We thought about making a joke about grains, but it ended up being corny. You may be thinking, “Rye didn’t I come up with that?” Are we going too farro with this? We apologize, but once the puns get going, it’s hard to stop that train from rolling.
For people who watch the amount of carbohydrates they consume, grains are always off limits. With the increased popularity of low-carb diets, like the ketogenic, carnivore, or paleo diets, more and more people avoid grains at all costs. Regardless of the person’s reasoning for avoiding grains, the simple fact is that they contain a lot of carbohydrates, but there are many low-carb grain options for people who still want to indulge.
The grains in this article do have carbohydrates, but the incredible fiber content essentially reduces the carbohydrate count. In doing so, you are left with fewer digestible carbs, i.e. net carbs. For example, if a one cup of one grain contains 30 grams of carbs and five grams of fiber, there are 25 net grams of carbs in that cup. The seven best low-carb grains are detailed below.
This common cereal grain typically comes from cracked wheat berries. Bulgur probably has fewer carbs than any other grain on this list. This versatile grain is often found in salads, tabbouleh, pilaf, and the occasional porridge. It’s an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, and iron, and has 25.5 net carbs per cup. Because it contains wheat, this grain is not safe for people with wheat sensitivities, allergies, or Celiac disease.
Derived from grasses in the Zizania genus of plants, wild rice is a grain that has fewer carbs than regular white rice. It boasts more fiber than white rice (barely any fiber there to begin with) and it has ten times the amount of antioxidant activity as white rice. Wild rice contains zinc, folate, and vitamin B6, and logs 32 grams of net carbs per cup.
This grain is not a staple ingredient in the Standard American Diet, but it is a protein-rich grain that’s widely consumed in developing countries. It is gluten free and contains a lot of fiber, magnesium, folate, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It also provides more essential amino acids than other cereals. With just 41 grams of net carbs per cup, there’s no reason not to consume millet.
We’re oat so happy to include oats on this list! Okay, the puns are done now…we promise. One cup of cooked oats contains 21 grams of net carbs because of the high fiber content. Additionally, oats contain a fiber known as beta-glucan, which has demonstrated an ability to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Oats also offer other nutrients like thiamine, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
Spelt is one of the healthiest whole grains that you can eat. It’s an ancient grain that has been associated with reduced rates of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. While spelt is on the higher end of the carb count with 44 grams of net carbs per cup, it does contain other beneficial nutrients, including manganese, magnesium, niacin, and zinc.
This food that’s so nice they named it twice! Commonly made from semolina flour or durum wheat, couscous is a staple grain in many Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes. Most people don’t know that couscous is an excellent source of selenium, which is an essential trace mineral that encourages a healthy thyroid, immune system, and heart. One cup of couscous contains 34.5 grams of net carbs.
Used in the production of beer, barley wheat is a common grain that has a distinct texture and nutty flavor. When you purchase barley for consumption, it’s best to purchase hulled barley because it is a whole grain and less processed. One cup of cooked barley contains 41.5 grams of net carbs, and it also offers manganese, selenium, magnesium, copper, and zinc.