Low Carb Food Swaps

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One of the toughest things about sticking to a low-carb diet is knowing what sides to have to accompany your protein. First of all, you need to get over the idea that a carb-heavy side completes a meal, and after a few weeks of going without you'll realise it's totally doable. One (simple and super healthy) solution is to just have piles of vegetables with every meal. But if you want sides that replicate the classic stodge your appetite is used to, here are thirteen delicious and highly nutritious low-carb food swaps.

Substitute: spaghetti or noodles with courgette spaghetti

Quick and easy to make, all you need is a basic julienne peeler to ribbon your courgette into spaghetti strands, then pan-fry in a dash of olive oil until just tender.  A delicious accompaniment to dishes such as bolognaise and chilli, you’ll enjoy the same consistency at a fraction of the carbs. Courgettes are also a good source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and immune booster.

Substitute: rice with cauliflower rice

Blitz fresh cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice, then either steam or pan-fry with olive oil for a couple of minutes. Cauliflower rice contains almost a quarter of the calories of brown rice, and double the fibre. Cauliflower is a member of the brassica family, known for powerful anti-cancer and detoxification properties. It's also a rich source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K.

Substitute: mashed potato with butterbean mash

Mashed white potato is high glycaemic index (GI), meaning it is rapidly absorbed by the body and can cause spikes in blood sugar and subsequent energy dips. Legumes such as butter beans have a lower GI and are higher in fibre, providing a more sustained source of energy. They are also packed full of B vitamins, vital for energy production in every cell of the body.

Substitute: tortilla wraps with nori wraps

Avoid a post-lunch slump by ditching your white tortilla and instead wrapping your sandwich ingredients in a sheet of Nori seaweed. Seaweed is a source of complete protein, rich in minerals and one of the best sources of natural iodine- vital for maintaining a healthy thyroid gland (your fat-burning regulator).

Substitute: chips with sweet potato wedges

Baked instead of fried, sweet potato (and other root vegetables such as beetroot and parsnip) provide slow-release energy and can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Sweet potato is a rich source of beta-carotene, which is essential for eye health and nerve function. Slice your sweet potato into wedges (leave the skin on for extra fibre), place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 40mins at 200 degrees.

Substitute: couscous with quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed rather than a grain and is a source of complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids the body requires through diet. It’s also packed full of vitamins and minerals; particularly B vitamins, manganese and zinc.  Quinoa is a great base for salads, and as an accompaniment to fish and meat dishes.

Substitute: flour with ground almonds 

Ground almonds make a protein-rich and highly nutritious alternative to refined white flour in baking. Combined with egg whites they can form the basis of protein pancakes, a fantastic post-exercise recovery snack. Almonds are particularly rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our cell from damage and helps to maintain a healthy heart.

Substitute: lasagne sheets with sliced aubergine

With a knife or mandolin, slice aubergine lengthwise into thin ¼ inch slices, lightly grill, and use as a replacement to lasagne pasta sheets.  Finely sliced butternut and sweet potato works really well too.  A great way to lower the carb content and boost your veggie intake at the same time!

Substitute: crisps with raw unsalted nuts

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses full of good fats and phytochemicals, and both the fibre and protein they contain help to keep you much fuller than crisps. In fact, studies have shown that regular consumption of nuts may actually promote weight loss. Nuts or nut butter make an easily portable post-workout snack.

Substitute: croutons for walnuts

Carbohydrates can cause high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol, which is bad news for your heart. For a healthier salad, replace carb-laden croutons with walnuts, which are high in polyunsaturated fat — a good fat that can lower LDL while boosting HDL (‘good’) cholesterol.

Substitute: beer for red wine

Beer is high in calories and carbohydrates, so switch to red wine. It’s lower in carbohydrates, and you’ll also get antioxidants such as flavonoids that are believed to lower LDL and boost HDL cholesterol. Remember though, all alcohol needs to be drunk in moderation and this is a healthier alternative, not an excuse to up your alcohol intake consequence-free.

Substitute: salad dressing for olive oil and vinegar

Drenching a salad in shop-bought dressing is almost as crazy as smoking cigarettes while jogging. A low-sugar alternative is to use olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Olive oil is packed full of healthy fats, while balsamic vinegar works to suppress the body’s appetite and increase the amount of time it takes for the stomach to empty, which helps prevent overeating.

Substitute: rice for quinoa

Cooked quinoa has 15% fewer carbohydrates and 60% more protein than a comparable amount of brown rice, so it’s a better option if you’re trying to lose fat. It also has 25% more fibre, which can help lower blood cholesterol.

Coach Staff

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