Kinds of Carbohydrates Good and Bad

Fruit Tart

Carbohydrates both Simple and complex carbs are required by the body for various activities. Most foods contain some kind of carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, milk, seeds and grains contain carbohydrates.

So why do we always hear that carbs are bad for us?

The truth is not all carbohydrates are bad, the problem is that most people eat too many of the bad kinds of carbohydrates which is why they gain weight giving carbs a bad reputation.

We have all heard the saying “all things are good in moderation”, the big problem is that there are so many tasty “bad for you carbs” which is what most people get too much of.

What carbohydrates do

Carbohydrates get converted into glucose during the digestion process, blood in our body carries this glucose to all of your body parts so that it can be converted into energy by our body’s cells. The insulin hormone is generated by the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for managing the use of glucose by the cells in the body.

The Glucose left over after digestion gets converted into glycogen.

This glycogen gets stored in the fat in the body or in the liver. When you need energy, your body releases another hormone called glucagon, which turns this glycogen into glucose which sends it into your body cells through the bloodstream.

Carbs get stored as glycogen but the process is reversed when your body requires energy.

The slower the process the more sustainable the energy supply and energy level will be. The faster the energy-releasing process. is, the more unsustainable the energy level will be. This may lead to peaks and drops in sugar levels in the blood.

There are different kinds of carbohydrates, which are fibrous and complex starchy carbs. Then you have the refined (simple) carbs which tend to have a lot of refined ingredients such as sugars and flour.

Carbs are broken down into 3 groups.

1. Complex (starchy) carbs

These ‘Carbohydrates” are made up of sugar, however, the sugar molecules are tied together to form longer more complex chains. These kinds of carbohydrates are mostly found in natural foods. ‘Complex Carbs” break down slowly to provide sustainable long-lasting energy.

Plate with Whole Wheat Bread

Source of Complex Carbs:

  1. Whole grains
  2. Nuts
  3. Pasta
  4. Whole wheat bread
  5. Beans
  6. Banana
  7. Oats
  8. Vegetables
  9. Lentils
  10. Barley
  11. Chickpeas
  12. Sweet Corn
  13. Legumes
  14. Sweet potatoes

How to identify complex carbs

Complex carbs are those unrefined carbs which and have lots of color, in order to easily identify them its simple, for example, white rice versus brown or white versus whole wheat bread, The darker version is the better carb, complex carbs are not refined.

2. Simple Carbs

They are most commonly referred to as sugars and can be found in natural and refined form. Simple carbs provide immediate energy to the body but the energy level is irregular and inconsistent. Excess consumption of these carbohydrates increases blood sugar levels.

Simple carbs have a simple molecular structure and are made up of one or two molecular structures. Not all simple carbs are bad for you but many of them are. Simple carbs are easily identified such as table sugar, in fact, if you want to lose weight you should avoid sugar as much as possible.

Junk Food Donut and Soda

Simple carbs are also found in fruit dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

Simple carbs are found in:

  • Syrups
  • Jellies
  • Jam
  • Soft Drinks
  • Pastries
  • Sauces
  • Ketchup
  • Chocolate
  • Biscuits
  • Honey
  • Brad and pastries made with white flower
  • Packaged cereals

How to identify simple carbs

For the most part, simple carbs are those things you will find packaged or man-made, this is not always the case but the more refined the food is it is most likely going to fall into the simple carbs category. There are a few exceptions such as honey and fruit.

Complex fibrous carbohydrates

These could be considered the best carbohydrate source for your health and the ones most people don’t get enough of.

Fibrous carbohydrates are one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals.

Assorted Vegetables

The greener the veggies the better.

Vegetables are full of dietary fiber which means the sold matter passes straight through the stomach and is not completely absorbed, this has an incredible cleaning effect for your intestines and colon which is important for a healthy digestive system.

Most green vegetables are usually low in calory making them the ideal carbohydrate.

Fibrous carbohydrates include:

  1. Green beans
  2. Brussel sprouts
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Broccoli
  5. Cabbage
  6. Cucumber
  7. Mushrooms
  8. Lettuce
  9. Spinach
  10. Okra
  11. Bell peppers
  12. Kale

Carbohydrates and Health

Half of the energy we utilize on a daily basis should come from those with lots of fiber. The requirement of carbs in the body also varies with your age and the work you do. Athletes, fitness models and bodybuilders usually need more carbs than people with a normal or sedentary lifestyle.

Always remember whether you are consuming simple carbs or complex Carbs, if you consume them in excess, you are more likely to gain weight because they get converted to fats. So, your diet should be a proper balance of proteins and ‘carbs’.

Try to replace simple carbs with complex carbohydrates by adding foods like potatoes, brown rice and whole wheat bread along with green leafy vegetables and fruits. This will not only provide you quality dietary fiber but also a proper balance of simple carbs and complex carbs.

Weight loss and carbs

The biggest reason carbs have a bad reputation is because people consume all of the wrong carbs, eating the right carbs can have a positive benefit.

While we have classified the different types of carbohydrates choosing the right ones is a no brainer.

The simple rule of thumb is that if it’s man-made its usually bad for you and will probably make you gain weight.

Processed foods with lots of refined sugar, flour and additives are the kind of food you want to avoid.

Whole foods like raw nuts, whole grains, beans, and green leafy vegetables are kinds of carbs you can eat more of that will not make you fat.

Fruits are not bad for you just limit them.

When we think of fruits we think that they can make us gain weight, but if you eat them in their natural form you will be ok.

There is a big difference between eating an orange and drinking a glass of orange juice, it probably takes 5-6 oranges to make an 8oz glass of juice, this is a lot more calories.

There are fruits that are lower in carbs than others, berries including blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are fairly low in carbs having under 7grams of carbs per serving (100g).

Fruit sources with lots of carbs include dates, raisins, bananas, and dried cranberries which contain are all on the high side.

Bananas, for example, contain 21 grams of carbs per serving, raisins have 75g per (100g) serving.


I hope this article has shed some light and answered some questions about carbohydrates. When trying to lose weight or eliminate body fat watching your carb intake can be essential especially during cutting cycles when you are trying to eliminate fat in order to increase muscle definition.