Complex vs. Simple Carbohydrates (Good vs. Bad Carbs)

June 4, 2017


Unrefined sugar, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, integral cereals

It all has a logic explanation, even the reason why there are two types of carbohydrates. Integral refers to a product which is not refined, one that you find in its natural state. Carbs are usually submitted to a refining process, since they are more attractive this way. To acomplish this they undergo a process in which the dietary fiber is extracted from them giving as a result a softer product with a different flavor, which is not always tastier. This is how brown rice is converted to white rice and how cane sugar or panela is transformed into white table sugar.

The problem with this process is that, when you remove the fiber from a product, you convert a complex carbohydrate into a simple one. This makes it more likely to be digested quickly and stored as an energy reserve or, to give you a clearer point, fat, creating products filled with bad carbs.

Whole wheat or integral products require more time and energy to digest, which makes them less likely to be stored as fat, since we have more time to use the energy they provide to fuel our bodies. This are the ones we call good carbs.

Understanding what are Good Carbs and Bad Carbs (Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates)

Simple carbohydrates create a rapid glucose response in the metabolism, releasing sugar into the bloodstream so fast that our bodies cannot use it as energy. All of the excess energy that we don’t use, we store it as fat by converting sugar into triglycerides. Have you ever had a blood test done and had triglycerides off the charts? Now you know that it is the refined sugar intake what is causing this.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates also produce a satiety response, reduce the absortion of glucose and cholesterol in the bloodstream, accelerate the bowel movement, etc. So, in other words, bad carbs are desserts, sweets, table sugar, fruit juices, chocolate, white rice, soft drinks, white bread and pasta. On the other hand, good carbs are brown rice, legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.), oats, fruits, whole-wheat cereals in general, etc.

By changing your carbohydrate choices into complex ones you will be able to eat more and weigh less, making conscious changes in your diet habits towards a healthy spectrum. Increase your fiber consumption and enjoy a more plentiful life.

Which food contains good carbs

There are a lot of dishes that contain a ton of good carbs. Most of the meals made with a side of steamed or cooked veggies and with whole-wheat products are safe, but I give you a small list of examples

  • Brown rice with saulteed vegetables and beans or lentils for the vegan option
  • Baked sweet potatoes with skin plus cooked broccoli & green beans plus a side of grilled chicken breast with garlic
  • Whole-Wheat pasta, cooked with pomarola sauce and steamed green vegetables & mushrooms
  • Whole-Wheat tortillas with cooked beans, brown rice & chopped vegetables

Which food contains bad carbs

There is a long list here, since most of the fast food and easy-to-make ones are really huge sources of bad carbs. Try to avoid them as much as possible, since they are really likely to be stored as fat.

  • White rice with french fries and fried chicken
  • Refined pasta with bolognese sauce or red sauce with no vegetables
  • White bun sandwiches with ketchup and a burguer
  • Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches made in white bread with industrialized marmalade

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