It is human nature to compartmentalize things into black and white, good and bad, wrong and right, etc. Similarly, when it comes to carbs, people are worried about what’s good and what’s bad. Some people have an erroneous notion that all carbohydrates are unhealthy.
“They make you fat, they raise my blood sugar, I want to have nothing to do with carbs”, is the usual attitude of people who are unaware of how carbohydrates work. So let us look at carbohydrates in detail, and segregate the goodies from the baddies.
If you want a simple and quick solution to finding the good carbohydrates, then complex carbohydrates should be right for you. Simple carbohydrates have always been labelled as bad carbs. But wait before you go on to end the discussion at this point.
You need to know that all simple carbohydrates are not bad and neither are all good carbohydrates bad. Confused, eh? Okay let’s understand the mechanism of digestion and assimilation of carbohydrates first, so that we can categorize these carbs in a better and appropriate manner.
How are Carbohydrates Utilized by The Body?
- Carbohydrates are considered as the foundation of a healthy diet.
- They not only form a major part of the daily diet, but also contribute a major part of the fuel source that provides the energy that is needed for various activities of the brain and body.
- The RDA recommends consuming around 30-40% carbohydrates in the daily diet, in order to maintain proper health and fitness.
- Carbohydrates are digested and assimilated and finally broken down into glucose. This glucose forms the major powerhouse of energy for the body and brain.
- When there is an excess of carbohydrate consumption, the extra glucose formed is stored away in the body in the form of fat.
- This storing of fat occurs when there is a negative energy balance, and more energy is being released from the food consumed, than is consumed for activity.
Knowing More about Simple Carbohydrates
- Do you know why simple carbs are said to be simple? They are named so because they are simple and easily digested.
- They also release glucose into the blood stream faster than complex carbohydrates.
- Simple carbohydrates get digested and assimilated quite quickly, and hence cause a spike in levels of Insulin in the blood, as soon as they are consumed.
- What this sudden rush of glucose in the blood stream does is to enhance your mood and make you feel energetic.
- But rush of glucose in the blood is followed instantly by a spike in Insulin, which quickly pulls down the levels back to normal and most of the time; way below normal.
- Now you know why you feel hungry soon after gorging on simple carbohydrates.
- This alternating shooting up and pulling down of blood glucose levels is not at all good for your health.
- In the long run, such conditions can increase the risk of suffering from metabolic syndrome and consequent Diabetes.
- Examples of Simple Carbohydrates are milk, fruits, table sugar, candy, syrups, etc.
What Makes Complex Carbohydrates Superior?
- Complex carbs are carbohydrates that contain three or more sugars.
- These carbs take a comparatively longer time to get digested and assimilated.
- Since they are assimilated or broken down into glucose gradually, there is no sudden rush of glucose levels in the blood or spiking of Insulin.
- This ensures that you get a constant supply of energy, your mood remains stable and you feel more satisfied after a meal of complex carbohydrates.
- When you feel full, you will not eat too often and this also helps in controlling calories.
- Since there are no bad effects and only good effects with complex carbohydrates, they qualify to be the good carbs.
- So complex carbohydrates are considered to be better and healthier than simple carbohydrates.
- Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, etc.
Should You Avoid All Simple Carbohydrates?
No, do not do that! Milk and fruits belong to simple carbohydrate group and are rich in minerals, vitamins and calcium. Simply avoid the worst of the foods amongst the simple carbohydrate group like sugar, candy and syrups, and you will be fine.