For many people on a diet, carbs are public enemy No. 1. While we love bread, pasta and sweets, many of us have come to believe the hype that eating carbs will make us fat. The fact is, your body requires carbs for energy, and depriving yourself of them can lead to accidental face dives into diet-killing snack foods, which certainly won’t help you shed the pounds.
You can lose weight on a diet containing carbs — if you eat the right ones. Consuming at least six grams of fiber per 200 calories with nutrient-dense carbs will keep you feeling full longer, and keep you fueled and burning fat throughout the day.
Add these 15 delicious foods to your daily menu to help you nudge the pudge, flatten your tummy and keep you fueled all day.
1/2 cup cooked pearl barley: 193 calories, 44g carbs, 6g fiber, 3.5g protein
Barley isn’t just good for your health – it’s also a great appetite suppressant that can help you stick to your diet goals. According to Swedish research, barley can stabilize blood sugar levels, alleviating sugar spikes and crashes. Additionally, the delicious grain acts as a bulking agent, making you feel more full and regulating bowel movements.
2. Whole-Wheat Pasta
1 cup cooked: 174 calories, 37.2g carbs, 3.9g fiber, protein 7.5g
Healthy and filling, a recent British study indicated that consuming three servings of whole grains daily was associated with less abdominal fat and a lower BMI, which supports other research linking a diet higher in whole grains with smaller midriffs.
½ medium avocado: 160 calories, 8.5g carbs, 7.5g fiber, 2.0g protein
This Mexico native is creamy, rich and decadent, but packed with healthy fat. While satiating your cravings for indulgent, fatty foods, their monounsaturated fat quiets hunger pangs and helps reduce the risk of heart disease. A recent Nutrition Journal study reported that participants who supplemented their lunch with a half a fresh avocado experienced a 40 percent reduction in their desire to eat for hours afterwards.
4. Green Peas
1 cup cooked: 125 calories, 22.8g carbs, 8.8g fiber, 8.2g protein
In addition to having an abundance of vitamins and minerals, a one-cup serving of peas provides more than a third of your required daily fiber intake and 24 percent of your zinc requirements. And, you’re better off eating peas than not – researchers conducting a four-week Spanish study found that eating four weekly servings of legumes during a calorie-restricted diet aided weight loss more effectively than the same diet without them.
5. Whole-Wheat Bread
2 slices: 160 calories, 30g carbs, 8g fiber, 7.2g protein
While you don’t have to avoid toast, sandwiches, or stuffing to whittle down your waist, you do need to read labels carefully. Buy packages that clearly state “100 percent whole wheat” on the label, and avoid high fructose corn syrup and added sugars.
6. Black Beans
1/2 cup cooked: 109 calories, 20g carbs, 8g fiber, 19g fiber
Black beans are low-calorie, high-protein and free of saturated fat. According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who consume beans have a 22 percent lower risk of being obese and a 23 percent lower risk of increasing their waistline.
1 cup dry: 166 calories, 28.1g carbs, 4g fiber, 5.9 g protein
While oats may be loaded with carbs, their fiber content slows the release of those sugars. Oats contain soluble fiber, which, according to study published in the Obesity journal, may help reduce deep belly visceral fat surrounding vital organs. Additionally, oat intake ups the satiety factor and delays stomach emptying.
1/2 cup cooked: 111 calories, 20g carbs, 2.5g fiber, 4.1g protein
With a light, mild flavor, quinoa is a favorite for those who aren’t a fan of other grains. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, and is a rich source of fiber and B vitamins. A complete protein, the nutty-flavored grain boasts all nine essential amino acids, which your body uses to create lean, calorie-burning muscle, without the unhealthy heart-risks posed by saturated fats in animal protein.
1 cup, cooked: 227 calories, 47.5 g carbs, 7.4g fiber, 9.8g protein
A grain native to the Middle East, kamut is low in calories, high in protein, and rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Kamut can help you keep on your diet track by reducing blood sugar levels, as well as lowering cholesterol and cytokines, which cause systemic body inflammation, according to a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
1 cup: 62 calories, 15.6g carbs, 1.6g fiber, 1.5g protein
While it may be low-carb and low-cal, a cup of this naturally sweet, melon will satisfy your sweet tooth while providing more than a hundred percent of your daily vitamin A needs. Noshing on fresh, healthy cantaloupe instead of sugary, fat-filled treats will help you stick to your diet plan.
11. Air-Popped Popcorn
3 cups air-popped popcorn: 93 calories, 19g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 3g protein
Forget the chips when you’re craving a salty snack – a study published in Nutrition Journal shows that popcorn not only reduces feelings of hunger, but it provides more short-term satiety for those watching their calories and looking to manage their weight.
12. Sweet Potatoes
1 cup raw: 114 calories, 26.8g carbs, 4g fiber, 2.1g protein
Full of water and fiber, these guys fill you up without filling you out. Their creamy and delicious taste satisfies comfort food cravings with less calories than their cheesy competitors do. To avoid negating their slimming power, don’t load them with fatty toppings like bacon or butter; serve them with salsa instead.
13. Brown Rice
1 cup long grain cooked: 216 calories, 44.8g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 5g protein
Like sweet potatoes, brown rice contains a lot of fill-you-up water and fiber – much more than their whiter cousins. Cooked al dente, so that it’s still slightly chewy, will keep rice from raising your blood sugar levels, eliminating sugar crashes that send you looking for a sugar-packed pick-me-up later.
14. Bulgur Wheat
1 cup cooked: 151 calories, 33.8g carbs, 8.2g fiber, 5.6g protein
Cracked wheat, also called bulgur wheat, is a Middle Eastern favorite, and the key ingredient in tabbouleh. It can be substituted for any grain or pasta in dishes, topped with vegetables and low-cal sauces, and can even replace ground beef in many recipes. Its high-fiber and protein content will keep you feeling full longer and help you resist the urge to snack.
15. Acorn Squash
1 cup cubed and steamed: 83 calories, 21.5g carbs, 6.4g fiber, 1.6g protein
On top of providing up a third of your daily requirement for fiber, one cup of this earthy, slightly sweet veggie packs in 30 percent of your daily vitamin C, a nutrient used by the body to form muscle and blood vessels. According to Arizona State University, the nutritionally dense vegetable can even increase the fat-burning effects of exercise.