This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Carbohydrates get often demonized when it comes to weight loss. However, with these 11 healthy carbs you can still lose weight.
Carbohydrates are one of the macronutrient categories. However, not all sources are made equal. They can have a different impact on your hunger, health, and weight loss.
Which carbs are good for weight loss?
Good carbohydrates vs bad carbohydrates is not a case of 1 group vs the other. The differences between them are more of a spectrum from best to worst.
The main difference between the two ends is the complexity of the chemical chain of the carbohydrate molecules.
A general rule is the longer the chain the healthier it is for you. It takes your body longer and more work to process it into usable fuel.
That results in less blood sugar spiking and less release of a fat-storing hormone called insulin. It also takes your body more energy to convert the more complex carbohydrates.
For example one of the most simple carbohydrates is pure white sugar. It gets absorbed instantly and almost doesn’t fill you up but you still take in a lot of calories.
Everything you don’t want from your food when trying to lose weight.
Finally, there is fiber. Fiber is technically a kind of carbohydrate but it doesn’t really get absorbed as calories. At first, fiber doesn’t sound like the most useful nutrient but the opposite is true.
Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, non-starchy and starchy vegetables slows digestion and absorption, regulates blood sugar, and helps aid in bowel regularity.
This means you can eat something that fills you up but doesn’t actually increase the number of calories you absorb that much. Eating other foods with calories together with fiber can actually decrease the number of calories you absorb from those foods.
Hunger is a big reason people fail to stick to their weight loss habits. If fiber can help you with this it’s already an enormous advantage.
But it doesn’t end here. Fiber also improves the health of something called your “microbiome”. The collection of microbes and such in your intestines. Your microbiome helps you convert food into usable nutrients. Its health is linked to your own health and weight.
You can find fiber in vegetables and in most of these 11 healthy carbs for weight loss.
List of 11 good carbs
Make sure to eat these healthy carbs in their natural form.
For example, processing potatoes into potato chips can make them many times unhealthier.
Also, just because they are the healthier kinds of carbs is not a reason to overeat on them. These foods are still relatively high in calories compared to a lot of vegetables. You still want to be in a calorie deficit in one way or another to lose weight.
This list is not built from “best” to “worst”. Which one is best for you depends on your goals and the rest of your diet.
Barley is a whole grain that has been cultivated by humans for 1000’s of years. It can also be used to brew beer but it’s better for your health to just stick to the whole-food form.
100 grams of cooked pearled barley contains around 123 calories. This includes 3.8 grams of fiber.
Beans are a type of legumes that are convenient and tasty to add to other dishes.
100 grams of kidney beans contains around 127 calories. This includes 6.4 grams of fiber.
Oats are a great base for a sturdy breakfast or lunch (or dinner if you like).
100 grams of oats contains around 389 calories. This includes 10.6 grams of fiber.
They are easily combinable with your favorite fruits, berries or other ingredients.
Quinoa is basically the seed of a plant. More and more people are starting to appreciate the potential health benefits of it.
100 grams of Quinoa contains around 120 calories. This includes 2.8 grams of fiber.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes have become famous in the food world partly because inhabitants of the Japanese island Okinawa, where people grow relatively old, supposedly consume them a lot.
100 grams of sweet potatoes contains around 90 calories. This includes 3.3 grams of fiber.
Baking and roasting them can make them more unhealthy by reducing the amount of complex carbohydrates. Try to prepare them by boiling them for optimal health benefits.
6. Regular potatoes
Potatoes are an important part of the diet of a lot of people partly because they are so inexpensive to grow.
100 grams of potatoes contains around 87 calories. This includes 1.8 grams of fiber.
Chickpeas are not only a source of good carbohydrates they will also help you increase your protein intake. Increased protein intake can also help you reduce hunger. Keep in mind that too much protein isn’t good either.
100 grams of cooked chickpeas contains around 164 calories. This includes 7.6 grams of fiber.
Kamut might not be very well-known but it can be great whole grain to add to your diet.
100 grams of kamut contains around 337 calories. This includes 9.1 grams of fiber.
9. Brown rice
The difference between brown rice and white rice is real. Brown rice can have up to double the amount of fiber.
100 grams of brown rice contains around 111 calories. This includes 1.8 grams of fiber.
Lentils are another type of legume on this list of healthy carbs for weight loss.
100 grams of cooked lentils contains around 116 calories. This includes 7.9 grams of fiber.
Corn is a whole grain and can make for a great snack if you turn it into popcorn. Just make sure not to add unhealthy topping on it.
100 grams of cooked sweet corn contains around 108 calories. This includes 2.7 grams of fiber.
How many carbs should you eat a day to lose weight?
How many healthy carbs you should eat for weight loss depends on a lot of personal factors. How many calories do you want to consume each day? How active are you?
1 gram of carbohydrates contains around 4 calories. Keep in mind that the food labels count fiber towards total calories even though you won’t absorb them that way.