Best and Worst Carbs for Weight Loss (And Why!)

Carb your body the right way to lose weight.

strawberry, almond butter, and oatmeal breakfast parfait

Good carbs. Bad carbs. It can be challenging to make the best food choices for losing inches or maintaining a healthy weight. Learn the best and worst carbs for weight loss (and why)!

It’s common for all carbohydrates to get lumped into the “bad” diet food category. While some carbs lead to weight gain, others actually support healthy weight loss. Our bodies convert good carbohydrates into energy that fuels cells throughout the body, including those in the organs and muscles. Some carbohydrates occur naturally in foods like seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, and more. Others are added by food manufacturers to boost palatability in processed foods. So here’s the lowdown on which carbs help—and which ones hurt.

Best Carbs for Weight Loss

Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole grain foods won’t weigh down your system with ingredients that have been stripped of their nutrition (like those in white flour products). Pasta is a menu planning mainstay for many families, so switching to whole grain options can have a big impact on your waistline. Add Easy Pasta Salad with Cucumbers & Tomatoes or Tex Mex Meaty Mac n Cheese Casserole to your menu this week.

This budget-friendly good carbohydrate contains fiber and protein, which help you lose weight by satisfying the appetite and fueling calorie-burning lean muscle tissue. Try them in Crockpot Rosemary & Garlic Cannellini Beans or Quinoa with Black Beans.

When you need carbs for weight loss, quinoa is a waist-slimming choice. It delivers a complete source of protein without the saturated fats found in animal protein sources. You can incorporate versatile quinoa into your diet plan any time of day. Quinoa Stuffed Squash and Quinoa Veggie Sliders are delish additions to any menu.

A breakfast standby, oatmeal offers soluble fiber, which moves slowly through the digestive system so you feel full longer. This type of fiber may also help reduce the belly fat that’s been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Dig into healthy carb recipes like Slow Cooker Nutty Blueberry Banana Oatmeal and Strawberry, Almond Butter, and Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait.

Air-Popped Popcorn
This makes the carbs for weight loss list because it’s a much healthier whole grain alternative to typical processed snack foods. Popcorn satisfies the appetite with low-calorie tastiness. Check out these Healthy Popcorn Recipes.

Best and Worst Carbs for Weight Loss And Why

Worst Carbs for Weight Loss

White Bread
The fluffy bread of our childhood is a prime culprit when it comes to obesity. The manufacturing process strips the grains of much of their nutrition, including fiber. The result is empty calories that do nothing but sit on your waist, hips, and thighs.

White Pasta
From lasagna to spaghetti, pasta is a go-to food in the diet of many Americans. However, the white variety is made with refined white flour, and, like white bread, it offers calories with virtually no nutrition.

Fruit Drinks & Smoothies (Processed or Store-Bought)
Those smoothies that look so healthy on the café menu are likely loaded with sugar, making them some of the worst carbs for weight loss. A smoothie at one popular smoothie chain contains as many as 112 grams of carbs per serving. Yikes!

Baked Goods
The typical baked good is made with refined flour, sugar, and butter. What’s more, if you’re buying baked goods at a coffee shop or breakfast joint, chances are good they come in ginormous portion sizes loaded with thigh-thickening carbohydrates.

Yogurt with Fruit on the Bottom
This food makes the worst carbs for weight loss list because it’s deceptively healthy, leading many women to load fridge shelves with single-serve containers. While this type of yogurt contains lactose, a naturally occurring carb, it contains additional carbs from the sugary fruit mix.

Get back to basics with our Skinny Ms. 3-Step Weight Loss Program. It offers no-nonsense guidance on clean eating and fitness so you can reach and maintain your ideal weight.

Want to discover more delicious, convenient clean-eating recipes? Check out our Pinterest boards Weight Watchers Meals and Foods and Healthy Snacks for Adults.

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Amy Wagner

Amy is a writer specializing in health & wellness, business, and entrepreneurship. She's a long-time martial arts teacher who has earned a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. When Amy's not writing or kicking, she's wrangling sons, reading fiction, or crushing on BBC actors.

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