It’s no secret that we love carbs over here. As proponents of Flexible Nutrition, we believe that you should be able to eat the foods you love in order to hit your goals. However, sometimes our favorite calorie-dense carbs, like rice, pasta and bread products, don’t exactly fit into our macros. You’ve probably read some of our past posts about choosing high-volume options to help make your macros stretch further (if  not, check out this post for more). Does this mean you need to eat cauliflower everything forever in order to hit your goals? Absolutely not! But adding in more high-volume foods can give you more wiggle room to enjoy the carbs your really love. Today, we’re sharing how to do this with some of our favorite high-volume alternatives to our beloved carbs.


When you think pasta, you more than likely think CARBS first, however, these veggie-based pastas are magical. They actually have more protein than carbs per serving (25P/3F/19C + 11g fiber) and it’s plant-based protein. Both flavors are actually very mild and texture is similar to that of regular pasta. We recommend this kind for spaghetti style noodles. You can also find a black bean rotini at Trader’s Joe’s.


Banza is a great brand that offers many different veggie options for things like pasta and rice. They have everything from lentil pasta to chickpea rice. My favorite thing about this brand is that their pasta offering includes a variety of noodle shapes and they recently started offering a mac’n’cheese product with stellar macros (18P | 7F | 36C per serving)! Most of their products are gluten free and are packed with protein and fiber. Most local grocery stores carry their products and I’ve seen them at Costco as well.


Veggie noodles are another alternative for traditional pasta, except true veggie noodles will be much lower in carbs than the above black bean and edamame pasta options. These are not only great for adding to recipes that call for pasta noodles, but are also great for just adding a little volume and some more veggies to your meal. You can make your own by using a spiralizer (either electric or manual), and sauteing in a pan with some cooking oil spray and your favorite seasoning. Or most grocery stores offer pre-made ones in the produce section. Common varieties include zucchini or squash noodles, beet, butternut squash, and sweet potato noodles. Spaghetti squash is another great veggie noodle option that doesn’t require spiralizing!


Rice is very calorie-dense for not a lot of food and it can make any meal look pretty sad in terms of volume. Similar to veggie ‘noodles’, veggie ‘rice’ is a great way to not only add some more veggies to your meals but also to make your macros really stretch. You can buy frozen cauliflower rice in most grocery stores these days and use it as a substitute for any meal that calls for rice. A quick comparison will show you that you can eat about 8 times the amount of cauliflower rice than regular rice for almost the same amount of carbs.

⅔ C cooked white rice is 3P/0F/35C  vs. ⅔ C cooked cauliflower rice is 2P/0F/4C

Looking for something a bit different? Try ricing other veggies, like sweet potatoes or broccoli using a cheese grater or mandolin slicer. A few of our favorite riced veggie products: Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry, Green Giant riced butternut squash, and Great Value (Walmart) pomodoro seasoned riced cauliflower.


It may sound strange, but next time you make oatmeal, try adding zucchini to it. Zucchini has a very mild taste and when added to oatmeal is virtually tasteless. It will pump up the volume of your oatmeal and give you a lot more food for very little macros. When your primary goal is fat loss or weight loss, a big part of keeping hunger in check is finding ways to eat more food for less macros. Check out this post for our recipe, which clocks in at 6P/2F/21C per serving.


If you haven’t realized it by now, we like adding high-volume, very mild tasting veggies to almost any recipe we can. Again, it gives you more bang for your macro buck and is a good way to sneak in a few extra servings of veggies. Using frozen fruit in your protein shake or smoothie sounds may be ideal, but it can make your shake pretty high in carbs. Rather than using just frozen fruit, add some veggies in as well. Cut zucchini or squash into chunks and keep in the freezer and/or buy frozen cauliflower and try adding it to your next smoothie in combination with some frozen fruit. It will help give your smoothie that desired frozen consistency without adding too many macros.


Since Paleo was all the rage, it hasn’t been uncommon to see lettuce-wrapped burgers on restaurant menus. Using lettuce in place of a bun or a tortilla is not something new. However, sometimes it doesn’t always stay together very well and can be difficult to eat at times. Something new to try is using collard green leaves. Collard green leaves tend to be bigger than romaine or iceberg lettuce and they hold together much better; not to mention they’re more nutritious. Check out this post for preparing collard wraps and storing them in the fridge to use throughout the week.


Pizza. For anyone who’s ever tracked macros, it seems like pizza is one of those foods that just doesn’t ever seem to fit no matter how hard you try. A big reason for this is because of the crust. Thankfully, there are now several alternative veggie substitute crusts to help you make your dreams come true. Our favorite is Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Crust (1P/0F/17C per serving ) because it doesn’t use cheese as a binder so is lower in fat. And like most things found at TJ’s, the price is very affordable, especially when compared to other alternative crusts.

Other than adding volume to your meals, the great thing about many of these options is that they’re a great way to add extra plant-based protein to your meals. Many times we think of meat and other animal products when we think of protein, but not all protein has to come from meat sources.

Overall, many of these options can be helpful if you’re at a stage in your journey where you’re looking to lose fat or tackle other weight loss goals. Do you have to eat zucchini noodles forever? Definitely not, but as you’re working towards your goals, these higher volume options may be better suited for you right now. What are your favorite veggie substitutes? Share with us in the comments!

Note: We have no affiliation or sponsorship with any of these products but as an Amazon Associate, could earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.