Starches vs. Non-Starchy Vegetables

carbs for weight loss, starches and non-starchy vegetables, freshman 15 avoid

carbs for weight loss, starches and non-starchy vegetables, freshman 15 avoid

The #1 thing that has helped me the most in my personal weight management journey is limiting starchy foods.

I generally think a diet that is overall low in starchy foods is good for our health. Here is a great, well written, well-researched article: Important nutrition myths debunked!

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Starchy foods are NOT BAD! No food is bad :) There are no “good foods” or “bad foods”.

Starchy foods are helpful for many reasons:

  1. We need the nutrients they provide!

  2. They’re emotionally satisfying

  3. They provide immediate energy

BUT eating a diet higher in protein and fat (while still including some starchy foods), compared to a diet higher in starchy foods, may be more filling and help us more easily meet our health goals.



Starches include grains like bread, rice, pasta, and quinoa, and starchy vegetables include beans, peas, corn, potatoes, hummus, falafel, and French fries.

Here’s a (pretty) complete list! And what “1 serving” includes (about 120 calories per serving).


  • Bagel: 1/2 bagel

  • Barley: 1/2 cup cooked

  • Bread - white, whole wheat, rye, etc.: 1 medium slice

  • Bulgar: 1/2 cup cooked

  • Farro: 1/2 cup cooked

  • Flour - whole wheat, corn meal, rye etc.

  • Oatmeal: 1/2 cup uncooked

  • Pasta: 1/2 cup cooked

  • Quinoa: 1/2 cup cooked

  • Rice - white, brown, wild: 1/2 cup cooked

Starchy Vegetables

  • Acorn squash: 2 cups

  • Beans, lentils, split peas, and black-eyed peas: 1/2 cup cooked

  • Butternut squash: 2 cups

  • Corn: 1 cup kernels

  • Hummus: 1/3 cup

  • Falafel: depends on the type!

  • Parsnips: 1 cup cooked

  • Peas: 1 cup cooked

  • Plantains: 1/2 medium, raw

  • Popcorn: 4 cups popped

  • Potato - sweet, white, etc.: 1 medium potato

  • Pumpkin: 2 cups


Non-starchy veggies are also so important to eat for a number of reasons:

  1. They have so many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals

  2. They add a lot of VOLUME to meals and snacks, without adding many calories

Non-Starchy Vegetables

1 serving = 1 cup - except for leafy greens, where 2 cups of raw leafy greens = 1 cup of vegetables (because there’s so much air in there!)

  • Artichoke/ hearts

  • Asparagus

  • Beets

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Broccoli

  • Cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Cucumber

  • Eggplant

  • Green beans

  • Leafy greens e.g. collard, kale, mustard, turnip, bok choy, kohlrabi

  • Jicama

  • Leeks

  • Mushrooms

  • Okra

  • Onions

  • Peppers

  • Radishes

  • Snap peas

  • Sprouts

  • Summer squash

  • Spaghetti squash

  • Tomato

  • Turnips

  • Water chestnuts

  • Zucchini

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