Complex VS. Simple Carbs

Posted on February 16, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

When I train for a race I try very hard to give my body the right nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy energy level. I naturally eat lots of fruits and veggies. I just love the way they taste; the natural original flavors in each different kind. So in training, it is easy for me to incorporate them into every meal and snack. What isn’t easy for me is incorporating ‘good’ carbohydrates. What are ‘good’ carbohydrates? And what are ‘bad’ carbohydrates? It is hard for me to incorporate the ‘good’ carbs sometimes because I love the ‘bad’ carbs; Cheez-It’s, macaroni and cheese, breakfast pastries, all things I love.

My belief is that, “if it didn’t come straight from the ground, then you don’t NEED to eat it.” You can get all of the nutrients you need from unprocessed foods. They may not taste as good, but they are extremely good for you. But, that is just my belief. And I know many don’t see it that way. So, I found a great explanation of the difference between complex(good) and simple(bad) carbs:

Many people are confused about the differences between simple and complex carbohydrates and many popular diet books seem to only make it more confusing.
Carbohydrates are one of three macro nutrients in our diets that provide calories. The other two are protein and fat. Carbohydrates provide most of the energy needed in our daily lives, both for normal body functions such as heartbeat, breathing and digestion and for exercise such as cycling, walking and running.

Carbohydrates are considered simple or complex based upon their chemical structure and both types contain four calories per gram. Both are also digested into a blood sugar called glucose, which is then used to fuel our bodies for work or exercise.

In the past few years, simple carbohydrates have become known as the ‘bad’ carbs, while complex carbs seem to be designated as the ‘good’ ones.

Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly. Many simple carbohydrates contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals. Examples include fruits, fruit juice, milk, yogurt, honey, molasses and sugar.

Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are usually packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples are vegetables, breads, cereals, legumes and pasta.
Most experts recommend that 50 to 60 per cent of the total calories in our diet come from carbohydrates. The bulk of the carbs we consume should be complex and most of the simple ones should come from fruits and milk or yogurt, which also contain vitamins and minerals.

Example of Complex Carbs:
Spinach, Whole Barley, Grapefruit, Turnip Greens, Buckwheat, Apples, Lettuce , Buckwheat bread, Prunes, Water Cress, Oat bran bread, Dried apricots, Zucchini, Oatmeal, Pears, Asparagus, Oat bran cereal, Plums, Artichokes, Muesli, Strawberries, Okra, Wild rice, Oranges, Cabbage, Brown rice, Yams, Celery, Multi-grain bread, Carrots, Cucumbers, Pinto beans, Potatoes, Dill Pickles, Low fat yogurt, Soybeans, Radishes, Skim milk, Lentils, Broccoli, Navy beans, Garbanzo beans, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kidney beans, Eggplant, Soy milk, Lentils, Onions, Split peas

Avoid getting the bulk of your carbs from refined foods high in sugar, since they are usually low in the nutrients we need to maintain health and energy levels.

I do think that people choose to ignore the fact that the FDA isn’t looking out for the health of individuals and America as a whole. Just because Lucky Charms says “Whole Grains” or jelly says “low sugar” DOES NOT mean it is GOOD for you. Seriously, how do you buy that crap? Look, as a treat occasionally, sure, no problem. But to justify that it is ‘good’ for you? Please, do a little research.

Here are some great sources of ‘good’ carbs:
They have bread, cereal, pasta, tortillas, English muffins, buns, and crackers. All great sources of fiber and grains.

Trader Joe’s, Henry’s, and even just Ralph’s and Von’s carry these products. Try them. You can taste the health oozing out of them.


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