Tag Archives: simple carbs

Carbohydrates-vital in a healthy diet

complex carbs

Choose whole grains, fruits & vegetables daily

Carbohydrates and Your Diet: Good vs. Bad 

Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, and as you probably know— there’s much discussion about  good and bad carbs.  How can we tell which is which?  The answer is simple, yet complex…

Carbohydrates, often called “carbs,” are your body’s primary energy source, and they’re a crucial part of any  healthy lifestyle.  Carbs should never be totally eliminated, but it is important to understand that not all carbs are alike.

Carbohydrates are broken into two categories:   simple (nicknamed “bad”) or complex (nicknamed “good”).  This is based on their chemical makeup and what your body does with them.

Simple carbohydrates are composed of simple-to-digest, basic sugars and most have  little real value for your body (the exception are fruits). The higher in sugar and lower in fiber, the least beneficial the carbohydrate is for you — a good gauge for future reference  to figure out how good/bad.

Fruits and vegetables are simple carbohydrates — still composed of basic sugars, but they are drastically different from other foods in the category, like cookies and cakes. The fiber in fruits and vegetables changes the way that the body processes their sugars and this slows down their digestion, making them similar to complex carbohydrates. 

Complex carbohydrates are considered “good” because of the longer series of sugars that make them up and therefore takes the body more time to break down, like whole grains and legumes.   They generally have a lower glycemic load, which means that you will get lower amounts of sugars released at a more consistent rate — instead of peaks and valleys —to keep you going throughout the day.  This provides your body with a more even amount of energy.

Simple carbohydrates to limit in your diet include:

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Artificial syrups
  • Sugar
  • White rice, white bread, and white pasta
  • Potatoes (which are technically a complex carb, but act more like simple carbs in the body)
  • Pastries, cookies, pies and other desserts

You can enjoy simple carbohydrates on occasion, just don’t let them be your primary sources of carbs.   It is also better to consume them after you have eaten a meal, That way the food in your stomach will help to slow down the absorption.  If you must choose a simple carb,  some choices are better than others — a baked potato, white rice, and regular pasta — is better than— chips, cakes, pies, and cookies.

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One of the body’s four sources of fuel  (Protein, Fat and alcohol are the other three)

All four sources contain calories:

Carbs-4 calories per gram

Proteins-4 calories per gram

Fat-9 calories per gram

Alcohol-7 calories per gram

Carbs are the body’s main and most efficient source of energy

When the body burns a calorie, energy is released

Carbs are manufactured by plants during photosynthesis

Two kinds of carbohydrates:

  • Simple carbs are also called simple sugars, contains one, two or three units of sugar or saccachrides—an example is table sugar, it is broken down quickly by the body to release energy
  • Complex Carbs are chains of hundreds or thousands of simple carbs that have bonded together.  These carbs are broken down more slowly by the body, providing a slow, steady release of energy

Two groups of Complex Carbs:

—Digestible (Starch)— Can be processed by the human digestive system and used for fuel                                                                                                                                                  Indigestible (Fiber)—

Whole Grains

Slow breakdown of sugars in whole grains

Cannot be absorbed by the digestive system, but has many healthful benefits                                                                                                                                                     All unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts have both forms of fiber

How does a Complex Carb break down?

Take a  complex carb, like a bowl of old fashioned oatmeal or a slice of 100% whole grain bread… it has a high fiber content, which takes longer for the starches/sugars to be “unbound” so to speak…also prevents it from leaving the stomach quickly… Results in feeling fuller longer.

In small intestine-fiber and starch separate, nutrients are absorbed, starch is broken down into glucose and ready to be transported to the blood, as glucose enters bloodstream…blood sugar levels rise

In response to elevated blood sugar levels…the pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that allows glucose to be transported to the cells.  Some is used as fuel, stored in the muscles and liver as reserve fuel and any extra is stored as fat.  As glucose is being distributed, blood sugar levels fall.

How does a Simple Carb break down?

Simple Carb, like a candy bar, it has little or no fiber.  It moves through the stomach and rapidly into the small intestine

—Because there is  little or no fiber… starch (sugar) is quickly absorbed into the blood stream causing a surge in blood sugar levels

To correct this, the Pancreas releases a spike in insulin, which immediately begins moving the glucose to cells located throughout the body

Having diabetes run in my family, I  am learning all I can to prevent this disease from happening to me.