Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates: What You Need to Know

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body. All carbohydrates are not created equal, however. Good carbs? Bad carbs? Simple? Complex? It’s enough to make your head spin, isn’t it? Let us help. Here’s the lowdown on each type of carbohydrate and what it means to your body:

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates: What You Need to Know

Simple Carbohydrates

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Simple carbohydrates are the quickest source of energy. They are made up of one or two sugar molecules, and they are digested very quickly. In other words, they don’t provide lasting energy. Many foods that are high in simple carbs are also processed and void of any nutrients, other than calories, which is why simple carbs often get a bad rap. This is unfortunate because some foods high in simple carbs, like those found in milk products, fruit, and vegetables, are good for you because they provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Choose your simple carbohydrates wisely and aim for foods that offer nutrition.

Foods High in Simple Carbohydrates:

Fruit
Vegetables
Milk Products
Table Sugar
Brown Sugar
Honey
Jams and Jellies
Corn Syrup
Maple Syrup
Fruit Drinks
Sodas
Candy
Molasses

Too tired for your daily workout? Here are 7 High Energy Foods.

Complex Carbohydrates

Like simple carbohydrates, complex carbs are made up of sugar molecules and provide the body with energy. The difference is that complex carbs, also known as starch, contain a larger number of molecules, which are strung together like a necklace. This allows foods high in complex carbs to be digested slowly, providing for more lasting energy. Many foods that are high in complex carbs are also high in fiber, and other important nutrients and vitamins. This makes makes them a double-win. Some foods high in complex carbs, like white breads and pastas, are processed, however, and should be avoided.

Foods High in Complex Carbohydrates:

Whole Grain Breads
Potatoes
Whole Grain and High Fiber Cereals
Beans
Lentils
Steel-Cut Oats
Brown Rice
Whole Wheat Pastas

Looking for foods that will help you maintain energy levels and get the most out of your workouts? Try our list of Quick and Easy Post Workout Foods.

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