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Complex vs Simple Carbs

Complex vs Simple Carbs

Good Carbohydrates and Bad Carbohydrates… is that really a thing? What about simple versus complex carbs?

Carbohydrates (also known as carbs) are one of the three macronutrients, the other two being protein and fat.  Carbs are found in a variety of foods, from bread and pasta to fruits and vegetables and even dairy products and nuts.

There are two types of carbs - simple carbs and complex carbs - and they're not created equal, but they each do have a purpose.

So what’s the difference?

Well simple carbs are made up of one or two sugar molecules, while complex carbs are made up of three or more sugar molecules. 

Complex carbs have more fiber than simple carbs.

Fiber is a type of carb, found in complex carbs.  It helps you feel full longer after eating, controls blood sugar levels, helps manage cholesterol levels, lowers your risk for heart disease and some cancers, keeps you regular by preventing constipation, aids in weight loss and maintenance, the benefits are endless. 

When you have high blood sugar levels from too many simple carbohydrates or unhealthy lifestyle factors it can lead to insulin resistance.  This is highly associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

So are simple carbs unhealthy?

When you eat too many simple carbs without a purpose, your blood sugar spikes and then crashes, leaving you feeling tired, cranky, and hungry shortly after.

You may even find yourself gaining weight, as these types of carbs are more likely to be stored as fat unlessed used for energy. Especially because they can make you feel more hungry. 

Complex carbs on the other hand are slowly broken down and absorbed into your bloodstream, providing you with sustained energy throughout the day.

They also tend to be high in fiber, which can promote a healthy digestive system.

So, if you're looking to maintain a healthy weight and have sustained energy levels throughout the day, complex carbs are the way to go!

Simple carbs though are great for athletes pre and post workout or a game, but timing and not having too many is crucial!

How to Eat Carbs!

When it comes to carbs, there are two different types: simple and complex. Simple carbs are made up of sugar molecules that the body can break down quickly, while complex carbs are made up of longer chains of sugar molecules that take longer to digest.

I mentioned briefly above that both carbs have a purpose.

It really depends on your goals! The body needs a mix of both simple and complex carbs because they provide essential nutrients in different ways.

Complex carbohydrates help the brain work more efficiently because they release energy slowly over time, giving you lasting energy, such as for a long day of work or school. 

While simple carbohydrates are for that quick energy such as before a big game, or post workout to quickly replenish energy stores when needed.

Learn more about sources of complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates and how many to eat and when in next week's blog! 

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