The choices you make for lunch can make or break your "bottom line". Picking smart carb and kilojoule options will keep your weight loss efforts on track.
What's the deal with carbs?
When it comes to carbohydrates, no macronutrient has ever been under scrutiny quite so much. According to a Health24 article, many people have a misconception about what exactly counts as carbohydrates. Different forms of carbohydrates include:
- Sugars like glucose, fructose, sucrose (table sugar) and lactose – as found in honey, sweets, milk products, cold drinks, fruit and fruit juices.
- Starches such as cereals, flours, starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn) and legumes (beans, lentils).
While carbohydrates are vital for energy and a great source of dietary fibre, some people maintain that carbs aren't good for us. South African scientists Prof Tim Noakes is a fierce
critic of carbohydrates and believes a low carbohydrate diet is key to good health.
Lighten your lunch
While it's up to you whether you choose to ditch the carbs completely or not, there are some smart ways to reduce unnecessary carbs and calories:
1. Skip the sugary drinks
First, ditch the soda. It contains a lot of sugar without providing any nutrients, says Rachel Begun, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant. A 500ml bottle has more than 800 carb-laden kilojoules while water has none. Kick your H2O up a notch with a squeeze of lemon or lime. If you're a fan of flavoured bottled water, be sure to pick a sugar-free brand – otherwise you end up drinking your calories instead of eating them.
2. Pack your own lunch
Pack your own lunch at least three days a week so you can better control sugar, salt and fat intake. Cut down on the carbs in bread by having chicken, turkey or tuna on open-faced sandwiches or tucked into lettuce roll-ups. You can also opt for salads.
3. Include fruit and veggies
Pack pre-cut fruit and veggies as your sides. A whole green, red or yellow pepper, cut into strips, will save you almost 500 kilojoules over a 30g bag of chips, not to mention all the nutrients you'll be getting in the veggies. A half-cup of pineapple instead of three small cookies cuts your dessert calories in half without missing out on a sweet finish. Another advantage to packing fruits and vegetables is that they're loaded with water and fibre, which means you'll feel fuller longer. What it boils down to is a lunch that will help keep you satisfied throughout the afternoon on far fewer calories.
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