Sugars, starches, and fiber are carbohydrates that the body converts into glucose for energy. Complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain diets are less likely to trigger a blood sugar spike than simple carbohydrates (sugars). A low-carb diet, like keto, is high in fat.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient found in many foods and drinks. Sugars, starches, and fiber are carbs. Protein and fat are macronutrients. Your body needs macronutrients for health.
What is carbohydrate metabolism?
Carbs are digested into glucose and blood sugar. Your bloodstream accepts glucose for energy.
Carbs alter blood sugar. Carbs boost blood sugar. Hyperglycemia increases diabetes risk. Some low-carb eaters experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
All about total carbs
Starches, sugars, and fiber are all carbohydrate kinds. "Total carbs" on a food label includes all three categories.
Simple vs. complex carbs:
Complex or simple carbs are determined by a food's chemical structure and how quickly your body digests it. Complex carbs reduce blood sugar increases. They provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Healthy carbs are sometimes called "excellent carbohydrates."
Simple carbs cause weight gain. Diabetes, heart disease, and excessive cholesterol are also risks.
Carbohydrates are complicated. This category includes many starches. They're nutritional. Complex carbs are harder to digest—result: steady blood sugar and prolonged fullness.
- Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
- Apples, berries, melons, etc.
- Brown rice, oats, whole-wheat and low-carb bread, and spaghetti.
- Corn, lima beans, peas, potatoes, etc.
- Fruits, vegetables, and entire grains contain fiber. Dairy products and meats contain no fiber.
Fibrous carbohydrate is beneficial. Fiber is indigestible. It stimulates and aids digestion in the intestines. Fiber lowers cholesterol, controls blood sugar, and keeps you full.
25 to 30 grams of fiber daily is recommended for adults. We get half that.
- Beans, chickpeas, lentils, and pinto beans
- Edible fruits (apples, peaches) or seeds (berries)
- Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, cereal, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and cottage cheese
- Corn, lima beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, squash. Spaghetti squash for one is high in vitamins and nutritional value.
Simple carbohydrate sugars. Simple carbs are readily metabolized. Blood sugar levels surge and fall quickly. You may feel energized after eating lovely meals, then exhausted.
Two sugars exist:
- Milk and fruit naturally contain sugars.
- Sweets, canned fruit, juice, and soda include added sugars. Bakery, candy bars, and ice cream are sweets. Choose juice-packed canned fruit over others. There's sugar-free soda.
- All sugars are processed the same. Natural and added sugars are indistinguishable. Natural sugars provide energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Sugar's names vary. Sugar is listed as:
- Agave nectar
- Syrups: cane and corn
- Sucrose, dextrose, fructose
Keeping blood sugar levels healthy requires limiting sugar. Sugary meals and drinks are high in calories, which can cause weight gain. White flour, desserts, candy, juices, fruit drinks, soda pop, and sweetened beverages should be limited. AHA recommends:
- Most women should limit added sugar to 25g (6 tablespoons) per day.
- Most males should limit extra sugar to 36g (9 tablespoons) per day.
RDA for carbs?
No daily carb limit exists. Age, gender, health, exercise level, and weight objectives affect the proper amount. Some people with diabetes maintain their blood sugar by counting carbs.
USDA recommends MyPlate for most people. Fill:
- Half your plate with veggies.
- Quarter your plate with whole grains.
- 25% protein on your plate (meat, fish, beans, eggs, or dairy).
Is low-carb healthy?
Weight-loss-minded people cut carbs. Atkins and keto are low-carb diets. Some doctors advocate keto for epilepsy and other illnesses.
Long-term food limitations might be problematic. Some carb-restrictive diets include animal fat and oils. These foods raise heart disease risk except for those that are healthy. Coconut, avocado, and olive oil are good. Low- or no-carb diets aren't considered healthy by experts. Consult your doctor before starting a low-carb diet.
12 Carbs Replacements Suited for All Diets
There are a variety of low carb swaps that are not only delicious but also inexpensive, nutrient-dense, and simple to prepare at home. These carb alternatives are perfect for anyone who cannot consume carbs due to allergies, low-carb diets, or calorie restrictions. Orzo, riced broccoli, and barley are some of the things that are included in this list.
Because carbs are the primary fuel source for the body, eating foods high in them can increase one's energy levels, make it easier to exercise, and make a person feel more content and complete.
However, some people might want to substitute carbs with one of the other available options. This could be because they:
- Have an allergy
- Those who are attempting to consume a lower caloric intake and choose to eat fewer carbohydrates.
- Are making efforts to increase the number and type of whole grains that they consume in their diets
Carbs replacements you can try:
The following is a list of twelve nutritious low carb alternatives that individuals can enjoy.
One good low carb alternative is barley. It's a popular grain available to consumers in different forms, including whole grain, pearled, flakes, and flour.
This grain offers several advantages to one's health and is a good choice for someone interested in increasing the amount of dietary fiber they consume.
Lignans are another type of antioxidant that you can find in barley, and they play a role in preventing harm to cells. It is also possible to help lower cholesterol levels and restore balance to glucose and insulin levels in the blood.
Whole barley has the following components in the amount of 100 grams (g):
- Three hundred fifty-four calories, with 10 grams of protein already included.
- 77 g of carbs
- 14.6 grams of fiber in its entire form
- Barley has the same number of calories as white rice, but it has a significantly higher concentration of fiber and protein.
In addition to this, it includes over 30 different nutrients, such as phytosterols, beta-glucan, and minerals, all of which are known to be beneficial in the fight against chronic diseases like cancer and gout.
Quinoa is a type of grain made from the quinoa seed, edible. People in South America have been taking advantage of this food's nourishing qualities for thousands of years, making it a staple in their diet.
Quinoa is frequently used as a substitute for rice because it possesses all nine essential amino acids, which confers the status of being a complete protein.
In addition to promoting heart health, quinoa also possesses hypoglycemic properties, which aid in bringing blood sugar levels down.
Each 100 g serving of dry quinoa has the following components:
- Three hundred sixty-four calories and 11 grams of protein in total
- 68 g of carbs
- 4.5 grams of aggregate fiber
Quinoa also has a high amount of magnesium, which is a mineral that assists the body in producing protein, bone, DNA, and copper, all of which are essential for the production of red blood cells and energy.
The cruciferous vegetable family also contains other members such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Cauliflower is a member of this family.
You can make riced cauliflower by chopping it into small pieces either by hand or with a food processor. Mashed cauliflower makes the best texture similar to that of rice.
After that, they can utilize the cauliflower rice in either a raw or gently cooked kind depending on their preference.
This alternative to rice that is lower in carbs and calories also has a milder flavor, and as a result, it may be used interchangeably with rice in a variety of dishes. It is also appropriate for individuals who must avoid gluten or follow the keto diet.
Cooked cauliflower rice has the following nutrients per 100 grams:
- Twenty-four calories, with just 2 grams of protein
- just under 5 grams of carbohydrates
- the total fiber content of 2.4 grams
Riced broccoli, which is quite similar to its counterpart, is an excellent substitute for rice for individuals who follow diets low in carbohydrates or calories.
Riced broccoli can be prepared in the same manner as riced cauliflower by individuals.
The cruciferous vegetable known as broccoli possesses potent anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
Riced broccoli has a nutritional profile similar to that of riced cauliflower. One hundred grams of riced broccoli contains the following:
- 29 calories
- 3.53 grams of protein and nearly 5 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.5 grams of total fiber
- In addition, one serving of broccoli contains 92.5 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which is known to strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C intake should be at least 90 milligrams daily for men and 75 milligrams for women.
People can also use cabbage as a substitute for rice. Cabbage is another type of cruciferous vegetable. It is typically shredded finely either by hand or by an individual's food processor.
The vegetable is rich in vitamins and minerals, although it does not contain many calories or carbohydrates.
Additionally, cabbage is an excellent source of minerals, calcium, bioactive substances, and vitamins C and E.
There is evidence that it can protect against high cholesterol, liver issues, pancreatitis, and cardiovascular disease.
Each 100 g serving of raw cabbage has the following components:
- 25 calories
- 1.28 grams of protein in total
- Vitamin A in the amount of 5 micrograms
- 5.8 g of carbs
- 2.5 grams of natural fiber
Shirataki konjac rice
Rice made with shirataki grains is a well-liked dish in some areas of Asia. Since it is low in carbs and calories, its popularity is currently rising worldwide. Additionally, it has a high concentration of glucomannan fiber.
The potato-like vegetable originates from the konjac root, which is then processed into grains similar to rice by both commercial manufacturers and individual consumers.
A serving of 100 grams of konjac rice has ten calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate, all from dietary fiber. It is devoid of any protein content.
The Meal and Drug Administration (FDA) enables manufacturers of konjac rice to market it as a zero-calorie food due to its exceptionally low-calorie content. Even though konjac rice does contain calories, the FDA does so.
Researchers are looking into the potential health benefits of glucomannan fiber, including its ability to lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. It also has the potential to improve intestinal health.
Although it looks like a grain, couscous is a sort of pasta that you can make from semolina or ground-up durum wheat. Manufacturers make couscous.
The meal is frequently used as a condiment or side dish in dishes from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culinary traditions.
Because of its high protein and fiber content, couscous can facilitate digestion and make individuals feel fuller for a longer time, helping them lose weight.
The majority of couscous is composed of carbs; a serving size of 100 grams of couscous includes the following components:
- 378 calories
- Thirteen grams of protein and over 78 grams of carbohydrates
- 4.4 grams of aggregate fiber
- Wheat used for bulgur
Although it appears visually similar to couscous, its makers make bulgur wheat from cracked whole durum wheat.
This alternative to rice is low in fat, high in nutrients, and is a whole grain treated only to a minimal extent. Diabetes patients who use it can see improvements in their ability to control their blood sugar levels.
A serving of 100 grams of bulgar wheat has the following components:
- 357 calories
- A little more than 7 grams of protein, nearly 81 grams of carbohydrates, and 11.9 grams of total fiber
Orzo is a type of pasta that resembles rice in both size and shape, and it can be prepared and eaten in the same manner. It has a suitable amount of protein, which is necessary for the body to expand, repair itself, and keep its health in good condition.
Orzo has the following components per 100 grams:
- 375 calories
- 12.5 grams of protein and nearly 79 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.6 grams of fiber in its entirety
One of the best low carb substitutes is Farro. It is a type of ancient, whole-grain wheat with a chewy consistency and a nutty flavor similar to that of barley.
Farro is an excellent complement to a vegan or vegetarian diet since it provides a substantial amount of protein without the usage of animal products.
The use of wheat products such as farro, which offer vital amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals to a person's diet, is recommended.
One hundred grams of farro has the following components:
- 311 calories, roughly 67 grams of carbohydrates, and more than 13 grams of protein
- 6.7 grams of aggregate fiber
Potatoes can be prepared in various ways, each of which is both tasty and beneficial to one's health. Some standard preparation methods include boiling, ricing, and baking. And of course, who does not know about mashed potatoes?
People have been consuming these "tubers" for centuries since they offer extensive health-supporting features, including the fact that they are classified as tubers:
- Outcomes favorable to cholesterol reduction
- Results that are balanced on the blood sugar level
A raw potato piece weighing 100 grams is included in are:
- 74 calories
- 2 grams of protein total
- 17.6 g of carbs
- 1,4 grams of complete fiber
Sweet potato is another variety of tuber that can be consumed for its carbohydrate, fiber, mineral, and vitamin content. As a result of the antioxidant characteristics they possess, they can assist against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
An uncooked portion of one hundred grams of sweet potatoes has:
- 86 calories
- about 1.6 grams of protein
- 20 g of carbs
- 3 grams of aggregate fiber
People who are following a diet low in carbohydrates or calories have a variety of alternatives to select from if they would prefer not to consume rice as part of their diet.
Rice-like vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can be used in various ways and are an excellent alternative to traditional grains due to their incredibly low calorie and high nutrient content.
One can include farro, barley, or bulgar wheat in their diet if they want to increase their whole grains consumption.
In your mind, carbs were either beneficial or terrible, depending on your perspective. With carbohydrates, as with any diet, the key is to choose wisely and restrict the carbs that aren't as beneficial to your overall health.
The ideal carbs to eat are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as those found in whole grain products. Consume sugar-sweetened foods sparingly and within reason. To get the correct number of carbs, it is best to seek advice from your healthcare professional.