Healthy Carbs To Eat to Aid with Weight Loss
By Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN
It’s a common misconception that carbohydrates are the enemy when it comes to weight loss, but this is simply not true. Carbohydrates are a crucial piece of the nutrition puzzle and are required to provide our bodies with vital nutrients and energy. They’re also critical for a healthy metabolism, and including the right kinds of carbs in your daily eating pattern may also aid with long-term weight management.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in food along with protein and fat. Carbohydrates are your body and brain’s #1 preferred energy source and are needed every single day for proper physical function. Carbohydrates are found primarily in fruits, grains, vegetables, dairy and foods containing sugar (both natural and added sugar).
Healthy Carbohydrates: What Should You Look For?
There are three main groups of carbs: simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber:
- Complex carbohydrates take your body more time to digest and break down into energy, as they contain long chain sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates can help you feel satisfied and fuller for longer.
- Simple carbohydrates are sugars. You’ll find these in both naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables but also in more refined products like cakes and cookies that contain “added sugar.” Simple carbs are used by the body more quickly, which may lead to a quick rise and fall in blood sugar. This can leave you feeling hungry faster and may leave you with a craving for more sugar or carbs soon after you eat.
- Dietary fiber carbs, like complex carbohydrates, are also long chain sugar molecules. However, dietary fiber molecules are indigestible, meaning that your body cannot break them down to use for energy. Instead, dietary fiber helps to keep your digestive system moving and helps keep you full. Fiber is often found in foods that contain complex carbohydrates.
5 of the Best Healthy Carbs for Weight Loss
We put together this mix of complex carbohydrates that our Kroger Health Dietitian team loves, which are high in dietary fiber and low in simple sugars. They can help you stay full and energized, and aid your weight loss goals.
- Oatmeal is a great source of complex carbohydrates that’s packed with fiber for sustained fullness and energy. Pro tip: top your oats with nuts or peanut butter for a punch of protein that keeps hunger and cravings at bay.
- Whole wheat pasta is delicious, packed with fiber and oh-so versatile. And yes, you can eat pasta and be healthy! Regular pasta is made up of simple carbohydrates, however, whole wheat pasta contains the entire grain, which increases its nutrient composition significantly.
- Black beans are a simple, nutritious bean that are a great source of both protein and fiber. Adding black beans to your meals helps to ensure that your blood sugar doesn’t spike right after a meal, and it creates a sustained feeling of fullness and energy. In addition to that, the Free Radical Research study showed consuming four weekly servings of beans or legumes may aid with weight loss.
- Quinoa is a high-protein grain that provides healthy, unsaturated fats. Quinoa also contains a solid dose of fiber and can be used as a base grain for both sweet and savory dishes. Try pairing cooked quinoa with cinnamon, almonds and berries in the morning for an incredibly nourishing and filling breakfast.
- Sweet potatoes are loaded with healthy carbohydrates and fiber, and are digested slowly. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of carotenoids, which are antioxidants aiding in stabilizing blood sugar levels and lowering insulin resistance. Carotenoids may also assist with preventing fat storage.
Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down, which means you’ll spend more energy to burn them than simple sugars. Complex, healthy carbohydrates also aid with keeping you full and satisfied throughout the day, which helps with keeping cravings and energy crashes at bay.
Explore more healthy living advice from our team of experts
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.