Cutting the Carbs

December 4, 2013

I love carbs. Absolutely love them all: bread, crackers, chips, graham crackers, buns, cupcakes. You name it, I love it.

When I was home-home, I was complaining to my sister (who is a registered dietician) that I feel as though I need to workout twice a day in order to maintain my weight—due to the fact I sit at my job all day long. (I do try to get up and move as much as possible or stand as my desk, but it still isn’t much movement.) We got to talking about my diet and what I eat on a daily basis. I told her my breakfast is usually comprised of a Green Balance Juice along with a toasted English muffin topped with natural peanut butter. I said I usually have a carb-based mid-morning snack because I crave carbs so much due to my running. Lunch varies from a sandwich to various leftovers. I usually have another carb-based snack in the afternoon and then a light dinner of possibly cereal or random things from the fridge. I also shamefully admitted I usually eat at least one protein bar a day—sometimes two. They vary from Luna bars to Clif Builder protein bars. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I often substituted protein bars.

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She said, “Do you want to know my advice?” Uh oh. Never a good sign because something “bad” is coming. I said yes because she is the dietician, and I am constantly trying to refine and improve my diet.

She said, “cut the carbs!”

“But I crave them all the time though,” I rebutted.

“I crave ice cream all the time, that doesn’t mean I should eat it all the time,” my sister said.

This is very true. People have cravings all the time, but that doesn’t mean we should always act upon them because it may not be what our body needs. She also said to get rid of the protein bars. But, but what would I eat?

She gave me a lot of good ideas, so I have been trying to incorporate more of the following into my diet:

Almonds

One serving of almonds (23 nuts or 1/4 cup) contains 160 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein. The fat content is on the high side, but we all know this is a good source of fat. Plus, I know the fat combined with the protein is definitely going to fill me up. I used to make a carb-based trail mix with Cheerios, almonds, walnuts, Craisins, and raisins, but I never felt full after eating this because there are a lot of empty calories. Now when  I have a serving of almonds, it curbs my hunger.

(Source)

Greek yogurt

I used to have Greek yogurt occasionally, but now I have it 3-4 times per week. I always make sure to buy the plain kind since the flavored kinds have a lot of added sugars in them.

DSC_0009I do add honey to the plain Greek yogurt but try to use it sparingly. I got this honey from a friend of my sister. He dad makes locally grown honey in Minnesota!

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Cottage cheese

I rotate Greek yogurt and cottage cheese in my lunches. Cottage cheese is a great source of protein without a lot of fat. When I have the cottage cheese in my lunch, I will add grape tomatoes or pieces of fruit to it (pineapple or mandarin oranges).

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Quinoa

Once again a great source of protein, plus quinoa is easy to make in the rice cooker. The latest dish I made contained butternut squash, walnuts, and dried cranberries with an olive oil based dressing. It is easy to add other frozen vegetables (peas and corn pictured below) along with nuts of your choice for a light lunch or snack.

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Other filling snacks I often have in my lunch:

– fresh fruit (apples really fill me up)

– veggies with hummus (although I think I’ve overdosed on hummus)

– walnuts

– dates with peanut butter

– a corn tortilla topped with mozzarella cheese (heated up in the microwave)

– hard boiled egg

– protein powder mixed with water, milk, or juice (depends upon the flavor)

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Question

What are some of your favorite snacks that aren’t heavy on the carbs? (Please share so I have more options to rotate through.)

20 Comments
    1. Hi!
      I know cutting carbs is hard but I managed to do it a few years ago when my age, metabolism and activity level stopped working in my favor!
      Have you tried making your own energy bars? I use this recipe (below), even my toddler likes them (She gets raisins instead of chocolate chips). I used chia seeds instead of flax seeds because I like them better. Good luck, you can do it!

      1 cup (dry) oatmeal
      1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or raisins
      1/2 cup peanut butter
      1/2 cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds
      1/3 cup honey
      1 tsp. vanilla

      Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into bite size balls or make mini bars. Refrigerate to set. Enjoy!!

      Heather

    1. I know you’re not looking for protein bars, but Quest bars are amazing. Most of the carbs are fiber, so there are only up to like 5g of net carbs in each one. And 20g of protein! Plus, they taste absolutely delicious.

      I also really like slices of deli turkey or chicken breast and cheese roll ups. I’m not really big on snacking, so I don’t have any more ideas off the top of my head.

      I cut carbs drastically when I was training for my first half marathon, will was in last month, to about 40-50g a day. It started as an experiment to see if I could train for long distances and use my fat stores as energy. I could. But this led to intermittent fasting and almost always a calorie deficit as a way to make it to my goal racing weight (and I ended up several pounds below that goal). I now have amenorrhea and am trying to recover.

      It doesn’t sound to me that you’ll get near point 🙂 but proceed with caution.

      1. I have heard of Quest bars. I’ve been trying to find them in town, but have been unsuccessful. I was a little apprehensive about ordering so many through Amazon in case I didn’t like them.

        Oh wow. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Im curious if she approves of Quest bars? im trying to cut down on carbs too, and these seemed to rank well, not loaded with junk and low on carbs. I do agree go for the whole/real food sources 🙂

    1. What’s your reason for avoiding meat? I run, too, and if I don’t have animal protein at pretty much every meal, I’m immediately starving.

      1. I am not purposely trying to avoid meat; I just don’t eat a lot of it because a.) I don’t take the time to prepare it (to me it seems to be more labor-intensive than other meals, which is relative, I know), b.) don’t want to pay an arm and leg for it at the grocery store (which, once again, is relative), c.) I grew up having really high quality meats on my parent’s farm and the stuff at the grocery store doesn’t often compare, and d.) I rarely crave it and am picky about the cuts of meat I enjoy.

    1. But I recommend avocados. Not so practical in AK, but pretty much the perfect fruit in my opinion.

    1. I can’t remember if you can get decent avocados, but they’re a favorite snack around here- usually just cut into chunks and eaten plain!

      We also love these “muffins” (made with sweet potatoes, so yes carbs, but different than grain-based carbs): http://carrotsncake.com/2012/08/paleo-morning-glory-muffins.html I frequently halve or even quarter the honey, as they were very sweet to me as-written.

      I bought a food processor a couple years ago and have been making homemade LARABARS. Basically, dried fruit & nuts processed together with a little vanilla or coconut oil to hold them together, and then formed into balls. The only problem is that it’s easy to eat a bunch!

      Another “trick” we used to do, prior to me getting pregnant and only wanting to eat sugary and wheat-y goodness all the time: we started going grain-free for a meal a day several times a week, and worked up to sometimes 2x/day every day of the week. Same with sugar- for us, it was easier to wean off of it and to do smaller goals: like a breakfast without any sugar, or half a day without, etc. Now I’ve lost all the good strides we made and will have to start over in a few months, but I know I’ve done it before and can do it again!

      1. Yes, love avocados.

        I will have to try those muffins. I think I’ve seen you share the recipe before.

        I have tried to make homemade Larabars, and yes, it is easy to eat a lot because they are so calorie-dense. I’ve had a hard time getting them to stick together.

        When you cut sugar, did you avoid natural sugars (from fruit) as well?

        1. Ooops, the previous comments didn’t show for me otherwise I wouldn’t have been redundant about the avocados 🙂

          No, we didn’t avoid fruit at all- I like it, but never have trouble going overboard with fruit- a serving or two per meal is about all I ever want, if that. I think some paleo schools of thought say to limit fruit to reduce sugar, but I disagree- I think that combined with the fiber and all of the vitamins, fruit is a very good and wholesome source of food. We did completely stop buying juice (since it has no fiber, and my understanding is therefore acts as straight sugar) a few years ago- makes for some interesting situations when we have small children over the to the house, as that’s the main source of liquid for a lot of kids!

    1. I’m in the same bout as you, and probably eat more carbs than I should. I actually realized the other day when I was too lazy to make a proper healthy meal that I had several slices bread/bagel halves throughout the day, along with crackers. Not so good. Some of my healthy snacks include: fruit of any kind (with nut butter) especially a big honeycrisp apple, almonds (or trail mix with nuts + dried cranberries + dark chocolate, but not as filling as just nuts), yogurt, protein shakes (but that has processed protein), veggie sticks (celery with pb), a can of green beans sprinkled with salt, peanut butter balls (there are lots of recipes out there, basically pb + powdered milk or protein powder + honey + oats), another snack/dessert that I’m loving is homemade almond joys: melt dark chocolate and place a thin layer in a little greased pan, mix up shredded coconut + honey + vanilla + coconut oil + chopped/slivered almonds, spread on top of chocolate layer, melt more dark chocolate and spread on top, freeze, cut, and enjoy! They’re full of healthy fats and are really satisfying for a dessert or more indulgent snack. Not sure about the carb count, but I don’t think it’s that bad. Another delicious way to have vegetables is carrot fries: peel and cut as many carrots as you want into fries, toss in bowl with olive oil and salt, spread on baking sheet and bake and 425 for about 40 minutes, you could do less, but I really love them soft. Dip in ranch or ketchup, I love ketchup with them! Great for a snack or alongside dinner. Hope some of this helps, cutting carb is really hard to do, I was good today though, lunch was hard boiled eggs, turkey, and veggies. 😀

      1. Ugh! Carbs are so good and so easy aren’t they??

        Impressed you didn’t have any carbs at lunch. I have to have at least a little bit. (Okay, I say “have to” only because I crave them since I’m so used to eating them at each meal.)

    1. Thanks for sharing her advice. I can definitely use it this time of year!! I have been using a protein rich chocolate milk (portioned in a 100 calorie box) to help crave my sugar intake.

    1. You don’t need to cut carbs. Check out the book “Racing Weight”. Changed everything I thought I knew about weight loss. It t is a different game when you are an endurance athlete. I eat several servings of 100% whole wheat carbs everyday (bagels english muffins, pasta) and it gives me the energy I need to perform my best and get to your goal racing weight.

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