Cutting back on carbohydrates can have major benefits for your health.
Many studies have shown that low-carb diets can help you lose weight and control diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are 12 easy ways to reduce your carb intake.
1. Eliminate Sugar-Sweetened Drinks
Sugar-sweetened beverages are very unhealthy.
They're high in added sugar, which is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity when consumed in excess.
A 12-ounce can of sugary soda contains 38 grams of carbs, and a 12-ounce sweetened iced tea has 36 grams of carbs. These come entirely from sugar.
If you want to eat fewer carbs, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages should be one of the first things you do.
If you want to drink something refreshing with a taste, try adding some lemon or lime to club soda or iced tea. If needed, use a small amount of low-calorie sweetener.
2. Cut Back on Bread
Bread is a staple food in many diets. Unfortunately, it's also quite high in carbs and generally low in fiber.
This is especially true for white bread made from refined grains, which may negatively impact health and weight.
Even nutritious breads such as rye contain about 15 grams of carbs per slice. And only a couple of those are fiber, the only component of carbs that isn't digested and absorbed.
Although whole grain bread contains vitamins and minerals, there are many other foods that provide the same nutrients with much fewer carbs.
These healthy foods include vegetables, nuts and seeds.
3. Stop Drinking Fruit Juice
Unlike whole fruit, fruit juice contains little to no fiber and is full of sugar.
Although it provides some vitamins and minerals, it's no better than sugar-sweetened beverages in terms of sugar and carbs. This is true even for 100% fruit juice.
For instance, 12 oz of 100% apple juice contains 48 grams of carbs, most of which is sugar.
It's best to avoid juice completely. Instead, try flavoring your water by adding a slice of orange or lemon.
4. Choose Low-Carb Snacks
Carbs can add up quickly in snack foods such as chips, pretzels and crackers.
These types of foods are also not very satisfying.
Having a low-carb snack that contains protein is the best strategy when hunger strikes between meals.
Here are a few healthy snacks that contain less than 5 grams of digestible carbs per 1 oz. serving and also some protein:
Almonds: 6 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
Peanuts: 6 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber.
Macadamia nuts: 4 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber.
Hazelnuts: 5 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
Pecans: 4 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
Walnuts: 4 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber.
Cheese: Less than 1 gram of carbs.
5. Eat Eggs or Other Low-Carb Breakfast Foods
Even small amounts of some breakfast foods are often high in carbs.
For instance, one half-cup of granola cereal typically has around 30 grams of digestible carbs, even before adding milk.
Conversely, eggs are an ideal breakfast when you're trying to cut back on carbs.
For starters, each egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs. They're also a great source of high-quality protein, which can help you feel full for hours and eat fewer calories during the rest of the day.
What's more, eggs are extremely versatile and can be prepared in many ways, including hard-boiling for an on-the-go breakfast.
Instead, ask your server to substitute low-carb vegetables in place of the high-carb foods. If your meal already includes a side of vegetables, you can have another serving, as long as the vegetables are the non-starchy type.
There are several milk substitutes available. The most popular are coconut and almond milk, but there are also types made from other nuts and hemp. Vitamin D, calcium and other vitamins and minerals are often added to improve nutritional value.
Vegetables are a valuable source of nutrients and fiber on a low-carb diet. They also contain phytochemicals (plant compounds), many of which function as antioxidants that help protect you from disease.
10. Prepare Foods with Healthy Fats
Fat replaces some carbs and typically makes up over 50% of calories on a low-carb diet.
Therefore, it's important to choose fats that not only add flavor but also benefit your health.
Two of the healthiest choices are virgin coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil.
Virgin coconut oil is a highly saturated fat that's very stable at high cooking temperatures. Most of its fat is medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may reduce belly fat and increase HDL cholesterol.
What's more, these MCTs may also decrease appetite. In one study, men who ate an MCT-rich breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch than men who ate a breakfast high in long-chain triglycerides.