Making Low Carb Substitutions
By: Chef Cristian Feher
While there are many people around the world who's biggest problem is not having enough to eat, sadly, we have the opposite problem. North Americans run into the issue of being over-fed! Our food supply is bountiful, cheap, and we have too much of it. Even the poorest of our clan can get 1000 calories for less than $3. And it shows. We're fat!
I won't go into a big dissertation on how we gain weight. All I will say is that every time you eat refined carbs your body sends massive amounts of insulin into your blood stream and turns all but some of the sugar into fat. Add to this, late night eating, lack or exercise and some high fructose corn syrup to wash it down with, and you're well on your way to winning first prize at the Virginia Fair! OK, I'm lecturing again..
The good news is that you can do something about it. It just comes down to willingness and some work on your part. But you can do it. And I'll give you some tips below on how you can cut down on those pesky carbs so that hopefully you can get to feeling energetic and looking thin again!
Now, before I go and give you a list of substitutions, there are some magic rules to follow. Well, they're not actually magic at all, more like common sense (if you want to lose weight). 1. Your body needs water to move fat around. So if you want to move fat out, you gotta drink lots of water. Try 1.5 litres per day and work your way up to 2 Liters. 2. You don't need fuel when your car is parked. And you don't need to eat when you're not really using your body. So don't eat at night. Stop eating four hours before going to bed. Yes, you might be really craving a snack but you're going to have to suck it up tubby! 3. (And this one I've learned many times from experience and from my client's experiences) Diet alone fails most often. You're going to have to dust off those gym shorts from the bottom of the closet. Do at least 30 minutes of light exercise every day. Lucky for you, walking does wonders for weight loss. And it's also relaxing and lifts your spirits. Make time to go for a walk every day. Following these simple rules will enable you to get results.
Now for the low carb substitutions:
Gotta have your gravy? Sauces really liven up a boring meal. And although most thickeners are high in carbs, there is one thickener that works wonders and has a 0 net carb count. Xantham gum. Yes, it sounds like something Batman shoots at bad guys, but it's actually a common thickener used in everything from salad dressing to hydraulic coolant in factories. But don't let that scare you. It's made from friendly bacteria who like to eat corn. It's available in most health food stores and online. You can thicken up gravies, make ketchup and even cream sauces! It's similar in consistency to corn starch and you can thicken just about any liquid with it.
TIP: Xantham gum tends to clump up when in contact with liquids, so it's best to use a hand blender (or regular blender) to mix it into liquids smoothly. And better yet, it does not require heat to thicken. It will thicken a cold glass of water just as well.
But what about bread? It seems like we are surrounded by a never ending supply of bread. It's everywhere!Sandwich shops, fast food chains, the grocery store and in our kitchen. All kinds of breads, buns, rolls, crackers, wraps. So how do you go around that? Well, next time you make a burger or sandwich, try using two large portobello mushroom caps instead of a bun. Heat them in the oven or microwave until they begin to soften. You can do the same thing with two thick-cut slices of eggplant. What about wraps? Certain health food stores sell low carb tortilla wraps that yield only about 5 grams of carbs per serving. You can also wrap your cold cuts and cheese in fresh, green lettuce leaves for a fresh, leafy wrap. Try a BLT wrapped in L! And if you just had to grab a burger because "you were in a hurry", then just eat the insides and toss the bun in the trash. No excuses.
What do I drink? Don't drink anything that has sugar or high fructose corn syrup in it. It's as bad a putting a couple of sandwiches in the blender and drinking that. Sugary drinks will make you fat faster than anything else because the sugars go right into your blood stream very quickly. This includes beer, fruit juice, sodas, energy drinks and anything else that has sugar in it. So you should be drinking water, club soda (my favourite) or at the very least, diet soda. But try to drink lots of water.
Is there any happiness left? Yes there is! You don't have to give up carbs completely. In fact, carbs are good for you so long as you use them as fuel. Just don't have too many and don't eat the wrong types. Eat carbs that are high in fiber and will take your body longer to break them down. Sweet potato, steel cut oats and pearled barley should become your new best friends. Instead of pasta you will eat Tofu Shirataki noodles or Dreamfields pasta once in a while (Use Google to find out more about these options). They now sell low carb ice cream which you can have on Sundays before going for a long walk. The best time to eat carbs is at breakfast. That way you can assure that you burn them during the day. You don't need carbs for lunch or for dinner. Unless you are an athlete or a runner or a person that does very heavy physical work during the day. In which case, you are reading an article which does not apply to you.
So now that you know how to do it, here comes the hard part - you actually have to do it. The only hard part about being healthy and fit again is having the self discipline to do it. And to help you with it I will leave you with these words of wisdom. "Don't think about it. Just do it."