Weight Loss & Diet

Seven Healthy Carbohydrates That Can Help You Lose Weight

Brown Rice and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers with Egg
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

In this article:

  • High-fiber carbohydrates include whole grains and starchy vegetables. Small servings can help with weight loss, especially instead of higher-calorie, less filling foods.
  • Whole grains and starchy vegetables should make up about one-quarter of your plate.
  • There are many healthy and delicious ways to prepare these foods. Keep reading for great ideas!
  • Lark is a weight loss coach that is always available on your phone. Your Lark coach has tips and tricks for weight loss through small lifestyle changes.

Carbohydrates can be healthy. They can help you lose weight and lower health risks. The keys are to choose the right ones and keep serving sizes in check. The following seven carbohydrates are nutritious and linked to health benefits. Keep reading to find out what they are and how to enjoy them in everyday life!

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1. Oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal

¼ cup of steel cut oats or ½ cup of rolled oats makes 1 cup of oatmeal. It has 150 calories and 4 grams of fiber. 

People who eat oatmeal regularly tend to have a lower body mass index and lower risk for obesity, according to research in Nutrients. Another article in the same journal says that oatmeal can keep blood sugar lower after a meal among people with diabetes. Oatmeal is healthiest when made without sugar, but even sweetened oatmeal appears to be a healthier choice than refined cream of wheat cereal, according to research in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN

Ways to eat it for weight loss:

You can add some protein by making your oatmeal with milk or making overnight oatmeal using ½ cup of plain yogurt or cottage cheese and ½ cup of water or milk per ½ cup of rolled oats. Vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa powder can add flavor without calories. Then stir in fruit and 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts, flaxseed, or chia seeds.

Savory oatmeal is another choice. You can always add spinach, cooked squash, a cooked egg, or other savory ingredients to your basic oatmeal recipe.

Try This: Cottage Cheese Overnight Oatmeal 


  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup non-fat cottage cheese
  • ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup of sliced strawberries
  • ½ to 1 ounce of sliced almonds


  1. Mix the oats with the cottage cheese and almond milk in a container.
  2. Top with the strawberries and almonds.
  3. Cover the container and refrigerate it overnight. Serve it the next day.

2. Brown Rice

Brown Rice and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers with Egg

½ cup of cooked brown rice has 2 grams of fiber and 110 calories.

White rice may be linked to weight gain and diabetes risk. But brown rice seems to be helpful for weight loss and health. An article in Journal of Diabetes Investigation says a compound called γ-oryzanol may play a role in the effects of brown rice. You can swap it for white rice and keep portion sizes to ½ cup to get the benefits.

How to Use It:

Brown rice can be a side dish, go into a soup with vegetables and chicken, beans, or lentils, or be a component of a burrito or breakfast bowl with components such as beans, cooked vegetables, avocado or nuts, and fruit or chopped lettuce and tomatoes. 

Try This: Brown Rice and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers with Egg


  • 1 bell pepper, halved and cored
  • ⅓ cup of cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup of chopped mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 ounce of low-fat shredded cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook the bell pepper halves for 10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix the rice, mushrooms, olive oil, egg, and Italian seasoning.
  3. Spoon the rice mixture into the bell pepper halves. Top with the cheese.
  4. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

3. Whole-Wheat Bread

Whole-Wheat Bread

1 small slice has 60 calories and 2 grams of fiber. A large slice has 110 calories and 4 grams of fiber.

Simply swapping your regular white bread for whole-wheat bread can reduce visceral fat, according to research published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Visceral, central, or abdominal fat is what causes risks such as diabetes and heart disease.

How to Use It:

Just replace a refined white bread product with a whole-wheat one, such as bread, pita, English muffin, hamburger bun, or mini bagel. These are some ways to use them.

  • Open or closed-face peanut butter and berry sandwich.
  • Open-face avocado toast with tomatoes and sprouts.
  • Pizza with tomato sauce, low-fat cheese, and vegetables.
  • Veggie burger with tomatoes, lettuce, and mustard.
  • Pita pocket with sprouts, hummus, low-fat feta cheese, and diced tomatoes.

Try this: Whole-Wheat Pumpkin French Toast


  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • ½ cup of pumpkin puree (canned)
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons of brown sugar or 2 packets of low-calorie natural sweetener, such as stevia or monk fruit
  • 4 slices of whole-wheat bread, cut in strips


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the egg whites, milk, vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, and sugar or sweetener. 
  3. Dunk the bread strips into the mixture in the bowl, being sure to coat both sides. Place them on the baking pan.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the egg is set. You can serve them that day or the next day.

4. Popcorn


3 cups of air-popped popcorn have 120 calories and 3 grams of dietary fiber.

Have you been looking for whole-grain snacks? Popcorn is fun and inexpensive! But plain or light popcorn is very different from popcorn doused in butter, oil, or caramel topping. Buttered popcorn at a movie theater can have 400 to 1,000 calories. Caramel corn can up to 2,000 calories and 300 grams of sugar in a large tub!

How to Use It:

Popcorn can spike your blood sugar, so it is good to pair it with protein or healthy fat. You can eat it with some low-fat string cheese or ½ ounce of nuts, for example. Or, try these ideas.

  • Snack mix with 2 cups of popcorn, ½ cup of blueberries, and ½ ounce of nuts.
  • 2 to 3 cups of popcorn with 1 package (0.3 ounces) of roasted seaweed, shredded, as a topping.
  • 2 cups of popcorn with 1 ounce of melted low-fat cheese drizzled over, plus (optional) ½ diced apple.

Try this: Peanut Butter Apple Cinnamon Popcorn

Mix ½ diced apple with cinnamon. Put it over 2 cups of air-popped popcorn. Then drizzle 1 tablespoon of peanut butter over it.

5. Kabocha Squash


1 cup (about 6 ounces) of kabocha squash has 60 calories and 3 grams of fiber.

Kabocha is a winter squash. Other winter squash varieties, such as acorn and butternut, are similar in nutrients. Harvard School of Public Health says that they are filling but low in calories. In fact, they have about half the calories per serving as a sweet potato, even though they have similar nutrients, such as potassium and beta-carotene. Winter squash may be protective against certain types of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

How to Use It:

You can roast, stew, microwave, or boil it. The rind is edible, but you can peel it if you prefer. It is easier to peel when cooked. It can be a side dish on its own or with a drizzle of olive oil. Or it can go into soups or stews.

Try this: Thai-Inspired Kabocha Squash and Cauliflower with Peanut Sauce

Makes 4 servings


  • ¼ cup of peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 3 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 3 cups of kabocha squash, cubed


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, almond milk, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and garlic.
  3. Add the cauliflower and squash, and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Place on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Shredded Wheat

Shredded Wheat

½ cup of shredded wheat has 100 calories and 3 grams of dietary fiber.

Shredded wheat can give you a healthy, sugar-free choice for breakfast or a snack. It can help you lose weight when you choose it instead of a higher-calorie, higher-sugar food. For example, granola has 400 calories in a cup. And frosted corn flakes have 20 grams of sugar per cup. Lightly sweetened shredded wheat is still better than a sugary kids’ cereal, since it has about 10 grams of sugar per cup.

How to Use It:

You can add protein and antioxidants by mixing shredded wheat into milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese and adding fruit and seeds or nuts.

Try this: Shredded Wheat Baked “Fried” Fish

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 cup of shredded wheat, crushed into crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 12 ounces of tilapia


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the shredded wheat, paprika, parmesan cheese, and onion powder. 
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg whites.
  4. Dip the tilapia fillets into the egg whites and then into the shredded wheat mixture to coat both sides of the fish. Place the fish on the pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

7. Whole-Grain Pasta

Pasta Salad

½ cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti or noodles has 100 calories and 2 grams of fiber.

Just swap whole-grain pasta for white pasta to get benefits. Luckily, whole-grain pasta comes in most common pasta shapes, including spaghetti, rotini, penne, and elbow macaroni. 

How to Use It:

Keeping portion sizes small and serving pasta with vegetables and protein can give you a balanced, filling meal for weight loss. These are some ideas.

  • Spaghetti with chunky tomato sauce and soy protein or lean ground turkey
  • Spaghetti with cooked tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and salmon or chicken
  • Chicken noodle soup with celery, carrots, onions, low-sodium broth, whole-grain pasta, and cooked diced chicken
  • Pasta salad with plain yogurt, pureed avocado, chopped tomatoes and onion, chopped zucchini, and diced cooked chicken

Try this: Greek Pasta Salad


  • ⅓ cup of whole-grain pasta, cooked, such as rotini, penne, or fusilli.
  • 1 ounce of low-fat feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 cup of arugula or spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup of grape tomatoes, halved, or chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon of walnut halves or pieces


  1. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and oregano.
  2. In a larger bowl, toss the pasta, cheese, walnuts, tomatoes, and greens. 
  3. Pour the dressing over the pasta, toss to coat, and serve or refrigerate.

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Losing weight can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and that’s not all. When you lose a few extra pounds, energy levels can increase, cholesterol and blood pressure can improve, and clothes fit better. Best of all is that Lark makes weight loss simple!

Lark doesn’t just know which choices can lead to weight loss. Lark coaches you on how to make good choices that can become habits. With small changes that fit right into your lifestyle, you can drop pounds and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Your personal coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

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