22 Genius Tips To Cut Carbs, According to Experts
It's not just you trying to figure out how to cut carbs. Research shows that cutting carbs is difficult for anyone, especially because the macro is so addicting. In fact, people are hardwired to detect and have an affinity toward carbs, according to a small Chemical Senses study. That's why it's so darn hard to cut carbs!
Since we know just how real the struggle can be, we asked some of the nation's top diet and nutrition experts for their go-to carb-cutting hacks. Whether you're trying to dial back on the refined stuff, or just want to eat less of the nutrient altogether, we put together a list of 22 genius tips for how to cut carbs without feeling deprived or hungry.
Try banana-based pancakes
"If you enjoy pancakes for breakfast, ditch the conventional, grain-filled kind for one made solely from eggs and mashed banana. Simply combine the two ingredients and cook them on a griddle. You won't miss the grains." — Lauren Slayton, MS RD, founder of Foodtrainers
Know that all sugars are carbs—even natural ones
"Many individuals don't realize that natural sugars like honey and maple syrup contain just as many carbohydrates as refined white sugar. Limiting these sugars is key in reducing the number of total carbohydrates in an individual's eating plan." — Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, author of Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook
Opt for Greek or Icelandic yogurt
"Enjoy Siggi's Icelandic yogurt or plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit to avoid the extra sugar in fruit flavored and conventional yogurts. Greek and Icelandic yogurts are strained which causes them to have less lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in dairy." — Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN
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Swap out jam for fresh fruit
"When making a PB&J sandwich, ax the jam and jelly, two sources of processed fruit sugar, and mash up fruit like raspberries or banana instead." — Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Use cauliflower as a rice or pizza crust replacement
"When trying to cut carbs, I suggest looking for veggie alternatives to your favorite carbohydrate staples. Instead of rice, for example, you can make riced cauliflower. This has the same consistency as rice but has fewer carbohydrates and is very rich in fiber. You can also use cauliflower to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Spaghetti squash is a healthy alternative to pasta. When you pair the stringy innards with homemade meatballs, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, it really feels like you're eating pasta." — Yasi Ansari, MS, RD
Ditch the bun
"I love eating my carbs, but when I am trying to cut down a bit, I drop the bun from my turkey burger and just eat the burger, lettuce, and tomato. Often times, I cut it all up and make a small turkey salad with balsamic vinaigrette." — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios
Replace toast with more veggies
"Instead of pairing toast or bread with my morning omelet, I fill it with tons of vegetables and top it with salsa." — Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen
Make homemade versions of carb-heavy foods
"Simply skipping store-bought fare and creating your own food can significantly lower the carbohydrates in your meals. Examples include making your own salad dressings (combine olive oil and lemon with your fave herbs), subbing jarred marinara with cooked fresh tomatoes, and avoiding flavored yogurts (grab plain yogurt and top with berries)." — Zanini
Eat a high-protein breakfast
"Addressing the source of carb cravings can help create better control of when you choose to eat them. One of the best ways to reduce physical cravings is to eat a high-protein breakfast. This helps to improve post-meal satiety and prevent the afternoon energy crash and subsequent sugar craving." — Miriam Jacobson, MS, RD, CDN, functional medicine dietitian
Swap out chips for low-carb vegetables
"When dining at a Mexican restaurant, ask for crudité with your guac instead of tortilla chips. Veggies are low in carbs but high in fiber and get just as much guac in your mouth as a chip does, with a lot less fat and calories." — Shapiro
Order on the rocks
"When I order alcoholic beverages, I shy away from fancy mixed cocktails, which are typically rich in sugar and carbs, and stick to whiskey on the rocks or a glass of wine." — Amidor
Try the crowding out method
"Instead of thinking about the fact that you're trying to eat fewer carbs, focus on how to add more filling veggies—which are low in carbohydrates—to your plate. By doing this, you're naturally increasing your fiber intake which boosts satiety and thwarts carb craving." — Ansari
Ditch artificial sweeteners
"Sugar alternatives and products that contain sugar alternatives (like diet sodas and sugar-free gum) prime the body for a surge of sugar without actually providing it. When the hormonal system is prepared for a flux of sugar without receiving one, it manifests as a craving. Dialing back on artificial sweeteners can help ward off carb cravings and, over time, help you consume less of the nutrient." — Jacobson
Swap your granola bar to nut and seed bars
"Skip energy bars that have dried fruit in them. They add a hefty dose of carbs, thanks to all of their sugar. Look for bars that are made from mostly nuts and seeds to get all the energy you need without the carbs." — Shapiro
"If I cook something for dinner that typically gets paired with carbs—like meatballs and burgers—I'll typically come up with ways to enjoy the leftovers without pairing it with something starchy. I often find myself simply warming up the meat and tossing it over a big salad for lunch the next day." — Amidor
Make celery your friend
When I'm in the mood for something creamy, I'll put peanut butter on celery or apple slices instead of bread, crackers or English muffins. This helps me get in more fruits and vegetables, and it helps cut back on calories and simple carbs." — White
Swap shells for leaves
"One of my favorite ways for how to cut carbs is to use lettuce leaves instead of taco shells. Fill them with meat, guac, salsa, and veggies, and you'll never miss the shell or tortilla!" — Shapiro
Make 'nice cream'
"I like to curb my nighttime sugar cravings by eating a small frozen banana blended with a tablespoon nut butter and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. It's a smart alternative to calorie-dense, sugary ice cream." — Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN
Get a spiralizer
"A zoodle will never be a noodle, but it's not a bad alternative. To make zoodles (zucchini noodles), I like to use a [spiralizer] to cut the zucchini into noodle-like strands." — Slayton
"When you're dining out, eat your sandwiches or burgers open-faced. Most restaurants serve white buns, which are simple sugars, so you'll cut your empty carbs in half and still enjoy your meal." — Torey Armul, MS, RDN, CSSD, National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Focus on the Time
"I like to tell clients to consume carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice, pasta, and bread earlier in the day when they're most active. Closer to bed, I advise that they focus on veggies, proteins, and healthy fats. This way, clients can eat less of the nutrient, without feeling deprived of carbs." — Ansari
Get More Sleep
"Skipping out on proper sleep can cause the body's levels of the hormone leptin to drop. This sends a message to the brain that there is a shortage of food and increases your appetite, making starchy comfort food more appealing. Do your body and waist a favor and make sleep an important part of your arsenal against high-calorie, carb-rich comfort food." — Jay Cardiello, celebrity fitness and nutrition expert and star of ABC's "My Diet Is Better Than Yours"
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