4 Tips to Lower Your Carb Intake and Still Feel Full
Trying to reduce your carbohydrate intake? Following these four tips will make the transition that much easier.
Whatever your reason for cutting down on carbs - looking to lose weight, trying a keto diet, or just wanting to feel more energized - it can be a challenge. It might seem like carbs are unavoidable, but choosing the right alternatives, packing your diet with other filling foods, and being mindful about what you’re eating can help you quickly and efficiently reduce carbs in your diet. Below, find the top four tips for a lower carb intake.
1. Add Foods In, Don’t Just Take Them Out
Diet changes are most sustainable when you don’t feel hungry all the time. Focusing only on eliminating carbs without replacing those lost calories with filling foods makes it much harder to stick to your target and reach your goals.
Instead of just removing foods like refined carbs, high-sugar meals, and non-starchy veggies, consider what you can add to your diet to replace those foods. Try eating more of the right vegetables, including healthy fats, and choosing low-carb snacks to start.
Eat More Of The Right Veggies
We’ve all been reminded to eat our vegetables since we were too young to make our own meal choices - and there’s a reason for that. Vegetables are nutritious, delicious, and safe for a low-carb diet if you choose the best options.
Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes (including sweet potatoes), beans, carrots, corn, and squash. Instead, go for vegetables like artichokes, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, spinach, green beans, lettuce, kale, and avocados. Full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients, these veggies are low in carbs and great for your belly.
Include Healthy Fats
We heard that high fats were the enemy of weight loss and healthy eating for years, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. While saturated fats and trans fats are associated with heart disease, obesity, and high cholesterol, unsaturated fats have health benefits. Healthy fats can reduce inflammation and cholesterol and lower your risk of some diseases.
Ensuring your fat intake focuses on healthy fats and other macronutrients is a great way to keep your carb count low and still enjoy your meals. Vegetable oils like olive oil, seeds, nuts, and fish all contain healthy fats, so try to add them in when you can.
Choose Low-Carb Snacks
Often, we focus so much on making our meals free of high-carb foods that we forget one of the main culprits of carb overload: snacking. Choosing high-quality snacks is an excellent way to extend your low carbohydrate diet from morning to night.
Look for the same whole foods you eat during meals, like fruits, veggies, nuts, or other options that fit in a ketogenic diet. Filling, low-carb snacks can increase the satiety, or feeling of fullness, that you get post-snack sesh. You might also find that preparing your meal plan to include snack options helps you make the right choices during snack time.
2. Up Your Protein Intake
When adding foods into your diet, one of the best ways to make cutting carbs sustainable is to eat more protein. Energizing, satisfying, and diverse, protein is essential for a balanced diet.
High-protein foods are much more likely to keep you feeling full for longer than other foods, potentially helping you eat less and feel fewer cravings for sugar and carbs. Along with that, your body uses more energy to digest proteins than it does for carbohydrates or fats. In other words, when you digest protein, your body uses more calories throughout the digestion process.
We’re not saying you should start eating red meat for every meal - there are tons more protein options than you might be familiar with. You can find protein from obvious sources, like meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs, but plenty of other foods are rich in protein too. Try out legumes, nuts, and seeds for some low-carb, high-protein sources. Remember - a healthy diet touches on all parts of the food pyramid, so if all you’re eating is protein, it can affect your kidneys, liver, and bone health. You should get about 10-35% of your calories from protein, as recommended by health professionals.
3. Eat Fewer Refined Carbohydrates
Ask most dietitians, and you get the same answer: refined carbs have got to go (for the most part). One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Americans get 42% of their daily calories from refined carbohydrates - and that’s causing significant issues for overall health.
Refined carbs, also known as simple carbs, include white bread, flour, rice, pasta, pizza dough, sweets and sweeteners, sodas, fruit juices, and other processed foods. Besides lacking health benefits, refined carbs can negatively impact body weight, heart health, and more. Because they also affect blood sugar levels, people living with type 2 diabetes have to be wary about consuming simple carbohydrates.
Why are complex carbs better than refined carbs? It comes down to how carbohydrates are processed in your body. Complex carbs offer nutritional value, including loads of fiber. Your body digests them more slowly, delivering an extended glucose release rather than the jolt in blood sugar that refined carbs can produce. The side effect of that blood sugar spike means an immediate jump in energy, often followed by fatigue or feelings of low energy soon after.
When you’re craving carbs, go for complex carbs like whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa), legumes, fruits, and vegetables. You don’t have to restrict your carbohydrate intake - instead, choose to go for the right carbs, and you’ll find that you’re feeling full for longer, staying energized, and really enjoying your meals.
4. Use Carbohydrate Substitutes
Cutting down on carbs is easier when you have tasty options to substitute in. Eating a lower amount of carbs doesn’t have to mean your food is no longer exciting - with filling alternatives, you can make sure you’re still enjoying every meal.
Consider your favorite meals to make at home. Where can you substitute a low-carb, high-protein option? Take your favorite pasta dish - instead of the simple carbs in regular pasta, you can use zucchini noodle pasta or another pasta replacement. Switch up your white rice for some cauliflower rice in other meals, and make sure to add a hearty serving of protein.
Or, make your favorite mac and cheese, casserole, coconut shrimp, or fried food with a keto bread crumb alternative, like our Nut Crumbs. Gluten-free, paleo, vegan, and sugar-free, Nut Crumbs are a low-carb alternative you can add to your favorite bread crumb dishes for all the same deliciousness you’re used to - without the same grams of carbs.