Contrary to popular belief, not all carbs are “bad,” even if they’re perceived to be that way. In fact, some of them can help fuel your weight loss efforts. Now, it’s important to note we’re not talking about refined carbs such as white bread, pastries, muffins, cookies, and particular breakfast cereals. But there are certain carbs out there that can be excellent additions to your diet—especially if you want to lose weight. (Some of them might even surprise you!) If your mind is blown right about now, you’re not alone. Get ready to learn all about the best “bad” carbs for weight loss, according to the experts.
Eat This, Not That! spoke with The Nutrition Twins®, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, who sit on our Medical Expert Board, who name several bad carbs that are actually good for weight loss. Keep reading to learn all about them, and when you’re finished, don’t miss out on the 7 High-Fat Foods To Avoid If You Want To Lose Belly Fat.
Next up on this list of the best bad carbs for weight loss are potatoes, which you may be surprised at. “A medium-sized potato is only 110 calories, has no fat, and is satisfying, thanks to its water content and its five grams of fiber, if eaten with the skin,” The Nutrition Twins say. “It gets a bad rap since it’s usually overeaten and heavily fried (French fries and tater tots) or slathered in butter, sour cream, and/ or mashed, skinless whipped with butter, cream, or full-fat milk. However, when left in its natural form, it can satisfy a carb craving as a healthy component of a meal.”
An excellent way to work potatoes into your weight loss regimen is by topping it off with beans, a dollop of Greek yogurt, or a fresh squeeze of lemon with a dash of salt and pepper, and you have yourself a “potassium and vitamin C powerhouse.”
According to The Nutrition Twins, “You get a real weight loss bonus if you eat a baked potato after it’s cooled since it will contain weight-loss friendly resistance starch. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic that nourishes the probiotics in your gut, helping to improve the health of the microbiome. The healthier the microbiome, the easier it is to lose weight.”
Do yourself a favor and add corn-on-the-cob to your shopping list, ASAP. This carb is an excellent choice for weight loss, as it offers plenty of fiber and calls for you to actually slow down and chew it. “Your brain has more time to get the signal that you’ve eaten,” The Nutrition Twins point out. “Plus, the visual cue of the kernel-less cob on your plate helps to keep you aware of how much you’ve eaten, so it’s more difficult to ‘forget’ what you’ve had. Add that an ear of corn is only about 100 calories, with three grams of fiber, which fills you up.”
Research associates a variety of health benefits with eating corn on a regular basis; it decreases your risk of developing chronic health issues such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Just be mindful of how much butter you add to your corn. “That’s what gives corn a bad rap for your weight as it typically adds more than double the calories of the serving of corn (or popcorn),” The Nutrition Twins caution.
No, you did not misread that—bread can actually be good for weight loss! “Not all bread is created equal,” The Nutrition Twins stress. “The whole wheat bread is where it’s at. One slice of whole wheat bread is only 110 to 120 calories and can stop the feeling of carb deprivation in its tracks. This is a big deal since when people feel deprived of carbs, that’s when they end up overdoing it or bingeing on refined carbs or sugar and really doing a lot of damage to their waistline.”
Whole grains offer nutrients and fiber that will fill you up. In addition, research reveals that individuals who consume whole grains are much more likely to achieve and manage a healthy weight than those who don’t consume any whole grains. “Some of our clients enjoy open-faced sandwiches to keep the carbs down while still getting their carb fix,” The Nutrition Twins offer.
You may see bananas as just another fruit that’s packed with sugar, but when it comes to meeting your weight loss goals, opting for underripe bananas is the name of the game. “They’re a good source of satiating fiber and low in calories,” The Nutrition Twins say. “Underripe bananas contain resistant starch which is indigestible and helps to block the absorption of the carbs, which is obviously important when it comes to weight loss. Resistance starch has been found to improve insulin sensitivity which is a big deal because insulin insensitivity is linked to weight gain.”
Next up are beets. Don’t shy away from this carb due to its high sugar content. The Nutrition Twins actually dub beets “sweet little gems [that] are packed with nutrients.” The nutrients in beets aid your body in its detoxification process, help boost your exercise performance, and battle against disease. “A two-inch beet contains just 35 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber, and lots of water to fill you up, helping you to eat less of calorie-packed foods,” The Nutrition Twins add. “Beets also are a good source of nitrates, which lower inflammation by helping to remove damaging compounds from your blood.”
Plus, if you need a little extra “oomph” while exercising to help you go further and harder and torch more fat, the nitrates offered in beets have been linked to boosting physical performance by helping mitochondria produce a greater amount of energy in cells.
You may have heard that carrots won’t do your weight loss efforts any good because they’re packed with sugar. Ditch that mentality right now! “[Carrots] have no added sugar, and in fact, fight the inflammation that sugar causes that makes weight loss harder and that leads to weight gain,” The Nutrition Twins explain. “What’s more, fill up on two medium-sized carrots before a meal, and in only 48 calories, not only will you get four grams of fiber, [but also] anti-inflammatory nutrients like beta carotene, which is critical for healthy eyes and boosts immunity.”
As if carrots couldn’t get any more appealing, they also contain a high water content, which gives you an extra hydration boost and helps you feel full so you’ll consume less at your next meal, potentially saving a ton of extra calories. “A large percentage of our clients do this before meals and tell us that not only do they blunt their cravings, but it also helps to keep them regular, so they feel lighter and more energetic,” The Nutrition twins add. “Plus, raw carrots rank low on the glycemic index (GI), (16 out of 100 for raw ones), a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar after a meal.”