Can we finally settle it once and for all? Despite what many trendy diets and fitness “experts” might have you believe, carbs are not the enemy when it comes to losing weight.
One report from researchers at Harvard published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which examined how small changes in behaviors like sleep habits, TV-watching, exercising and eating habits can effect long-term weight gain, found that what we eat is one of the most important factors when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.
And, as part of the results they were able to identify and rank specific foods that play a role in helping us lose weight. Can you guess what the second food item (right behind vegetables) on that list was?
Whole grains, like oats and brown rice, which yes, you guessed it, are carbohydrate-rich foods.
So, when it comes to healthy eating habits and weight loss, reducing your carb intake likely isn’t the answer, but rather choosing smarter, more nutritious carbohydrate sources. Particularly those that are high in fiber and protein.
From whole grains to fresh fruit, here are just a few examples of the healthiest carbs that meet that mark, and yes, can actually help you reach your weight loss goals.
Although you may not have heard about it yet, this gluten-free, off-the-grid whole grain is starting to gain popularity. For example the creators of Cabo Chips use it as a main ingredient in many of their back-to-basics, healthy whole grain chips. Traditionally, in Ethiopia teff is used to make a spongy flatbread called injera, but it can also be used to make porridge or used as a hearty topping for salads or added to soups. A one-cup (cooked) serving packs: 50g of carbs, 10g fiber and 10g protein.
Rye is a high-protein, high-fiber whole grain, but even in its refined form retains a large portion of its nutrients. A 1/3-cup (55g) serving packs: 38g carbs, 8g fiber and 8g protein.
Quinoa is known for being a good source of complete protein, as it contains all essential amino acids, which means not only is it a wholesome carbohydrate source, but it can also aid in muscle growth and tissue repair. A 3/4-cup (cooked) serving packs: 29g carbs, about 3.75g fiber and 6g protein. (Millet also makes for an equally nutritious and slightly less expensive alternative to quinoa.)
The World’s Healthiest Foods organization says that this nutrition-packed legume is known best for “filling you up—not out,” as a one cup serving contains about 230 calories and a long list of essential nutrients including high amounts of both fiber and protein. A one-cup (cooked) serving packs: 40g carbs, 16g fiber and 18g protein.
Oatmeal (made with old-fashioned or rolled oats) makes for a nutritious, carbohydrate-rich meal to start off your day with. Plus, most studies show that eating breakfast is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. Kristy Del Coro, senior culinary nutritionist at Rouge Tomate suggests including complex, fiber-rich carbs like oats or other whole grains in your breakfast, along with some lean protein and healthy fats, so you’ll have energy and will feel satisfied until your next meal. A 1/2-cup serving packs: 27g carbs, 4g fiber and 5g protein.
As part of the Harvard report mentioned earlier, just behind veggies and whole grains, fruits came in as the number three food that helped to aid weight loss. Raspberries in particular are especially known for their weight loss benefits because of their high fiber content. A one-cup serving packs: 15g carbs, 8g fiber and 1g protein.
High in vitamin A and C, as well as calcium and iron, sweet potatoes serve as a super-healthy source of carbohydrates. One medium sweet potato (baked, with skin) packs: 24g carbs, 4g fiber and 2g protein.
Also a slightly lesser-known whole grain, Barley is considered as a healthy carbohydrate source, as it has been shown to reduce blood sugar response, which means, like many other whole grains, it can help you feel fuller for longer and thus, reduce your overall calorie intake for the day. A one-cup (cooked) serving packs: 44g carbs, 6g fiber and 4g protein.