Complex Carbs

If you’re like many of us, you struggle with the concept of carbohydrates and distinguishing between the good carbs and bad carbs.

And with all the diet plans out there including one that is strictly for carb counting – Atkins – it gets even more confusing.

What Are Simple Carbs?

Simple carbs are sugars, pure and simple. They give you the quickest boost of energy but are also the very things that cause a mid-afternoon crash.

Some simple carbs are:

  • White sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Jams and jellies
  • Candy
  • Soda

So What is a Complex Carb?

Complex carbs are the good kind of carbohydrate and are typically found in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. They are things like …

  • Oatmeal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Pasta

The whole idea of choosing a complex carb over a simple one is to get the best bang for your carb buck. That means choosing carbs that won’t convert to fat but will give you the energy you need for a busy day.

Complex carbs take longer to break down in your body and, therefore, give you a steady stream of fuel to use for energy.

Choose Unrefined

There are times when unrefined is, well, bad. When it comes to carbs it’s a very good thing.

The more refined food is, the more processing it took to get it there. Think of refined and processed foods as “the whites”: white sugar, white bread, white rice.

As yummy as they can be, they’re also not a great source of the complex and unrefined carbs you’re looking for.

Substitutes

So what can you do to sub out some of the higher and more refined carbs for those that are more complex and healthier? Try a whole grain dish like brown rice instead of crackers or even whole fruit rather than juice. And dessert? It doesn’t mean you have to completely eject something sweet and delectable. Just be smart about when and how much you eat.

Don’t Go No Carb

Carbohydrates really are an important part of our daily diets and are healthy for us. For some of us, reducing and limiting carbs is a good way to lose weight. But going without complex carbs isn’t beneficial as they are the main fuel source for healthy brains and muscles.

How to Spot the Bad Guys

Here’s a simple way to spot those simple carb bad guys: High in sugar but low in fiber? Not a good choice.

It does mean that you will need to put your detective hat on and read the labels. Look at not only the percentages but give a close eye to the first few ingredients. High fructose corn syrup? Bad carb sugar. Brown rice and whole grains? Good carbs.

Go Low

Low glycemic index, that is. The lower a food is on that index, the better it is for you and the less chance you have of a blood sugar spike.

Diabetics have dealt with the glycemic index for years as they try to balance their sugar and insulin levels.

Choose a great mix of complex carbohydrates and you’ll be on a good diet and health path in no time.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

What are your thoughts on complex carbs?