Obviously, carbs have been getting a bad rap lately. In the past couple of decades, the Atkins, Keto, Low-carb, Paleo, Whole30, South Beach, Zone, and other diets/lifestyles have bashed carbs. However, carbohydrates are a macronutrient (along with fat and protein) so it’s unlikely that you can (or should) eliminate them completely. Is there a proper balance?
Simple Vs. Complex Carbs?
Simply put, carbohydrates are comprised of sugar, fiber, and starch. Carbohydrates come in 2 main forms: simple and complex, also known as simple sugars and starches. Simple and complex carbs have a different chemical structure and take different amounts of time to be absorbed and digested. Sugar is a simple carb while fiber and starch are complex.
Simple carbs are made up of one or two sugar molecules. Simple sugars give food a sweet taste and quickly raise blood glucose levels. They often have no nutritional value and give carbs the bad name. The diets mentioned above (and any healthy diet) would discourage simple carb consumption!
Common simple carbs to avoid:
- White sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Corn syrup
- Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
Complex carbs are made up of three or more sugar molecules. They are larger molecules, so they take longer to break down and absorb in your blood. Typically, complex carbs have more nutrients, are more likely to fill you up and don’t cause the same havoc on your blood sugar levels. When eating carbs, it’s best to choose complex carbs due to their lower glycemic rating and high fiber content.
Best complex carbs to eat:
- Brown Rice
When choosing carbs for your daily allotment (whatever that may be), choose complex carbs over simple carbs as they typically digest slower, contain fiber and have nutritional benefits!
Read next: Understanding the Glycemic Index
Needing something warm to drink? Check out this fun twist on coffee!