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12 High-Protein Makeovers of Your Favorite Carbs

There's no need to quit on carbs cold turkey. Instead of avoiding the bread aisle and living on lettuce wraps alone, just choose better brands the next time you buy your favorite carb-laden foods.
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Cutting carbs shouldn't drastically change your grocery list. You can still throw noodles, chips, and even bagels into your shopping cart, just as long as you're exchanging your standard carb-heavy purchases for these protein-rich ones instead. Depriving yourself of the good stuff now is only going to make you crave it more and overeat later, not to mention leave you feeling extra irritable and lethargic.

That's why we've highlighted the best (and worst) of all the carb categories for you. The stand-outs come packed with protein, which will allow you to indulge in your cravings while still seeing results. Sound too good to be true? We promise it's not — and neither are the 25 Best Carbs That Will Uncover Your Abs.


boiled pasta colander

Eat This:

Modern Table Lentil Elbows
Per 1/2 cup (55 g): 200 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (3 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 11 g protein

Not That!:

Ronzoni Gluten-Free Elbows
Per 1/2 cup (56 g): 200 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein

News flash: Just because something is gluten-free doesn't automatically make it healthy. In fact, the opposite is often true. So if you thought getting rid of gluten would get rid of carbs, put the Ronzoni elbows down. You'd be better off choosing Modern Table noodles made from lentils, which don't just have 7 fewer grams of carbs than the gluten-free goods, but 7 more grams of protein. If you're going to put 200 calories of pasta into your body either way, you might as well choose the plant protein option and get far more out it.


pile of chips

Eat This:

Our Little Rebellion Protein Crisps Sweet & Smokey BBQ
Per 1 oz (28 g): 90 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 10 g protein

Not That!:

Fritos Chili Cheese Corn Chips
Per 31 chips (28 g): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 270 mg, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein

What if we told you a bag of chips didn't have to be a guilty pleasure purchase, that you could crunch and munch your way through one without consequence? You'd probably say we were crazy, but the only thing that's crazy is how Our Little Rebellion manages to squeeze 10 grams of protein into each serving of their crisps. One bite of their BBQ flavor and you'll forget all about Fritos Corn Chips. Those have double the calories, quadruple the fat, and far less protein, which means they're definitely not on our list of 20 Best Low-Carb, Packaged Snacks For Weight Loss.


hands grabbing pizza

Eat This:

Real Good Pizza Three Cheese
Per 1 pizza (125 g): 240 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 25 g protein

Not That!:

Red Baron Classic Crust 4 Cheese Pizza
Per 1/4 pizza (149 g): 390 calories, 17 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein

It's time to rethink frozen pizza. Heating up a three-cheese pie doesn't just have to be something you do on a weeknight when you're too tired to factor in nutrition, or when you've had a long day and deserve to bite into some gooey cheese. That might be the case if you're choosing brands like Red Baron, which are way up there in calories, fat, carbs, and sodium, but a slice of pizza doesn't always have to equal giving up. Real Good Pizza cuts down on the carbs by replacing the standard carby flour crust with a proprietary parmesan chicken crust — that's right, a thin crust made out of chicken and some parmesan cheese. That gives you the 25 grams of muscle-building protein and just four grams of carbs.

Ice Cream

woman spooning ice cream cone

Eat This:

Enlightened Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Per 1/2 cup (70 g): 100 calories, 4.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (5 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein

Not That!:

Talenti Belgian Chocolate Gelato
Per 1/2 cup (99 g): 220 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (0 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 4 g protein

You used to scream for ice cream, but now it's more like you run screaming from this sugary treat every time you see it in the grocery store. With 29 grams of sugar in one serving of Talenti, along with 30 grams of carbs and 5 grams of saturated fat, it's enough to scare anybody watching the scale. But maybe it's time you cool it and look into the healthier choices hiding among those popular sugar bombs. Enlightened, for instance, boasts a mere 100 calories per serving while simultaneously cutting carbs and boosting protein. That means you can feel good about ice cream indulgence even when your spoon hits the bottom of the carton.


stack of pancakes

Eat This:

FlapJacked Buttermilk Protein Pancake & Baking Mix
Per 1/2 cup (53 g): 200 calories, 3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 20 g protein

Not That!:

Market Pantry Original Complete Pancake Mix
Per ⅓ cup (40 g): 140 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 47 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 3 g protein

A stack of pancakes can really stack up the carbs, but breakfast should be all about the protein. Jim White, R.D., ACSM, and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios recommends starting the day off with 15-25 grams of the stuff, which pushes pancakes out of the breakfast equation, right? Maybe not. If you subtract Market Pantry pancakes and replace them with FlapJacked's baking mix, you'll be consuming fewer carbs and packing in 20 grams of protein before you've even left the house.


cherry smoothie

Eat This:

Smoothie King Lean Chocolate
Per 1 smoothie (20 oz): 310 calories, 12 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (10 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 19 g protein

Not That!:

Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo'd Smoothie
*Per 1 smoothie (28 oz): 980 calories, 29 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 620 mg sodium, 152g carbs (6 g fiber, 131 g sugar), 26 g protein)

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Smoothies have a way of sneaking massive amounts of carbs into each sip. Sucking down a 28-ounce Peanut Butter Moo'd Smoothie from Jamba Juice, for instance, can set you back 152 carbs, which is like eating seven sugar donuts from Krispy Kreme. And that's not even counting the 131 grams of sugar and almost 1,000 calories that are hiding in there and overshadowing the protein. Even though Smoothie King's Lean Chocolate has less protein, it also has way less sugar, carbs, and calories, giving those 19 grams of protein their time to shine.


bowl of yogurt

Eat This:

Siggi's 0% Strained Icelandic-Style Skyr
1 container (150 g): 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 55 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 17 g protein

Not That!:

Fage Total 0% With Honey
Per 1 container (150 g): 210 calories, 6 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (0 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 11 g protein

Packing 11 grams of protein in one yogurt container doesn't sound nearly as powerful when it's bundled up with 29 grams of both sugar and carbs. That's why you should ditch Fage's and other sugary brands that make you sacrifice for your morning dose of protein and seek out Siggi's instead. The same size serving is fat-free with half the calories and a fifth of the carbs, which makes spooning out those extra 6 grams of protein even better.


bread slices

Eat This:

Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Burger Buns
Per 1 bun (76 g): 170 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 9 g protein

Not That!:

King's Hawaiian Original Sweet Hawaiian Deluxe Hamburger Buns
Per 1 bun (78 g): 270 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (1 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 8 g protein

Some serious carb-cutters try to convince themselves that lettuce wraps are the best thing since sliced bread, ditching their favorite loaves and bookending their sandwiches with iceberg instead of whole grain. But there's a better way. You can have your burger and eat the buns too, as long as you're choosing organic, high-protein brands like Ezekiel 4:9 over high-sugar, fat, and sodium brands like King's Hawaiian. If you're unsure, just take a peek at the 19 Best & Worst Store Bought Breads.


bagel platter

Eat This:

P28 High Protein Bagels
Per 1 bagel (94 g): 260 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 28 g protein

Not That!:

Sara Lee Plain Bagels
Per 1 bagel (95 g): 260 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein

If everything bagels are your everything, there's no need to break up with them. Although we'll admit that bagels are far from being our favorite breakfast choice, that doesn't mean you need to banish them from your diet completely — unless they've got a nutrition label like Sara Lee's. While bagels are a high-calorie breakfast no matter how you slice it, opting for brands like P28, which have 28 grams of protein and only 25 grams of carbs, can guarantee those morning calories haven't been in vain. Pro tip: Pair your bagel with a scoop of all-natural peanut butter for some added protein and healthy fat to lower the glycemic load of a carb-heavy breakfast.


bowl of pretzels

Eat This:

Newman's Own 5g Protein Pretzels
Per 18 pretzels (30 g): 120 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 5 g protein

Not That!:

Snyder's Of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces
Per 1/3 cup (28 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 2 g protein

We know pretzels can be hit or miss, but don't get it twisted. Seasoning pretzel bits with honey mustard and onion flavoring won't do the salty snack any favors, but adding protein to them sure will. And that's exactly what Newman's Own did with their organic wheat flour pretzels, which have 5 grams of the good stuff in every serving.

Tortilla Chips

bowl of tortilla chips

Eat This:

Supereats High Protein Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips
Per 1 oz (28 g): 130 calories, 7 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 10 g protein

Not That!:

Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips
Per 6 chips (28 g): 150 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Grab some guac or snag a jar of salsa because it's time to get dunking. With high-protein chips from Supereats to spoon out these dips, one serving will leave you with 10 grams of protein and only 10 grams of carbs. Other chip brands, like Tostitos, are far less balanced, doubling up on carbs and slashing that protein intake way down. When you're trying to watch your weight, products like that are nacho friend.


hand eating cereal

Eat This:

Kashi GoLean Original Cereal
Per 1 ¼ cup (58 g): 180 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (13 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 12 g protein

Not That!:

Kellogg's Raisin Bran
Per 1 cup (59 g): 190 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (7 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 5 g protein

You might consider yourself cereal savvy, but are you really putting enough thought into the bowl you pour every morning? If you aren't careful, your breakfast could be hiding double-digit sugars and a carb content just under 50 grams, like Kellogg's Raisin Bran. Since you're guaranteed carbs with your cereal, you might as well complement those with as much protein as possible. Kashi's Go Lean Cereal has a total of 12 grams per serving. But make sure you're checking the ingredients list on your purchases as well as the nutrition label, or else you might be overlooking The Chemicals In Your Cereal you should be worried about.


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