A Color-Coded Guide to Eating the Right Carbs

It's an antiquated notion that all carbs are bad for weight loss, but cutting them out entirely often feels like the easiest option—especially since figuring out which grains and sugars are A-okay can be a bit mystifying. 

But it can also make all the difference. "I believe carbs are the single most important thing you can eat for weight loss and overall health," diet guru Dr. Mark Hyman tells Mind Body Green. He points out that almost all plant foods fall under the carb category, meaning that a plant-based diet—which is widely touted by experts as a surefire approach to eating for weight loss—is technically high-carb.

The trick, Hyman says, is to classify carbs into four categories, color-coded like a traffic light: Green carbs are unlimited, yellow are to be eaten in moderation, red are to be enjoyed sparingly, and the rest fall under "forbidden." And because, in many cases, the colors are fairly literal, it's easier to remember which are which. Some examples below:

Green: broccoli, greens, seaweed, Brussels sprouts, green beans, asparagus

Yellow: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, farro, buckwheat), legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), stone fruit (cherries, peaches), pears, apples

Red: high-sugar fruits (grapes, melons), high-glycemic vegetables (potatoes, beets, corn, root vegetables)

Forbidden: dried fruit, processed grains

Simple, right? And of course it's not just about how often you're eating them but how much, as well. Keep your serving sizes in check—particularly with those yellow and red carbs—with the help of a food scale, like Olzeri's Pronto ($12).

Do you think this guide to carbs is helpful? What's your favorite trick for eyeballing portion sizes? Sound off in the comments below!

Opening Image: Pinch of Yum