What is a Good Carb VS. Bad Carb?

Carbohydrates are found EVERYWHERE. The basic dietary view of carbohydrates is that carbohydrates are either digestible or indigestible. The digestible carbohydrates are either starches or sugars and the indigestible carbohydrates are fibers, either soluble or insoluble. They are in healthy and unhealthy foods, and sometimes even hidden. Carbohydrates are important to you because your body will turn digestible carbs, which can be starches, sugars or some fibers, into glucose. This glucose is the main source of ATP production which every single one of your cells use to function. The brain in particular relies on glucose as fuel almost exclusively.


The parameters that define good vs bad regarding carbohydrates occur as much as a function of circumstances as they rely upon the qualities of the carbohydrate itself. The simplest carbohydrates, sugars and starches with a high glycemic index are most eligible to be detrimental. Carbohydrates that have been refined are qualified in that they often do not contain the elements necessary for their metabolism such as vitamins, minerals and co-factors that are found in the unrefined counterpart. It seems fair to say that some large swath of the population poorly tolerates regular carbohydrate availability in the diet as is evidenced by the pandemic incidence of Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic X syndrome and insulin resistance.


These carbohydrates in all sorts of foods can be categorized in many ways, which often leads to confusion. If you understand a good vs. bad carbohydrate you can fuel your body in the best way, while limiting some of the negative effects we have all heard about with carbohydrates.


Complex vs. Simple Carbs

One way to categorize carbs would be complex or simple. Many may believe the simpler, smaller carbohydrates are easier for your body to process because they are SIMPLE. This is not the case. Simple carbs are too easy for your body to digest and can cause spikes in your blood sugar. Insulin plays a part in all of this, but that is a subject for another blog. These simple carbs are typically sugars, while complex carbs are the starches and fibers. The picture of simple vs complex must be balanced against the wholeness of the food- refined or unrefined. In most cases refinement of foods leaves behind something that would have supported the body such as the co factors which are part of carbohydrate metabolism.


While it may seem like a bad thing that complex carbs take longer to break down, this is good for many reasons. It keeps you feeling full for longer, and because they take longer to process it gives you more time to absorb all of the good vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Because these complex carbs are bigger in size, they themselves are packed with more nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants than the simple sugars. This is where the idea of “empty carbs” comes from. The simpler carbs do not contain vitamins or nutrients.

Simple Carbs:

· Breakfast cereals

· Yogurts

· Soda

· Candy

· Baked goods

· Fruit juices

Complex Carbs:

· Potatoes and sweet potatoes

· Peas

· Whole grains

· Oats

· Beans

· Hummus

· Lentils

· Fruits

· Corn

Processed vs. Unprocessed

Another way to categorize carbs is unprocessed, processed and ultra-processed. Unprocessed carbohydrates have more vitamins and are larger molecules so while your body is breaking it down, it is absorbing the nutrients from the carbohydrate. Most processes of processed carbohydrates eliminate the vitamins and important nutrients. This makes your body break down these carbohydrates much faster and can quickly spike your blood sugar. Ultra-processed carbohydrates can have up to five times the amount of sugar added to them.


Carbohydrates are very important for your body, as they give each of your cells the energy to carry out all of their tasks. You should be intaking around 200-300 grams of carbohydrates a day, but the kind of carbohydrate is very important as processed carbohydrates have a list of health conditions they lead to. Processed carbohydrates are also everywhere so being able to identify foods that should be limited or avoided is very important to maintaining overall health.


Unprocessed Carbohydrates:

· vegetables

· quinoa

· barley

· legumes

· potatoes

· whole grains

· oats

· beans

Processed Carbohydrates:

· Sugary drinks.

· White bread.

· Pastries, cookies and cakes.

· Ice cream.

· Candies and chocolates.

· French fries and potato chips.


Your body will use up the carbs first for energy. If you have carbs at every meal and a lot of them, your body will only run off the carbs and save the rest of the carbs as fat. This means that all of the fat and sugars in your diet will be stored because the body has all of the carbs that it needs. Carbs are a great source of energy, when in moderation.


Donaid Seals