These Are the Best Carbs for Weight Loss (and Which Ones You Should Avoid)

Weight loss is hard for everyone who attempts it. It requires changing everything that’s familiar and comfortable about your routine. And if you do it right — and want to make it last — it takes a long time for these changes to take effect.

That’s why so many people quit two weeks into a new diet. You can’t snap your fingers and instantly reach your goal weight. And you can’t shed pounds by eating the same foods you’ve always eaten. At least, not in the same quantities you’ve always stuck with.

It’s easier for most people to choose one aspect of their diet and focus on changing that. Carbs are a common go-to because the majority of dieters still think they’re evil. In reality, carbs can actually help you slim down. If you eat the right kinds.

Want to lose weight without going hungry? These are the best and worst carbs you can eat.

Carbs that cause weight gain

Rice cake

Rice cake | iStock.com/Nicodape

To put things simply, there are two kinds of carbs — those that are mostly good for you, and those that aren’t. Many people rush into low-carb diets thinking all carbs are the enemy, but that’s just not the case.

Most of the carbs you should avoid to lose weight are highly processed snacks, sweets, and foods that pretend to be healthy but aren’t. Some of these include:

  • Sweetened foods and drinks such as flavored yogurt, orange juice, packaged applesauce
  • “Diet” foods like low-fat rice cakes or gluten-free pretzels/chips
  • Refined grains including white rice, white pasta, white bread, and most breakfast cereals
  • Granola or granola bars especially those containing chocolate and other candy pieces
  • Chips — even “veggie chips” that are made with vegetables but not actually healthy
  • Baked goods such as muffins and scones (they’re not as healthy as you want to believe they are).

You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet completely — even if you want to lose weight. The best diets are the ones that allow you to eat a little bit of everything in smaller amounts than you might be used to. Eat fewer snack foods and more foods loaded with fiber and other nutrients.

The best carbs for weight loss

The best carbs for weight loss are the ones free of added sugars and as close to “natural” as you can get. If you want to lose weight, you should try eating these foods more frequently:

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and air-popped popcorn
  • Low-carb vegetables like leafy greens, squash, sweet potatoes, and broccoli
  • Plant-based proteins including beans, chickpeas, and quinoa
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, cherries, and blueberries
  • Dairy products like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

Not all of these foods are considered “low-carb” by typical diet standards. But not everyone needs to count carbs to avoid weight gain. Often, the trick is eating the best sources of carbs instead of the worst — and not filling up your plate too much.

Should you cut carbs to lose weight?

Oatmeal

Oatmeals | iStock.com/Arx0nt

Do low-carb diets work? Research says they can absolutely promote weight loss for some people. But they won’t work for everyone.

The problem with these diets is that people often focus too much on how many carbs they’re eating and not enough on the quality — and quantity — of the foods they’re putting into their body.

Experts believe what causes weight gain more than other factors is the amount of food you’re eating in general. You probably won’t gain massive amounts of weight if you eat the occasional cookie or bowl of ice cream.

But adding on way too many extra calories from carbs day after day will make weight loss extremely difficult — even if they’re “good” carbs. Yes, it’s possible to eat too many vegetables, grains, and animal products despite their health benefits. Too much of a good thing is still a terrible idea.

Sticking to your recommended calorie intake — based on your activity level and how much weight you hope to lose — won’t solve all your problems. But it’s a lot easier to decrease how many calories you eat when the foods that go into your body are low in calories but extremely filling, such as vegetables.

Whether you go low-carb or not, focus on incorporating the best carbs possible into your meals and snacks. It’s not an easy transition to make. But if you stick with it, results will almost always follow.

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