5 Low Carb Substitutes That Won’t Make You Hate Your Life

I’m having a bit of a weight struggle at the moment, or forever. Same thing. I weigh exactly what I did 5 years ago which most people would think is great but it actually sucks because I’ve been actively trying to lose weight in that time. I’m seeing lots of doctors and trying to see if I have any gut or hormonal issues but nothing has come up yet. It seems my body just likes to bulk up for the winter on a permanent basis. My family doctor told me years ago I’ll never die in a famine so basically my metabolism would have been better suited for life in Ireland in 1845. Yay.

I’ve experimented with lots of different ways of eating but generally speaking, I’ve been a carb-avoider for about 15 years. I’m not totally carb free but I avoid white, fast burning carbs like bread, pasta and rice. I love my slow burning carbs like oats and quinoa, I just get more bang for my buck out of them. It’s not just a weight loss thing, it’s an energy thing. If I eat a big carb-loaded lunch, I’ll be sleepy AF all afternoon. If I eat good fats, veg and small portion of protein I’m sprinting through my afternoon. It just makes me feel less sluggish.

Carb Substitutes

I’ve had a few people ask about carb swaps recently, particularly Straight & Curly listeners so I thought I’d pop together a list of my favourites. These are all permanent fixtures in my weekly diet and we pretty much never eat white carbs at home. The reason why is because I don’t want to be a dick if I go to a mates house and they’ve ordered pizza. I’ll eat it and enjoy it, because I ate more wholesome food for the rest of the week. Here’s what we have instead of carbs at the Smaggle house.


You can make cauliflower fried rice, cauliflower pizza and cauliflower mashed potato. Cauliflower will also add a bit of bulk to vegetable bakes if you’re looking for something less starchy to replace potatoes. Cauliflower is a miracle low carb replacement in winter because it’s a lovely snuggly food that you can roast, mash and pulse into rice. The perfect comfort food.

Protein Bread

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about protein bread since I started eating it a few years ago and I get asked the same question again and again.

Does it taste like regular bread?

No. There will never, ever be a healthy replacement for delicious, fluffy, fresh baked, zero nutritional value, white, crusty bread. It’s just not happening so don’t expect that of protein bread. It’s 100 calories for 2 very thin slices that are quite yummy when toasted, it’s a handy vehicle for eggs and avocado and it’s also quite pleasant when dunked in soup. It’s not going to taste like Sizzler’s cheese toast so just get your expectations in check before you start bulk ordering the stuff. I buy mine from here or the health food store down the road if they have it stock.

Zucchini Noodles

When I want a big bowl of spaghetti bolognaise, I make the meat sauce and serve it on lightly pan heated spiralized zucchini noodles. Again it doesn’t taste anything like pasta but it’s not too shabby an alternative if you don’t have the type of metabolism that can cope with massive amounts of refined carbohydrates every day. It’s also a lovely fresh way to add a lovely greens to a comfort meal, especially in winter.

Carb Substitutes

San chow bow is one of my favourite meals so I’ve taken to using lettuce as an accompaniment to almost all of my Asian meals that I make at home. Vegetable stir-fry is delicious when wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf rather than served on stodgy rice and it means you get a few extra greens in your meal too.


If I’m a having meal that’s low on carbs like a salad or some streamed vegetables, I’ll often add a poached or boiled egg. It totally fills me up and adds that carb ‘bulk’ to my meal without adding the carb calories.

Are you a carb avoider? Or do you not really care much?

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  1. Nicki 11 months ago

    Husband and I have just started a no/ low carb plan. This is day 3 of no carbs just protein and I am on struggle street big time and he is just having a walk in the park ha! Counting down the minutes until we can introduce some veg and some good carbs tomorrow (65g) for 8 weeks and then just mindful of carbs after that. This post came at the perfect time.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      I think my mates did that diet a few years ago it was really effective! Feels so strange eating only protein though doesn’t it?

  2. Drstumpy 11 months ago

    How awesome is califlower rice!!!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      It’s the best thing ever. I have it at least twice a week… if I could be bothered making it!

  3. Missy D 11 months ago

    I’m also someone who needs to avoid carbs… which is really difficult coming from a Mediterranean family. I haven’t been so good lately, just wanting lots of comfort foods, but I’ll be pulling the reigns back in this week. A number of years ago I went carb, cheese and sugar free (with only oats for breakfast… for using your brain) and the results were amazing. 1kg per week I was losing, but that’s kind of the only way I can lose weight. I’ve always been someone who can lose it easily (if I’m strict), but I also gain it easily. It’s a constant battle. Especially since being mid-30s, I’m noticing it’s not coming off as easily anymore.

    Great tips here, I’ll give some a crack. My only concern with zucchini noodles is, don’t they break down really easily and turn to mush?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      I just pan fry them and they’re fine! I’m going to try to go dairy free next week – it may well be the one thing holding me back.

  4. Simone 11 months ago

    Rolling on the floor. You are real and hilarious!!! Keep it real sister! Speak the truth!!

  5. Deb 11 months ago

    Have you read any of the Dr Libby Weaver books? I would recommend anyone who has hormonal issues to read either ‘Rushing Woman’s Syndrome’ or ‘Women’s Wellness Wisdom’. These books are a treasure trove of excellent info!

  6. Reannon 11 months ago

    I am not a carb avoider but I am a carb minimiser these days. I do cauli rice, zuchinni or carrot noodles, love me some eggs,cereal is a thing of the past, will choose sweet potato over the white one & pretty much only eat my homemade sourdough but not everyday like I used to. It’s not perfect but they are changes I feel I can live with long term.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Eggs are my saving grace. I eat at least 2 every single day. Love them.

  7. Kathryn OHalloran 11 months ago

    Have you tried shirataki noodles? They are zero calories and zero carbs. They can be a bit rubbery but are good for adding a bit of bulk to meals if you need that noodle/pasta feel 🙂

    Also, have you checked out the Iron You blog? Fantastic recipes for using cauliflower rice etc.

    I find cauliflower rice a total pain to make especially the squeezing part, but it’s so good.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      I have and they used to give me crazy tummy aches. I find replacing carbs with real food like cauliflower so much better on my tummy. I’ll check out that blog! Thanks for the rec!

  8. Harlow 11 months ago

    I am the same – I’ll avoid carbs most of the time so that when the occasion comes up I can really enjoy white carbs. I only recently got into zoodles after being grossed out by the idea for years and I’m seriously kicking myself. They taste SO good! And being able to eat a big bowl of pasta without the guilt? AMAZING. I also really love to have them with a broccoli and parmesan pesto sauce…always makes me feel pretty damn good about myself to have all that green stuff on my plate. Cauliflower rice is brilliant too – not so sold on the idea of it as mash though…Lately I’ve actually been making mash from pumpkin and I love how well it goes with a piece of baked fish!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      I love them – they’re great for summer salads too.

  9. Tanya 10 months ago

    If you’re missing schnitzels try almond meal and fresh grated parmesan. Coat chicken or beef on egg then the almond meal mix and fry in olive oil. Perfect crumbed schnitzels and nearly no carbs.
    Also try 250g of cream cheese with a scoop of your favourite low carb protein powder. Mix until combined. It tastes exactly like cheesecake. You can add any essence to change the flavour.

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