We put together this list of complex carbohydrates that are high in dietary fiber and low in simple sugars. Add these essential Eat This, Not That! healthiest carbs into your daily diet and stay fueled and fat-burning all day long—without sacrifice.
It’s not only good for your health, but also a killer appetite suppressant that can help keep your six-pack diet on track all day. “Barley contains a whopping 6 grams of belly-filling, mostly soluble fiber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugars and increased satiety,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN. It also has tons of health benefits like decreased inflammation and stabilized blood sugar levels. And: you’ll immediately feel lighter. Barley acts as a bulking agent, which can help push waste through the digestive tract.
You know brown is better, but do you know why? It’s because whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient rich and fiber-filling. Besides for whole-grain pasta, try varieties with lentils, chickpeas, black beans or quinoa.
Besides serving up a third of the day’s fiber, a one-cup serving of this highly nutritious, naturally sweet veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. The body uses the nutrient to form muscle and blood vessels, and it can even boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.
Lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans — they’re all magic bullets for belly-fat loss. In one four-week Free Radical Research study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that includes four weekly servings of legumes aids weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet that doesn’t include them. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. To reap the benefits at home, work them into your diet throughout the week. Salad is an easy way.
If you’re going for abs, you’re already sending the restaurant bread basket back. But don’t shirk from whole-wheat bread completely. As with whole-wheat pasta, you’re getting all three parts of the grain, with fiber to increase satiety and prevent overeating. Just be careful—most breads in the sandwich aisle are filled with high fructose corn syrup or a blend of whole and enriched wheats. It’s worth splurging on the pricier stuff, often found in the freezer section.
The simple bean is actually an advanced fat-burning, muscle-building machine. “Beans are a great source of protein that includes fiber,” says Leah Kaufman, a New York City based registered dietitian. “That’s going to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t spike and will give you energy to build the muscle you want.” One cup of black beans has 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber; they’re also rich in folate, a B vitamin that stokes muscle growth, and copper, which strengthens tendons. On top of that, the Free Radical Research study showed that consuming four weekly servings of beans or legumes accelerates weight loss.
Yes, oats are loaded with complex carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady, ab-muscle-friendly energy. And that fiber is soluble, which lowers the risk of heart disease. The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval.