Understanding Complex and Simple Carbs


Carbohydrates really do get a bad rap, but the devil is truly in the quality, not the quantity. Complex carbohydrates actually have several benefits including high amounts of fiber which is important for digestive health and helping you feel full. Another benefit is energy, a product of complex carbs as fuel for our bodies. You can’t ask your car to run without gas and the same is true for your body when it comes to complex carbohydrates. Every meal should include veggies and a nutritious starch like whole grain bread, barley, brown rice or beans.

Simple carbs on the other hand are not helpful to our bodies because they come primarily from sugars. Some occur naturally like the sugars in cow’s milk, but the majority of the simple carbs come from added sugars, corn syrup, and glucose. These carbs consist of the most basic sugars that are the easiest for the body to digest and in turn can spike blood glucose levels. They also don’t help to make you feel full because they basically have no fiber. White flour, rice, sweetened snacks and soda all contain these simple carbs and should generally be avoided in our diet.

The one exception to simple carb rule is fresh fruit. They’re all natural sugars that are lower in carbohydrates, have a decent amount of fiber if you eat the skin and they’re packed with vitamins and healthy phytonutrients. We encourage eating a couple servings of fresh fruit every day.

Study after study promotes eating complex carbohydrates as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Carbs have been shown to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. So don’t fear those whole grains, embrace them and remember that whole-food, balanced eating is the smartest and healthiest way to maintain a healthy weight.

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