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Easy ways to reduce carbs

Monday, 8 October 2012

You know you should be reducing your intake of carbs in order to lose weight. But how can you stay full and energised without all that bread and pasta? The good news is, reducing carbs isnít about denying yourself- itís just a matter of making smarter choices so that you get the energy you need without loading up on too many excess calories that will be stored as fat.

Staying full on fewer carbs

First, letís take a quick look at how the body processes energy. There are three main nutrients that the body uses for energy: carbs, protein and fats. These get broken down in the body once eaten and used as fuel. Carbs are the easiest nutrient for the body to break down, so they will always be used first. Both simple and complex carbs are converted into sugar, which the blood cells use to produce energy. The trouble is that if we consume more carbs than we really need, the sugar doesnít get used and ends up being stored as fat. So reducing the amount of carbs and filling up on protein is a good way to support our weight loss efforts.

But reducing your carb intake doesnít mean having to feel tired and hungry all the time. Making a few key changes to your diet plan means you can keep your carb content down and still have the energy you need to get through the day. Here are some ways to stay full and energised while limiting your consumption of carbsÖ


Replace simple carbs with complex carbs. Not all carbs are the same. Itís simple carbs like white bread and white pasta that raise your blood sugar drastically and are more likely to be stored as fat. But complex carbs are good for prolonged energy, as they are digested at a slow, consistent rate and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Complex carbs can be found in fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. The added benefit is that these foods are also high in fibre, which is digested slowly and keeps you feeling full. Try to keep the carb content of each meal to 40 grams, and make up that amount in complex rather than simple carbs. Even something as simple as switching from white bread to whole grain bread can make a real difference. 

Eat more protein. If you eat more protein with each meal, you will keep your blood sugar levels more stable, which will decrease your sugar cravings. You can get protein from fish, poultry and lean meat, and vegetarian sources like tofu and soy products, lentils and other legumes, and leafy green vegetables. Try to get at least 7 grams of protein for every 15 grams of carbs you consume in a meal, and it will help you to feel more full. 

Include good fats. Keep the amounts of saturated and hydrogenated fats (like butter, animal fats, and the fats in processed foods) low, but include moderate amounts of unsaturated, plant-based fats and oils, like avocados, seeds, olive oil and nuts. These will help you to feel more satisfied at the end of the meal while you are reducing your carb intake.

Drink water. Itís important to stay hydrated to sustain energy thoughout the day. Water helps the body to digest, absorb and transport nutrients for energy. Not getting enough water can cause a lack of energy, and the dehydration is likely to be interpreted as hunger in the brain. So drinking six to eight glasses of water each day is a good way to keep your energy levels up and stop you from craving lots of carbs at meal time.

Donít ban foods. Cutting out entire food groups or types of food (like not eating any bread) might sound like a good idea, but itís actually setting you up for more problems. Try to make smart food choices and enjoy food in moderation, not deny yourself completely. Instead of banning all bread, allow yourself moderate amounts of wholegrain bread. This will give you the complex carbs you need and will prevent the binge that so often comes at the end of a period of denial!  

Reduce your portions. This is a much more sensible strategy than banning all carbs. Most of us eat portions that are much larger than the recommended serving size. Pay attention to the nutrition label and practice measuring out your food accurately, and youíll soon get better at estimating your portions.

Donít go overboard

Remember, you do need some carbs in your diet- cutting them out completely is setting you up for more health problems, and will make you more likely to crave sugary foods and binge. Around 40 grams of of carbs in each meal is a good amount for losing weight, and will give you the energy and sustenance you need. Allow yourself a treat every once in a while. Just try to make smarter choices in your everyday diet plan and youíll start to feel fuller on fewer carbs.

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