Providing a list of carbohydrate foods helps many people to make sense of the low carb and weight loss puzzle.
Some low carb diets ban all carbs, although that’s not actually possible.
Other diets allow certain carbs but not others.
Let’s cut through the haze and clarify exactly what we mean by carbs.
Carbs are sugars and starches. Without getting too scientific, there are three types of carbohydrates:
- Monosaccharides – consisting of a single molecule, these are the simplest carbs. Glucose and sucrose are examples
- Disaccharides – these consist of two molecules. Lactose and galactose are examples
- Polysaccharides – complex molecules, hence the term complex carbs. These are found in starchy foods and are carbs like maltodextrin that you’ll find in sports drinks
Essentially, mono- and disaccharides are broken down quickly and are termed ‘fast release’. Polysaccharides are more complex and take longer to break down, hence the term ‘slow release’.
Now just to confuse things, whilst refined starchy products like white bread, white pasta and white rice, as well as vegetables like potatoes are starchy foods, the sugars in them are broken down relatively quickly.
As such, they’re not as slow release as wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta and wild rice. These take longer to digest and consequently release their sugars more slowly.
The sugar in fruit, fructose, is also broken down more slowly and as such falls into the slow release category.
The rate at which foods are digested and release their sugars into your bloodstream is important to understand and is covered in our page on the glycemic index.
All the carbs you eat have to be broken down into glucose, a monsaccharide to be burned as fuel. It’s just that some foods are broken down and release their energy much more slowly than others, which requires a lot more work by your body.
Guess which ones you should be eating to aid weight loss and maintain a healthy weight?
Check out our page on low carb weight loss for more information.
So, here’s a list of carbohydrate foods that may help you in making healthy food choices as part of your healthy weight loss plan.
A By No Means Definitive List of Carbohydrate Foods
We’ve divided up our list of carbohydrate foods into fast and slow release as we find this is the simplest and most practical way for our clients to make food choices.
Some of these also contain fat and protein, processed foods for instance, as well as pasta, rice, bread and so on.
Cereals/grains and beans/pulses are two of the three vegetable protein groups. However, carbs are the main macro nutrient they contain.
- Any processed food with glucose, glucose syrup, sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup near the top of the list of ingredients
- Sugary sweets and candy
- Maple and any type of syrup
- Jams, jellies and preserves
- Refined flour products, eg white bread and white pasta
- White rice
- Baked beans
- Fizzy drinks like cola and lemonade
- Vegetables, eg broccoli, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, salad leaves, asparagus, green beans, cabbage, celery, squash, parsnips, swede, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, peppers…and so on
- Fruit, eg apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, pineapple, mangos, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, melon, pomegranate…and so on
- Wholegrain flour products, eg wholemeal bread, wholgrain pasta
- Wild rice, brown rice
- Corn tortillas
Get the idea?
Last Words on Carbohydrate Foods
As a guide, eat mostly vegetables and fruit for carbs, remembering that whilst fruits are a good choice, they do contain fructose so don’t overdo them.
Limit your intake of whole grains and other unrefined flour products. Avoid refined starchy carbs and try to cut out sugar altogether.
Clearly, if you’re exercising regularly or are in other ways physically active, you can afford to eat more carbs from our list of carbohydrate foods and still lose weight than someone who is largely inactive.