Energy-boosting carbohydrates are a crucial aspect of fit living, but eating junk foods like cookies and chips obviously isn’t the best way to add carbs to your diet. Some are much better for you than others based on their chemical makeup and how your body uses them. Simple carbs are the “bad” kinds, while complex carbs are considered the “good” kinds. But what’s the difference? Here’s what you need to know.
Simple carbs are named that way because they’re easy for the body to digest. They’re made up of just one or two sugar molecules, so they’re digested quickly and provide a short burst of energy. Everyday Health explained that the higher a carb is in sugar and the lower it is in fiber, the more useless it is for your body.
As the source explained, fruits and vegetables – staples of healthy eating – are actually simple carbohydrates, but they’re not the same as junk foods like candy and pastries. They’re made up of the same basic sugars, but they have more fiber, which changes the way the body processes the sugars and slows down digestion. This makes them more like complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbs aren’t exactly bad for you, but they should only be eaten on occasion. Most of your carbs should be complex, and when it comes to choosing between simple carbs, some choices are better than others. A baked potato or bowl of white rice is healthier for you than a slice of pie or a handful of chips.
Complex carbs are made of longer chains of sugars that take the body more time to digest. They usually have a lower glycemic load, which means smaller amounts of sugar are released more consistently throughout the day. That means your body has a continuous source of energy to use rather than a quick burst, like the one you'd get from simple carbs.
Complex carbs are often found in whole plant foods, and usually have a high amount of vitamins and minerals. Foods like green vegetables, whole grains, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkins, beans, lentils and peas are all good sources of complex carbs.
If you're wondering how to get more complex carbs into your diet and cut back on simple carbs, it's easier than you think. Instead of buying your usual white rice, pasta and bread at the grocery store, look for whole-grain varieties. Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and wheat bread are much better choices.