Most people who want to lose weight think they have to avoid flour and bread at all costs.
What they may not know is how abundant the options are when it comes to healthy flours. That’s because many grains, nuts, and even dried fruits can be ground into flour. And as you can imagine, many provide a healthier alternative to white flour.
While some pose unique baking challenges, others mimic gluten’s baking properties very well. This guide will serve as a short primer to 7 choices that will help you decide which flour is best for weight loss.
7 Healthy Flours to Help You Lose Weight
In this section, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of everything from almond flour to coconut.
1. Whole Wheat Flour
Calories per cup: 408
As kids, we can remember cringing at the mention of “whole wheat.” But not only is whole wheat healthier, but it can also be delicious when used right. Besides, as we develop more complex tastes as adults, its richness becomes something to cherish.
While white flour removes the nutrient-rich bran and germ, whole wheat flour is made by grinding the entire wheat kernel into a powder. Our stone-milled whole wheat flour preserves the fiber, protein, and rich flavor that the whole grain provides.
While 100% whole wheat recipes exist, especially for bread, we suggest easing in if you’re not used to both the taste and the unique changes whole wheat flour lends to the baking process. It’s denser, and therefore less is needed. That also means it’s more absorbent, so plan on adding more liquids. And the good news is you’ll never have to worry about overmixing. While overmixing white flour can make for chewy goods, with whole wheat, it makes for fluffy results.
2. Gluten-Free Blend
Calories per cup: 400
As you’ve begun to notice, most healthy flour alternatives don’t behave in the oven quite like traditional flour. That’s why they’re often paired together, using the best qualities of various flours to mimic the way gluten works.
And while you can certainly blend your own, pastry chefs over time have gotten the gluten-free blend down to a science.
Most are made by combining lighter starches for binding and texture with heavier flours for nutrition and flavor. Our gluten-free flour blend features brown rice, white rice, millet, sorghum, and xanthan gum, a thickening agent.
Millet is known for its gut-friendly prebiotic fiber whereas sorghum is known for its rich antioxidants. Brown rice rounds out the glycemic index, giving you a slower burn of energy. Overall, our flour is versatile with its mild flavor and all-purpose texture.
3. Almond Flour
Calories per cup: 163
Fat: 14.2g (9g monosaturated)
Delicious and underrated, almond flour boasts twice the protein and three times the fiber of traditional flour. Known for their monosaturated fats, almonds are rich in essential vitamin E, fiber, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. With far fewer carbohydrates than all-purpose flour, it can appeal to the fit crowd as well as those avoiding gluten. But also, it’s simply delicious.
Delicate and nutty, almond flour can lend moisture and depth to pastries and cakes. However, almond flour cannot be swapped with traditional flour 1-to-1 as it doesn’t bind as well to other ingredients. Nonetheless, you can find recipes by respected pastry chefs that embrace this flour’s unique properties, adding a punch of nutrients and flavor to familiar baked goods.
4. Amaranth Flour
Calories per cup: 251
Practically a foreign word, amaranth is actually an ancient grain and a dietary staple throughout human history. This tiny pebble-like grain is a pseudocereal if we want to get technical, lending it an earthier, nuttier flavor to its cousins, wheat, barley, and the bunch. And unlike its cousins, amaranth is gluten-free and abundant with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients.
Greek for “everlasting,” amaranth flour has more than twice the protein of white flour and contains lysine, a vital amino acid that grains notoriously lack. Healthline cites several studies showing its potential to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and aid weight loss.
Baking with amaranth alone is not recommended as it absorbs a ton of water content, making baked goods too dense. Therefore, it’s best when combined as part of a baking mix with other flours, gluten-free or traditional.
5. Chickpea Flour
Calories per cup: 356
You would never think of chickpeas as the basis for flour. However, one of its beloved qualities is its ability to bind, holding up well in recipes calling for some structure. While its flavor profile may not suit decadent sweet treats, it shines in waffles or as a frying batter. In fact, its most famous use is in the Mediterranean dish soca, an unleavened pancake. And it boasts more than twice the protein and five times the fiber of traditional flour.
6. Oat Flour
Calories per cup: 553.5
Ah, the humble oat: a trusty pantry staple with its milky texture and distinct, quiet flavor. The oat has been around for a long time but it’s still not common to find oat flour pastries. That’s a shame because unlike other flours on this list, oat flour behaves similarly in the oven as white flour and can often be substituted completely. As Food & Wine magazine puts it, it has “a mild flavor that takes a backseat to vanilla, nutmeg, and butter.” Yum!
And it packs a punch when it comes to nutrients, boasting healthy fats known to reduce cholesterol as well as fiber, protein, and minerals. And oat flour is known for its slow-burn carbs; with a lower glycemic index than white flour, they take longer for your body to turn to sugars for energy. And while it wasn’t always the case, you can now more easily find oat flour made in facilities free of gluten.
7. Coconut Flour
Calories per cup: 480
Another lesser-known contender, coconut flour, ground from finely ground dried coconut meat, packs a fibrous punch. A little more temperamental than other flours on the list, bakers don’t recommend recipes using this flour exclusively.
That’s because of its astonishingly “thirsty” nature, quenching up moisture.
Instead, use it in a 1-to-4 ratio with traditional flour or a gluten-free blend. It shines in anything requiring a crisp edge and lends its gluten-free, nut-free, tropical flavor to whatever it touches.
Which Flour Is Best for Weight Loss?
That’s hard to say. For the calorie-conscious, almond and amaranth flour have the lowest count on this list. But as you know, there are many other factors to consider such as glycemic index, carbs, protein, and nutrients.
You can be confident that all of our choices here have higher nutritional value overall compared to white flour, not that it’s a high bar! They all have more fiber, essential for a happier gut, and a lower glycemic index, for a slower burn of energy. They boast healthier fats and much more protein than traditional flour.
If you’d like to investigate further, a proper nutritionist or dietician can help you navigate the world of alternative flours. But we hope this guide served as a great starting point.
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