Simple and tasty food swaps for a lower carb diet.
For decades, carbohydrates have had a bad reputation for being unhealthy and a common cause of weight gain, with many switching to a low carb diet (opens in new tab) instead.
But before you cut out ingredients, or skip over a recipe because you ‘know’ carbs are bad, let's first try and understand a little more about them.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbs are sugars, fibre and starches that are found in food. They’re in a lot of different foods, not just pasta and rice.
Carbohydrates are present in fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains, dairy products such as milk, yogurt and ice cream and many more.
Defined as a macronutrient; a vital source of energy and something extremely important in our diets, along with fat and protein.
Good carbs: These are found in foods high in nutrients, low in calories, saturated fats and lacking in refined sugars and grains. These foods, release energy slowly and will help you stay fuller or longer.
Bad carbs: These are the ones we should all be avoiding, Full of refined sugars, refined grains, like white flour, high in calories, high in sodium and containing little or no nutritional value whatsoever. These will give you an instant energy boost, you may crash later.
Low carb food swaps
These are some simple and effective ways to cut your intake of those bad carbs.
1. Swap pasta for spiralized veg
Swap spaghetti, with a carb content of 31g per 100g, for spiralized vegetables such as courgette (opens in new tab) (3.1g), carrots (10g) and squash (12g).
If this still isn’t hitting the spot, then switch to wholemeal pasta, as it’s better for you.
2. Swap mashed potato for mashed turnip
White potatoes aren’t the worst, at 16g of carbs per 100g, but you can still lower this by using mashed turnips instead, at just 6g of carbs per 100g.
3. Swap rice for cauliflower rice
Swap white rice for blitzed cauliflower, which has just 5g of carbs per 100g, instead of 35g per 100g of rice.
Brown rice (opens in new tab) is also lower in carbs at 23g per 100g.
4. Swap white flour
Substitute white flour; coming in at 76g of carbs per 100g in cakes for ground almonds, which are a miniscule 3.8g of carbs per 100g.
You can also use a wide range of nut and bean flours, such as chickpea, soy, coconut and hazelnut.
5. Swap white bread
Bread is tricky because white bread actually contains less carbs than a rye or wholemeal (opens in new tab), but its also extremely refined and contains less nutrients and fibre, so we would always advise a wholemeal seeded loaf.
But if you want to cut them out, why not try using roasted portabella mushrooms, or leaves of gem lettuce as a burger bun?
6. Cut down on the beer
Beer may be one of those things that you don’t associate with carbs, but its actually higher in carbohydrates than wines and spirits, so bear this in mind when you’re next at the bar. Some brands, even offer low carb versions.
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With over 12 years of experience, arts graduate Keiron turned to food to channel his creativity, specifically cake decorating. Keiron set up his wedding cake business in 2015. And, in late 2016 won a scholarship at the world-renowned culinary institute - Le Cordon Bleu, London, where he studied the art of French Pâtisserie. He's worked in some of London’s finest 5-star hotels, collecting a wealth of knowledge along the way. As a Food Writer and Stylist food isn’t just a job, it truly is Keiron's passion.
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