By: Julie Mancuso, JM Nutrition
We all like to take shortcuts from time to time. It’s in our nature as humans to want the desired end without having to put in a lot of effort. We just like instant gratification—who can blame us?
Sometimes these shortcuts pay off and sometimes we discover that they cannot be taken.
When it comes to wanting to lose weight (Read more on Quick, Simple Ways to Lose Weight), some shortcuts can be taken. One of these is to cut back on carbohydrates in small, simple ways without having to overhaul your entire diet.
Here are some of these ways:
1. Try an Open-Faced Sandwich
Why? An open-faced sandwich has only one slice of bread, effectively cutting your calories and carbs in half without completely doing away with that bread you really love.
Adding more vegetables to your sandwich can also do the trick as can scooping out the insides of a pepper and replacing it with tuna salad or something of similar nature.
2. Use Lettuce Wraps
Yes, use lettuce wraps instead of bread when making wraps. This is an easy way to reduce bread and carb intake while getting your greens in. You don’t have to do this every time you eat. You can even try one wrap with lettuce and another with bread, if you must indulge a little. Any reduction of carbohydrates will help you to lose weight.
3. Swap Crackers for Cucumber Slices
Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed. You get the same crunching sensation, but next to zero calories by using cucumber. You can also go half and half: one cracker for every slice of cucumber, lowering your carb intake by half. Not bad, huh?
If the old cuke isn’t up to your liking, try celery or a piece of carrot. These will work just as well.
4. Use Stevia Instead
Use what? Stevia (read more on SweetLeafStevia), a natural sweetener from a plant, which contains zero calories and carbs.
If you are like most people, you consume at least 2 teaspoons of sugar per day in your coffee or tea. Make the switch and you cut out 60 teaspoons of sugar in 1 month! Even Starbucks (read about Starbucks and stevia, courtesy of The Toronto Star) introduced this into its coffee shops.
5. Swap Dried Fruit for Fresh Fruit
Just because it’s fruit doesn’t make it entirely good for you. You need to be aware of this when trying to lose weight.
Dried fruit is concentrated and very high in sugar because it lacks water. As such it is high in carbohydrates, even if the portion appears to be small.
Dried fruit does have some great benefits: high in iron and an immediate source of energy especially for athletes. But consume in reasonable amounts, particularly when trying to lose weight.
½ cup fresh blueberries: 10g carbs
½ cup dried blueberries: approximately 48g carbs
See the difference? Beware: dried fruit is sneaky.
6. Reduce Cereal or Oatmeal and Add Fat and Fiber
Add fat? But I’m trying to lose weight.
Hear me out. Cereal and oatmeal contain a lot of carbohydrates, regardless of how healthy they are. Accordingly, I recommend you cut your portion of cereal or oats by ⅓ and add chia and/or flaxseeds, which add fiber, bulk and good fats. Here’s the trick: The fiber will expand in your stomach to help keep you full for longer.
7. Ditch the Granola Bar for a Protein Bar
I cringe every time I see people loading up on granola bars throughout the day, thinking they are snacking in a healthy way. Most granola bars offer next to nothing in terms of nutritional value, are very high in sugar and carbohydrates, contributing to weight gain. Opt instead for a high-quality, low-carb protein bar instead. Ask me which one to buy as not all bars are created equal.
8. Zucchini Noodles Instead of Pasta
Don’t knock it until you try it. This has become very popular in recent times. (Watch this Fitness Magazine video on how to make these.)
Pasta has the highest amount of carbohydrates out of all grains and can unfortunately cause a person to put on those unwanted pounds. As a result, it should be limited when trying to lose weight.
Not ready to fully switch over to zoodles? Mix the two together to at least cut your carbohydrates in half.
9. Choose Bean Sprouts Over Rice and Noodles
A stir-fry is a quick and balanced meal, but if you eat it over a heaping pile of rice or noodles, it may not be great for your waistline. Use bean sprouts instead to lower the intake of carbohydrates. Or do what I suggested previously: mix the bean sprouts with rice or a healthy noodle 50-50.
10. Wine Spritzer Anyone?
I should drink wine spritzers to help me lose weight? In a way, yes. A wine spritzer calls for wine to be mixed with soda water or Perrier. This effectively dilutes the wine, reducing calories, sugar and carbohydrates. The Perrier water can also facilitate hydration of your body. So uncork that wine, crack open that Perrier and enjoy, knowing you are helping your body. Want to know more about healthier ways to drink alcohol? Read this.
I understand you may not like all of these recommendations and that’s fine. Try one, two or even just three of these to start. Don’t forget to experiment with combinations of these. Find a simple, healthy, meal that you like and stick to it. My suggestions should merely serve as a general guideline, helping you get some ideas on how to snip those carbohydrates in small, simple ways, and in turn, trim your waistline.
Have I missed something? Do you have an idea of your own? Feel free to drop me a line.
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