6 Healthy and Filling Foods to Eat When You're Craving Carbs

Some of the greatest foods known to man are made up of carbohydrates and we never want to live in a world without pizza, pasta, and bread. But what these delicious foods offer in taste and satiety, they can lack in nutritional value. Refined and processed carbohydrates like those found in white bread and pasta, especially when consumed with abandon, may contribute to overeating and weight gain.

That said, not all carbohydrates are bad. "People often say that carbs are fattening. But complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, are not 'fattening' foods,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD in a blog post for the Cleveland Clinic. Carbohydrates are one of our most important energy sources and make up one of three macronutrients our bodies need to function properly (the other two being protein and fat).

When you're craving carbs, consider filling, fiber-rich complex options that give your body sustained energy. Try these six carb-forward foods now.

Whole Wheat and Alternative Pasta

Alternative pasta dishes with a side of cilantro
The Modern Proper

We like this first suggestion because it's actually realistic and attempting to satiate your pasta craving with a fiber-rich apple just isn't going to cut it. Whole wheat pasta, on the other hand, tastes similar enough to white pasta but includes all three parts of the grain, making it slower to digest and higher in fiber—just be sure to check the ingredient label to ensure the first ingredient is indeed whole wheat flour.

The same goes for other pasta alternatives like chickpea pasta (which contains more protein and less carbs than whole wheat pasta), or quinoa pasta, which makes a good pasta alternative for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Quinoa pasta is also a good source of iron and magnesium.

Explore Cuisine Organic Chickpea Spaghetti $8
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Whole Grain Bread

Toasted vegetarian sandwich stack
The Modern Proper

When you're craving bread, whole grain bread or 100 percent whole wheat bread offers far more health benefits than white bread. As a complex carbohydrate, it also contains all three fiber and nutrient parts of the grain, making it slower to digest and more filling. Make sure to read the nutrition labels (the ingredient list on your loaf should include the word "whole"). Look out for ingredients like fructose and "enriched" flours, which may dilute the nutrition value of your loaf, and may spike your blood sugar quicker than true whole grains. When it comes to carbs in general, opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread, oats, brown rice, and lentils.

Dave's Killer Bread Organic Sprouted Whole Grains, 2 Loaves $6
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Black Beans and Legumes

Bowl of chickpeas and black beans
The Modern Proper

These two also get points for actually filling you up. Both beans and legumes are a great inexpensive, vegetarian source of protein, fiber, and a host of necessary nutrients. Due to their fiber content, they can help you feel full longer. One cup of chickpeas, for example, boasts 11 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber—40% of the recommended daily fiber intake for women. Bone boosting calcium and phosphate bump up chickpeas' nutritional value, too.

Eden Organic Black Beans, pack of 12 $30
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Quinoa

Quinoa, chicken, avocado salad
The Modern Proper

Gluten free quinoa, an indigenous plant to the Andean region of South America, is one of the most nutrient-rich whole grains (though technically, quinoa is a seed) and is packed with protein. One cup of cooked quinoa includes 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, as well as a great dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and B vitamins. It's a great alternative to rice in just about any meal, like the above quinoa bowl from The Modern Proper. Plus, quinoa is considered a complete protein, or in other words, it contains all nine amino acids our bodies can't produce on its own and is essential to daily life.

Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa $7
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Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes topped with greens and avocado slices
The Modern Proper

They may be sweet, but thanks to their fiber content, sugar in sweet potatoes won't spike your blood sugar, according to Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian writing for Health. Sweet potatoes are also chock full of Vitamin A and C, which also work as antioxidants to strengthen cells against aging and disease. To inspire your next meal, try sweet potato, corn, and feta fritters with spicy red pepper sauce.

Alexia Sweet Potato Fries $3
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Barley

Bowl of Barley with lemons and greens
The Modern Proper

With six grams of stomach-filling fiber, barley is a high-grade appetite suppressant that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugars, and improved satiety. It can also help to regulate your digestive system. Try adding it to a summer salad from Modern Proper or use it as a soup base instead of noodles.

Organic Italian Pearled Barley
Agribosco Organic Italian Pearled Barley $5
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Article Sources
MyDomaine uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. American Heart Association. Carbohydrates. April 16, 2018

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Are Carbs Really That Bad for You — or Not? January 3, 2018

  3. USDA. Macronutrients.

  4. Harvard School of Public Health. Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar.

  5. National Institute of Health. Rough Up Your Diet—Fit More Fiber Into Your Day.

  6. Harvard School of Public Health. Quinoa.

  7. Harvard School of Public Health. Protein.

  8. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118-26. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70902

  9. Bashir KMI, Choi JS. Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(9). doi:10.3390/ijms18091906

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