Carbs are public enemy number one for many women on a diet. As much as we love pasta, bread, and every sweet you can think of, too many of us have been brainwashed into thinking carbs will make us fat.
News flash: they won't.
You need carbs for energy, and of course, deprivation will only end in you diving face-first into a gallon of Moose Tracks — and that certainly won't help you lose weight. What will is eating the right carbs, says Lyssie Lakatos, RD, one half of the Nutrition Twins with her sister Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD. She recommends consuming nutrient-dense carbs with at least two to three grams of fiber per 100 calories since your body breaks down fiber more slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer.
No need to read every nutrition panel, though. Incorporate these nine tasty foods into your meals, and you'll flatten your stomach and stay fueled all day.
1/2 cup cooked pearl barley: 97 calories, 22 grams of carbs, three grams of fiber
Swedish research suggests barley can fight hunger by raising blood sugar levels more slowly than, say, a donut, helping you bypass the sugar spike — and crash — that leaves you famished. Pearled barley is popular, but barley groats or whole hull-less barley contain even more healthy nutrients, including 20 to 25 percent of your daily fiber in just one serving.
2. Green peas:
1/2 cup cooked: 67 calories, 12.5 grams of carbs, 4.5 grams of fiber
A half cup of peas provides 12 percent of your recommended daily intake of zinc. More known for its cold-fighting powers, this mineral may also help reduce hunger by boosting levels of leptin, a hormone that alerts your brain when your stomach has had enough.
3. Whole wheat pasta:
Two ounces dry: 198 calories, 43 grams of carbs, five grams of fiber
A British study showed that a higher intake of whole grains — around three servings daily — was associated with a lower body mass index and less abdominal fat, supporting other research that links a diet high in whole grains with tinier waists. It's key, however, to keep noodle portions between 100 and 200 calories (about 1/2 to one cup cooked), says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, adding that nutrient-rich carbohydrates are part of a balanced meal, not the entire meal.
4. Acorn squash:
One cup cubed and baked: 115 calories, 30 grams of carbs, nine grams of fiber
When it comes to winter squash, acorn squash just about knocks out the others for the "most fiber" award. Only hubbard has one more gram per cup — and good luck finding that in most supermarkets.
See which other carbs are great for weight loss after the break!