America has a weight problem, and research reveals it’s carbs as well as fat that contributes to obesity. However, since our bodies rely on carbs for energy, it’s important to distinguish between good-for-you carbs and bad-for-you carbs. From breakfast to dinner, we have a meal plan filled with better carb choices that balance your body and help you stay fueled and focused all day long.
The latest buzz of studies reveals that eating too many carbs, not just fat, may be the culprit behind America’s heart and weight problems. But banishing carbs altogether in an effort to lose weight isn’t realistic or even desirable. We love carbs. Carbs are our main source of fuel. But there are good carbs, and there are bad carbs.
The good ones—fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains—are balanced and unprocessed, are slower to digest, keep our blood sugar steady, and come with bonus nutrients like protein, fiber, and vitamins.
Start with a more balanced breakfast
Smoothie shops can cram 73g carbs into 20 ounces. Make your own instead with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. A 10-inch flour tortilla adds 37g refined carbs to your burrito. Instead, smear avocado, 2 scrambled egg whites, and salsa on a 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla: 16g carbs, 10g fiber, 11g protein.
Move into smarter snacking
Low-cal pretzels and angel food cake are 100% refined carbs. Instead, try fiber- and protein-filled nuts or edamame. Get your cheesy cracker fix with part-skim string cheese and whole-wheat woven crackers instead of cheddar crackers. Skip the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt and top 6 ounces Greek yogurt with blueberries. You’ll cut carbs in half and add 8g protein.
Keep your energy up with lunch
Pasta salad has 40g refined carbs per cup. Triple the fiber and make whole-grain salads with quinoa, farro, or bulgur. Bean-based soups pack in more than twice the fiber of noodle soups: Skip the bread and add a handful of greens. Baked pita chips pack 19g refined carbs into 10 chips. Munch on carrot and hummus instead to double the fiber and cut 6g carbs.
End the day on a good note
Add nuts to salads for crunch instead of croutons, which pack in 13g carbs per ½ cup. Toss with oil and vinegar, and save 7g carbs over low-fat dressings, which swap fat for sugar. 2 whole-grain corn tortilla tacos save 18g carbs over a flour tortilla burrito with rice, meat, and beans. Yep, booze counts, too. A 12-ounce lager has about 12g carbs. A 5-ounce glass of red has 4g.