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best carbs for weight loss
The best carbs for weight loss can support optimal health.

Do you try to limit your carb intake because you fear it’ll make you gain weight? If so, you’ll want to hear the results of a recent carb study. This large study suggests it’s not about reducing your quantity of carbs, it’s about choosing the best carbs for weight loss.

A.K.A., focusing on the quality of your carbs may help you weigh less. But with so many different types, how do you know which are healthy carbohydrates for weight loss?

Let’s dig into the study details and what their results mean.

Carb Quality over Quantity

Carbs get a bad rap for several reasons. Certain carbs cause our insulin and blood sugar levels to spike, leading to inflammation and fat production. But the problem is that all carbs are lumped into the same category and shouldn’t be.

This carbohydrate study published in the British Medical Journal examined the associations between carbohydrate intake and weight gain at 4-year intervals. Here is a quick synopsis of the study:

This study involved close to 137,00 men and women aged 65 years or younger who were free of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and gastric conditions. 

More than two decades of data were analyzed from previous large studies such as the Nurses Health Study and Nurses Health Study II. The researchers looked for the intake of different types of carbs, starches, fruits, and veggies. 

They found people who ate more whole grains, fruit, and non-starchy veggies like broccoli, carrots, and spinach weighed less. This same group also ate fewer refined grains, starchy vegetables, and sugary drinks. 

Examples of refined grains include white rice, food made from white flour, pastries, and donuts. Starchy veggies include peas, corn, and potatoes. Sugary drinks include soda, juice, energy drinks, and sweetened coffees.

In addition to supporting weight, eating more whole grains, non-starchy veggies, an

The Verdict: More starchy veggies, refined carbs, and added sugar were associated with weight gain, while high-fiber whole grains, fruit, and non-starchy veggies were inversely associated with weight gain (a.k.a. this group may have actually lost weight).

What Carbs Should You Eat And Which Should You Reduce?

As a Registered Dietitian, these study results are not surprising to me. Unfortunately, since low-carb diets came to fruition, a lot of confusion has arisen about carbs. A lot of this is due to misinformation and influencers who don’t have a nutrition background. 

And yes, many people have lost weight from low-carb diets. But this is because they were eating too many carbs in general, and cutting them out reduced their overall calorie intake.

What is really needed for long-term weight management (and overall health) is to focus on eating the best carbs for weight loss. But in reality, it has been the type of carb all along.

Here are the best carbs for weight loss:

Whole fruits (this includes bananas!) –

  • Citrus fruit
  • Apples
  • Berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • Pineapple
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Mango

And if you’re still skeptical about the sugar content of fruits, here is some more research on the weight loss benefits of eating fruit.

Non-starchy vegetables

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots

Pile these filling, low-calorie, fiber-filled veggies onto your plate.

Whole grains

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Steel-cut oats
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Farro

You can tell if a food is a whole grain by checking the label – “whole wheat” or “whole grain” should be one of the first ingredients. Think of this list as the good carbs for weight loss and the ones to choose from more often.

Here are the carbs to limit:

Carbs made from refined grains

  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Donuts
  • Pastries
  • Cookies
  • Anything with white flour as the first ingredient

Starchy vegetables

  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Squash – acorn and butternut
  • Potatoes – white, purple, sweet potato

Sugar-sweetened beverages

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweetened coffees and lattes
  • Alcohol

Why are some carbs better than others?

healthy carbs for weight loss
Choosing healthy carbs for weight loss to support your goals.

If you’re wondering why certain carbs are considered a healthy carb for weight loss, the answer is largely derived from two food characteristics – glycemic index and glycemic load.

The glycemic index (GI) is a rating system for carbohydrate-containing foods. It measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar after eating and uses a value system of 0 to 100. The higher the GI, the more quickly it will raise blood sugar (which is not desired).

Glycemic load, or GL, considers the GI plus the total carbohydrate amount in that food.

These two factors are often used to determine the health rating of a food. Factors affecting glycemic index and load are the total amount of carbohydrates and a food’s fiber and fat content. A higher fiber and fat content will typically yield a lower GI and GL.

Focus on the Best Carbs for Weight Loss, and You’re Golden

The findings of this study highlight the potential importance of the type of carbs to take in for long-term weight management and overall health.

When incorporating carbs into your diet, focus more on whole grains, fruit, and non-starchy veggies, and limit your intake of refined grains, starchy veggies, and sugary drinks.

Eating more of these types of carbs provides a higher nutritional value and helps keep you full, supporting weight loss.

If you need more help incorporating the best carbs for weight loss into your diet and reducing your intake of refined carbs, contact me to schedule a free introductory call. You don’t have to give up all carbs to lose weight; some can help support weight loss!