But what are the healthiest carbs for weight loss? We’ll tell you! (Photo: Shutterstock)
Cutting calories through dietary restriction has long been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce diabetes risk, and even prolong life in both human and animal studies. New research published in the journal Cell, shows that — at least in animal studies — those same benefits can be had without having to skip meals and reduce calories. The secret: a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet.
“When compared head-to-head, mice got the same benefits from a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet as a 40% calorie restriction,” says senior author Stephen Simpson of the University of Sydney. And this diet is far healthier and more practical, the researchers claim. “No one can maintain a 40 percent caloric reduction in the long term, and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido, and fertility,” says Simpson.
The best news is that the animals that grazed on carbs all day long showed higher metabolisms than those with restricted diets, so they could eat far more food while burning more calories and staying slim. If the study’s results do translate to humans, it could mean that simply enjoying modest amounts of high-quality protein and plenty of healthy carbs is all you need for maximum health. To that end, here’s a list of the healthiest carbs for weight loss.
Weight-Loss Carb #1: Quinoa
In addition to belly-filling fiber, quinoa is also packed with the high-quality plant protein recommended by Australian researchers. It’s also high in magnesium and chromium—two incredibly important nutrients that combat cortisol (a stress hormone that directs fat to be stored at the waist).
Weight-Loss Carb #2: Beans
You can think of every bean or lentil as a little weight-loss pill. Legumes are high in resistant starch, a type of carb that has minimal impact on your blood sugar levels because it passes through the body undigested like fiber, feeding the healthy bacteria at the bottom of your digestive tract. One study found that people who at ¾ cup of beans daily weighed 6.6 pounds less than those who didn’t, even though the bean eaters consumed, on average, 199 more calories per day.
Weight-Loss Carb #3 Pasta Salad
Sneaky weight-loss trick: When you chill pasta, it becomes a resistant starch, meaning you enjoy all the comfort of noodles without the insulin spike. Just make sure your pasta stays cold; once you reheat it, the resistant starch is vastly diminished.
Weight-Loss Carb #4: Old-Fashioned Oats
Starting your day with a bowl of slow-burning oatmeal will help to regulate your hunger and provide your body with powerful beta-glucans, compounds that act like bouncers for LDL (bad) cholesterol, shuttling it right out of the VIP room that is your body. And by pairing the oats with fruit, you’ll double the effects, according to a study in the journal Nutrition. Just make sure you’re not cheating by using one of those sickly sweet, pre-packaged oat breakfasts or seemingly healthy oatmeal offerings from fast food joints: McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal contains a whopping 32 grams of sugar, more than a Snickers bar.
Weight-Loss Carb #5: Popcorn
While popcorn seems like an indulgent snack, it’s actually a high-fiber treat of 100 percent whole grains. Try this recipe: Pop the popcorn according to package directions, using coconut oil in place of butter or vegetable oil. Then melt one square of dark chocolate, and drizzle it over the popcorn. Two cups will give you 3 grams of fiber for just 143 calories.
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