Reducing carbohydrate intake can have great benefits for your health.
Many studies have shown that low carb diets can help you lose weight and control diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are 15 easy ways to reduce your carbohydrate intake.
1. Eliminate sugary drinks
Sugary drinks are very unhealthy.
They have a high added sugar content, which is related to an increased risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity when consumed in excess.
A 354 ml can of sugary soda contains 38 grams of carbohydrates , and a 354 ml sweetened iced tea contains 36 grams of carbohydrates. These come entirely from sugar.
If you want to eat less carbohydrates, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages should be one of the first things you do.
If you want to drink something refreshing with flavor, try adding lemon or lime to the club soda or iced tea. If necessary, use a small amount of low calorie sweetener.
Sugary drinks are high in carbohydrates and added sugar. Avoiding them can significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake.
2. Reduce bread consumption
Bread is a staple in many diets. Unfortunately, it is also quite high in carbohydrates and generally low in fiber.
This is especially true in the case of white bread made from refined grains , which can adversely affect health and weight.
Even nutritious breads such as rye contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates per slice. And only a couple of them are fiber, the only component of carbohydrates that is not digested and absorbed .
Although whole wheat bread contains vitamins and minerals , there are many other foods that provide the same nutrients with much less carbohydrates.
These healthy foods include vegetables, nuts and seeds.
However, it can be difficult to leave the bread completely. If you find it difficult, try some delicious low-carb bread recipe that is easy to prepare.
Wholemeal bread contains some important nutrients, but these can be found in many other foods that are lower in carbohydrates.
3. Stop drinking fruit juice
Unlike the whole fruit, the fruit juice contains little or no fiber and is full of sugar.
Although it provides some vitamins and minerals , it is no better than sugary drinks in terms of sugar and carbohydrates. This is true even for 100% fruit juices.
For example, a box of 354 ml of 100% apple juice contains 48 grams of carbohydrates, most of which are sugar .
It is better to avoid the juice completely. Instead, try to flavor your water by adding a slice of orange or lemon.
Fruit juice contains as many carbohydrates as sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead of drinking juice, add a small amount of fruit to the water.
4. Choose low carb snacks
Carbohydrates can add up quickly in snacks like french fries, pretzels and crackers.
These types of foods are also not very satisfactory.
One study found that women felt fuller and ate 100 calories less at dinner when they ate a high-protein snack , compared to a low-protein one.
Eating a low-carb snack that contains protein is the best strategy when hunger strikes between meals.
Here are some healthy snacks that contain less than 5 grams of digestible (net) carbohydrates per 1 ounce serving (28 grams) and also some protein:
- Almonds : 6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 of which are fiber.
- Peanuts : 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 of which are fiber.
- Macadamia nuts: 4 grams of carbohydrates, 2 of which are fiber.
- Hazelnuts : 5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 of which are fiber.
- Pecans : 4 grams of carbohydrates, 3 of which are fiber.
- Nuts : 4 grams of carbohydrates, 2 of which are fiber.
- Cheese : Less than 1 gram of carbohydrates.
Be sure to have healthy low-carb snacks, such as nuts and cheese, on hand if you are hungry between meals.
5. Eat eggs or other low-carb breakfast foods
Even small amounts of some breakfast foods are often high in carbohydrates.
For example, a half cup (55 grams) of granola cereal usually contains about 30 grams of digestible carbohydrates, even before adding milk.
On the contrary, eggs are an ideal breakfast when it comes to reducing carbohydrates.
For starters, each egg contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates . They are also a great source of high quality protein, which can help you feel full for hours and eat fewer calories for the rest of the day.
In addition, eggs are extremely versatile and can be prepared in many ways , even boiling them for breakfast on the go.
Choosing eggs or other foods high in protein and low carb for breakfast can help you feel full and satisfied for several hours.
6. Use these sweeteners instead of sugar
Using sugar to sweeten food and drinks is not a healthy practice, particularly on a low carb diet.
One tablespoon of white or brown sugar contains 12 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sucrose, which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose (18, 19).
Although honey may seem healthier, it is even higher in carbohydrates. One tablespoon provides 17 grams of carbohydrates , with approximately the same percentage of fructose and glucose as sugar.
Learning to enjoy the natural taste of food without adding any sweeteners may ultimately be the best.
However, here are some sugar-free safe 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 reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
- Erythritol : Erythritol is a type of sugary alcohol that tastes like sugar, does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels and can help prevent tooth decay by killing the bacteria that cause plaque.
- Xylitol : Another sugar alcohol, xylitol, also helps fight the bacteria that cause tooth decay. In addition, animal research suggests that it can reduce insulin resistance and protect against obesity.
The use of low-calorie sugar alternatives can help you keep your carb intake low without completely giving up on sweetness.
7. Ask for vegetables instead of potatoes or bread in restaurants
Eating out can be a challenge during the initial stages of a low carb diet.
Even if you order meat or fish without breaded meat or sauce, you will usually receive a separate starch.
It is often potatoes, pasta, bread or rolls.
However, these starches can add 30 grams of carbohydrates to your food or more. It depends on the portion size, which is often quite large.
Instead, ask your server to substitute low-carb vegetables instead of high-carb foods. If your meal already includes a side dish of vegetables, you can take another portion , as long as the vegetables are not starchy.
Getting vegetables instead of potatoes, pasta or bread when eating out can save a lot of carbohydrates.
8. Replace wheat flour with low carb flour
Wheat flour is a high carbohydrate ingredient in most baked goods, including breads, rolls and cookies. It is also used to coat meat and fish before sauteing or baking.
Even whole wheat flour, which contains more fiber than refined white flour, has 61 grams of digestible carbohydrates per 100 grams.
Fortunately, flours made from nuts and coconuts are a great alternative and are widely available in grocery stores and online stores.
100 grams of almond flour contain less than 11 grams of digestible carbohydrates , and 100 grams of coconut flour contain 21 grams of digestible carbohydrates.
These flours can be used to cover sauteed foods , as well as in recipes that require wheat flour. However, because they do not contain gluten, the texture of the finished product will often not be the same.
Almond and coconut flour tend to work best in recipes for muffins, pancakes and other similar soft and baked goods.
Use almond or coconut flour instead of wheat flour in baked goods or when covering foods before sautéing or baking them.
9. Replace the milk with almond or coconut milk
Milk is nutritious, but it is also quite high in carbohydrates because it contains a type of sugar called lactose .
A 240 ml glass of whole or low-fat milk contains 12-13 grams of carbohydrates.
Adding a splash of milk to your coffee or tea is fine.
But if you drink milk by the glass or in lattes or shakes, you can end up providing lots of carbohydrates.
There are several milk substitutes available. The most popular are coconut and almond milk, but there are also other types made from nuts and hemp. Vitamin D, calcium and other vitamins and minerals are often added to improve nutritional value.
These drinks are mainly water, and the carbohydrate content is usually very low. Most have 2 grams of digestible carbohydrates or less per serving.
However, some contain sugar, so be sure to check the ingredient list and the nutrition label to make sure you are drinking a sugar-free and low- carb beverage .
Use almond milk, coconut milk or other low carb milk substitutes instead of regular milk.
10. Emphasize non-starchy vegetables
Vegetables are a valuable source of nutrients and fiber in a low carb diet. They also contain phytochemicals (plant compounds), many of which function as antioxidants that help protect against disease.
However, it is important to select non-starchy types to keep carbohydrate intake low.
Certain root vegetables and legumes, such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, peas, beans and corn , are moderately high in carbohydrates.
Fortunately, there are many delicious and nutritious low-carb vegetables that you can eat.
Choose non-starchy vegetables to keep your carbohydrate intake low while maintaining a high intake of nutrients and fiber.
11. Choose low carb dairy products
The dairy products are delicious and can be very healthy.
For starters, they contain calcium, magnesium and other important minerals .
Dairy products also contain conjugated linoleic acid (ALC), a type of fatty acid that has been shown to promote fat loss in several studies.
However, some dairy products are bad choices in a low carb diet. For example, fruit-flavored yogurt, frozen yogurt and pudding are often loaded with sugar and very rich in carbohydrates.
On the other hand, Greek yogurt and cheese are much lower in carbohydrates and have been shown to reduce appetite, promote fullness, improve body composition and reduce risk factors for heart disease.
Here are some good dairy options, along with carbohydrate counts per 100 grams:
- Natural Greek yogurt: 4 grams of carbohydrates.
- Cheese (brie, mozzarella, cheddar, etc.): 1 gram of carbohydrates.
- Ricotta cheese: 3 grams of carbohydrates.
- Cottage cheese: 3 grams of carbohydrates.
Choose yogurt and Greek cheese to get the benefits of dairy with very few carbohydrates.
12. Eat healthy protein foods
Eating a good source of protein at each meal can make it easier to reduce carbohydrates, and it is particularly important if you are trying to lose weight.
Protein triggers the release of the “satiety hormone” PYY, reduces hunger, helps fight food cravings and protects muscle mass during weight loss.
Protein also has a much higher thermal value compared to fat or carbohydrates, which means that your body’s metabolic rate increases more by digesting and metabolizing it.
Be sure to include at least a portion of this list of high-protein and low-carb foods in each meal:
- Walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds
- Fresh cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Whey Protein Powder
Eating healthy protein at each meal can help you feel full, fight cravings and increase your metabolic rate.
13. Prepare foods with healthy fats
Fat replaces some carbohydrates and typically constitutes more than 50% of calories in a low carb diet.
Therefore, it is important to choose fats that not only add flavor but also benefit your health.
Two of the healthiest options are virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Virgin coconut oil is a highly saturated fat that is very stable at high cooking temperatures. Most of its fat is medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which can reduce belly fat and increase HDL cholesterol.
In addition, these MCTs can also decrease appetite. In one study, men who ate a breakfast rich in MCT ate significantly fewer calories at lunch than men who ate a breakfast high in long-chain triglycerides.
It has been shown that extra virgin olive oil reduces blood pressure, improves the functioning of the cells that line the arteries and helps prevent weight gain .
Preparing foods low in carbohydrates with healthy fats can improve the taste, promote the feeling of fullness and improve health.
14. Start reading food labels
Looking at food labels can provide valuable information about the carbohydrate content of packaged foods.
The key is to know where to look and if you have to do some calculation.
If you live outside the United States, the fiber in the carbohydrate section will have already been deducted.
If you live in the United States, you can deduct the grams of fiber from carbohydrates to get the digestible (“net”) carbohydrate content.
It is also important to note how many servings are included in the package , since they are often more than one.
If a mixture of nuts contains 7 grams of carbohydrates per serving and a total of 4 servings , you will end up consuming 28 grams of carbohydrates if you eat the whole bag.
Reading food labels can help you determine how many carbohydrates are in packaged foods.
15. Count carbohydrates with a nutrition recorder
A nutrition tracker is a wonderful tool for keeping track of your daily food intake. Most are available as applications for smartphones and tablets, as well as online.
When you enter your food intake for each meal and snack, carbohydrates and other nutrients are calculated automatically.
Some of the most popular nutrition tracking programs are MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, FitDay and Cron-o-Meter.
These programs calculate your nutrient needs based on your weight, age and other factors, but you can customize your daily carbohydrate goal and change it whenever you want.
Most of the information in the food databases is reliable . However, keep in mind that some of these programs allow people to add personalized nutritional information that may not always be accurate.
Using a nutrition tracking application or an online program can help you monitor and fine-tune your carbohydrate intake.