Some people fear them, some people love them, but most people simply don’t know enough about them. One of the first questions a client will ask is: Are carbohydrates bad? Are carbohydrates good? What are the differences between the two? Let me summarize it for you.
Carbohydrates are SO important because they are the primary source of energy for the body. Not only that, but carbohydrates are crucial for brain function because the only fuel source for the brain is glucose, a simple sugar carbohydrates are broken down into. However, there are “good” (complex) carbohydrates and “bad” (simple) carbohydrates that when better understood might change the way you feel about carbs altogether.
COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES: consist of starches and fiber. These carbohydrates consist of at least three sugar molecules which require our body to work harder to digest them, resulting in their sugars not hitting your bloodstream like a freight train like simple carbohydrates do. They also help youfeel more “full” which serves as a natural form of portion control.
Here is a list of complex carbohydrates you want to make sure you’re getting into your diet: oatmeal, quinoa, vegetables, yams, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans, lentils, and whole grain, high fiber cereals.
SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES: these carbohydrates consist of only one or two sugar molecules and are digested rapidly into the blood stream. The energy from simple carbohydrates is stored in our muscles as glycogen and if we don’t utilize it, it will be converted into fat. Simple carbohydrates are typically low in nutrients and fiber and don’t give you the overwhelming sensation of “fullness”, a major precursor to the dreaded pig-out session.
Here is a list of simple carbohydrates you want to keep to a minimum in your diet: candy, cookies, sugared cereals, white bread, sodas, sugared beverages, white pasta, white rice, cakes, and ice cream.
Eat smart. Fuel up on complex carbohydrates, and as always: everything in moderation.
Written by Danielle Maina, NASM Certified Nutritionist