14 High Carb Foods (You Should Limit)

Clinical review: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
July 2022
  1. List of high carb foods
  2. What are carbs?
  3. Good carbs
  4. Carbs for muscle mass

Food that is high in carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, rice and all kinds of pasta, are an important source of energy for the body. However, when we eat too many carbs, the amount of body fat stored in the body may increase, so it is important not to overeat this type of food.

The recommended amount is only 200 to 300 grams of carbs a day, which is easily achieved by eating rice at lunch and dinner, a French bread roll and biscuits throughout the day.

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List of high carb foods

FoodsAmount of carbohydrates in 100 gEnergy in 100 g
Corn flakes81.1 g374 calories
Maize flour Biscuit72.0 g436 calories

Whole-grain toast

62.6 g364 calories
Cracker61.6 g451 calories
French bread roll57.3 g289 calories
Rye bread56.4 g263 calories
Rice28.0 g127 calories
Spaghetti19.9 g101 calories
Boiled Potato18.5 g85 calories
Peas18.1 g63 calories
Chickpeas16.7 g121 calories
Lentils16.7 g108 calories
Beans14.0 g91 calories
Soy beans7.5 g40 calories

The foods listed in this table are just some of the ones that have higher levels of carbohydrates, but other foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, pumpkin, beetroot, carrot, apple or pear, for example, also have carbohydrates in smaller amounts. 

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates (also known as also called carbs, glycide or sugar) are molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Their main function is to provide fast energy because they are easily digested and boost mood soon after consumption. When this energy is not burnt, however, it ends up being stored in the body as fat.

All vegetables have carbohydrates and the only animal-derived food that has carbohydrates is honey. The total daily consumption should not be more than 60% of your food intake.

There are 2 different types of carbohydrates:

1. Simple carbohydrates

Food that is rich in simple carbohydrates is usually sweet. Examples include refined sugar, French bread, honey, fruit jams, watermelon, raisins, cereals, white rice, cooked pasta, popcorn and sodas.

This type of carbohydrate is digested and absorbed very quickly by the body, which is why you feel hungry again soon after eating them. This food will typically have a moderate to high glycemic index, because their sugar quickly gets into the blood and should therefore be avoided by diabetics or anyone trying to lose weight.

2. Complex carbohydrates

Food that is rich in complex carbohydrates is usually less sweet. Some examples include whole-grain pasta and rice, as well as whole grain cereal, lentils, chickpeas, carrots, or peanuts.

Complex carbohydrates have a slower digestion rate which means they reach the blood more slowly. This can keep you feeling fuller for longer. These foods will usually have a low to moderate glycemic index, making them ideal for diabetics or anyone trying to lose weight

In addition, complex carbs are generally richer in B vitamins, iron, fiber and minerals.

What are good carbs?

Although many sources of carbohydrates can be good, choosing healthy carbohydrates like whole-grain products as well as fruits and vegetables may be better for anyone trying to lose weight or improve exercise results.

Therefore, good sources of carbohydrates are:

  • Fruits rich in carbohydrates and fibers: plum, papaya, fig;
  • Grains: brown rice, rice with beans, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread or bread with seeds;
  • Vegetables: beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower;
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas;
  • Tubers: sweet potatoes with peel, yams.

In general, food with high sugar content and carbs (e.g. cakes, cookies, cereal bars, popcorn, sweets and desserts) should not be eaten by those who want to lose weight or increase muscle mass. Your body type may also affect your weight goals - learn more about the different body types and how they can vary from each other. 

How to use carbs to gain muscle mass

To gain muscle mass, it is important to eat complex carbohydrates throughout the day as well as before exercising. Carbs can provide adequate energy for exercise, and it is recommended you eat some protein-rich food, such as yogurt, up to 1 hour after exercising to facilitate muscular hypertrophy. Taking supplements for muscle growth in conjunction with this diet can promote more hypertrophy. 

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in July 2022. Clinical review completed by Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian in July 2022.


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Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal