Good Carbs Vs. Bad Carbs
List of Low Carbs Foods and Complex Carb List

Good Carb vs. Bad Carb


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The word "carb" seems to be talked about everywhere in today’s society.  So many diets today confuse us with their "for" or "against" approaches that the truth about carbohydrates gets lost in the shuffle.  Read on and learn exactly what carbs are and why they are important for our health.

What are Carbohydrates?

According to a carbohydrate is any group of substances containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, especially the sugars and starches found in food. 

This sounds great but let’s read into this a bit further.  Carbohydrates require less water to digest than proteins or fats and are the most common source of energy. Proteins and fat are vital building components for body tissue and cells and are also a source of energy for the body.  In essence, carbohydrates are not essential nutrients.  The body is capable of obtaining its energy from proteins and fats but the Institute of Medicine recommends American adults get 40-65% of their dietary energy from carbohydrates.

How Does the Body Break Down Carbs?

All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars. These sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy.

Simple carbohydrates are broken down much faster and cause insulin levels to spike quickly where as complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and cause a gradual increase in insulin levels.

What are Simple and Complex Carbohydrates?

Depending on the size of the molecule, carbohydrates may be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are various forms of sugar, such as glucose and fructose. Because they are small molecules, they can be broken down by the body quickly and are the quickest source of energy. Fruits, dairy products, honey, and maple syrup contain large amounts of simple carbohydrates, which provide the sweet taste in most candies and processed snacks (i.e. cakes).  Eating too many of these types of sugars can cause insulin levels to spike. Foods containin simple carbohydrates are also considered to be high on the glycemic index.

Complex carbohydrates are composed of long strings of simple carbohydrates. Because complex carbohydrates are larger molecules than simple carbohydrates, they are slower sources of energy. However, energy can be generated from them relatively quickly. Complex carbohydrates occur in wheat products (such as breads and pastas), other grains (such as rye and corn), beans, and root vegetables (such as potatoes).

What does this mean to me?

Well, depends on what your fitness goals are.  If you’re trying to lose weight, eating complex healthy carbs in the right proportions along with lean proteins and healthy fats (yes, there is such a thing) can have great results. In fact, any diet that doesn't include carbohydrates can have adverse health side effects.  However, eating those simple carbs high in sugar (often referred to as bad carbs) will fill your body with empty nutrition-less calories that will provide no benefit other than making you round.

Good Carbohydrates: (Low Glycemic Carbs)

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grain breads
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Whole grain pastas
  • Some dairy products

Bad Carbohydrates: (High Glycemic Carbs)

  • Refined grains like white bread and white rice
  • Processed foods such as cake, cookies, chips, certain lunch meats, hotdog's
  • Soft drinks
  • Alcohol

Did You Like This Article? Check Out Carbohydrates 101


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