This super seed (that’s right, quinoa is actually a seed!) is a fabulous source of fiber and protein. Quinoa is an excellent alternative to rice, orzo, or even your standard pasta. A word to the wise: a little bit of quinoa goes a long way, so be sure to measure out your portions properly before you cook.
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Barley contains soluble fiber that can help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, and it’s also very helpful in promoting weight loss. This high-fiber super food helps to control appetite, making you feel fuller quicker so you don’t overeat.
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Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels; since they’re unrefined like other types of wheat they contain more nutrients and fiber than their processed counterparts. Cracked in salads, cooked as a grain, or ground into flour for baking, wheat berries are an excellent source of dietary fiber and can help to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as aiding in weight management and digestive health.
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Sweet potatoes are a super source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. One medium baked sweet potatoes contains about 100 calories and no fat, so feel free to enjoy this starchy treat in moderation without the guilt.
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The fiber in beans can help lower cholesterol and keep your digestive system healthy. In order to enjoy the full benefits of beans, combine them with a healthy grain, like brown rice or whole wheat pasta, for a complete meal. As an added bonus, eating rice and beans together provides your body with a complete source of protein; one that contains all the amino acids it needs to function. Other food pairs that provide complete proteins are pita with hummus and cheese with whole-grain or sprouted crackers.
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Frozen or fresh, eating peas regularly is a great way to meet your daily fiber needs. Fiber helps you to feel fuller longer, which is crucial when it comes to managing your weight.
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If you’re vegan or vegetarian, eating lentils regularly is a great way to replenish the iron and fiber in your body. Lentils are also a great source of B vitamins, which can help with the healthy functioning of the nervous system.
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Oats have a range of health benefits, but are most commonly known for their ability to reduce appetite. You can help to reduce your appetite further by adding high-fiber fruits and vegetables into your bowl of oatmeal.
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These little seeds have become extremely popular over the last few years, and for good reason. As few as two tablespoons of chia seeds can provide you with a significant amount of fiber. Chia seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely important for heart and brain health. Add these into your yogurt, smoothie or cereal for an easy nutrient boost.
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Ladies, listen up: women who consume more whole grains, like brown rice, are 49 percent less likely to gain weight compared to women who eat foods made from refined grains. So, replace your white rice with brown rice from now on! A great way to get started is to do half white and half brown rice until you get accustomed to the brown.
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Also called soba, buckwheat noodles are made from the buckwheat seed, and have a much higher nutritional benefit than noodles made from semolina or other grains. Consuming buckwheat noodles also helps to regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol.
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Corn gets a lot of flak since it is a starch, but it can be extremely helpful in weight loss and management. Corn is low in calories but high in protein and in fiber, meaning you can eat a fairly large portion of it, get full, and stay that way for a while. But, because corn does have a significant amount of carbohydrates, don’t go overboard with it. Combine it with beans, eggs or lean meat for a complete, healthy meal.
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In the diet-crazed world that we live in, any food that is can be categorized as a carbohydrate gets a bad rap despite the fact that carbs are necessary for a healthy diet. (Good luck eating healthy, homemade macaroni and cheese in front of your Atkins-addicted friends who will inevitably try to convince you that each noodle has pushed you farther and farther away from your weight loss goals). The truth is that it is possible to consume carbohydrates without gaining weight; the key is making good choices and controlling portions. In fact, many carbohydrates provide high amounts of nutrients that you need every day; eating them will make you a happier and healthier person in the long run.
Following a healthy, regimented diet can be more difficult than most of us would like to admit, and one of the hardest parts of sticking to a sound regime is giving up food that we're accustomed to eating regularly. Carbohydrates are in many of the foods we love to eat. The key to keeping your carb intake in check is to make sure that the foods you consume are high in protein and fiber; fiber plays an important role in weight management.
In order to better understand the role carbohydrates play in a healthy diet, I spoke to Cameron Allrich, personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Midtown Manhattan. He says that "all carbohydrates share the same properties regarding the availability of glucose in the bloodstream. However, bad carbohydrates take longer to breakdown, minimizing high levels of insulin that cause the liver to produce triglycerides. These triglycerides cause fat storage in the body that forms fat cells, resulting in overweight or obesity." That means that a lot of the foods that I've been nervous to eat are actually great choices for losing weight and keeping it off. And, these foods are great alternatives to the regular, not-as-healthy choices that I've been eating up until now. Replacing white pastas and rice with whole-wheat options or quinoa is just one of the easy ways to begin to improve your carb-eating habits. Before you know it you'll forget all about the refined grains of your past.
Check out the slideshow above for 13 carbs that can help you lose weight.