What Can I Replace with Carbs to Lose Weight?
Max Carmody, MSc
Instead of carbs, to lose weight you can eat more meat, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds, or low carb alternatives like cloud bread.
What are Carbs?
Carbs, or carbohydrates, are a type of macronutrient. Macronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in large quantities to function. The other types of macronutrients are fat and protein. Carbs are made up of sugar, starches, and fibers. Carbs are made up of sugar, starches, and fiber. The digestive system breaks down carbs into glucose or blood sugar. The bloodstream absorbs glucose and uses it as energy to fuel the body. There are multiple types of carbs. There are simple carbs, and complex carbs. Simple carbs provide short bursts of energy, while complex carbs provide longer, more sustained energy.
Eating More Meat
Doing a low carb diet is tough if you’re a vegetarian. When you’re on a low carb diet, you need to make up the carbs that you’re missing out on, with either protein or fat. Meat can be a source of both, especially protein. I personally love to have a nice rare bloody steak when I’m doing low carb. Steaks are pretty fatty though, so it’s best not to eat them too often. A pretty healthy option is lean meat. Lean meats are meats with relatively low fat content. Some of the main types of lean meats are skinless chicken, turkey, and meat like pork chops with the fat cut off. Tuna is also great. I love the little Starkist tuna packages as a backup for lunch. They come in all sorts of great flavors, like buffalo, ranch, and Jalapeno. Meat contains only trace amounts of carbs, virtually 0. If you would like to read about the best foods to eat on a low carb diet, you can find an article here that I wrote about that.
Eggs are really a wonder food. They are extremely healthy for you, and an egg contains total less than a gram of carbs, about .2 or so (.6 according to some sources). Eggs are a valuable source of protein, and contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals, along with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Eggs can improve levels of good cholesterol, provide a great source of Vitamin D, and they’re very filling, keeping you full longer than things like protein. When I’m doing low carb, I eat eggs for breakfast almost every morning. I love spicy things, so I especially love eggs with hot sauce. Lately I’ve been eating Melinda’s Black Truffle Hot Sauce a lot. Or I’ll chop up some chipotles, many chipotles, and put the chipotles in them. If you don’t like spicy things as much as me, you can chop up some chives, or add a bit of cheese.
There are two types of vegetables, starchy and non starchy. Starchy vegetables contain more starch. Starch is a type of carbohydrate that your body breaks down into glucose. Starchy vegetables are much higher in starch than non-starchy vegetables. Starchy vegetables generally, although not always, tend to grow below ground, while non-starchy vegetables grow below ground. Some types of non-starchy vegetables are corn, potatoes, peas, beets, and some types of squash.
Non-starchy vegetables are great if you’re trying to keep your carb count down, as many of them contain next to no carbs. Some non-starchy vegetables are: black olives, purple cabbage, arugula, asparagus, brussel sprouts, celery, cabbage, red peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce. Lettuce, for example, is probably the lowest, or one of the lowest carb vegetables. It contains only about 1 gram of carbs for a shredded cup. Many of the other vegetables, even some non-starchy ones, do contain at least a few carbs, but it’s quite low. A medium tomato for example, contains about 5 grams of carbs. Vegetables are just really healthy for you anyway. If you would like to read, what else to eat instead of bread, here is an article I wrote on the subject.
I believe that avocado is in a category all it’s own. I eat a ton of avocados when I’m trying to do a low carb diet. It is important to keep in mind however, that they are low carb, not low calorie. A smallish avocado contains about 160 calories, and one on the medium side can have up to 220 or 240 calories. They are delicious however. They are great sources of healthy fat. I love to slice up an avocado, and have it with a little bit of sea salt, fresh pepper, and red pepper flakes. My mom showed me that. Avocados do contain about 13 grams of carbs though for a medium one, so they are low carb, not no carb. You may not want to eat too many if you’re doing very low carb, like Keto.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great snack if you’re trying to do low carb. You can reach for them instead of things like chips. I personally love macadamia nuts, although they’re quite expensive. After that, my favorites are probably walnuts. Mixed nuts are great too, for a little bit of nice variety. And you can get all sorts of great flavors of nuts, like habanero BBQ or rosemary. Again though, like avocados, they are low carb, not no-carb. A cup of ground walnuts contains about 11 grams of carbs.
Low Carb Alternatives
If you’re trying to reduce your carb intake, but cannot stand the thought of completely giving up carby things, there are all sorts of products out there that are low carb versions of familiar high carb things. One thing that is quite interesting, is cloud bread. Apparently this is a viral trend on Tik Tok right now. It’s low carb, low calorie, keto, and gluten free. It can be made with only eggs, a little cream cheese or cottage cheese, and cream of tar tar. Here is a popular recipe for it. You don’t necessarily have to make things either, you can find lots of low carb alternatives at the grocery store. Tortillas are a big thing that comes to mind. There are all sorts of types of low carb tortillas, made with things like spinach, out there.
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