Although carbs have been vilified as the macronutrient group most likely to cause weight gain, they are actually pretty important for your overall health. Your body metabolizes the carbs you eat into glucose, which is essential to fuel your cells, tissues, and organs, especially your brain. Carbs are your body’s most important source of energy, so making sure you get enough of the right kinds is essential for optimal function and all-day energy.
But there is a difference between good and bad carbs; specifically, unrefined and refined carbs. The former are the fibrous whole grains and produce that keep you feeling full and keeps your energy levels stable. The latter are the carbs that cause your blood sugar to spike then crash, leading to dips in energy, unhealthy cravings, and weight gain. The carbs on this list are the sugary, non-fibrous refined carbs you should stay away from.
With tons of added sugar, scary sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, and a lack of fiber and other valuable nutrients, these are the worst carbs you can find at your supermarket. If you’re looking to lose weight, stay away from these carbs, and be sure to avoid our list of the 150 Worst Packaged Foods in America.
International Delight Caramel Macchiato Iced Coffee
Per 1 cup: 150 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 75 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 3 g protein
Bottled iced coffee is always a landmine of added sugars and carbs. This caramel macchiato flavor from International Delight is no exception. With 28 grams of carbs in just one 8-ounce serving — and really, who has just 8 ounces of coffee? — you’re close to going over your daily allotted sugar intake (50 grams) before breakfast. Brew your own coffee, and stick it in the fridge overnight for iced coffee the next day. That way you’ll be able to control just how much sugar is going inside.
Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Per 1 bottle (13.7 fl oz): 260 calories, 4.5 g fat (3 g saturated), 140 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (1 g fiber, 45 g sugars), 9 g protein
For bottled on-the-go coffees, Starbucks’ Mocha Frappuccino is one of the worst possible options. It has almost your entire day’s worth of sugar in one bottle and will spike then crash your blood sugar before the caffeine even kicks in.
Thomas Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
1 bagel: 270 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 400 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugars), 9 g protein
Bagels are already carb-heavy, but the cinnamon raisin flavor from Thomas packs more of a sugar punch with the raisins and added sugar. With a whopping 55 grams of carbs but just 3 grams of fiber, these sugary bagels are going to spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry and sluggish after it crashes.
Smucker's Strawberry Jam
Per 1 Tbsp: 50 calories, 0 fat, 13 g carbs (12 g sugar), 0 protein
This classic jelly has not one, but three separate types of sugar in the ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar. With that much added sweeteners, you’re better off just eating (whole wheat!) toast plain with a little butter and having a cup of fresh strawberries on the side.
Naked Pomegranate Blueberry
Per 1 bottle (15.2 fl oz): 290 calories, 0 fat, 40 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (61 g sugar), 2 g protein
Sure, this juice boasts that there’s “no sugar added,” but there’s still 61 grams of it per bottle, and 68 grams of carbs. That’s more than the FDA-recommended 50 grams for your entire day. This sugar comes mostly from pomegranate and grape juices; fruit juices are a more dangerous type of sugar since your body absorbs liquid sugar faster causing your blood sugar to spike and your pancreas to go into overdrive. It’s no wonder this juice made it on our list of The 18 Worst ‘Healthy’ Juices.
Cheez-It Italian Four Cheese Crackers
Per 25 crackers: 150 calories, 7 g fat (1.5 saturated, 3.5 polyunsaturated, 1.5 monounsaturated), 250 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 0 sugar), 3 g protein
Crackers are already a carb-heavy snack, but there is room for some healthy crackers for weight loss in your eating plan. But with ingredients like inflammatory soybean and palm oil and corn syrup solids, the additives are questionable, and 19 grams of carbs per serving just isn’t worth it.
Otis Spunkmeyer Banana Nut Muffins
1 muffin: 470 calories, 23 g fat (3.5 g fat, 12 g polyunsaturated, 5 g monounsaturated), 390 mg sodium, 60 g carbs (1 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 6 g protein
Muffins are just cupcakes in disguise, especially pre-packaged muffins like this banana nut flavor from Otis Spunkmeyer. Store-bought baked goods pack a scary amount of fattening and inflammatory ingredients such as vegetable oil, mono- and diglycerides, and artificial flavor. Plus with 60 (!!) grams of carbs and 33 grams of sugar per muffin, you’ll start off your day off with a blood sugar spike and then crash leaving you feeling exhausted by noon.
Dannon Fruit on the Bottom Peach
1 container: 130 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 80 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (22 g sugar), 5 g protein
Yogurt with fruit on the bottom is a landmine of added sugars and carbs; in fact, sugar is the second ingredient on this peach flavor from Dannon. Although there are some naturally-occurring sugars in the yogurt in the form of lactose, most of these are added making it a sugar and carb-bomb. Stick to plain unsweetened yogurt (Greek if you can), and add your own fruit.
Pepperidge Farm Original White Sandwich Bread
1 slice: 70 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 polyunsaturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein
In general, we aren’t huge fans of white bread at Eat This, Not That! because all the fiber-rich whole grains have been stripped, leaving just refined carbohydrates that your body processes as sugar. This white bread from Pepperidge Farm clocks in at 20 grams of carbs per slice, which means you’ll down 40 grams with just one sandwich. It topped our list as one of the worst breads on our list 19 Best & Worst Store-Bought Breads. Pick up a loaf of Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread for just 15 grams of carbs a slice and 3 grams of filling fiber.
Mission Garden Spinach and Herb Wrap Tortilla
1 tortilla: 210 calories, 4.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 510 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 6 g protein
You may think you’re being healthier with a wrap instead of bread for a sandwich. But most tortilla wraps have a huge surface area, meaning you’ll down more carbs than expected per serving. Plus the only spinach in these wraps is in the form of less than 2% of “spinach powder” seasoning. In fact, the green in these wraps don’t come from the spinach at all, but from the artificial colors. Gross!
ACT II Movie Theater Butter Popcorn
2 tbsp (34 g) unpopped (4.5 cups popped): 150 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein
At 19 grams of carbs per serving, Act II Movie Theater Butter Popcorn is on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to carbohydrates. Plus that’s for just 4.5 cups popped — an easy amount to bypass when you’re chowing down. Check out our ranking of 30 Microwaveable Buttered Popcorns for some healthier alternatives.
Mahatma White Rice
1/4 cup dry: 150 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, 3 g protein
Like white bread, white rice has been stripped of its valuable nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. It ends up being a starchy, carb-filled addition to your meal with 35 grams of carbs per serving. If you are craving rice, go for brown rice instead and stick to a serving of a half cup cooked.
Rold Gold Tiny Twists Original
Per 1 ounce: 110 calories, 1 g fat, 450 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, < 1 g sugar), 2 g protein
Sure, pretzels were popular during the low-fat craze of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but they’re nothing but empty calories. They’re packed with blood sugar-spiking refined carbs and belly-bloating salt, leaving you feeling puffy and sluggish.
Ocean Spray Greek Yogurt Craisins
2 Tbsp: 140 calories, 6 g fat (5 g saturated), 10 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 21 g sugar), < 1 g protein
Dried fruit is already a worse-for-you option than regular fruit thanks to its lack of fiber and increase in sugar. These “yogurt”-covered dried cranberries are really covered in a combination of sugar, palm kernel oil, Greek yogurt powder, and a few other ingredients. Plus the dried cranberries themselves are coated in sugar, leading to 21 grams of carbs all from sugar.
Welch's Fruit Snacks
15 pieces: 90 calories, 0 g fat, 10 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 1 g protein
Fruit snacks should just be called what they really are: Candy. Made with corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch and a collection of artificial food dyes, these Welch’s gummies are loaded with sugar and carbs. Want a healthy sweet treat? Reach for fresh fruit instead like grapes or blueberries to cut back on refined carbs and get some filling fiber.
Ore-Ida Country Style French Fries
Per 84 g: 130 calories, 4.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (2 g fiber,1 g sugar), 2 g protein
Potatoes are fine on their own filled with fiber, protein, and vitamins. But take off the fibrous skin, cut them up, and deep fry them, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Ore Ida’s frozen fries are cooked in inflammatory vegetable oil, and clock in at 20 grams of carbs per serving.
Digiorno Small-Sized Four-Cheese Traditional
1 pizza (260 g): 710 calories, 29 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 88 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 25 g protein
The nutrition information on this pizza package is deceiving since it only lists for half a pie. But the full pizza will set you back a whopping 710 calories and 88 grams of carbs. There’s a reason it topped our list of the worst frozen pizzas since it’s meant to be eaten as a whole pie.
Herr's Restaurant Style White Corn Tortillas
10 chips: 140 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated, 1 g trans), 50 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber), 2 g protein
Corn tortilla chips are a little bit better of an option than flour, but they’re still loaded with carbs and salt. This white corn variety from Herr’s will cost you 20 grams of carbs for just 10 chips. And who eats chips and salsa and just stops at 10 chips?
Lay's Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips
1 ounce (about 17 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, < 1 g sugar), 2 g protein
Potato chips are like the quintessential junk food. But the greasy crunchy snack as been deep fried and coated in salt, making it one of the worst empty calories for your waistline. For just 17 chips, these Lay’s chips are a full 15 grams of carbs and just 1 gram of fiber.
Academia Barilla Spaghetti
2 ounces: 200 calories, 1 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar), 7 g protein
Pasta is often demonized as a “Not That!” food, but in reality, a small serving of pasta can be part of a healthy diet. The problem is when you choose refined white over more fibrous and nutrient-dense whole wheat pasta. Most white pasta is about the same carb and calorie-wise, clocking in around 40 grams per 2-ounce serving. To cut back on carbs, swap out for spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.
Krusteaz Original Pancake Mix
1/3 c mix, three 4-inch pancakes: 170 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 530 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 2 g protein
Made with white flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and milk, pancakes aren’t exactly nutrient-dense. They’re packed with refined carbohydrates, and topped with sugary syrup, will spike your blood sugar and give you a mid-morning crash. This pancake mix from Krusteaz is one of the worst with 33 grams of carbs and 5 grams of sugar for just three little pancakes.
Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce
2 Tbsp: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 290 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 0 g protein
Barbecue sauce is already a sweet condiment, but Sweet Baby Ray’s is one of the worst options available thanks to its several different kinds of sweeteners: High fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, and pineapple juice concentrate. That clocks in at 16 grams of sugar and 18 grams of carbs for just 2 tablespoons.
Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita
1 can (8 ounces): 220 calories, 0 g fat, 29 g carbs, 0 g protein
Take a light beer that’s already heavy in carbs, add a ton of sugar and sweeteners, and you’ve got a carb-heavy Lime-A-Rita. It’s made with high fructose corn syrup and dextrose syrup, both inflammatory liquid sugars that your body stores as fat. Although the sugar count isn’t officially available, one 8-ounce Lime-A-Rita will set you back 29 carbs.
Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food Frozen Yogurt
Per 1/2 cup: 250 calories, 7 g fat (5 g saturated), 80 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (1 g fiber, 32 g sugars), 4 g protein
People may assume they’re making the healthier option when they pick up frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. But what you lose in fat you make up for in sugar — big time. The Phish Food fro yo from Ben & Jerry’s will set you back a whopping 42 grams of carbs, which is almost twice as many as some of their regular ice cream pints. With all of that coming from added sugar (ingredients include corn syrup, liquid sugar, and corn syrup solids), you’re better off sticking to regular ice cream.
Kellog's Cracklin' Oat Bran
Per 1 cup: 267 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated), 180 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (8 g fiber, 19 g sugars), 5 g protein
The “oats” make this cereal sound healthy, but with 19 grams of sugar and a whopping 45 grams of carbs per cup, it’s anything but. It’s also made with inflammatory palm and soybean oil, giving this cereal unnecessary Omega-6s and saturated fats. Eating sugar cereals is one of our 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline.