Carbohydrates or ‘carbs’ as they’re more favourably known are often considered a dirty word when it comes to weight loss. Through fad low carb diets including the ‘No Carbs Before Marbs’ trend made famous by The Only Way is Essex, carbohydrates have been given a bad rep. Contrary to popular belief not all carbs are bad for you. In fact, some carbs can actually help towards your weight loss goals.
As with many things in life, there are good and bad. And with carbs this is no different. Unlike processed carbohydrates such as white bread and sweetened soft-drinks, ‘good’ carbs are less refined and hold more fibre and nutrients needed to produce energy and keep you going throughout your busy day. But, which carbs should you be eating? We reveal our top 10 good carbs for weight loss.
As part of a balanced diet, it is important to ensure that you are eating a variety of foods including carbohydrates. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet not only helps you to lose weight, but it can also help reduce cancer risk, as well as heart disease and diabetes.
To create a balanced meal your plate should ideally contain the following:
· ½ protein-based foods
· ¼ carbohydrate-based foods
· ¼ vegetables/salad/fruit
1. Sweet potato
Perfect atop a salad or as an ingredient for a hot soup, sweet potatoes are rich in energy boosting vitamins A, C and B6. Great for keeping you active. What’s more, they include carotenoids, powerful antioxidants which help stabilise blood-sugar levels and prevent calories from turning into fat.
2. Greek Yogurt
Don’t be scared about having some dairy in your diet! If you consume in moderation, this low-fat alternative to regular yoghurt is high in protein and rich in calcium. Greek yogurt is packed with prebiotics and is great paired with fruit and nuts as part of a healthy breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack to satisfy cravings.
3. Acorn squash
With only 172 calories, these colourful fruit is an ideal partner with an evening meal or as a warming soup. What’s more, Acorn squash is loaded with vitamin A and C which help fight free radicals and promote healthy neurological functions.
4. Whole-wheat pasta
Can’t stand the idea of taking pasta out of your diet? Well, you don’t have to. Whole grain pastas are filled with fibre and other nutrients. Because your body breaks down whole-wheat pasta at a slower rate it also keeps you fuller for longer. This makes it perfect for anyone who participates in high intensity workouts. As an added benefit, whole-grain pastas can promote healthy digestion and balance cholesterol levels.
Considered one of the superfoods, quinoa is rich in proteins, eight amino acids and vitamins including iron, calcium and magnesium. With this impressive roster it’s not a surprise that this is staple in any balanced diet, especially for vegetarians who struggle to find foods that fill them whilst trying to lose weight. If you don’t enjoy pasta or rice, quinoa is a great alternative.
Air-popped popcorn is an ideal between meal snack to replace high-calorie alternatives such as doughnuts or chocolate. To break down this key snack player, popcorn is low in calories, high in fibre and delivers some protein. Obviously, don’t go for popcorn layered in butter or our guilty pleasure – toffee popcorn, as this is where the extra calories creep in.
Who says a healthy diet means giving up on sweet treats? We don’t. Cherries are not only incredibly tasty, but they are also high in antioxidants helping to fight free radicals. As part of a balanced diet, cherries can help support the reduction of body fat and increase melatonin, which helps you sleep better. Just make sure you go for fresh cherries instead of glace.
8. Brown rice
Healthy, easy to prepare and a great addition to many meals, brown rice is a great staple to include as part of your healthy diet plan. As a low-energy-density food, brown rice is filling, yet low in calories. What more could you ask for? Well, as an added benefit, brown rice contains resistant starch, a good carb, which helps to boost metabolism and burn fat.
A universal breakfast favourite, especially during the colder months, oats are whole grains and are brimming with fibre. When cooked in water, half-a-cup of oats contains 2 grams of dietary fibre and 3 grams of protein. Other health benefits can include a reduction in blood pressure and supporting healthy digestion.
10. Pinto beans
A key ingredient in burritos and other Mexican culinary delights, pinto beans when removed from the cheese and creamy condiments make a healthy side dish. When eaten as part of a balanced diet, pinto beans promote good heart health and can help lower cholesterol as a good source of protein and fibre.
If you’ve had weight loss surgery with The Hospital Group, our expert dietitians will help you craft a healthy eating plan to suit you. Weight loss surgery is an investment that lasts a lifetime, that’s why you’ll have the support of our experts through your recovery period and beyond.