Among the macronutrients, carbohydrates are considered the “evil fatteners” and are therefore often banned from the plate – especially in the course of the low-carb hype. However, carbohydrate-rich foods should always be an integral part of a healthy and balanced diet – this also applies with regard to losing weight. Because you can also lose weight with carbs.
How exactly this works and which foods contain particularly many healthy carbohydrates, we tell you here.
What exactly are carbohydrates?
In principle, carbohydrates are nothing more than sugar.
But they do not necessarily have to taste sweet. We’ll explain why: each form of carbohydrate consists of different sugar components: there are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Single sugars include, for example, glucose and fructose, while table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose) belong to the group of double sugars, as they each consist of two linked single sugars.
Multiple sugars, on the other hand, consist of many individual simple sugars, which is why they are also called complex carbohydrates.
The best-known representative of polysaccharides is starch. When absorbed by the body, complex carbs must first be broken down into their smallest building blocks, the simple sugars, in the digestive tract. Because only in the form of the simple sugars can they be transported further and converted into energy.
Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for your body, as they provide the organism with a lot of energy, some of which is quickly available. The body needs this energy for numerous (vital) bodily functions, such as breathing and heartbeat, but also for sporting activities.
Healthy carbohydrates: good carbs versus bad carbs
When choosing the right carbs, it is important to distinguish between good and bad carbohydrate-rich foods: “Bad” carbohydrates are found, for example, in sweets or white flour products (toast, cookies, etc.).) and provide quick but not long-term energy, as they are mostly simple sugars. The problem: Your blood sugar level rises rapidly at first after eating such unhealthy high-carb foods, but drops just as quickly again.
Thus the saturation feeling lasts only briefly and hot hunger attacks have afterwards easy game.
Which foods contain lots of healthy carbohydrates?
Anyone who wants to lose weight successfully or simply wants to eat healthier should therefore reach for “good” carbohydrates. Since these have a much more complex structure (see multiple sugars), it takes the body a while to break them down and convert them into energy. This means that your blood sugar level remains constant, you stay full longer and are more efficient. The best prerequisites for successfully losing a few kilos. But which foods contain particularly many good carbs? Here are the top 10:
Lentils are small power packs that not only provide you with lots of healthy carbohydrates (on average around 40 grams per 100 grams of dry product), but also a good portion of protein. In addition, they are full of satiating fiber, numerous vitamins and minerals and have hardly any fat. Lentils are available in red, green, yellow and black and their use is as varied as their color: Red and yellow lentils are used in Indian cuisine. Since they cook quickly and deteriorate easily, they are particularly suitable for stews and soups. Due to the slightly thicker shell, green and black lentils, on the other hand, have more bite. That’s why they taste great in salads or vegetable dishes, like this quick lentil salad – perfect for Meal Prep!
Good old oatmeal is definitely one of those carbohydrate-rich foods you should eat much more often – preferably even daily. A 50-gram serving provides about 31.5 grams of carbohydrates, which gives you a lot of energy and, most importantly, keeps you full for a long time without sending your blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride. Besides, you push your protein balance with a delicious oatmeal in the morning and provide your body with additional fiber, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
By the way: You can also prepare savory dishes with oatmeal. Replace breadcrumbs with oatmeal and coat your schnitzel or chicken breast fillet with it. How to make the healthy oatmeal breading.
3. Sweet potatoes
The “sweet tuber” shares only the name with the normal potato, because the two are not related. In terms of nutritional value, however, they go head-to-head, though there’s no clear winner, because they’re both basically healthy. But the South American sweet potato brings variety to our kitchens with its color and sweet taste reminiscent of carrot and pumpkin. A medium-sized sweet potato (250 grams) provides about 60 grams of healthy carbohydrates. It also impresses with its high content of beta-carotene. This is converted to vitamin A in the body and is involved in many important processes, such as cell growth. They also provide a lot of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Recipe ideas? Here are our best sweet potato recipes.
The pseudo-cereal is rich in vitamins, secondary plant compounds, minerals and, of course, healthy carbohydrates. With quinoa you can replenish your carb stores after a strenuous workout without a guilty conscience. Around 30 grams of complex carbohydrates per serving (60 grams raw weight) ensure this. Just like rice, you can simply cook quinoa and serve it as a side dish with fish or meat. The healthy, gluten-free seeds also score with a high protein and fiber content. No idea what to cook with quinoa? For example, our quinoa pan with egg.
Contrary to what the name suggests, buckwheat has nothing to do with wheat. But since buckwheat (like quinoa) not only looks confusingly similar to grain, but is also used in exactly the same way, it counts as a pseudo-cereal. With regard to the nutrient balance, buckwheat is also quite a bit ahead of its unhealthy namesake: Buckwheat scores not only thanks to the healthy carbohydrates (71 grams per 100 grams). It also contains plenty of vegetable protein, including all the essential amino acids. Besides buckwheat shines with its low fat content and lots of vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to healthy carbohydrates, pulses are always the right choice. Chickpeas are doubly convincing thanks to their low fat and high protein content. This makes them the perfect satiators for weight loss. While the canned version has “only” 15 grams of carbohydrates per normal-sized portion of 150 grams, the dried product does even better in the Carb-Contest: You fill your energy stores with 27 grams of carbohydrates per portion of 60 grams (the dried beans weigh less raw, of course). It is therefore worthwhile to soak the dried beans beforehand and prepare them “fresh. Chickpeas are delicious in salads, curries or as hummus. Here come 4 reasons why you should urgently eat more hummus.
7. Kidney beans
And another representative of the legumes: Among the healthy, carbohydrate-rich foods (about 22 grams of carbs per 150 gram serving of canned beans), kidney beans stand out above all because of their high content of vegetable protein and fiber. Here, too, the dried variety is ahead in terms of carbohydrate content, by the way. The legumes are also low in fat and provide your body with important nutrients, such as magnesium, which is essential for muscles and nerves. Kidney beans don’t just belong in chili con carne: you can also use them to top your salad, refine vegetable and rice dishes, or make delicious vegetarian burgers.
When you’re in a hurry, a banana is the perfect snack to fill up your carbohydrate stores: It has 24 grams of carbohydrates per piece and thus provides you with a lot of power. Unlike the other foods in our list, however, these are not complex carbohydrates, but the simple sugar fructose. But especially athletes benefit from the sweet fruit, because bananas not only provide a quick energy kick, but also strengthen the muscles and nerves thanks to abundant potassium and magnesium. Sweating and intensive training increase the consumption of both minerals. Brown, already slightly mushy bananas can be used wonderfully in a smoothie or to refine your protein shake.
9. Brown rice
Among athletes, rice is one of the most popular sources of carbohydrates, because it contains about 75 grams of complex carbs per 100 grams of raw weight. Brown rice provides just as many healthy carbohydrates, but has a decisive advantage: brown rice is not husked and therefore performs much better than polished white rice, especially in terms of micronutrients. Because of the shell, the stomach enzymes need longer to break down the carbohydrates. Consequence: The feeling of satiety lasts longer and your blood sugar level remains constant, which curbs cravings. Try this chickpea-coconut curry with brown rice right away.
10. White beans
In addition to lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas, let’s pay homage to white beans, which are also a top source of complex, healthy carbohydrates. Additionally, they have an impressive protein content. The special thing about beans are the many antioxidants that protect against harmful free radicals and thus prevent, among other things, cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the carbs keep your blood sugar level constant and make you full for a long time. The rest of the nutrients are also impressive: Fiber, minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins speak for themselves. Quick recipe idea? This tuna and bean salad is prepared in record time.
These 10 high carb foods provide much more than just healthy carbs, so they definitely belong on your plate more often. That’s why you can eat these without a guilty conscience – even (and especially) if you’re trying to lose a few kilos.