If you're a carb queen, losing weight on a bread-, pasta-, and muffin-free diet is just not happening. Have no fear — going carbohydrate-free isn't the only way to lose weight. Follow these eating tips that allow you to enjoy your favorite carbs and still drop pounds.Photo: Lizzie Fuhr
- Timing matters: Studies show that it's better to eat more calories at your midday meal than at dinner, so enjoy your carbs then. Go for a bowl of pasta salad, a sandwich made with whole wheat bread, or rice and beans, and you can even follow it with an oatmeal cookie. Then at dinner make your plate mostly about protein and veggies with a small serving of carbs.
- Choose wisely: The right carbs are nutrition powerhouses, so be sure to eat complex carbs that are as close to nature as possible. Munch on fiber-full whole grains like oats, barley, and quinoa, and go for pasta and bread made with whole grain flour. Limit the refined carbs like white bread, bagels, and baked goods made with enriched flour that fill you up without offering your body sustained energy, causing hunger pangs to strike soon after.
- Never eat them alone: Nothing beats the comfort of cupping your hands around a big bowl of spaghetti or biting into a warm piece of toast with melted butter, but since carbs are calorie-dense, you can consume hundreds of calories in a few bites, but you won't feel satiated. Halve your carb portion and bulk up the rest of your meal with protein as well as fruits or veggies to save on calories without leaving you hungry.
Keep reading for more tips on eating carbs without gaining weight.
- Go for healthier versions: If you crave mac and cheese, try lower-calorie versions like this butternut squash mac and cheese or, if you love buttermilk pancakes, try this stack made with whole grain quinoa.
- Don't eat traditional portion sizes: It's not always the carbs that cause weight gain, but the enormous portions that are typically served. Spoon your pasta or grains into a smaller cereal bowl rather than a dinner-size plate. Enjoy your sandwich open-faced so you end up eating half the amount of bread, and buy bread you can cut yourself so you can make the slices thinner.
- Eat fibrous fruit: While fruit can be high in carbs, it also offers your body valuable vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, so don't give it up entirely. Choose higher-fiber fruits such as berries, apples, pears, kiwis, oranges, plums, and peaches to help you feel full longer.