The Very Best Carbs For Weight Loss

Yes, a low-carb diet can help you shed weight quickly, but if you’re an active person looking to achieve sustainable weight loss, it’s time to stop demonizing all carbs. We’re here to make complex carbs, the good kind of carbs, feel a little less complicated.

Carbohydrates, along with proteins and fats, are macronutrients. We need to all three in large quantities since they provide energy, aka calories. Carbs can be broken down further into two categories: simple and complex. Both simple and complex carbs turn into glucose (blood sugar) in the body, which our muscles use as fuel. The classification depends on the carbohydrate’s molecular structure, which affects how the carbs are broken down and absorbed by the body. Complex carbohydrates are made of longer molecule chains than their simple counterparts and therefore take longer for the body to break down and absorb.

Simple carbohydrates ¡ª found naturally in foods like fruit, milk products, white bread, and table sugar ¡ª are broken down and absorbed quickly, causing a sharp rise in your blood sugar levels that can leave you feeling tired and hungry soon after eating them. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are fibrous and starchy and are found in foods like legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole grains. Complex carbs release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, offering a steadier source of energy to keep blood sugar levels stable and pesky hunger pangs away.

Luckily, complex carbohydrates leave you more satisfied than their simple counterparts, but when trying to lose weight, portion control of healthy, nutritious foods is just as important as the foods we choose to eat. Many dietitians suggest incorporating appropriate portions of complex carbohydrates into their weight-loss meal plans, since they can help you lose the weight and keep it off.

Recipes

If you’re still loading up on simple carbs and aren’t sure what to opt for in the kitchen, we’ve got you covered. Here are some recipes full of complex carbohydrates we love that you will too:

Apple cinnamon quinoa bake: Protein- and fiber-packed quinoa is the perfect complex carb to kick-start your metabolism. Make this hearty quinoa bake on Sunday night, so you’ll have breakfast for the whole week.Overnight oats with chia seeds and slivered almonds: High in protein and fiber, this whole-grain recipe will keep hunger at bay all morning long. Even better, this recipe supports healthy digestion and can even help you beat belly bloat.Brown rice sushi bowl: This brown rice bowl is topped off with an inventive mix of bright and colorful produce plus tender, sustainable albacore tuna, full of B vitamins, protein, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re on a weight-loss mission, only serve up one-third or a half cup of brown rice rather than a full cup to keep calories in check.Spicy sweet potato salad: Instead of white spuds, opt for this spicy sweet potato salad that’s much higher in fiber than the standard. It comes with a spicy, antioxidant-rich red pepper and jalape?o dressing ties everything together.Red pepper and lentil bake: Looking for a protein-rich complex carb? Bring on the lentils! This red pepper and lentil bake is a winning weight-loss dish you can enjoy after a workout.Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts

The Very Best Carbs For Weight Loss

Yes| a low-carb diet can help you shed weight quickly| but if you’re an active person looking to achieve sustainable weight loss| it’s time to stop demonizing all carbs. We’re here to make complex carbs| the good kind of carbs| feel a little less complicated.

Carbohydrates| along with proteins and fats| are macronutrients. We need to all three in large quantities since they provide energy| aka calories. Carbs can be broken down further into two categories: simple and complex. Both simple and complex carbs turn into glucose (blood sugar) in the body| which our muscles use as fuel. The classification depends on the carbohydrate’s molecular structure| which affects how the carbs are broken down and absorbed by the body. Complex carbohydrates are made of longer molecule chains than their simple counterparts and therefore take longer for the body to break down and absorb.

Simple carbohydrates found naturally in foods like fruit| milk products| white bread| and table sugar are broken down and absorbed quickly| causing a sharp rise in your blood sugar levels that can leave you feeling tired and hungry soon after eating them. On the other hand| complex carbohydrates are fibrous and starchy and are found in foods like legumes| starchy vegetables| and whole grains. Complex carbs release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream| offering a steadier source of energy to keep blood sugar levels stable and pesky hunger pangs away.

Luckily| complex carbohydrates leave you more satisfied than their simple counterparts| but when trying to lose weight| portion control of healthy| nutritious foods is just as important as the foods we choose to eat. Many dietitians suggest incorporating appropriate portions of complex carbohydrates into their weight-loss meal plans| since they can help you lose the weight and keep it off.

Recipes

If you’re still loading up on simple carbs and aren’t sure what to opt for in the kitchen| we’ve got you covered. Here are some recipes full of complex carbohydrates we love that you will too:

Apple cinnamon quinoa bake: Protein- and fiber-packed quinoa is the perfect complex carb to kick-start your metabolism. Make this hearty quinoa bake on Sunday night| so you’ll have breakfast for the whole week.Overnight oats with chia seeds and slivered almonds: High in protein and fiber| this whole-grain recipe will keep hunger at bay all morning long. Even better| this recipe supports healthy digestion and can even help you beat belly bloat.Brown rice sushi bowl: This brown rice bowl is topped off with an inventive mix of bright and colorful produce plus tender| sustainable albacore tuna| full of B vitamins| protein| and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re on a weight-loss mission| only serve up one-third or a half cup of brown rice rather than a full cup to keep calories in check.Spicy sweet potato salad: Instead of white spuds| opt for this spicy sweet potato salad that’s much higher in fiber than the standard. It comes with a spicy| antioxidant-rich red pepper and jalape?o dressing ties everything together.Red pepper and lentil bake: Looking for a protein-rich complex carb? Bring on the lentils! This red pepper and lentil bake is a winning weight-loss dish you can enjoy after a workout.Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts

The Paleo Diet May Have It All Wrong About Carbs, Study Says

Although some people have successfully lost weight following the eating regimen of our ancestors, it’s no secret that the Paleo diet is not the most popular diet plan out there. Read on to find out more about a new theory involving the Paleo diet in this post originally featured on The Cut.

The Paleo diet philosophy is that we should eat like our ancestors did, focusing on meat, vegetables, and fruit while limiting grains, legumes, and dairy. The theory (one that Paleo followers are more than ready to tell you about) is that these foods are what helped humans evolve ¡ª even though our Paleolithic ancestors were hunting and gathering for real, not at Whole Foods. Bad news for the high-protein/low-carb set: It looks like there has been starchy goodness in the mix all along.

According to a new study published in the journal Quarterly Review of Biology, not only were carbs readily available, they’re a better explanation than the Paleo diet theory for the dramatic increase in brain size that happened over the last 800,000 years. Dr. Karen Hardy’s research team says that the acceleration may actually be due to carbs, not to their absence, stating in a press release: “Up until now, there has been a heavy focus on the role of animal protein and cooking in the development of the human brain over the last 2 million years, and the importance of carbohydrates, particular in form of starch-rich plant foods, has been largely overlooked.”

Hardy’s team posits that not only did our ancestors have access to plant-based carbs (in the form of tubers, roots, seeds, and some fruits) but the high-glucose demands of our growing brains wouldn’t have been met from meat and veggies alone. Around that same time, cooking became more widespread (cooked starches are much better tolerated than raw ones) and we also got more copies of a handy salivary gene to help us digest the stuff, so there is all the more reason to believe that this food group is connected to that long-ago growth spurt. Have some science with your baked potato.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock

The Paleo Diet May Have It All Wrong About Carbs, Study Says

Although some people have successfully lost weight following the eating regimen of our ancestors| it’s no secret that the Paleo diet is not the most popular diet plan out there. Read on to find out more about a new theory involving the Paleo diet in this post originally featured on The Cut.

The Paleo diet philosophy is that we should eat like our ancestors did| focusing on meat| vegetables| and fruit while limiting grains| legumes| and dairy. The theory (one that Paleo followers are more than ready to tell you about) is that these foods are what helped humans evolve ¡ª even though our Paleolithic ancestors were hunting and gathering for real| not at Whole Foods. Bad news for the high-protein/low-carb set: It looks like there has been starchy goodness in the mix all along.

According to a new study published in the journal Quarterly Review of Biology| not only were carbs readily available| they’re a better explanation than the Paleo diet theory for the dramatic increase in brain size that happened over the last 800|000 years. Dr. Karen Hardy’s research team says that the acceleration may actually be due to carbs| not to their absence| stating in a press release: “Up until now| there has been a heavy focus on the role of animal protein and cooking in the development of the human brain over the last 2 million years| and the importance of carbohydrates| particular in form of starch-rich plant foods| has been largely overlooked.”

Hardy’s team posits that not only did our ancestors have access to plant-based carbs (in the form of tubers| roots| seeds| and some fruits) but the high-glucose demands of our growing brains wouldn’t have been met from meat and veggies alone. Around that same time| cooking became more widespread (cooked starches are much better tolerated than raw ones) and we also got more copies of a handy salivary gene to help us digest the stuff| so there is all the more reason to believe that this food group is connected to that long-ago growth spurt. Have some science with your baked potato.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock

Beat Your Carb Craving With These Easy Tricks

The following post was written by Julie Upton, MS, RD, cofounder of Appetite for Health, who knows that it isn’t always easy to avoid those enticing carbs. Thankfully, she’s provided us with 12 suggestions for smarter ways to give in to those cravings.

Have you been passing on potatoes, skipping spaghetti, and banning bread in an effort to get those fab abs you’ve always dreamed of? Well, here’s some tasty news: these favorite foods aren’t the diet disasters you may have believed they were.

Sure, you’ll lose weight on a diet that cuts carbs, but that’s because you’re cutting calories. Any plan that scales back on calories, whether it’s Atkins, Mediterranean, or Paleo, will help you peel off pounds. But the real key here ¡ª what will help improve your chances for long-term success, according to studies ¡ª is whether you can stick with it. For most carb-loving women, a diet that permits potatoes, pasta, and bread is an eating style that can last a lifetime.

How can you have your carbs and eat them, too? Try these tricks.

Potatoes

Nutrition Numbers: A medium potato (5.3 ounces) has just 110 calories, so it won’t make a dent in your daily calorie budget. (Plus, it is an excellent source of both vitamin C and potassium, is rich in B-vitamins, and chips in two grams of fiber.)

Slimming StrategiesPotatoes are thought of as a diet don’t because of how we eat them ¡ª as high-calorie French fries, potato chips, and mashed with butter and gravy. To make a skinnier spud:

Enjoy it baked, broiled, roasted, or grilled. You may be surprised to discover you can satisfy your fry cravings with a healthier roasted version.Skip high-calorie toppings, like butter, sour cream, and bacon, and opt for healthier ones, like steamed broccoli or kale, chili, beans and salsa, plain Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.Opt for red potatoes and fingerlings; they have a lower glycemic index (glycemic index is a measure of how much and how quickly blood sugar rises after eating a specific amount of a carb-rich food) than Russet (baking) potatoes. Lower GI foods are recommended as they don’t cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar that can trigger hunger and cravings.Heat then cool your potato. For instance, make a Mediterranean-style potato salad with small colorful potatoes that have been boiled then cooled. This lowers the GI by raising the amount of “resistant starch” in the potatoes. For an extra boost, use extra virgin olive oil in place of mayo; the unsaturated fats and other bioactive compounds in EVOO help keep you satisfied longer.Pasta

Nutrition Numbers: Pasta is higher in protein than other carbs because it’s made from durum wheat, a variety of wheat that packs in more of the satiating nutrient. There are six grams of protein per two ounces of dry pasta or about one cup cooked and 210 calories. Due to its protein content, pasta also has a lower glycemic index than other carbs, so it doesn’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels that can spike appetite. For example, most pasta varieties cooked al dente will have a GI value in the 40s to 50s compared to a GI of 99 for English muffins.

Slimming StrategiesItalians know that pasta isn’t fattening ¡ª they eat a lot more of it and are much less likely to be overweight or obese. According to the International Pasta Organization, Italians eat 57 pounds of pasta per person per year compared to 19 pounds per person in the United States, but only about 10 percent of Italian women are obese versus 36 percent of American women. Pasta is wrongly targeted as a diet disaster due to the company it keeps ¡ª buttery, meaty, and cheesy sauces ¡ª as well as the ginormous portions we eat. To slim down your spaghetti:

Strive for a 50-50 pasta-to-produce ratio. Great produce picks include tomatoes, roasted veggies, and dark leafy greens.Try whole-wheat varieties that are made with a combination of durum wheat and other grains to get an extra dose of fiber and protein. (Just be sure to watch cooking times closely, as overcooking whole-wheat can make noodles gummy.)Stick to no more than two cups of cooked pasta at a meal to keep calories in check. (Two ounces of dried pasta equals 1-1? cups cooked.)

References:World Obesity RankingsBMI Statistics

Bread

Nutrition Numbers: An ounce of bread (a slice or small roll) has about 80 to 100 calories. Whole-wheat or seeded varieties have more protein, fiber, and fat to keep you fuller longer but also contain more calories.

Slimming StrategiesBread may be one of the most highly craved carbs, but there’s no reason to banish it from your diet. Simply figure out healthier ways to enjoy it:

Combine it with other foods, especially those with protein and fiber, to slow down the digestion of carbs. For instance, when you eat out, make sure to ask for the breadbasket with your meal ¡ª not beforehand.Choose whole-grain breads where you can actually see the grains or seeds and that feel dense (not squishy) when you give them a gentle squeeze. According to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, the best whole-grain options will have a carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio of lower than 10:1.Spread your bread with wholesome toppings, like avocado, olive oil, nut butters, hummus, or tapenade.Look for whole-grain breads that have at least two grams of fiber and three to four grams of protein per serving.Opt for “light” store-bought breads, which are sliced thinner so they have about 50-60 calories per serving. Just be sure it’s a whole-grain variety.Image Source: Shutterstock

Beat Your Carb Craving With These Easy Tricks

The following post was written by Julie Upton| MS| RD| cofounder of Appetite for Health| who knows that it isn’t always easy to avoid those enticing carbs. Thankfully| she’s provided us with 12 suggestions for smarter ways to give in to those cravings.

Have you been passing on potatoes| skipping spaghetti| and banning bread in an effort to get those fab abs you’ve always dreamed of? Well| here’s some tasty news: these favorite foods aren’t the diet disasters you may have believed they were.

Sure| you’ll lose weight on a diet that cuts carbs| but that’s because you’re cutting calories. Any plan that scales back on calories| whether it’s Atkins| Mediterranean| or Paleo| will help you peel off pounds. But the real key here what will help improve your chances for long-term success| according to studies is whether you can stick with it. For most carb-loving women| a diet that permits potatoes| pasta| and bread is an eating style that can last a lifetime.

How can you have your carbs and eat them| too? Try these tricks.

Potatoes

Nutrition Numbers: A medium potato (5.3 ounces) has just 110 calories| so it won’t make a dent in your daily calorie budget. (Plus| it is an excellent source of both vitamin C and potassium| is rich in B-vitamins| and chips in two grams of fiber.)

Slimming StrategiesPotatoes are thought of as a diet don’t because of how we eat them as high-calorie French fries| potato chips| and mashed with butter and gravy. To make a skinnier spud:

Enjoy it baked| broiled| roasted| or grilled. You may be surprised to discover you can satisfy your fry cravings with a healthier roasted version.Skip high-calorie toppings| like butter| sour cream| and bacon| and opt for healthier ones| like steamed broccoli or kale| chili| beans and salsa| plain Greek yogurt| or cottage cheese.Opt for red potatoes and fingerlings; they have a lower glycemic index (glycemic index is a measure of how much and how quickly blood sugar rises after eating a specific amount of a carb-rich food) than Russet (baking) potatoes. Lower GI foods are recommended as they don’t cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar that can trigger hunger and cravings.Heat then cool your potato. For instance| make a Mediterranean-style potato salad with small colorful potatoes that have been boiled then cooled. This lowers the GI by raising the amount of “resistant starch” in the potatoes. For an extra boost| use extra virgin olive oil in place of mayo; the unsaturated fats and other bioactive compounds in EVOO help keep you satisfied longer.Pasta

Nutrition Numbers: Pasta is higher in protein than other carbs because it’s made from durum wheat| a variety of wheat that packs in more of the satiating nutrient. There are six grams of protein per two ounces of dry pasta or about one cup cooked and 210 calories. Due to its protein content| pasta also has a lower glycemic index than other carbs| so it doesn’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels that can spike appetite. For example| most pasta varieties cooked al dente will have a GI value in the 40s to 50s compared to a GI of 99 for English muffins.

Slimming StrategiesItalians know that pasta isn’t fattening they eat a lot more of it and are much less likely to be overweight or obese. According to the International Pasta Organization| Italians eat 57 pounds of pasta per person per year compared to 19 pounds per person in the United States| but only about 10 percent of Italian women are obese versus 36 percent of American women. Pasta is wrongly targeted as a diet disaster due to the company it keeps buttery| meaty| and cheesy sauces as well as the ginormous portions we eat. To slim down your spaghetti:

Strive for a 50-50 pasta-to-produce ratio. Great produce picks include tomatoes| roasted veggies| and dark leafy greens.Try whole-wheat varieties that are made with a combination of durum wheat and other grains to get an extra dose of fiber and protein. (Just be sure to watch cooking times closely| as overcooking whole-wheat can make noodles gummy.)Stick to no more than two cups of cooked pasta at a meal to keep calories in check. (Two ounces of dried pasta equals 1-1? cups cooked.)

References:World Obesity RankingsBMI Statistics

Bread

Nutrition Numbers: An ounce of bread (a slice or small roll) has about 80 to 100 calories. Whole-wheat or seeded varieties have more protein| fiber| and fat to keep you fuller longer but also contain more calories.

Slimming StrategiesBread may be one of the most highly craved carbs| but there’s no reason to banish it from your diet. Simply figure out healthier ways to enjoy it:

Combine it with other foods| especially those with protein and fiber| to slow down the digestion of carbs. For instance| when you eat out| make sure to ask for the breadbasket with your meal ¡ª not beforehand.Choose whole-grain breads where you can actually see the grains or seeds and that feel dense (not squishy) when you give them a gentle squeeze. According to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health| the best whole-grain options will have a carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio of lower than 10:1.Spread your bread with wholesome toppings| like avocado| olive oil| nut butters| hummus| or tapenade.Look for whole-grain breads that have at least two grams of fiber and three to four grams of protein per serving.Opt for “light” store-bought breads| which are sliced thinner so they have about 50-60 calories per serving. Just be sure it’s a whole-grain variety.Image Source: Shutterstock

A Simple Carb-Cutting Trick For Weight Loss

A Simple Carb-Cutting Trick For Weight Loss

If you’re a carb queen| you don’t discriminate. You’ll gladly bite into a warm and chewy roll or a forkful of pasta| grab a handful of pretzels| or devour a just-out-of-the-oven blueberry muffin. While I’m all for enjoying carbs| loading up on bread products isn’t the best tactic if you’re trying to drop pounds. See how many calories you’ll save by making these easy bread swaps with fruit and veggies.

| Breakfast Swap

Swap an apple for bread:

One medium apple: 93 calories

Two slices whole-wheat bread: 200 calories

Calories saved: 107

Photo: Jenny Sugar

| Lunch Swap

For your sandwich| use spinach or swiss chard leaves instead of a wrap:

Six spinach leaves (slightly steamed so they stick together): POPSUGAR Social user prepel

| Snack Swap

Forget crunching down on a bag of potato chips| and bake these using spinach instead:

A one-ounce serving of potato chips is 160 calories.

A serving of spinach chips is 75.

Calories saved: 85

Photo: Jenny Sugar

| Snack Swap

Skip the crackers and use cucumber slices instead:

One-fourth of a cucumber (about six slices): 11 calories

Six Triscuits: 120 calories

Calories saved: 109

| Dinner Swap

In your favorite lasagna recipe| use tender spaghetti squash instead of whole-wheat pasta:

One serving of gluten-free cheesy veggie “”pasta”” bake: 208 calories
One serving of vegetable lasagna: 314 calories

Calories saved: 106

Photo: Jenny Sugar

| Dinner Swap

Swap a side of sautu00e9ed spinach for a side of mashed potatoes:

1 cup sautu00e9ed spinach: 237 calories

Calories saved: 196

| Dinner Swap

Skip the fettuccine noodles for carrots:

One two-ounce serving of pasta is 200 calories.

One two-ounce serving of carrots is 23 calories.

Calories saved: 177

Photo: Jenny Sugar

| Dessert Swap

Instead of cookies| go for fruit and chocolate:

Two chocolate-covered strawberries: 178 calories

Calories saved: 89