Cutting back on processed carbohydrates is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and start using body fat as fuel. Eating refined carbs, like white bread and sugar, stimulates the production of insulin, the fat storage hormone within your body. It also increases hunger and largely prevents stored body fat being accessed.
When your diet is full of high glycemic grain foods and sugar, your body is continually in fat storage mode and unable to use its stored triglycerides for fat burning. These stored triglycerides are primarily found in the adipose tissue around the waist. If you’d like to reduce your waistline, then start by reducing your refined carbohydrate intake.
This whole process is covered in much more detail in the free Hacking Your Kitchen for a Healthier Life email series. There is also a detailed, step by step plan to change your breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners from high carbohydrate, weight gain meals to low carbohydrate, fat burning foods.
As a quick primer to cutting carbs in your cooking, here are four types of foods to avoid, or at very least greatly reduce, when you’re ready to start losing weight.
Following these are the best types of foods to replace them with to really elevate your health and energy levels.
The last section of this page will bring it all together with the right types of meals for weight loss. So let’s get started.
Four types of Carbohydrates to Cut Back on in Your Meals
1. Bread and other bakery products made from refined wheat flour.
With the possible exception of candy bars and sugary drinks, these kinds of foods will usually have the strongest effect on your blood sugar and therefore insulin. Because they stimulate the production of so much fat storing insulin, they are the type of foods that are first and foremost worth reducing if you really want to lose weight.
Traditional rye bread is a much slower digesting food for weight loss and makes a good occasional replacement. That said, it’s much better overall to come up with different meal options that don’t involve bread, especially at the start of changing your eating patterns.
2. Pasta made from wheat.
This is another big culprit in spiking insulin and a big bowl of wheat pasta in the evening is a great way to store body fat.
Recently, a surprisingly healthy alternative has become available in gluten free quinoa pasta, made from the highly nutritious grain-like superfood seed. The significant levels of protein, fiber and beneficial fatty acids in quinoa make it much more blood sugar stable for the occasional pasta meal.
3. White rice
The sumo wrestlers favorite. Rice does not have the inflammatory gluten issues of wheat, but too much of it can raise your blood sugar to a level where you stimulate body fat storage. In fact, Japanese sumo wrestlers have bowl after bowl of high glycemic white rice in order to fatten up. Unless you want to look like them, it’s best to cut down on rice and switch to a much healthier version of it.
Brown rice is slower digesting than white rice due to its natural fiber content. However, an even better tasting and better for you option is wild rice.
Wild rice has a delicious nutty flavor, a much lower glycemic load than regular white rice and up to 30 times the free radical protecting antioxidants. A small amount of wild rice with your meals is a much better choice than the bland white stuff and it’s well worth making the change.
A small amount of organic potatoes, steamed or added to recipes, like this extremely healthy stirfry, provides good levels of vitamin C, B6, potassium, copper, manganese and fiber. The way most people have potatoes though is in french fries and in manufactured potato chips, full of sodium chloride and acrylamide.
If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s a good idea to avoid potatoes for a while. This is because they have one of the strongest effects on your blood glucose levels of any vegetable.
Once you’re at your ideal weight, you can include them occasionally with other vegetables. That said, pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potatoes all make a similar, yet more nutritious replacement, high in dietary fiber and rich in antioxidants for a healthier body. Why not use more of these instead?
Healthy Carbohydrate Foods for Weight Loss
Swapping your main source of carbohydrates from grains (particularly refined grains) to mixed vegetables and high-fiber fruits is one of the best things you can do for your health. The detailed plans in Hacking Your Kitchen can provide the ‘how’ to do this, but lets look at ‘why’ you’d want to do this, particularly as it relates to having a better body.
Weight loss becomes significantly easier when you are not consuming too many grain-based foods. This is because grains (along with sugar) are the foods most likely to raise your blood glucose levels and promote the release of fat storing insulin. In fact, when you cut right back on grains and sugar, and start getting your carbohydrates primarily from high-fiber vegetables, your body will naturally begin accessing its stored fat as fuel.
This makes losing body fat a simple process. No counting calories or starving yourself. Those methods have been tried over and over again and have failed miserably in the long run for the vast majority of people.
Even if you manage, by sheer willpower, to lose a little water weight and muscle mass by drastically limiting the amount you eat, you will almost invariably put it back on once you stop starving yourself. Your body is very quick to recover after a period of restriction and most people are back where they started, or even heavier, a couple of months after a starvation style diet.
The best way to lose fat is to switch to using it as your primary fuel. This is why eating plans based on a good intake of high-quality protein and healthy fats, balanced with nutrient and fiber rich vegetables, along with some high-fiber fruits, are so effective.
When you reduce your daily carbohydrate intake to around 50 to 80 grams, primarily from healthy vegetables, your body naturally begins breaking down stored triglycerides for fuel. Eating in this way, you should not be afraid to liberally use healthy fats, like those found in avocados, pastured butter, grass fed meats and coconut oil. These will help encourage your body to switch to using slow burning fat as its main energy source and really speed up weight loss.
The Best Type of Meals for Weight Loss, More Energy and Better Health
Once you’ve switched out inflammatory vegetable oils, damaging sodium chloride and fattening sugar for their much healthier alternatives, the most important thing you can do to lose weight and improve your health and energy is to replace the grain foods in your meals, like breads, pasta and white rice, with a variety of vegetables.
Many people will shudder at the suggestion, but really think about it for a moment. Just how much actual flavor does a slice of white bread, or a bowl of pasta or white rice really have? Would you eat it on its own? Of course not.
The flavor comes from the protein in the meal, the sauces, seasonings and spices and often from the fats. You’re not limiting healthy fats with this kind of eating, so ingredients like avocado oil, grass fed butter and coconut milk are encouraged.
Coconut milk in particular is especially rich and very flavorsome mixed with herbs, seasonings and spices. It’s a mainstay of my cooking and makes amazing sauces and soups.
Given that most of the flavor in your meal will come from the healthy protein, ideally organic chicken or turkey, free range eggs, wild salmon, grass fed beef or wild meats, a base of fresh tasting veggies can make a wonderful compliment to your meals.
Try switching to a mix of vegetables like mushrooms, pumpkin, onions, bell peppers, bok choy, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, celery, scallions, kale, green beans, tomatoes, snow peas and many more. The more you chop up together, the more flavor and nutrition you’ll have in your food.
It’s not like you’re having them all on their own. In fact, with this kind of weight loss eating it’s better to eat them with healthy fats. Doing so will actually increase the amount of nutrients you absorb from your vegetables as well. This is because many of the antioxidants in veggies, like pro-vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin E, are fat-soluble and best assimilated in the presence of fatty acids.
So start experimenting with a variety of colorful vegetables. You can steam them, drizzled them with avocado oil and season with black pepper and a little Himalayan crystal salt; lightly stirfry them in coconut oil with turmeric; make them into a healthy salad; or blend them up into a soup. For some more great examples have a look through the healthy recipes section on Health Ambition as well.
More and more people are discovering how good eating like this makes them look and feel. If you’re really ready to start cutting carbs to lose weight, this kind of eating is the most effective way to do it. Try it for at least two weeks, seriously and without processed supermarket foods, sandwiches, pasta or rice and please come back and share with other people the difference it makes for you.