Healthy Carbs For Weight Loss You Should Be Eating In 2024


Reviewed by Maya Frankfurt, PhD
healthy carbs for weight loss
Whole grains provide an excellent source of dietary fiber. Photo: Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB/Shutterstock

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If you are trying to lose fat or avoid weight gain, you have probably come across many dietary approaches. Carbohydrates take center stage in this conversation, with some strategies like the keto diet placing heavy restrictions on all carbohydrates to achieve results. There are some benefits to these approaches, but there are also drawbacks, especially if you are managing chronic health conditions like diabetes.

You can achieve all of the health benefits of a balanced diet without having to cut carbs completely. Not all carbohydrates are processed the same way, and taking the time to understand how different types of carbohydrates affect our bodies is beneficial. So, how can you find healthy carbs for weight loss?

Best Carbs For Weight Loss

Focusing on healthy sources of carbohydrates can help you during your weight loss journey. Limiting processed foods and eating more nutrient-dense foods will help you maintain a healthy nutritional balance. Some healthy sources of carbohydrates include:

  • Brown rice. 
  • Quinoa.
  • Whole grain bread.
  • Oats.
  • Black beans.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Spaghetti squash.
  • Green peas.
  • Blueberries.
  • Popcorn.

Healthy Carbs For Weight Loss

Carbohydrates[1] provide an important dietary source of fiber, potassium, vitamin D, and calcium. Limiting carbohydrates can lead to nutritional deficiencies if you are not careful about maintaining a healthy balance. Whether using a low-carb diet or maintaining a more standard balance of macronutrients, your choice of carbohydrates matters when achieving healthy weight management.

Incorporating more complex carbs and fewer refined carbohydrates will help you:

  • Retain sources of important vitamins and minerals. 
  • Add helpful sources of dietary fiber.
  • Limit your intake of simple sugars. 
  • Focus on incorporating more healthy fats. 

Complex carbohydrates are better sources of nutrients than refined ones. During processing, carbs lose some natural nutritional value. Heavily processed foods are more likely to be higher in salt, simple sugars, and saturated fat.

This means that your choice of carbohydrates and overall meal structure may also help you lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and maintain balanced blood sugar levels. So, while you promote the ability to reduce fat, you also have the opportunity to promote overall well-being.

Incorporating more healthy carbohydrates into your diet does not need to be complicated. There are plenty of options on the list of good carbs for weight loss. These can be delicious replacements for previous dietary staples.

So, what are some examples of the best healthy carbs for weight loss?

Brown Rice

healthy carbs for weight loss
Brown rice is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Photo: pro ust/Shutterstock

Brown rice[2] provides an excellent example of the benefits of minimizing processing and focusing on whole foods. During the milling process, antioxidant properties are reduced significantly. When white rice is produced, the loss of rice bran[3] results in a loss of protein, phosphorus, calcium, and B vitamins.

Brown rice has been associated with:

  • Antioxidant effects.
  • Improved blood sugar regulation.
  • Improved cholesterol levels.


In recent years, quinoa has become increasingly popular because of its ability to serve as a gluten-free grain alternative. Quinoa is nutrient-dense,[4] offering a great source of protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals like B vitamins and iron while keeping overall calories relatively low.

Whole Grain Bread

Similar to brown rice, choosing whole grain bread instead of its more heavily processed counterparts, like white bread, offers the opportunity to benefit from the retention of the bran and germ components of the grain. This means your carbohydrates are delivered with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This can improve[5] your body’s processing of blood sugars, help with digestion, and benefit your overall well-being.


Oats[6] provide an excellent source of soluble fiber and protein and also contain a significant amount of iron, zinc, and B vitamins. There is also evidence[7] supporting benefits for fiber improving digestion and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Black Beans

The combination of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein provided by black beans can help you feel fuller longer. Consumption of beans[8] is also linked to lower body fat composition and waist circumference.

Sweet Potatoes

healthy carbs for weight loss
Sweet potatoes can help you feel fuller longer. Photo: Basico/Shutterstock

Like black beans, sweet potatoes can help you stay full, which may help reduce sugar cravings. Sweet potatoes are also helpful for individuals with a sweet tooth. Sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon are a delicious alternative to less healthy options.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash has become a popular alternative to pasta for individuals interested in losing weight. In addition to providing vitamins and minerals, spaghetti squash contains a fraction of the calories of traditional pasta. One cup of spaghetti squash has about 42 calories,[9] while traditional pasta has about 220 calories.[10]

Green Peas

Green peas[11] are nutrient-dense and introduce a relatively small amount of calories per serving. They are also a source of dietary saponins,[12] which have been associated with anti-cancer effects.


Like many fruits, blueberries[13] are a source of natural sugars, but calorie for calorie, they provide excellent nutritional value. Specifically, they provide a significant source of fiber and vitamins C and K. Blueberries are also a great source of antioxidants.


Munching on popcorn has the potential to be an excellent snack option, provided you are limiting the amount of add-ons like salt and butter. Eating popcorn can help you feel full while being low in calories and provides a good source of fiber.

Why Limiting Carbs Can Help With Weight Loss

Limiting carbohydrates is often implemented in diets because of the potential for calories to add up quickly.  Blood sugar levels rise more rapidly with carbohydrates than with other macronutrients. When you limit processed foods and focus more on whole grains, some of the pitfalls of carbohydrates can be avoided.

Ultimately, you promote weight loss by creating a caloric deficit. When you consume fewer calories than you burn, your body will be more likely to burn body fat, and you will be more likely to achieve weight loss success. Carbohydrates provide important nutrients,[1] and seeking a balanced approach with fewer calories overall can help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

Monitoring your net carbohydrate intake and total calories will help you stay on track and reach your goals. In general, when considering carbohydrates, it is helpful to:

  • Limit processed foods: Heavily processed foods provide less nutritional value and are more likely to introduce high levels of simple carbs and saturated fat. 
  • Eat more whole grains: These provide important nutrients and limit empty calories, making it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. When your calories are nutrient-dense, weight loss efforts may become more effective while maintaining a healthy nutritional balance. 

How Many Carbs Should I Consume Daily To Lose Weight?

Achieving weight loss goals is dependent on maintaining a caloric deficit. The number of calories you will burn daily varies depending on several factors,[14] including gender, age, height, current weight, and activity level.

Using formulas can help give you a baseline estimate for the number of calories you will likely burn daily. This can help you determine a target for overall calories from your diet. While estimates have limitations,[15] a caloric deficit of about 500 calories per day should help you achieve a healthy rate of weight loss of about one to two pounds each week.

If you are considering a low-carb diet, a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates[16] is recommended daily for most people. Especially if you intend to consume less than this amount, it would be beneficial to consult your doctor before making significant dietary changes.

Individuals often consider over-the-counter metabolism boosters and fat burners to help speed up weight loss. It is important to remember that diet and exercise are crucial to your success, even when using supplements.


Burning more calories than you consume is necessary for weight loss. Carbohydrates are notorious for providing a lot of calories per serving, but there are ways to limit your calorie intake without cutting carbs completely. Choosing nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates like whole grains can help you maintain a caloric deficit while avoiding nutritional deficits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What carbs to cut out to lose belly fat?

Removing processed foods and sources of simple sugar like baked treats can help you better control your blood sugar. This allows your body to rely more on fat storage as an energy source.

Can I lose weight by eating healthy carbs?

Yes, weight loss is attained by creating a caloric deficit. Healthy sources of carbohydrates are nutrient-dense, providing well-balanced nutrition while limiting your overall calorie intake.

Can you eat unlimited vegetables and lose weight?

The amount of starchy vegetables you eat should be monitored. Eating larger amounts of leafy greens like spinach can be beneficial as they are nutrient-dense. 

How to speed up metabolism?

The best way to improve your metabolism naturally is to exercise regularly and stay hydrated. Dietary sources of fiber can help keep your metabolism regulated, highlighting the benefits of whole grains.

What is the ice water hack for weight loss?

The ice water hack is a social media sales technique employed to generate buzz for Alpilean supplements. The claim is that improvements in body temperature regulation will boost metabolism. The supplements are not reliable replacements for diet and exercise. 

+ 16 Sources

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Matthew Sommers is a clinical pharmacist with more than 10 years of experience in the pharmacy profession. He has most recently transitioned from a leadership role in a community setting into clinical practice with a focus… See More