Healthy carb swaps for faster weight loss

Colorful quinoa salad with corn, bell pepper and peas.Pic: Getty Images/Flickr RF

The high-protein Atkins and Dukan diets are no doubt still going strong, but carbs don't have to be the enemy. With a few easy swaps you can still enjoy your bread, spuds and rice, and stay healthy.

White bread for wholegrain
Once a British favourite, the sliced white has fallen out of favour with nutrition experts, thanks to its high glycemic index. Refined carbs such as these give you a quick energy and blood sugar burst, inevitably followed by a crash. Use your loaf and switch to a wholegrain, multiseed or rye bread for a steady, slow release of energy with added vitamins. The same goes for rice and pasta.

Cous cous for quinoa
This popular little grain is low fat and low in calories, but just like white bread, its quick energy fix is likely to leave you hungry for something less healthy. The brown variety or bulgar wheat are better alternatives, but for a full package of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein, opt for 'complete grain' quinoa instead.

Peanuts for almonds
Packed full of 'good' monounsaturated fats, protein and fibre, there's nothing wrong with a handful of unsalted peanuts. But when it comes to good health, almonds are the king of nuts. Containing vitamin E for an immune system boost and good skin, almonds are not only lower in calories and fat than the classic peanut, and research suggests they work as a digestive anti-inflammatory too.

White spuds for sweet potatoes
The humble white spud is the most versatile of vegetables and has long been a staple of the British kitchen cupboard. And whilst there is nothing wrong with your average Maris Piper, sweet potatoes are a better choice for weight loss as they're low GI. With 400 per cent of your daily vitamin A requirement, more vitamin C and fibre, and fewer calories, they're a tasty alternative that packs a healthy punch.

White sugar for honey
Refined sugar has developed a bad reputation among the experts, with increasingly strong links between the white stuff and diabetes or heart disease. Step away from the sugar lumps and grab yourself a pot of honey instead. This natural sweetener releases energy more slowly, has antibacterial and healing qualities, and some varieties such as manuka are thought to boost the immune system into the bargain.

Cereal for porridge
A bowl of cereal with milk might seem like a healthy way to start the day, but the average box you'll find on the supermarket shelf is often loaded with salt and sugar. They might come fortified with vitamins and minerals, but oats boast naturally-occurring vitamin E, fibre and B vitamins, and will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Cola for lemonade
You might not consider it a carb, but standard cola is loaded with refined sugar that'll play havoc with your blood sugar levels, and what's not used for energy is stored as fat for another time. For something entirely healthier and more refreshing, try natural lemonade (the cloudy stuff) or no-added sugar squash.

Have you swapped your refined carbs for healthier alternatives? Has it made a difference to your energy levels? Leave your comments below...
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