The Official Carb Lover’s Guide to Weight Loss

The Official Carb Lover’s Guide to Weight Loss

What if I told you that you didn’t have to choose between carbs and a trimmer waistline? Would you declare a national holiday in my honor? Would you wire me a million dollars? Well, go ahead and get the paperwork going, because that’s exactly what I’m declaring. Yes, Oprah was right; carbs are not the enemy! Bagels, waffles, and bread are basically just the Pitbulls of the food world. They have a rap for being dangerous, but not all of them will do you harm if you bring them into your home.

To help you eat all your favorite carbs—while working to shed that pesky belly fat, we’ve gathered 15 of our favorite slimming swaps for carboholics. Scroll down, find your favorite treats, and discover our Eat This! options for each. And for even more winning ways to eat carbs, check out these 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss!



To be weight loss-friendly, a bagel must be paired with a two-hour workout. That’s because a bagel could easily pack up to 300 calories and a whopping 50 grams of carbs—and that’s before you’ve treated it with butter or cream cheese! To sate your appetite for the popular a.m. indulgence, reach for Bantam Bagels, donut hole-sized bagels filled with cream cheese. (If the company name sounds familiar, that’s because they were on season six of Shark Tank. They struck a deal with “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner.) They can be found in Starbucks locations across the country or in the Bantam Bagel shop in New York City. They can also be ordered online through the company’s website. All the different varieties clock in around the 100-calorie mark, so your gut is safe if you cut yourself off after two. Our flavor favorites are French Toast (a cinnamon nutmeg egg bagel with maple syrup cream cheese) and Everybody’s Favorite (an everything bagel stuffed with veggie cream cheese). For more healthy coffee shop staples to add to your weekly lineup, check out these 20 Easy Ways to Stay Slim at Any Coffee Shop.

Eat This!
Two Bantam Bagels and a piece of fruit

Not That!
An everything bagel with cream cheese



Many of us grew up eating white bread, so we understand that it may hold a special place in your heart. Sadly, it’s anything but healthy. The reason: It’s made with starchy enriched flour instead of heart-healthy, satiating whole grains that help keep blood sugar stable. What’s worse, refined white-flour foods have been linked to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, food makers who understand that health and nostalgia should be able to co-exist have created better for you “white” bread options that carry nutritional resumes closer to that of a whole grain loaf. A slice of Dave’s Killer Bread White Bread Done Right, for example, packs 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per slice. Sara Lee Classic White bread, on the other hand, has 2 grams of protein and zero fiber. (Boo!) And speaking of fiber, if you’re looking for more ways up your daily intake, check out these 30 High Fiber Foods That Should Be In Your Diet.

Eat This!
Dave’s Killer Bread White Bread Done Right

Not That!
Sara Lee Classic White Bread



Okay, pasta lovers, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: white pasta is on the “Not That!” list. That’s because it’s made from white flour (hence, the name) which does nothing but drain your energy and make losing weight an uphill battle. The good news is that chickpea pasta—and other pulse pasta vararites—have finally gone mainstream. Made with chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein and xanthan gum, fiber- and protein-rich Banza Chickpea Pasta genuinely tastes like the real deal. Still not convinced you should make the switch? Consider this: Thanks to its satiating effects, simply adding more fiber to your diet can be enough to boost weight loss efforts, according to a Annals of Internal Medicine study. And a standard 2-ounce serving of Banza is loaded with 30% of the day’s recommended intake!

Eat This!
Banza Chickpea Pasta

Not That!
Plain ol’ noodles a.k.a “white” pasta



Just like white bread and conventional noodles, white rice has been stripped of its nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, making it nothing more than carbs filled with empty calories. Whole-grain brown rice, on the other hand, is rich in filling, good-for-your nutrients. Another low-cal healthy alternative we love? Cauliflower rice. It’s fluffy, packed with nutrients, indistinguishable from real rice in the flavor department, and, better yet, takes just five minutes to make. To whip up a batch, chop cauliflower into medium-sized pieces to toss into a food processor and pulse until a rice-like consistency is achieved. For even more ways to use the delish cruciferous veggie, check out these 17 Genius Ideas for Cooking with Cauliflower!

Eat This!
Cauliflower rice

Not That!
White rice



Crackers may be a simple delivery method for cheese, but one serving of the crunchy bite-sized carb pillows packs 18 grams of carbohydrates. That may seem too bad, but crackers bring nothing to the party nutritionally besides the waist-widening carbs. Top them with high-fat cheese and you’ll do your silhouette a huge disservice. The addition of scary chemicals and waist-widening hydrogenated oils makes them hard on your health, too. The better option? Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers. Made with whole grain brown rice, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax and seaweed, each serving of these low-cal crackers provides 450 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that wards off metabolism-slowing inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis! Plus, they have a just-salty-enough flavor and crunchy texture that’s sure to please.

Eat This!
Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers

Not That!
Ritz Crackers



You know what’s better than cookies? Nothing. The trouble is, cookies made from scratch are often overflowing with calories and fat, and the chemical-tainted stuff Little Debbie and the Keebler Elves cook up in their labs is far worse. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the sweet treat to lose 10 pounds, tone your thighs or melt your love handles. There are plenty of healthy store-bought options that are not only lower in calories and sugar but also made with health-promoting ingredients like ancient grains and dark chocolate. Two of our low-sugar favorites are Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Soft-Baked Cookies and Bakeology Vanilla Chai Shortbread Crunchy Cookie Bites.

Eat This!
Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Soft-Baked Cookies

Not That!
Keebler Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies



Though they are often viewed as a healthy choice, most wraps back over 200 calories, nearly 40 grams of carbs and basically no fiber. Not to mention, in order for the tortilla to stay flexible the majority of manufacturers add fat, often in the form of artery-clogging hydrogenated oils. That said, Food For Life’s ezekiel wrap, made with a blend of sprouted wheat, sesame seeds, sprouted soybeans, spelt, millet, and other ancient grains is your best-best. Fiber-legumes and grains trumps white flour and excess fat every time—especially when rapid weight loss is your goal.

Eat This!
Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Tortillas

Not That!
Mission Original Wrap



Don’t get it twisted; pretzels are little more than flour and salt, so they serve up zilch in the nutrition department. A better way to satisfy your salty, crunchy craving? A big bowl of air-popped popcorn. Three cups of the naturally gluten-free snack clock in at only 90 calories and count as a serving of waist-whittling whole grains. However, if pretzels are all that will suffice, Newman’s Own Organics Spelt Pretzels, a snack aisle selection that made our list of The 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss are the best bet.

Eat This!
Newman’s Own Organics Spelt Pretzels

Not That!
Snyder’s Of Hanover Pretzel Sticks



Built upon an edible tray of insulin-spiking refined white flour, it’s clear as day that the evils of pizza lie in the crust. The best way ensure your slice doesn’t leave your stomach begging for more? Lower its Glycemic Index, which is just a fancy term for a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise in response to food. You can do this in two easy ways: first, opt for the thin crust; second, add fiber and fiber- and protein-rich toppings to your pie. While a simple cheese pizza scores an 80 (out of 100), a veggie pie clocks in at 49 on the Glycemic Index. Raw veggies and lean meats (chicken breast, ham) make for the best toppers. Dodge sodium and fat by avoiding processed meats like bacon and sausage, and veggies like onions and eggplant which are often first cooked in oil! For more ways to slim down your pizza order, check out these 6 Easy Ways to Cut Pizza Calories

Eat This!
Thin crust pie with grilled chicken, broccoli, and peppers

Not That!
Plain cheese pizza



Everyone knows that after opening a bag of chips, odds are good the entire lot will be gone in a single sitting. It’s not that you lack willpower; science confirms chips are ultra addicting. In a New England Journal of Medicine study of 100,000 men and women, consuming chips was associated with the greatest weight gain over 20 years than any other food. Eek! But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s totally possible to nosh on chips and maintain your slender figure—you just need to eat the right chips. While Lay’s Classic Potato Chips may be one of the most recognizable bags in America, it’s also one of the worst for your waistline. They are so salty and oily, you’ll find a coating on both your fingers and tongue after just one. Lay’s Oven Baked Potato Crisps are a far better pick. They are low in calories and sodium and have a simple list of ingredients. Also a plus: These chips are baked, not fried, so they have 65% less fat than regular potato chips. Looking for more healthy eats? Check out these 50 Snacks With 50 Calories or Less.

Eat This!
Lay’s Oven Baked Potato Crisps

Not That!
Lay’s Classic Potato Chips



Sure, going out for the occasional stack of pancakes seems innocent enough, but doing so can actually derail even the most disciplined dieter. And when you consider that some restaurants pack over 1,000 calories into their recipes, it’s clear to see why. To stay on track with your diet, skip the restaurant flapjacks and nutrient-void premade white flour-based mixes. Brands like FlapJacked make quality, high-protein, fiber-rich blends that should make your grocery list instead. We love the fact that they rely on ingredients like oatmeal coconut flour and pea protein to make their blends!

Eat This!
FlapJacked Buttermilk Pancake & Baking Mix

Not That!
Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Complete



The supermarket is filled with brightly colored boxes of cereal all touting their “natural” ingredients, “essential vitamins and minerals,” promising to be “part of a healthy breakfast.” In reality, though, the cereal aisle is more like a dark alleyway in a horror movie, where all sorts of fiendish villains—vampires, leprechauns, and blood-thirsty honey bears—lie waiting to crush your weight loss dreams. It gets worse: The bulk of the grains in the cereal aisle have been stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients and spray-coated with chemically created vitamins and minerals. So skip the Honey Smacks, Apple Jacks and Cinnabon Cereal (three of the Worst Breakfast Cereals in America and look for a box that’s filled with fiber and light in the sugar department. Barbara’s Original Puffins, Kix and Post Shredded Wheat Spoon Size Wheat ‘n Bran all fit the bill.

Eat This!

Not That!
Honey Smacks



Filled with sugar, fat and zero nutrition, the best muffin for your belly is the one you don’t put in your mouth. On average, large commercially prepared variety has 521 calories and 22 grams of waist-widening fat—and with 400 calories and 15 grams of fat, homemade varieties don’t fare much better. Next time a hankering for their fluffy goodness strikes, reach for a VitaTops Muffin Top instead. Their blueberry variety packs just 120 calories and 5 grams of sugar.

Eat This!
VitaTops Wild Blueberry

Not That!
Little Debbie Blueberry Muffins



Conventional waffles like Eggos can be incredibly heavy on the simple carbs, which means they digest quickly and won’t keep tummy rumbles away for long—the opposite of what you want when you’re on a diet. That’s why we suggest picking up a box of Nature’s Path Ancient Grains Frozen Waffles. They pack 30 grams of whole grains per serving and are made with superfood ingredients like quinoa, millet, and amaranth, a gluten-free fiber-packed pseudo-grain. To boost the staying power of your morning meal pair a waffle or two with a cup of fresh berries for added fiber and a drizzle of Greek yogurt for a hit of healthy fats and a satisfying texture. For more creative ways to dress up your waffles, check out these 20 Healthy Ways to Trick Out Your Waffles.

Eat This!
Nature’s Path Ancient Grains Frozen Waffles

Not That!
Kellogg’s Eggo Buttermilk waffles



Granola is one of the most sneaky carbs on the block. Commonly used as a yogurt topper and snack bar ingredient, it may seem healthy enough, but the truth is that it’s full of added sugars and too much fat. A mere ¾ cup serving of the stuff has a whopping 448 calories, 21 grams of fat and 18 grams of the sweet stuff. (Bet you didn’t realize it was quite that bad!) But of course, not all granolas are created equal. Switching to Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola will save you 188 calories, 11 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar per serving!

Eat This!
Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola

Not That!
Conventional granola


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