For years, we've been fed the idea that if we give up carbs altogether, we'll be able to lose weight. But as anyone who has attempted to go completely cold turkey knows, avoiding all carbohydrates is difficult and usually ends up backfiring. We end up starving, then binging on bad foods, and thus the vicious cycle recommences.
Most accredited dietitians and nutritionists will tell us that we don't need to give up carbs in order to lose weight — in fact, it's better that you don't!
Our brains need carbs to function, and while vegetables and fruits contain lots of the carbs we need, most of us still need a little extra carbohydrate boost from wholegrains and legumes, says nutritionist Dr. Joanna McMillan.
"The trend at the moment has been this shift away from bagging out carbs," Dr. McMillan told Good Health. "There's a huge trend towards plant-based diets and by nature of this way of eating, if you're going to go more plant-based and eat lots of plant foods, you're going to eat more carbs," she said. "Wholegrains and legumes [foods like chickpeas and lentils] are going to be these superfoods that we incorporate into our diets more."
Eating these sorts of foods keeps us fuller for longer, meaning we're less likely to snack on unhealthy and sugary treats, derailing our weight loss progress. Plus, eating wholegrains has loads of other health benefits, including improving our gut health.
"I've always been a fan of using wholegrains because the evidence is so strong ... they're our major source of fiber and have an excellent impact on gut health. They contain lots of antioxidants and they help prevent colon cancer," she said.
But of course, not all carbs are created equally. When we talk about eating carbs, we don't mean processed white breads, pastas, or sweet treats like cakes and biscuits.
We asked Dr. McMillan for the five best types of carbohydrates we can eat and still lose weight, or maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Wholegrain Rice, Brown, or Black rice
"You can buy these in microwave-friendly packets from the supermarket and often they contain a blend of grains, which is great for variety," she said.
"Make porridge with oats or add a few spoonfuls into your morning smoothie for an added wholegrain carbohydrate boost," she said.
Wholegrain Breakfast Cereal
"Nothing is wrong with wholegrain breakfast cereal," she said. "We've had this sense that these are highly processed foods for so long, but brands have come a long way to improving their formulas. Just check the ingredients carefully and choose a wholegrain, low sugar option."
"I am a big fan of quinoa and ancient grains like barley, because they're cheap and versatile. Use them in salads for an added boost," Dr. McMillan said.
"People often think that supermarket breads are bad, but they're not. Look for wholemeal and wholegrain breads, anything where you can see grainy bits in the bread," she said.
"Sourdough is also a good choice because it tends to reduce the GI levels of the bread, making it easier for some people to digest."
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.