These Are the 9 Best Carbs for Weight Loss
Imagine if you could tell your friends you’re on a hot new diet, the one all the celebs are doing for rapid weight loss. It’s name? Not Atkins. Not South Beach. No, it’s The Carb Diet.
Yes, it’s true: You can lose weight eating carbs, if you eat the right ones. Add these essential Eat This, Not That! choices into your daily diet and stay fueled and fat-burning all day long—without sacrifice.
It’s not only good for your health, but also a killer appetite suppressant that can help keep your diet on track all day. “Barley contains a whopping 6 grams of belly filling, mostly soluble fiber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugars and increased satiety,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN. It also has tons of health benefits like decreased inflammation and stabilized blood sugar levels. And: you’ll immediately feel lighter. Barley “acts as bulking agent, which can help push waste through the digestive tract, regulating bowel movements.”
Our favorite recipe with barley is Eggs in Purgatory. Or buy Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Graham Clusters. Cereals rich in fiber and whole grains reduce the risk of disease and early death, say Harvard School of Public Health researchers. Lucky for you, these clusters are made with fiber-rich whole grains like brown rice, triticale, barley, rye, buckwheat and bran—oh, and they have a slightly sweet vanilla taste and crunchy texture you’re sure to love, too.
You know brown is better, but do you know why? It’s because whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient rich and fiber-filling. Also try varieties with lentils, chickpeas, black beans or quinoa. And, bonus health tip: If you’re whipping up a pasta sauce, try throwing some flax seeds in the mix, suggests Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CDN. “They’re a great source of healthy unsaturated fats, which are powerhouses for the body’s immune system,” she says. See, because our bodies are exposed to pollutants in the environment, they’re in a constant state of low-severity inflammation. Thanks to their unsaturated fat content, flax seeds help the body battle that inflammation, according to Fine.
Jovial Einkorn Rigatoni is our go-to brand. Because it has never been hybridized, Einkorn is one of the purest species of wheat out there, say its proponents. The whole grain is rich in protein and fiber, and just one serving of this pasta dishes up a quarter of the day’s phosphorus (a nutrient that’s typically only found in milk and meat) and 80 percent of the day’s manganese, an essential nutrient that helps the body process cholesterol, carbs and proteins.
Besides serving up a third of the day’s fiber, a one-cup serving of this highly nutritious, naturally sweet veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. The body uses the nutrient to form muscle and blood vessels, and it can even boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.
For a simple—yet sweet—side dish, halve an acorn squash, scoop out the seeds and add a little butter, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup. Bake for about an hour at 400 degrees F. Or try this delicious Avocado and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash.
Beyond the abundance of vitamins and minerals, a cup of peas contains more than a third of your kid's daily fiber intake—more than most whole-wheat breads. In one four-week Spanish study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that includes four weekly servings of legumes aids weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet that doesn’t include them. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. To reap the benefits at home, work lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans into your diet throughout the week.
Add frozen peas to a pasta sauce at the last second, or puree them up with garlic and olive oil as a simple, sweet dip. Or: “A handful of Snapea Crisps provides a whopping five grams of satiety-boosting protein and four grams of fiber for a mere 110 calories,” says Lisa De Fazio, MS, RD, Los Angeles-based Registered Dietitian. “Plus, this snack is non-perishable, so it can be easily eaten just about anywhere.”
As with whole-wheat pasta, with whole-wheat bread, you’re getting all three parts of the grain. But here, you have to be careful, as most breads in the sandwich aisle are filled with high fructose corn syrup or a blend of whole and enriched wheats. It’s worth splurging on the pricier stuff, often found in the freezer section.
We like Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Cinnamon Raisin Bread. The millet, spelt and cholesterol-lowering barley in this slightly-sweet loaf help boost its fiber, a nutrient that wards off hunger while keeping calories low. Toast up a slice and smear it with some natural peanut butter for a quick, nutrient-packed breakfast that both big and little kids alike are sure to love.
All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brainpower like black beans. That's because they're full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily half-cup serving provides eight grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber. It's also low in calories and free of saturated fat. We also like peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans.
Buy a brand that’s salt-free, like Eden Foods, or make them fresh. And here’s a recipe we love for Black Bean and Tomato Salsa: Dice 4 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeños, 1 yellow bell pepper and 1 mango. Mix in a can of black beans and garnish with 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.
Yes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady, muscle-friendly energy. And that fiber is soluble, which lowers the risk of heart disease. The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA's first seal of approval.
Quaker Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar. Although we typically recommend slow-cooking oats, we know that sometimes mornings can be hectic at best. If you find yourself in a time crunch or even just want to keep a healthy snack stashed in your desk drawer, we recommend this low-sugar variety by Quaker. It has a third of the sugar of the original variety, but the same great taste. Promise.
It has a light, mild flavor, making it ideal for guys who hate other whole grains. It gets better: quinoa is higher in protein than any other grain, and packs a hefty dose of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats. "Quinoa is also a great source of fiber and B vitamins," says Christopher Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. a professor of nutrition at the University of Louisville.
Try Quinoa in the morning! It has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs. Boil 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. Let cool. In a large bowl, toss it with 2 diced apples, 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt. This recipe serves four, so stash any leftovers in the fridge for easy breakfasts throughout the week. And if you’re having a hard time doing anything interesting with this tricky grain, try these easy and filling 10 Quinoa Recipes for Weight Loss.
Quinoa, make some space at the table—there’s a new ancient grain on the block. Kamut is a grain native to the Middle East. Rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also high in protein while low in calories. A half-cup serving has 30% more protein than regular wheat (six grams), with only 140 calories. Eating kamut reduces cholesterol, blood sugar and cytokines, which cause inflammation throughout the body, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Toss it into salads or eat it as a side dish on its own.
Buy it and boil it. Or try Eden Foods Kamut and Quinoa Pasta. In addition to serving up a good amount of protein and fiber, the noodles have 20 percent of the day’s magnesium—a nutrient not normally found in pasta. Not getting enough magnesium has been linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease.
There are more "unhealthy" foods that should be welcomed back into your diet. Watch our quick video to find out which ones you can take off the "do not eat" list: