Carbohydrates are by far the most common types of nutrients people consume too much. but what do you do when you are used to bread, pasta, and rice but want to start a weight loss journey on a low-carb diet? This piece is about low-carb diet alternatives you can try.
Of course, it doesn’t seem easy, especially when low-carb diets, ketogenic diets, paleo diets, and more suggest limiting the intake of carbohydrates for weight loss. However, it’s easier than you think.
But before we delve into the details, let’s learn more about carbohydrates and where they are found.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are macronutrients that occur naturally in foods such as vegetables or grains. They include sugars, fiber, and starch. All of them are ideal for energy dispensation for the body.
We all need these macronutrients for our bodies to function optimally. This also includes proteins and fats.
But despite how fundamental carbohydrates are in helping with your body’s metabolism, consuming them in large quantities may pose certain dangers.
There are two types of carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, and complex carbohydrates.
a) Simple Carbohydrates
They are also referred to as simple sugars or refined carbohydrates. They are quickly digested and their glucose is easily released into the body.
White bread, pasta, and rice are some of the most common simple carbs. Most of their fiber and other nutrients have been stripped.
Similarly, most of the calories they offer are empty and have little to no nutritional value, but somehow, they lead to weight gain. Most junk foods have simple carbs.
b) Complex carbohydrates
Complex carbs take longer to be digested because they are made up of longer saccharide chains. The two main types of complex carbs are starch and fiber.
Fiber controls cholesterol levels in your body aside from improving your digestive system. Examples of complex carbs include oats, whole grains, brown rice, vegetables, nuts, and certain fruits.
Natural complex carbohydrates have numerous health benefits. They are our body’s main source of energy. However, it may lead to other unwanted health issues, especially if one eats the wrong type of carbohydrates.
When you go overboard in carbohydrate consumption, weight gain occurs. But one can avoid it by steering clear of unhealthy carbs – lots of sugary foods. This keeps you away from sugar addiction as well.
Where are Carbohydrates Primarily Found?
There are many sources of carbohydrates and they are found in several foods including both natural and processed foods.
They are, however, primarily found in bread, pasta, and many types of sugary foods.
Food groups containing carbohydrates include:
- Whole fruits and fruit juices
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes
- Dairy products including milk, ice cream, and yogurt
- Grains like cereal, crackers, rice, and bread
- Sugary foods including cookies, pies, desserts, and soda, among others
- Beans and other legumes
Low-Carb Diet Alternatives for Bread, Pasta, and Rice
Some people can’t do without bread, pasta, and rice. The thought itself seems to be a nightmare and most of them will run away from low-carb diets.
Well, if you are one of those worrywarts, you can rest assured that a low-carb diet has great and healthy low-carb diet alternatives for these three foods.
Low-Carb Diet Alternatives to Pasta
Typically, cooked unenriched pasta contains about an estimated 30 grams of carbs in every 100 grams. This amount makes the daily recommendation of carbohydrates in a day in a ketogenic diet.
The “healthy” advertised wheat pasta contains 37 grams of total carbohydrates. As such, pasta is not recommended in a low-carb diet. Other foods that are not allowed include the ones listed here.
Some of the best low-carb pasta alternatives are:
Zoodles are noodles made from zucchini. As a low-carb pasta alternative, you can add your favorite low-carb vegies spiralized to noodles as well. Cooked zoodles strip them of their fibrous texture absorbing the flavor and the pasta sauce.
This gives you about 5 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein in a cup, and zero fats.
What’s more, zoodles are perfect for diabetics and anyone looking to control their blood sugar levels. They contain a variety of vitamins, including A, C, B, and potassium.
ii) Almond Flour Pasta
As the name hints, this type of low-carb pasta is made from almond flour pasta. It contains zero net carbs, 1.6 grams of dietary fiber, and the same amount of carbohydrates.
Consequently, this low-carb diet offers other significant amounts of healthy fats, magnesium, and manganese, vitamin E.
Homemade almond paste is the most recommended type. Fiber Gourmet and Al Dente Carba Nada contain more carbohydrates than you’d expect.
iii) Shirataki Noodles
They are also known as miracle noodles and they contain zero calories, have a clear appearance, and are highly adaptive to any flavor it gets.
Shirataki noodles mainly include glucomannan – a highly viscous fiber obtained from the konjac root. They get their shape from lime juice.
The noodles contain 2 percent glucomannan fiber and 97 percent water. Being soy and gluten-free, they are friendly to many.
iv) Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is by far the most popular substitute for pasta. It involves the process of cutting the spaghetti squash into two and baking it. One can even scrape the insides to make them into noodles.
This low-carb alternative guarantees you 5 grams of net carbs alongside other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and some sodium.
You can top your squash with some Alfredo or any other keto-friendly sauce.
v) Cabbage Spaghetti
Simply put, this low-carb pasta alternative is a vegetable cut into noodles. There’s nothing special about them except that they can be added to any type of food.
They contain well below 4 grams of net carbohydrates as well as other beneficial health nutrients.
Cabbage is an antioxidant containing anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins, anthocyanins, folate, and minerals.
vi) Egg Pasta
That’s right, there is egg pasta, and you can have this by combining cream cheese with eggs to make pasta.
The ones available in stores sometimes use white and almond flour, among others in place of cream cheese.
The eggs’ macro content is highly beneficial, plus they are readily available. Eggs make some of the cheapest nutrient-dense food you can obtain with zero carbs, 6 grams of proteins, and 7 grams of fat.
Cream cheese, on the other hand, is one of the ketogenic diet dairy products, which makes it ideal for your plan. But always get it from a quality source.
vii) Black Bean Pasta
This type of pasta is made from black beans – which you can easily procure from your nearest grocery store. It is a low-carb alternative that is also low in fat.
Black bean pasta has net carbohydrates of only 5 grams and 25 grams of protein. You can include this pasta alternative with a low-carb bread option.
Don’t forget to smother it in garlic, or butter for that matter.
Low-Carb Diet Alternatives to Rice
Just like pasta, there are myriads of low-carb rice alternatives you can opt for in your weight loss journey through dieting. The easiest ones are vegetable-based recipes such as cauliflower. Others include:
i) Shirataki Rice
Just like you can have shirataki noodles, you can also make rice out of them. It is also called miracle rice. This type of low-carb diet alternative to rice lives up to the name by being a calorie-free meal.
It is made from Konnyaku flour, from a plant with the same name. The rice contains iron and soluble fiber, which is good for the gut, and improvement of cholesterol in the body. It is found readily made in grocery stores.
ii) Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse. It is a cruciferous vegetable that is readily available and can be grated or shredded to make cauliflower rice.
Apart from being a low-carb food source, it is an antioxidant, has vitamin C and K, and is great for digestion.
It also helps to reduce the risks of certain diseases in addition to fighting inflammations. Its alternatives include kale, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts among others.
iii) Butternut Squash Rice
Not only does butternut squash taste great but it is a preferable choice as a low-carb rice alternative for some people. It contains only 21 grams of carbohydrates.
This type of rice can easily be made using a simple food processor by chopping it and throwing them piece by piece into the machine.
The carbs may only be a few grams shy of the recommended limit in a keto low-carb diet, it brings other benefits such as vitamins A, B6, C, and E; and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Butternut squash is found in grocery stores. Other great low-carb diet alternatives to this type of rice include pumpkins, which contain 7 grams of carbohydrate, 6.5 grams net carbs in every 100 grams, and 0.5 grams of fiber.
Kabocha squash is another great choice with 8 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber. Acorn Squash, on the other hand, has 10 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of fiber, and 8.5-grams net carbs total per 100 grams.
iv) Rutabaga Rice
Rutabaga is a root vegetable that many people identify as an alternative to potatoes. It can be processed into rice.
This type of low-carb rice contains both macronutrients and micronutrients. A cup contains about 9 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of protein, and zero fat.
Similarly, it comes with minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and calcium. This is not to mention vitamins C, E, and K that it carries.
Better yet, rutabaga rice is an antioxidant that also elevates metabolic function and boosts the digestive and immune systems.
v) Cabbage Rice
Cabbage rice offers one of the lowest amounts of carbohydrates with zero fat content and 2 grams of protein per cup.
It is made by grating and shredding or processing cabbage into smaller bits like rice. Red cabbage is preferable for its abundance of vitamins A and C and iron.
Low-Carb Diet Alternatives to Bread
Most pieces of bread available in shops, despite it being a preference for the lot out there, are made from refined wheat. This means it contains no fiber or good amounts of nutrients.
They make the list of bad carbs and is advisable that you limit refined grains. Of course, its sweetness is often a craving but it may potentially lead to an increase in blood sugar and calorie intake.
Although bread is a common type of snack for breakfast, it doesn’t suit everyone, particularly those who are intolerant to gluten.
Fortunately, there are low-carb diet alternatives to bread which include:
i) Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread is friendly to the gut and is way more nutritious than regular bread. A medium slice contains 12.98 grams of carbs, 0.8 grams of fiber, and 3.8 grams of protein.
ii) Ezekiel Bread
Ezekiel bread contains low carbs with a net of 14 grams and 4 grams of fiber.
This type of bread comes if a plethora of choices. It can be made with barley, wheat, spelled, millet, soybeans, and lentils.
Ezekiel sprouted whole grain bread is one of the healthiest types. It doesn’t contain any added sugar but it does have gluten. Other nutritional facts include 0.5 grams of total fat, 4.8 grams of protein, and mineral sodium.
iii) Corn Tortillas
This low-carb bread alternative is made from corn. A 6-inch size corn tortilla gives you a total of 14 grams of carbs.
It is high in fiber and is gluten-free making them suitable for everyone including vegetarians. It also packs minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and iron together with 1.37 grams of protein in one serving.
Corn tortillas can be paired with any of your favorite low-carb meals.
iv) Rye Bread
This type of bread is made from rye. A regular size of rye bread gives you 15.5 grams of carbohydrates and a total of 1.9 grams of fiber.
The bread fits anyone’s plan to limit carbs. It is also ideal for the diabetic since it causes a lower increase in blood sugars as opposed to the typical bread.
Other low-carb diet alternatives to bread include cauliflower bread or pizza crust, eggs, lettuce, leafy greens, butternut squash, or sweet potato flatbread.
v) Oopsie Bread
Oopsie bread is also known as cloud bread. It is low in carbohydrates and can be made from various recipes including eggs and cream cheese.
It is one of the no-carb foods that makes some of the most delicious buns for hamburgers. It can also be served with toppings.
You don’t have to starve yourself on a low-carb diet. There are plenty of choices for common meals such as bread, rice, and pasta. The good thing about these low-carb diet alternatives is that they contain other benefits such as lowering blood sugars, minimizing risks of diseases, leaving you feeling full for longer, and most importantly, helping you lose weight through low-carb dieting.
Read here the types of foods allowed and those you should limit in a low-carb diet for pairing options and to devise a recipe that works for you.