Regardless of what diet you’re following, the key to not feeling deprived is to consume a variety of foods from all the food groups—including grains.
At EatingWell, we recommend that on a low-carb diet you get about 40 percent of your calories from carbs—or at least 120 grams of carbs total per day. That amount optimizes brain and nervous cell function, and helps to satisfy nutrient needs as long as the carbs are coming from healthy foods. It’s also more doable and less restrictive than following super-low-carb diets, like the ketogenic diet.
1/2 cup cooked quinoa = 18 g carbohydrates
Quinoa is one of the grains with the biggest fanfare, thanks to its protein and fiber content—8 and 5 grams respectively per cup, according to the USDA. But remember, just because it’s a higher-protein grain doesn’t mean it’s super low in carbs. A 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa has 18 grams of carbohydrates, so make sure to plan that into your day.
1 cup of cooked oatmeal = 28 g carbohydrates
If you’re going to have a big bowl of carbs—even on a low-carb diet—make it oatmeal. Oats contain beta-glucan, which helps slow digestion and improve blood cholesterol levels, according to a 2019 review in Nutrients.
Whether you’re going for a serving of old-fashioned, quick-cooking or steel-cut oats, they all contain about 27 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup dry. Make sure you buy plain versions rather than flavored instant oats, which come with a lot of added sugar.