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High Carb Foods and Low Carb Foods

February 6, 2020
Guide to Carbohydrates: Foods with High and Low Carbs - Lark Health

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Watching the amount of carbohydrates you eat is an important part of many diets. Whether you are trying to find foods that are low in carbs for a keto diet, or make a meal that is rich in carbohydrates to feel full, finding these foods can be a challenge. We’ve assembled a list of high-carb foods, as well as a list of low-carb foods to help you get started!

High-Carb Foods

Harvard Medical School explains that for most people, carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the diet. Getting the right amount of carbohydrates is an important factor in weight control and health. The calorie-providing types of carbohydrates are sugars and starches, and high-carb foods are rich in one or both of these.

Another consideration is quality of carbohydrate foods. Some high-carb foods are healthy and include important nutrients such as protein, healthy fat, fiber, or certain vitamins or minerals. Others are little more than refined starch or sugar, or unhealthy fats. These are some healthy high-carb foods to be aware of. Your Lark coach can help you make more nutritious choices when you opt for high-carb foods.

1. Grains

Low in protein and fat, grains are nearly all carb – specifically, starch. According to Mayo Clinic, refined grains are especially starchy because other nutrients have been stripped away, while whole grains retain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a bit of healthy fat. Since they have similar healthy carb counts, you are better off choosing whole grains rather than refined when you can.

Refined include white bread, white rice, white pasta, and refined cereals. Whole grains include whole-grain bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereal. Other grain-based foods include refined and whole-grain crackers and pretzels.

2. Fruit

Most fruit is low in starch, but high in sugar and total carbs. Raisins and other dried fruit are especially carbohydrate-dense, as is fruit juice. Bananas, pineapples, grapes, mangoes, apples, and figs are some of the higher-carb fruits. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has nutrition information for many common foods.

3. Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are appropriately named, but do not let their carb content scare you off. They contain fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, among other nutrients. Corn, peas, sweet potatoes, winter squash such as acorn and butternut, and potatoes are all high-carb foods with healthy properties.

4. Legumes (Beans, Peas, Lentils)


Beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans are high in starch, but also in protein, fiber, iron, and potassium, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. They are also linked to health benefits such as lower risk for certain cancers, so they can be considered a healthy carb.

5. Sugar and Sugar-Sweetened Foods and Beverages

These foods are less nutritious, as the Dietary Guidelines explain! They have carbs from added sugars and often from starches. Sugar, honey, molasses, brown sugar, and syrups are nothing but sugar, and candy and jam are nearly all sugar. So are soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened coffee beverages. Cakes, cookies, pies, and other baked goods are sugary, starchy, and often high in fat. S

6. Mixed High-Carb Foods

“Mixed” foods have a few components. They can be healthy, but are often not. Examples include pizza with a high-carb crust, chips and nachos, with carbs in the potato or corn in the chips, sandwiches, with carbs in the bread, granola bars, and breaded foods, such as fried chicken and fish, onion rings, and eggplant parmesan.

Here is your high carb food list to help you!

High-Carb Food and Serving Size Carbohydrates, Grams
Large cinnamon roll with icing
Apple pie
Muffin from bakery or café
French fries, large
Raisins, ½ cup
Crispy chicken or fish sandwich
Chocolate cake with frosting, 1 slice
Bagel, from bakery or café
Grapes, 1 cup
Low-fat granola, 2/3 cup
Fruit smoothie, 12 oz.
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup
Sweet potato, 1 cup cooked
Regular (non-diet) soda, 1 12-oz. can
White or whole-grain pasta, 1 cup cooked
Banana, 1 medium
Cheese pizza, 1 slice of large
Apple, 1 large
100% fruit juice or juice drink, 8 oz.
Honey Nut Cheerios, 1 cup
Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked
White rice, ½ cup cooked
Cookie, 1 medium
Pretzels, 1 oz.
Acorn squash, 1 cup cooked
Potato chips, 1 oz
Jam or jelly, 1 tablespoon
White or whole-grain bread, 1 small slice (1 oz.)
Corn, ½ cup
Potato, white, ½ cup cooked
Beans or lentils, ½ cup cooked or canned
Waffle, 1 small frozen

Low-Carb Foods

Low-carb foods can help you out if you are on a low-carb diet for weight loss, blood sugar control, or other health reasons. Some are healthy and packed with protein, healthy fats, and/or other nutrients, but a few contain unhealthy fats. This list of low-carb foods can help you keep carbs in check and choose healthier options. Lark can also guide you in healthier choices as you watch your carbs.

1. Meat, Poultry, and Seafood

Why Fish Is a Healthy Protein, And How To Get More Of It

Meat, poultry, and fish have no carbohydrates. Some types of shellfish have a minimal amount, and processed meats, such as ham, can have a bit of sugar or starch. Although fat has no carbs, trim the fat from meat and the skin from poultry to lower your consumption of unhealthy saturated fats. Choosing fish when possible is a heart-healthy choice.

2. Fats

While all pure fats are carbohydrate-free, some are healthier than others. Opt for olive oil and other plant-based oils when you have the chance, and limit butter, margarine and shortening with hydrogenated oils, and lard.

3. Nuts, Peanuts, and Seeds

Peanuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and other nuts are low-carb and rich in healthy fats. They also provide protein and fiber.

4. Cheese

Milk is a natural source of carbs, and yogurt can have 10, 20, or more grams of carbohydrates, but cheese is low-carb. Mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, feta, parmesan, and blue cheese are just a few low-carb cheeses. Cottage cheese is also low-carb, although slightly higher than aged cheese.

5. Non-Starchy Vegetables

You name it, it is a good choice for a low-carb food. Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and calories, and often high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Leafy greens such as spinach and lettuces, cucumbers, sprouts, celery, mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are just a few of the possibilities.

6. Water and Other Beverages

Water is the ultimate calorie-free, carb-free beverage, and unsweetened herbal tea and decaffeinated green tea, black tea, and coffee are also great choices. While sugar-free diet drinks are carb-free, they are less healthy.

Below is a list of low carb foods you can enjoy!

Low-Carb Food and Serving Size Carbohydrates, Grams
Fish, such as tuna, salmon, trout, halibut, tilapia, etc., 3 oz.
Chicken or turkey, 3 oz.
Beef or pork, 3 oz.
Shrimp and crab, 3 oz.
Oil, butter, margarine, shortening, 1 teaspoon
Egg, 1 whole
Water, 8 oz.
String cheese, 1 oz.
Mushrooms, raw, 1 cup
Zucchini, cooked, 1 cup
Ham, 3 oz.
Lettuce, 2 cups
Cottage cheese, ½ cup
Avocado, ¼ cup
Broccoli or cauliflower, cooked, 1 cup
Mussels or clams, 3 oz.
Sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons
Almonds, 1 oz.
Eggplant, cooked, 1 cup
Peanuts, 1 oz.

Getting Help

Friends, family, a personal trainer, and fitness instructors can help you along the way. A personal health coach can also help. Lark is a fully-automated program that is available to users 24/7. You can chat with your coach anytime, set and work towards exercise and diet goals, and get customized feedback and coaching. With motivation, reminders, and tracking features, Lark DPP and other Lark programs can help you hit exercise recommendations and is Fully CDC Recognized.

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