“Carbs” is a word you hear a little too often when it comes to dieting and healthy eating. There is a lot to gain and lose from eating carbs, depending on the type that you eat. And the ones that do you a lot of harm and little good are refined carbs. A regular part of any diet, refined carbs are everywhere. So how do you get rid of refined carbs from your diet?
The first step is to understand what refined carbs are. Refined carbs are foods that are processed to make them light and less bulky. The processing ensures that the food is rid of all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Although these carbs are digested easily, they satiate your hunger only for a while and they’re high on the glycemic index. This means the carbs can cause sudden, unhealthy blood glucose spikes.1
Refined carbs consist of two major culprits. Refined sugars – such as high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, and agave sugar – and refined grains – such as the white flour made of wheat. Avoiding refined carbs involves finding a way around these two factors. Here are a few tips to do just that:
1. Reduce Or Avoid Sugar Intake
Americans, on an average, eat a lot more sugar than is recommended. Knowingly or unknowingly, a lot of sugar gets added to your diet. So, one of the major steps that need to be taken to avoid refined carbs is to avoid sugar. Don’t just avoid adding sugar to dishes but also avoid eating sugary foods such as cookies, candies, and certain beverages. Organic honey or jaggery and low-calorie sweeteners are comparatively healthier options available. However, your best bet is still to go sugarless or eat foods that are naturally sweet.
2. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
While the focus is on low-fat foods in weight-loss diets, sugar sneaks in without being noticed much. This is in the form of artificial sweeteners and syrups added to make foods tasty. These are commonly used in baked goods and beverages. And such beverages are a major cause of increased risk of obesity, insulin resistance, and more.2
3. Say No To Starchy Foods
Starchy foods such as wheat flour and bread made of wheat, white rice, pasta, and more are foods that are refined so much that they do not contain healthy fiber and nutrients that remain in whole foods. What you get by eating such foods is a temporary relief from hunger and a lot of empty calories.3 Here’s what you can do instead:
- Replace enriched wheat flour with whole wheat flour, which contains high fiber levels. This switch could help you remove body fat and reduce the pounds.4
- Replace white rice with brown rice.
- Use flour made using coconuts, brown rice, chia, oats, and more.
- Avoid white bread such as Italian and multi-grain bread. Either reduce eating bread, eat bread made of whole grains, rye, sourdough, and sweet potatoes, or simply replace bread with veggies like lettuce, cauliflowers, and leafy greens.
4. Choose Whole Foods
The most effective way to avoid refined carbs is to avoid refined products. This involves you staying away from any kind of processed foods and choosing whole, healthy foods instead. Stray away from the aisle filled with those tins and cans of ready-to-eat junk foods. Instead, pick healthy veggies and fruits and create your own wholesome dish at home.
5. Read The Ingredients List
If at all you have to buy processed foods, check the ingredients list. The longer the list, the farther you should stay away from the product. No matter how good the food tastes, if the processing method was arduous and the additives too many, there can’t be many nutrients left in the food. As much as possible, go for the products that mention “whole grains” on top of the list.
6. Order Healthy Dishes At Restaurants
What most restaurants have to offer is a plate filled with cheap but tasty refined carbs. While this satisfies your palate, hunger and cravings rear up their ugly head sooner than you hoped. And refined carbs can be found in everything from rice and paste to the myriad dessert options.
So, choose wisely. Order the dishes that do not contain bread but healthy, rich, whole veggies and fruits. Ask for brown rice, if required, instead of white rice. Drink sugarless beverages or just stick to water and make something healthy at home later on.
7. Snack Right
Snacking is everybody’s favorite pastime, something that’s seemingly harmless but is very likely the root of your health issues. Snacks loaded with refined carbs include chips, candies, ice cream, and crackers. And these will make you put on more pounds than you think. There’s no need to stop snacking, but just do it right. Snack at specific periods and eat only healthy foods, like nuts, fruits, and salads.
Refined carbs are easy to avoid if you hold back your cravings for processed foods for a bit. Natural wholesome foods will not just satiate your hunger but leave you feeling light and healthy.
|↑1||Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar. Harvard.edu.|
|↑2||Borges, Maria Carolina, Maria Laura Louzada, Thiago Hérick de Sá, Anthony A. Laverty, Diana C. Parra, Josefa Maria Fellegger Garzillo, Carlos Augusto Monteiro, and Christopher Millett. “Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Response to the Global Obesity Crisis.” PLoS medicine 14, no. 1 (2017): e1002195.|
|↑3||Complexity of Carbs. The University of California.|
|↑4||Kristensen, Mette, Søren Toubro, Morten Georg Jensen, Alastair B. Ross, Giancarlo Riboldi, Michela Petronio, Susanne Bügel, Inge Tetens, and Arne Astrup. “Whole grain compared with refined wheat decreases the percentage of body fat following a 12-week, energy-restricted dietary intervention in postmenopausal women.” The Journal of nutrition 142, no. 4 (2012): 710-716.|