12 Starchy Foods You Should Avoid If You’re Counting Your Calories

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy and most carbs can be divided into three main categories: sugar, fiber, and starch. Starches are the most common form of natural carbohydrates and an important source of energy. The most common natural starch sources include cereal grains and root vegetables.

Complex carbs found in whole-food starches are considered healthier because they gradually release sugar into the blood, rather than causing blood sugar levels to spike rapidly. But most of the foods you eat today are made from refined carbs that contain empty calories and little nutritional benefit. So, here’s a handy list of 12 carb-heavy foods.

1. Potatoes (18%)

Potatoes are often among the first foods that come to mind when you think of starchy foods. But potatoes don’t contain as much starch as flours, baked goods, or cereals, but they do contain more starch than other vegetables. A medium-sized baked potato (138 grams) contains 24.8 grams of starch, or 18% by weight. Potatoes are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and manganese.

2. Rice Cereal (72.1%)

Rice cereal is made with crisped rice. It is simply a combination of puffed rice and sugar paste that is formed into the crispy rice shapes. They are often fortified with vitamins and minerals. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains over a third of your daily needs for thiamine, riboflavin, folate, iron, and vitamins B6 and B12. That said, crispy rice cereal is highly processed and incredibly high in starch. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 20.2 grams of starch, or 72.1% by weight.

3. Sorghum Flour (68%)

Sorghum is a nutritious ancient grain that is ground to make sorghum flour. One cup (121 grams) of sorghum flour contains 82 grams of starch, or 68% by weight. Although it is high in starch, sorghum flour is a much better choice than most types of flour. That’s because it is gluten-free and an excellent source of protein and fiber. One cup contains 10.2 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Sorghum is also a great source of antioxidants.

4. Pretzels (71.3%)

Pretzels are a popular snack high in refined starch. A standard serving of 10 pretzel twists (60 grams) contains 42.8 grams of starch, or 71.3% by weight (10). Unfortunately, pretzels are often made with refined wheat flour. This type of flour may cause blood sugar spikes and leave you fatigued and hungry.

5. Millet Flour (70%)

Millet flour is made from grinding the seeds of millet, a group of very nutritious ancient grains. One cup (119 grams) of millet flour contains 83 grams of starch, or 70% by weight. Millet flour is also naturally gluten-free and rich in magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium.

6. White Flour (68%)

Whole-grain wheat has three key components. The outer layer is known as the bran, the germ is the grain’s reproductive part, and the endosperm is its food supply. White flour is made by stripping whole wheat of its bran and germ, which are packed with nutrients and fiber. This leaves just the endosperm, which is pulverized into white flour. It is generally low in nutrients and mostly contains empty calories. One cup (120 grams) of white flour contains 81.6 grams of starch, or 68% by weight.

7. Rice (28.7%)

Rice is the most commonly consumed staple food in the world. It is also high in starch, especially in its uncooked form. For instance, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of uncooked rice contain 80.4 grams of carbs, of which 63.6% is starch (43). However, when rice is cooked, the starch content drops dramatically. Therefore, 3.5 ounces of cooked rice only contains 28.7% starch, because cooked rice carries a lot more water.

8. Saltine Crackers (67.8%)

Saltine or soda crackers are thin, square crackers that are made with refined wheat flour, yeast, and baking soda. Although saltine crackers are low in calories, they are also low in vitamins and minerals. In addition, they are very high in starch. A serving of five standard saltine crackers (15 grams) contains 11 grams of starch, or 67.8% by weight (26).

9. Cornmeal (74%)

Cornmeal is a type of coarse flour made by grinding dried corn kernels. It is naturally gluten-free, which means it is safe to eat if you have celiac disease. Although cornmeal contains some nutrients, it is very high in carbs and starch. One cup (159 grams) contains 126 grams of carbs, of which 117 grams (74%) is starch.

10. Whole-Wheat Flour (57.8%)

Compared to refined flour, whole-wheat flour is more nutritious and lower in starch. This makes it a better option in comparison. For instance, 1 cup (120 grams) of whole-wheat flour contains 69 grams of starch, or 57.8% by weight. Although both types of flour contain a similar amount of total carbs, whole wheat has more fiber and is more nutritious. This makes it a much healthier option for your recipes.

11. White Bread (40.8%)

White bread is made almost exclusively from the endosperm of wheat which means it has a high starch content. Two slices of white bread contain 20.4 grams of starch, or 40.8% by weight (37). White bread is also low in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

12. Oats (57.9%)

Oats are one of the healthiest grains you can eat. They provide a good amount of protein, fiber and fat, as well as a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. This makes oats an excellent choice for a healthy breakfast. However, they are also high in starch. One cup of oats (81 grams) contains 46.9 grams of starch, or 57.9% by weight.