In a world where carbs are everything, it can be difficult to not overdo it.
Diets that take a drastic approach aren’t the answer.
Try one of the following strategies to cut back on carbs, rather than cutting them completely. (And appreciate the alliterated abridgments.)
1. Fast First Meal Fix
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I don’t buy it.
Every meal is important. But it’s a good idea to get off on the right foot. As much as I hate to say it, cakes (i.e. pancakes, waffles, muffins, cinnamon rolls, etc.) aren’t the best way to do it.
To help cut back on carbs, add protein to your breakfast.
Adding protein will prevent you from feeling like you’re starving yourself, and it can make a world of a difference in your energy the rest of the morning.
Summary: Fashion a fine breakfast by fixing fresh foods full of protein.
2. Veggie Vigor
There’s a reason cauliflower rice is so popular right now. (Hint: It’s not because it’s so freaking messy.)
It’s because it’s a clever way to eat less carbs.
You can achieve the same thing by switching out any carb for a veggie. If you normally have mac and cheese with mashed potatoes, swap one of those sides to a vegetable of your choice.
Summary: Vary your victuals by revamping with veggies.
3. Share the Sugar
Let’s be honest. A big reason our culture overdoes it on carbs is because we love sugar.
You’re not going to stop eating it. Remember, your goal is to cut BACK on carbs. Not eliminate them.
A good way to do this with treats is by only eating half.
Even this won’t be easy to do unless you plan ahead. Before you ever get the dessert on your plate, cut it in half and share it with a friend, or the trash (poor, lonely trash bin never gets any sweets).
Summary: Set yourself up for success — split your sweets with a sweetheart, save it, or simply scrap it.
4. Exclude Excess
Imagine this scene:
You walk into a sub shop and order a sandwich. You get a foot-long carb fortress, grab a bag of carbs as a side, and fill a cup with some bubbly carbs. Then you follow this meal up with a chocolate chip studded carb.
My suggestion: just pick one.
Can’t have a sandwich without the bread? You’ll have to skip the soda, chips, and cookie.
The same thing applies for other restaurants. Settle for the one carb at each meal that you can’t live without and stop there.
(Important: In this context, veggies don’t count — you don’t have to choose between bread and broccoli.)
Summary: Be exclusive: Accept essentials. Exclude extras.
5. Forgo French Fries
If you haven’t gotten the message yet, we aren’t “anti-carb.”
That said, there’s a specific type you should limit more than others: anything that’s overly processed and fried.
The more you eat out, the more likely you are to have a diet high in this type of carbohydrate. Simply saying no to fries when eating on the go can reduce calories, and impact your overall health.
Don’t get me wrong, I like fries. Eating them every once in awhile isn’t the worst thing in the world.
But if you eat out even semi-regularly, rather than ordering the combo meal, stick with just the sandwich, or just the entree. You can make up for it by doubling your protein, or getting a salad if it’s not loaded with a bunch of junk.
Think of fries as the treat they are, rather than the common side they’ve become.
Summary: Find finer fare and forget about filling your face with fries.
6. Bread Backup
When eating at home, your options become much less limited.
Get creative and replace your standard bread options with something less carb-y.
Use a lettuce leaf instead of slices of bread
Do a meat, cheese, and veggie tray instead of chips
A portobello mushroom makes a good “burger bun”
Spring roll wrappers and nori sheets make great wraps
Summary: Don’t be biased about bread. Branch out beyond the basics.
7. Decide on Different Drinks
There’s nothing that can derail your progress toward fat loss more inconspicuously than liquid carbs (juice, soda, sweet tea, adult beverages, etc.).
We finish the soda at fast food joints simply because they give it to us. Never mind the fact that it’s 32 ounces and 400 calories — the amount some people should stop at for the whole meal.
At the same time, there’s no less complicated way to reduce carbs than sticking to water.
You don’t have to cook it. You don’t have to figure out how many calories are in it. And it’s widely available.
When you think about carbs, if what comes to mind is potatoes and corn, you’re missing the point. What you need to cut back on are the empty calories, and drinks are one of the biggest offenders.
Summary: Determine to deal with drinks — ditch the duds.
Refrain from the Radical
Don’t go overboard and cut too many carbs.
You still need a serving of carbs at every meal that would fit into your cupped hand (two cupped hands for guys).
So pick one of these tips — not all of them — and give it a shot.
Which will you choose?