Category Archives: Carb Cure
“The best way to cut carbs from your diet is to make creative substitutions,” says Arthur Agatston, M.D., author of The South Beach Diet. “That way you can still eat the foods you love, without busting your diet.”
Dr. Agatston told us how to make cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes. Other nutrition experts gave us tricks for cutting white flour, pasta, and potatoes and replacing them with lower-carb alternatives that taste nearly identical. We then had some loyal carbo-cravers taste-test these dishes. Turns out some of them are so good, you’ll wonder why you weren’t eating them in the first place.
And for more great ways to and lose weight and stay slim for good, pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Diet today! It combines the latest findings in exercise and nutrition with practical how-to-advice that will transform your body into a fat-burning machine.
Substitute: Squash for potatoes
Summer squash (the football-shaped yellow kind) tastes similar to potatoes when cooked—but has just a fraction of the carbs. Grate the squash, mix in an egg as binder, make patties, and fry them in olive oil, says Mary Dan Eades, M.D., coauthor of The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook.
Carbs Eliminated: About 15 grams (g) per hash-brown patty
The Taste: “Not as firm and crispy as regular hash browns, but the potato flavor is there.”
Substitute: Cauliflower for potatoes
One of Dr. Agatston’s favorites: Steam some fresh or frozen cauliflower in the microwave. Then spray the cauliflower with butter substitute, add a little nonfat half-and-half substitute, and puree in a food processor or blender. “Salt and pepper to taste and you’ve got something that quite honestly can compete with the real thing any day,” says Dr. Agatston. To make it even better, try adding roasted garlic, cheese, or sour cream to the mixture.
Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup
The Taste: “After a couple of bites, you forget it’s not potatoes.”
Substitute: Zucchini slices for noodles
Slice four to five medium-size zukes lengthwise into three-quarter-inch-thick strips, instructs Lise Battaglia, a New Jersey chef whose past clients include Jon Bon Jovi. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the strips, place them in a single layer on a nonstick cookie sheet, and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. You want them firm, not crisp. “Then simply make the lasagna as you normally would, replacing lasagna noodles with the baked zucchini,” she says.
Carbs Eliminated: 36 g per serving
The Taste: “Delicious. The zucchini provides texture that you don’t get from noodles alone.”
Substitute: Spaghetti squash for spaghetti
A cooked spaghetti squash is like Mother Nature’s automatic spaghetti maker—the flesh becomes noodlelike strands. “All you have to do is cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Then place each half—cut side down—on a plate with a quarter cup of water,” says Elizabeth Perreault, a chef at Colorado’s Culinary School of the Rockies. Nuke the squash for 10 minutes or until it’s soft to the touch. Let it cool, then scrape out the “spaghetti” strands and top with pasta sauce and cheese.
Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup
The Taste: “Great. Spaghetti squash has exactly the same consistency as real pasta.”
Substitute: Oatmeal and cottage cheese for pancake mix
Here’s a can’t-fail recipe from The South Beach Diet. Mix together half a cup of old-fashioned oatmeal, a quarter cup of low-fat cottage cheese, two eggs, and a dash each of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Process in a blender until smooth. Cook the mixture like a regular pancake.
Carbs Eliminated: 45 g per pancake
The Taste: “With syrup, you could never tell the difference.”
Substitute: Tempeh for potatoes
You may think you don’t like soy-based foods, but that could be because you don’t cook them right, says Beckette Williams, R.D., a San Diego-based personal chef. “Tempeh can be really bland, but if you jazz it up with herbs and spices, it’s a great substitute for potatoes.” Her recommendation: Saute a couple of cups of thinly diced tempeh with garlic and onions. Then pour a cheese sauce (sharper is better) over the tempeh cubes and bake for half an hour.
Carbs Eliminated: 11 g per cup
The Taste: “Just like a slightly nutty baked potato.”
Macaroni and Cheese
Substitute: Diced vegetables for macaroni
Even instant mac and cheese can go lower-carb; use only half the pasta in the box and bulk it up with a couple of cups of frozen mixed vegetables, says Sandra Woodruff, R.D., coauthor of The Good Carb Cookbook.
Carbs Eliminated: 13 g per cup
The Taste: “I hate broccoli, but I wouldn’t mind eating this.”
Substitute: Mixed vegetables or black beans for half the pasta
Same idea as the mac and cheese, but try black beans, diced tomatoes, and chunks of ham, tuna, chicken, or hard-boiled eggs, suggests Richard Ruben, an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. “These kinds of salads are a blank slate, so you can top them with anything from a creamy blue-cheese dressing to vinaigrette, or even lime juice and slices of avocado,” Ruben says.
Carbs Eliminated: 10 g per cup
The Taste: “Awesome. I don’t miss the extra pasta at all.”
Substitute: Low-fat string cheese for chips
Just crazy enough to work: Cut sticks of string cheese into quarter-inch-thick slices and scatter the rounds on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray, leaving them an inch or two apart. Bake at 375 F for 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. Let them cool, then peel the chips off the tray.
Carbs Eliminated: Up to 90 g per serving
The Taste: “Like the cheese you pull off the top of a pizza.”
Substitute: Portobello mushrooms for pizza crust
Cut the gills out of the inside of the mushroom, says Ruben, “then place the mushroom on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes so it dries out slightly.” Add tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni or other toppings and broil until the cheese begins to melt.
Carbs Eliminated: About 20 g per slice
The Taste: “Like pizza, but moister. Give me a fork!”
Substitute: Eggplant for pasta
Mixing diced eggplant with ground beef is healthier and more highbrow than this old skillet special—call it moussaka American style. You have to soften the eggplant first, says Williams. Cut it in half, brush it with olive oil, and then broil for 10 to 20 minutes. “Let it cool, dice it up, and mix with hamburger, tomato sauce, and spices,” she says.
Carbs Eliminated: 26 g per cup
The Taste: “Exactly like Hamburger Helper, in a good way.”
Substitute: Napa or Chinese cabbage for bread
Slap your turkey and Swiss onto a leaf of cabbage and roll it up. “I’ve made some great-tasting BLTs using cabbage instead of bread,” Battaglia says. Dip the roll in low-fat mayonnaise or mustard.
Carbs Eliminated: 29 g per sandwich
The Taste: “Better than eating plain cold cuts.”
Abs by Gunpoint
The Power of 100 Grams
We’ve both been recommending this ridiculously simple yet powerfully effective dietary approach for years. We’ve seen it work with everyone from hardcore male bodybuilders to hardcore female kindergarten teachers.
It not only strips off the excess body fat, it accelerates the process of health improvement by exponentially improving the quality of your diet… all with one little guideline:
Eat about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Why 100 Grams is Magical
Eating 100 grams of carb a day is as close to nutritional magic as you can get:
At 100 grams of carbs per day, you won’t be in ketosis, but your carbs will be low enough that you’ll be preferentially stoking your metabolic furnace with stored and dietary fats and not carbs. Also, most people won’t experience any mental fogginess, crabbiness, or lack of energy that often accompany really low-carb diets.
At 100 grams, you still have room to get in fast-acting carbs as part of your peri-workout nutrition strategy.
There’s never a reason to skip tactical carbs consumed around your weight-training workout. Carbs taken in at this time won’t contribute to fat gain and may even speed up the fat loss process. With a 100 gram daily allowance, you can scorch off the belly fat and maximize the anabolic potential of the peri-workout timeframe.
In addition, with 100 grams of carbohydrates allowed every day, there’s no reason to avoid nutritionally ass-kicking fruits, berries, and vegetables as you have to do with 20 and 30 gram diets. This not only allows you to eat good-for-ya foods, it opens up your diet to a wider variety of meal choices. No need to live on bacon and string cheese for twelve weeks.
Key point: If you eat five meals per day plus your workout drink, 100 grams of carbs is the perfect amount. At each of your five meals you’ll eat around 10 grams of vegetables (preferably green and fibrous) or berries, then during your workout you can slug down a serving of Surge Recovery and boom… 100 grams of carbs.
The Autoregulation Effect
With 100 grams of carbs to “spend” every day, the average person is going to experience powerful autoregulatory effects, even if they pay little attention to the other macronutrients. Follow the 100-Gram Carb Cure and, well, everything else just falls into place:
- With a limit of 100 grams of carbs, you’ll naturally become selective about the types of carbs you eat, especially on training days when you only have around 50 grams to eat depending on your peri-workout strategy.
You’ll have to remove refined carbs and the obvious junk food. You’ll need to stick to mainly green fibrous vegetables, small portions of berries, and nuts. On non-lifting days you’ll have room to eat some beans or a protein bar.
- Calories will be largely controlled since you’ll be choosing more filling foods. These satiating food choices, being on the lower end of the carb count, aren’t going to cause your blood sugar levels to go bonkers, which can lead to cravings and mood/energy fluctuations that we often try to “fix” with more food (and usually not the physique-supportive stuff.)
In short, it’s just difficult to overeat when your food choices are controlled and carbs don’t exceed 100 grams daily.
- Some people are label-reading, food-weighing, ingredient-list scanning, waitress-interrogating nutrition freaks. You know, like the humble authors of this article and many TNation readers. But not everyone is. They probably have lives and stuff.
For those folks, the 100-gram rule becomes an educational tool that teaches them to adopt eating strategies than can last a lifetime. The 100-grammer will be forced to read labels and check out serving sizes. He’ll probably learn to cook his favorite foods since store-bought versions have all kinds of carby crap added to them.
The 100-grammer won’t fall for bullshit “Low-Fat!” and “Made with Whole Grains!” health claims you see all over the cereal, bread, and Pop-Tart aisle. He’ll ditch the fruit juice, most sugary dairy products, pasta, and HFCS-infused condiments. He’ll become wary of those “guiltless” menu options at chain restaurants, which border on fraudulent.
In other words, by paying close attention to this one macronutrient, the 100 gram dieter will self-regulate, self-educate, and become more self-reliant. He also won’t look like a land whale come summertime. Bonus.
100-Gram Carb Cycling
You can tweak this plan even further by adding the element of carb cycling.
As mentioned above, on training days you can eat around 10 grams of fibrous carbs at five different meals and then have a Surge Recovery for your workout nutrition. (Or FINiBAR pre-workout with Anaconda and/or MAG-10 during and after. Choose your weapon.)
On non-weight training days, don’t add more vegetables and beans in place of the Surge Recovery to get to 100 grams of carbs. Instead, just remove the Surge Recovery and don’t replace the carbs. This way you’ll only be eating 50 grams of carbs that day.
So, about 100 grams of carbs on training day and 50 grams on non-training day. This simplified carb-cycling plan would easily get you over a weight-loss plateau or accelerate your current rate of fat loss.
The Rest of Your Diet
For the rest of your diet (i.e. protein and fats) there are a couple of other guidelines.
Eat protein at every meal: a bunch of eggs, protein powder, or a hunk of meat. It’s hard to screw this part up.
Add fats to each meal as well. Don’t go overboard with nuts and seeds because they come with their fair share of carbs and you’ll quickly be on the 250 Gram Carb Plan. Walnuts are great because they have a lower carb count than any other nut, and they contain the most diverse fatty acid profile (including omega-3s).
Use oils and some butter on your vegetables. Sprinkle salads with different oils or cheeses. Don’t skimp on fatty fish like salmon and take your daily Flameout.
Wait! Why Not Just Count Calories?
Good question. Sure, eat just 1200 calories of anything in a day and you’ll lose weight. Thank you, Law of Thermodynamics.
But you could also lose muscle, wreck your metabolism in the long term, perform poorly in the gym, squander your long-term health, send your hormone levels into tailspins, raid a Chinese buffet, and risk programming in bad dietary habits (“Twinkie Diet,” anyone?). It’s also unsustainable and usually leads to fat regain and rebound.
Oh, and one more little-bitty thing: the higher-carb, “just eat smaller amounts of junk food” diet plan has the highest failure rate of any fat-loss strategy ever developed in history.
Yeah, there’s that.
Mike’s Sample Menus
Meal 1: Eggs, spinach, cheddar-cheese scramble
Meal 2: Metabolic Drive Low-Carb, walnuts, 1 serving blueberries, Superfood
Meal 3: Salad (romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers) with chicken and extra virgin olive oil
Meal 4: Flank steak with asparagus and butter
Workout: Surge Recovery
Meal 5: Chicken breast with broccoli and extra virgin olive oil
Meal 1: 4-egg omelet with salsa and cheese, 1/2 a grapefruit (sprinkled with Splenda) on the side
Meal 2: Metabolic Drive Low-Carb, flaxseed oil, 2 serving strawberries, Superfood
Meal 3: Roasted chicken breast with spinach (wilt in a pan with minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil) and a small apple
Meal 4: Extra-lean ground beef sautŽed with peppers and onions
Meal 5: Roasted salmon (spread Dijon mustard on top before roasting) with asparagus and 1 serving great northern beans
Eat about 100 grams of carbs per day.
One rule. Damn-near universally effective for fast, painless fat loss. No gun-toting kidnapper required.