Low-carb diets have been around for more than 100 years: evidence points to their use as early as 1860. However, the present movement began in earnest in 1972, mainly as a weight-loss strategy.
Everyone has a unique experience when they attempt to cut carbs from their regular diet. There are those who find it difficult to start or stick to the diet once it is underway. They would be more committed if they saw the results, but such results aren’t as impressive because they lack follow-through.
It’s important to note that you may not see the results of adopting a low-carb diet immediately. You must figure out your ideal carbohydrate intake based on age, gender, activity levels, and other factors. This post is here to help you learn how to step away from the carbs with 10 practical tips.
How to Cut Carbs: 10 Tips
1. Improve Your Snacking
Most processed snacks – pretzels, crackers, chips – have a high carbohydrate content, but they are neither nutritious nor satisfying. One study showed that women who ate a high-protein snack in the afternoon needed only 100 calories or fewer for dinner.
When the urge to snack or hunger strikes between meals, choose healthy, low-carb snacks such as hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, macadamia and cashew nuts, pecans, cheese, and walnuts. These snacks have some protein and 5 grams of digestible carbs per 28-gram serving. Walk around with healthy snacks to munch when you feel hungry.
2. Stay Hydrated
There are numerous benefits to drinking at least eight glasses of water (2 liters) every day. If you’re exercising regularly or in hot weather, you should increase your intake. Mild dehydration can have negative effects on various body systems, from your gut to your skin.
Good hydration helps promote proper digestive functions. Choose water for hydration – avoid sugary beverages, including fruit juices, which have lots of sugar with little nutritive value. Cut out processed beverages like sodas and energy drinks; if you’re feeling hungry, have a proper meal or a healthy snack.
3. Increase Vegetable Intake
One of the pillars of a low-carb diet is making sure that your plate is 50% filled with low-carb vegetables. These include dark-green leafy vegetables, avocado, mushrooms, and cauliflower among others. Remember, not all carbs are created equal, so you need to limit your starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes.
If you’re eating out, remember your low-carb diet: ask for non-breaded forms of fish or chicken and substitute your starchy side dish with vegetables. Even if your meal includes vegetables on the side, you can benefit from having more, provided they are low-carb.
4. Consume Healthy Fats
Reducing your carb intake means you need to get your energy from somewhere, most often in the form of healthy fats. Healthy fats are more satisfying and nutritious, and they give your body the fats needed to maintain proper function.
Limit saturated fats, and instead get your healthy fats from olive oil, flax seeds, nuts, oily fish, and avocado, among others. They should, however, be consumed in moderation.
5. Increase Your Proteins
Don’t forget to adjust your protein intake when eliminating or reducing carbs, especially if you’re exercising or have a higher muscle mass or metabolism. High-protein foods keep you fuller for longer, and they are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
Enrich your diet with eggs, Greek yogurt (unflavored and unsweetened), legumes, soy proteins (tofu, tempeh, etc.), and lean meats like fish and chicken. Add different kinds of proteins to get the best of this food group.
6. Check Purchases for Hidden Sugars
When reading food labels, it may be harder to spot sugars on some products than others. It is possible to have savory foods and snacks, like salad dressings, with added sugar. You may not clearly see sugar or sugar-like ingredients called by other names, such as cane crystals, fructose, xylose, dextrose, and malt syrup.
7. Use Sugar-Free Sweeteners
When you need to use sugar on a low-carb diet, honey isn’t a healthy substitute, because it is even more packed with carbs. Where necessary, sugar-free sweeteners are safe and have other benefits:
- Erythritol – a sugar alcohol that tastes like sugar and helpful for controlling cavities
- Stevia – plant-based sweetener which can increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels
- Xylitol – sugar alcohol which fights decay-causing bacteria. Some research indicates that it reduces insulin resistance and fights obesity
The best thing to do is to learn to enjoy food without adding sweeteners. For example, learn to flavor your water naturally by adding fruit slices instead of getting flavored water.
8. Control Your Portions
Increasing your intake of vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins will have you feeling fuller quickly so that you can cut your carbs even easier. If you aren’t in charge of the menu, try to choose more vegetables or lean/plant proteins, and only consume half of the standard carbohydrate serving. At home, you can measure your portions to be accurate.
When you’re allowing yourself to eat carbs for any reason, such as a treat, maintain your portion sizes keenly. Eat a small sizer of cake if than what you’re craving, rather than eating low-carb, fat-free, sugar-free alternatives that won’t satisfy the craving. You may overeat or still end up eating some cake to quell the craving.
9. Eat Your Grains
Your choice of carbs, if consuming them, makes a difference. If you can choose, use brown rice and whole wheat flour in place of white rice or flour. It is healthier if you consume your grains whole instead of ground up in flour. The fiber helps to keep you fuller and also regulates the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
10. Stock Up
Ensure that you fill your refrigerator and pantry with your healthy, low-carb alternatives. Begin the day with low-carb, high-fiber cereal at breakfast time. Use lettuce or whole-wheat bread for your lunchtime sandwich.
Snack on fresh fruits and nuts instead of going to a vending machine. Replace rice with cauliflower rice or pasta with spaghetti squash at dinnertime. Eat nuts instead of buttery popcorn or candy at the movies.
The most important part of dieting is to not beat yourself up if you fail. Rather, try to make better choices incrementally until your low-carb diet becomes a natural part of your life. Remember, if you cut carbs even 20% of the time, you’ll be further along than the times you didn’t at all.
Be gentle with yourself, because we live in a world that throws temptation at every street corner. Try to continue learning how to step away from the carbs with 10 practical tips above.