10 Simple Ways to Cut Back On Carbs and Lose Weight
By: Julie Mancuso, founder of JM Nutrition, nutritional counselling service by registered nutritionists and dietitians
In this post:
Simple ways to reduce carbs
Introduction: how to reduce carbs
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. Instant gratification seems to be the way of life nowadays.
Sometimes these shortcuts pay off, and sometimes we discover that they cannot be taken.
When it comes to losing weight, some shortcuts can be taken.
Although weight maintenance can be a complicated and multi-layered matter with many causes and just as many obstacles that impede weight loss, a few small shortcuts exist.
One way to lose weight is to reduce carbs in small, simple ways without having to overhaul your entire diet. As carbs and calories are reduced little by little, the weight can drop.
Here’s how this can be achieved.
Simple ways to reduce carbs:
1. Try an open-faced sandwich
This one is for bread and sandwich lovers who want to reduce carbs.
Why an open-faced sandwich?
An open-faced sandwich has only one slice of bread, effectively cutting your carbs in half without completely doing away with that bread you really love.
Adding more vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, et al.) to your sandwich can also lead to the consumption of fewer carbs. A full sandwich can in turn make you feel full, reducing the chance that you will reach for a second one, and more bread, which is often the case.
2. Use lettuce wraps
For those looking to make a drastic reduction in carbs, use lettuce leaves 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 want to indulge a little. Any reduction of carbohydrates can help you 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
To further reduce your carbs, you can use stevia, a natural sweetener from a plant, which contains zero calories and carbs.
I recommend SweetLeaf Stevia.
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!
Today you can find a variety of stevia products and brands in just about every supermarket.
5. Swap dried fruit for fresh fruit
Just because it’s fruit, it doesn’t make it entirely good for you. This is an important piece of information to keep in mind, when trying to reduce carbs and 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 though: it’s high in iron and an immediate source of energy especially for athletes. But consume in reasonable amounts, particularly when looking to cutback on carbs and 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. Cut back on cereal while adding fat and fibre
Add fat? But I’m trying to lose weight.
Hear me out.
The vast majority of cereal is loaded with carbohydrates, regardless of how healthy it is. Accordingly, I recommend you cut your portion of cereal or oats by ⅓ and add chia and/or flaxseeds, which add fibre, bulk and good fats to your meal.
After ingestion, the fibre will expand in your stomach to help keep you full for longer, eliminating the need for more food shortly thereafter. This, in effect, leads to the consumption of less food and, in turn, fewer carbs.
This strategy is effective in a weight loss program and for general weight maintenance.
7. Ditch the granola bar and reach for a protein bar
I cringe every time I see people loading up on high-sugar granola bars throughout the day, thinking they are snacking in a healthy way.
Most granola bars offer very little in terms of nutritional value, contain too much sugar and carbohydrates, contributing to unsuspecting carb and sugar intake.
Opt for a high-quality, low-carb protein bar instead. Not all protein bars are created equal, so it’s important to thoroughly read the nutrition label to ensure they are in fact nutritious.
8. Zucchini noodles instead of pasta
Don’t knock it until you try it. Zucchini noodles are becoming more and more popular these days.
Video: How to make zucchini noodles
So why zucchini noodles?
Regular pasta has the highest amount of carbohydrates out of all the grains and can cause unwanted weight gain, if indulged in too frequently and in considerable amounts. 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 carbs 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, and watch those carbs tumble.
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 (club soda, not tonic water) or Perrier. This effectively dilutes the wine, reducing calories, sugar and carbohydrates. The Perrier water has the added effect of hydrating you.
So uncork that wine, crack open that Perrier and enjoy, knowing you are helping your body.
Read more on healthier alcohol selections for weight loss.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to implement all the mentioned suggestions to reap benefits. Try one or two of these to start.
Don’t forget to experiment with combinations of these. Find a simple, healthy, reduced-carb 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 reduce carbs in small, simple ways, and in turn, trim your waistline.
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