Low-carb diets are popular, no doubt. But the truth is that not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy and your body needs a certain amount to function at an optimal level every day. Instead of cutting carbs out of your diet entirely, choosing the right low-carb substitutes can lead to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Carbs that have been refined have had their fibre and other nutrients stripped away. (Think pasta, bread, white flour, and white rice.) Refined carbs are digested quickly but only keep you full for a short period of time. They also spike your blood sugar levels, giving you a short burst of energy only to crash not long after, leaving you feeling tired and drained.
Instead, reach for sources of complex carbohydrates like oats, whole grains and veggies. You’ll feel fuller longer and get plenty of nutrients without the major energy slump. Here are a few simple, yet tasty ways to incorporate the right kinds of carbohydrates into your daily diet.
The easiest low-carb substitute for white pasta is whole-wheat pasta, readily available in most markets and probably on the same shelf! Whole-wheat pasta looks and tastes very similar to white pasta, making it an easy alternative for your favourite pasta dishes. If you’d like to try something a bit different, the spiralizer will be your new best friend! Use this handy kitchen device to create yummy, low-carb noodles from all sorts of vegetables, like zucchini or even parsnip. Spaghetti squash is another simple yet delicious substitute for white pasta or egg noodles.
Unfortunately, most types of bread and grains are too high in carbohydrates to include on a low-carb diet. Even whole wheat bread is packed with carbs, but there are still a few options available for those of you who can’t go without that sandwich for lunch. Instead of white or wheat bread, reach for a loaf of whole grain, multiseed, or rye bread instead. If you do choose to have that sandwich, just be mindful that you’ll probably be pretty close to your carb limit for the day.
Who doesn’t love a taco or burrito? Unfortunately, that 10-inch flour tortilla contains 36 grams of carbs! Yikes! An easy but still delicious low-carb substitute for flour tortillas is lettuce wraps. Toss a bit of shredded chicken and sweet peppers in some spicy seasoning and spoon them into your lettuce wraps for low-carb tacos with an added crunch.
Would you be shocked to hear there are many delicious alternatives to white flour pizza dough? Pizza is actually a surprisingly versatile and customizable food. With the right low-carb pizza base, you can create endless combinations of flavours that everyone will love! If you’d like to make your pizza dough from scratch, swap the white flour for coconut flour instead. You can also make or purchase cauliflower crust for a healthy, low-carb pizza! Another easy, low-carb trick is to use hollowed-out zucchini halves to make yummy, zucchini pizza boats.
White rice is one of the trickiest culprits when it comes to following a low-carb diet. Depending on your personal daily limit, you could easily swap white rice for brown rice or quinoa, but an even better substitute is cauliflower rice! Cauliflower rice is pretty easy to make and results in a delicious taste and similar texture, making it a great low-carb alternative to white rice.
Summer can be the toughest time for anyone trying to follow a low-carb diet. It’s pretty hard to turn down a juicy burger at your friend’s backyard BBQ, but you don’t have to! One delicious, low-carb alternative for hamburger buns is a big, plump portobello mushroom. Thanks to their large size and round shape, portobello mushrooms are the perfect vessel for a tasty hamburger. No need to skimp on all your favourite toppings, either!
If you’re following a low-carb diet of around 100 to 150 grams of carbs a day, snacking on pretzels or potato chips is a quick way to get off track. A better alternative is popcorn. While popcorn still has carbs, its high fibre content means you’ll stay fuller longer and hopefully won’t reach for more snacks! When substituting pretzels or potato chips for popcorn on a low-carb diet, just remember to be mindful of your serving size.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, isn’t it? If you love to start your mornings with a big bowl of cereal, you might be surprised to know that even the “healthy” wholegrain options are packed with carbs. Instead of reaching for that box of cornflakes, try a delicious chia porridge instead. Nutritious and super tasty, top yours with antioxidant-rich blueberries and some coconut flakes.
If you have a sweet tooth (who doesn’t?), you can still indulge in delicious desserts while following a low-carb diet. Remember, part of a healthy lifestyle is finding balance, rather than counting calories and depriving yourself of your favourite foods. Everything in moderation! If your recipe calls for white sugar, try using a low-carb sweetener like stevia instead. You can also try natural honey or agave syrup as a tasty, low-carb alternative to sugar.
There’s something oh-so-satisfying about a cold glass of Coca-Cola, but be careful. A small 250ml glass of Coke contains 27 grams of sugar. Sipping on sugary soft drinks can give you a little boost on energy, but it is usually short-lived and followed by a crash. Instead, try a healthier, low-carb substitute like a natural lemonade. Keep it simple with water, lemon, and a bit of fresh mint to create a tasty and refreshing alternative to that sugary soft drink.
As you can see, there are many low-carb substitutes for your favourite carb-heavy foods. There’s no reason to deprive yourself when food can be this tasty and nutritious! Which low-carb alternative will you try first?