Curb Your Carb Cravings With These Foods
While there’s no one-size-fits-all in terms of the perfect diet, upleveling the foods you choose to consume can have a great impact on your overall well-being, whether your objective is to gain energy, lose weight, build muscle, cut bloat or otherwise.
Anyone who has tried it will agree: Cutting carbs is definitely easier said than done. If you’re set on changing your diet and eating less carbs, try adding the following low-carb alternatives to your rotation. They’re each known to help curb any cravings — and their respective nutritional benefits are equally good for the body.
After all, to maintain that lower-carb lifestyle, you need to create healthy eating habits that are actually sustainable.
According to Anna Karla Pamplona, a nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition, “To cut cravings for carbs, the main thing is to balance the intestinal flora with natural food and probiotics.” Gut health is often overlooked when considering diet, but poor gut flora often leads to intense sugar — and carb — cravings.
An easy way to get your gut flora back on track is by adding a probiotic to your diet. While you can get probiotics naturally from foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi, it’s easier to stay consistent by picking up a probiotic supplement. When shopping for a probiotic, look for something that advertises many strains of bacteria as well as a high potency (at least 15 billion).
Being realistic with your diet means making space for sweets when it feels right. “Sweeter fruits like banana, berries, and mango help put a stop to any sugar cravings — without the carbs that you’d find in a cookie or other processed snack,” Pamplona says. Think of it as a satisfying treat that your body will actually thank you for.
Pamplona also suggests bitter chocolate. Like fruit, bitter chocolate helps cut that sugar craving in a hurry — and its laundry list of benefits makes it something you can feel great about snacking on. Dark chocolate (at least 80 percent) has been reported to potentially improve blood flow, reduce heart disease, and is a powerful source of antioxidants. The decadent flavor is complex and satisfying without being overly high in sugar.
There’s no getting around it: Alcohol — whether whisky, beer or otherwise — is heavy in carbs, and not only that, but it’s also much harder to make healthy choices when under the influence. How many times have you ordered a pizza or got your Uber to stop at McDonald’s on the way home from a drinks with the guys, knowing full well you don’t need the extra filler calories?
Switching your beverage of choice to water will actually help cut cravings all on its own — which is a huge bonus. If you’re craving the satisfying sip of beer or a glass of wine, try sparkling water. Sparkling waters come in a myriad of zero-calorie flavors, and comes in a super-convenient 12-pack or can be made at home with a SodaStream. It’s easy to bring to a can or two to a party — the zingy bubbles are nearly as satisfying as a crisp brew.
Sometimes a craving for carbs is really your body crying out for more protein. According to a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia, consuming protein in the morning will help reduce cravings and also leave you feeling fuller and less likely to overeat later in the day. A morning dose of protein also reduces the brain signals controlling the food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior, which means you’ll be better equipped to beat food cravings that pop up.
Eggs are probably the easiest option for getting protein in the morning, but Pamplona also recommends trying everything from oats, yogurt, and hemp seed to an almond milk smoothie with vegan protein powder. She also suggests adding spinach for an extra-powerful, protein-packed breakfast, which has more protein than any other vegetable.
A great way to cut cravings and avoid carbo-loading is to fill up on fresh pressed vegetable juice, raw veggies, or a simple salad before even starting your main course. Getting full on vegetables is an easy — and insanely nutritious — option when in a pinch and will help get your digestive system going before consuming anything heavier.
If you’re snacking at a party or ordering apps at a restaurant, add hummus to the mix as well. “Chickpeas in hummus are packed with protein and especially efficient when paired with broccoli, which has upwards to 3 grams of protein per 100 grams,” Pamplona points out.
With all these different options to help you cut down on your carb intake, going low(er) carb should be a cinch.
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