High-Carbohydrate Food List

Too many carbohydrates can lead to weight gain.

Eating too many carbohydrates (carbs), especially sugar and starchy carbs, may cause weight gain and high blood sugar levels. Likewise, the American Diabetes Association reports people with diabetes should generally limit carbohydrate intake to 45 to 60 grams per meal, depending on what their doctor or dietitian approves.

High-Carb Food List

According to MDHealth.com, the following foods are high in carbs. If you're following a low-carb eating plan, eat these foods in moderation.

Sugars and Sweets

This category includes both sugar in its natural forms and foods that contain sugar. Although some foods that contain sugar are less processed than others, they're still considered high-carb options.

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa mix
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Corn starch
  • Syrups
  • Jellies
  • Jams
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Pudding
  • Chocolate
  • Cake
  • Candy bars
  • Fruit snacks
  • Doughnuts
  • Pop-tarts
  • Granola bars
  • Regular sodas
  • Sweet tea
  • Sugary drinks


Authority Nutrition reports fruit contains fructose and glucose. This bumps up their carb count. If you're on a low-carb diet, most fruits are off-limits.

  • Fruit juice
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Applesauce
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Dates

Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are notorious for being high in carbs. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, starchy carbs break down into glucose, yet many are also a good source of fiber.

  • White potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Squash


Legumes are a good source of vegetarian protein. Compared to many other carbs, they have a lower glycemic index. Still, legumes do add to your carb count, and most low-carb diets suggest limiting them.

  • Lentils
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Navy beans
  • Lima beans
  • Baked beans

Dairy Products

You can still enjoy dairy in moderation on a low-carb diet. Beware of yogurt sweetened with fruit. Many of these products are high in carbs thanks to added sugars:

  • Low-fat milk
  • Whole milk
  • Regular yogurt
  • Low-fat and fat-free yogurt

Whole Grains and Refined Grains

If you can't avoid grains altogether, opt for whole grains over refined grains. According to John Berardi, Ph.D, you can enjoy unprocessed whole grains in moderation. Although many whole grains are high in carbs, they're are also high in fiber which lowers their net carb count.

Here are some high-carb whole grains and refined grains:

  • Breads
  • White rice
  • Pasta
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of wheat
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Bagels
  • Muffins
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • French toast
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Rice cakes
  • Whole wheat flour
  • White flour
  • Rice flour
  • Corn flour

Other Foods

WebMD lists these unexpected foods that top the high-carb list:

  • Flavored almond milk
  • Tomato sauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Protein bars
  • Sugar-free baked goods

Some alcoholic beverages are also high in carbs, such as:

  • Regular beer
  • Gin and tonic
  • Mojito
  • Margarita
  • Daiquiri
  • Mixed drinks that are sweet

Tips to Reduce High-Carbohydrate Foods

Substitute lower-carb foods for high-carb ones and opt for less overall sugar and refined grains. Try these simple ways to lower your carbohydrate counts.

Protein, Fats, and Veggies

Choose low-carb protein foods, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables such as:

  • Lean meats
  • Un-breaded chicken and fish
  • Seafood
  • Soy products
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Reduced fat cheeses
  • Vegetable oils
  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butter (in moderation since they do contain some carbohydrates)
  • Leafy greens
  • Cauliflower
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers

Skip the Sugar

Reduce or avoid sugars, sweets, and refined grains including:

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Regular pasta
  • Foods on the "sugars and sweets" food list

Focus on Fiber

Replace sugars, sweets, and refined grains with high-fiber carbs. Try some of these options:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Whole grains, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals
  • Legumes

Choose Healthy Carbohydrates

Your body requires carbs on a daily basis to function properly. In fact, carbs are a main fuel source for the human body, especially for athletes. Consuming healthy, high-fiber carbs in moderation can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The Mayo Clinic (Mayo) recommends adults consume 45 to 65 percent of their total daily calorie intake from carbs. So if you eat 2,000 calories a day, your total daily carb intake should be between 225 and 325 grams. When planning well-balanced meals for weight management, choose healthy carbs such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products.

All About Balance

Although consuming too many carbs can lead to weight gain, they're still part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Unless you're following a specific low-carb meal plan or have diabetes or another condition that may require you to limit carbs, aim to consume enough healthy, high-fiber carbs each day as recommended by Mayo. If you're unsure about the carb content of a certain food, the USDA National Nutrient Database is a helpful resource.

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High-Carbohydrate Food List