What Does a Healthy Serving of Carbs Look Like?

Carbs can be healthy if you choose the right carbs and don't overdo it on portions.

tomato and smoked mozzarella sandwiches

Oh, carbs. People love to love carbs and love to hate carbs. But carbohydrates aren't a demon food. In fact, they provide energy to our bodies and brains, and the right ones are packed with other nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Foods that give you carbs include grains, fruits, legumes, dairy foods and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, winter squash and corn. Sugar is a carb and foods like honey, maple syrup and sugar-sweetened beverages are loaded with simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs spike your blood sugar faster than complex carbohydrates, which are found in whole grains and have the addition of fiber which helps slow down the digestion.

Don't Miss: 6 Reasons You Should Be Eating Carbs

Being aware of how many carbs you eat is important, whether you are trying to lose weight, eat a more balanced diet or manage diabetes. One serving is about 15 grams of carbohydrates. And how many carbohydrates you need in a day depends on your individual needs. According to the Dietary Guidelines, carbohydrates should make up 45-65 percent of your daily calories. For example, if you need 2,000 calories a day, about 900-1,300 calories should come from eating carbohydrates. This translates to about 225-325 grams of carbohydrates or roughly 15-21 carbohydrate servings per day. Keeping your diet varied and getting your carbs from different sources is important, as it ensures you get all other nutrients too.

Here are some examples what one serving of carbs looks like and how many calories it provides.


Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

Recipe to Try: Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

1/2 cup cooked quinoa = 20 grams carbs = 111 calories

Whole-Grain Pasta

Ground Beef & Pasta Skillet

Recipe to try: Ground Beef & Pasta Skillet

1/2 cup cooked whole-wheat pasta = 23 grams carbs = 112 calories

Brown Rice


Recipe to try: Easy Brown Rice

1/2 cup cooked brown rice = 22 grams carbs = 103 calories


1/2 cup cooked oatmeal = 14 grams carbs = 83 calories


Lime & Parmesan Popcorn

Recipe to try: Lime & Parmesan Popcorn

3 cups popped popcorn = 19 grams carbs = 93 calories



Recipe to try: Raspberry Yogurt Cereal Bowl

1/2 cup mini shredded wheat cereal = 20 grams carbs = 86 calories

Mashed Potatoes

Sautéed Leek Mashed Potatoes

Recipe to try: Sautéed Leek Mashed Potatoes

1 cup mashed potatoes = 30 grams carbs = 243 calories

Whole-Wheat Bread

tomato and smoked mozzarella sandwiches

Recipe to try: Tomato & Smoked Mozzarella Sandwiches

1 slice whole-wheat bread = 12 grams carbs = 71 calories

English Muffin

Peanut Butter & Chia Berry Jam English Muffin

Recipe to try: Peanut Butter & Chia Berry Jam English Muffin

1/2 whole-wheat English muffin = 13 grams carbs = 67 calories


Whole-Wheat Veggie Wrap

Recipe to try: Whole-Wheat Veggie Wrap

1 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla = 15 grams carbs = 92 calories

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