watch your portion sizes when ordering food at a restaurant, and consider ordering a side salad to increase your fiber intake and make you feel fuller faster.

Conclusion

In some circumstances, cutting back on carbohydrates—especially the simple carbohydrates in processed foods that don’t contain many additional nutrients—may provide some health benefits. This is especially true if you live with type 2 diabetes.

If your doctor or nutritionist has recommended that you eat fewer carbohydrates, it is still possible (and recommended) to eat a variety of foods.

Focusing on protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help keep you satisfied throughout the day and will provide you with the nutrients you need for a balanced diet.