Best and Worst Carbs for a Balanced Diet
Spike Zone vs. Crash Zone
Sugar highs and lows affect all of us. A steady blood sugar curve equals balanced energy, and the only way to keep that curve steady is to eat balanced carbohydrates—those with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.They are absorbed in slow motion, fill us up faster, and keep us full longer.
Choose whole, plant-based foods, and make that ride smooth and steady. See our delicious picks for your meals throughout the day that keep your blood sugar steady, and your energy balanced.
Too many refined carbs = blood sugar spike. Insulin quickly transports the sugar to cells, and then blood sugar crashes, leaving you hungry again. Set yourself up for success by starting your day right.
Best: Whole Fruits and Grains
Start off with something that will last, like this whole grain English muffin breakfast sandwich where 32g of whole grain and fruity carbs meet protein-packed nut butter.
Worst: Sneaky Cereals
Watch out for sneaky culprits like a jam-covered plain bagel that packs in 70g of refined carbs or some "healthy" cereals like honey-sweet flakes and clusters. Look for 5:5:10– 5g fiber, 5g protein, and less than 10g sugar, with whole grains listed first when choosing cereal.
Limiting carbs becomes easier when you stop using them to replace healthy fats and learn where they hide. Don’t be afraid of the calories in healthy fats. Your body will thank you hours later when you're not craving the late night salty, sugary snack.
Choose the ounce of protein-packed peanuts (6g) over pretzels to tide you over until lunch; cut refined carbs by 17g.
Worst: Flavored Lattes
Skip the flavor pump and save 18g sugary carbs in your daily 16-ounce sip.
Refined carbs (white bread, sugar) are absorbed quickly and force the body to work harder, leaving us tired and hungry more often, which turns that curve into a roller coaster.
Best: Whole Grain Bread
White sub rolls pack a 51g refined-carb punch. Stick with 2 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread for 25g good carbs—pile with veggies and fiber-filled hummus.
Worst: Noodle Soups
This chicken noodle soup lunch may be low-fat, but there's a hefty refined-carb profile of 49 refined carbs and only 3g fiber–you'll be hungry in an hour.
End the day on a good note and go for a whole grain shushi roll over the saucy sandwich.
Best: Brown Rice
A California roll with brown rice has only 26g carbs—that's half the carbs and triple the fiber in a white rice tempura (battered = carbs) roll.
Worst: Saucy Sandwiches
This BBQ sauce and relish combo has 22g carbs, mostly sugars. A side of slaw adds 13g. Swap the bun for whole grain, go light on sauce, and pile on fresh veggies.