Some carbohydrates are better than others in terms of the nutritional value they give. Some have typically no nutritional content they add for human assimilation – and is the reason why not all the carbohydrates are equal.

There are two types of carbohydrates; simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Figuring out which ones to limit and which ones to use require your knowledge to differentiate between the two.

In a layman term, the greatest difference  between simple and complex carbohydrates is that simple carbohydrates have added sugars and very minimal fiber while complex carbohydrates are whole food compounds with fiber and other complex food compounds. Below are the detail outlines of these carbohydrates and how their components attribute to human health.  

Definition of Carbohydrates?

A carbohydrate is one type of a macronutrient which performs the major role of energy giving in the body. Other types of macronutrients include proteins and fats but carbohydrates are known for unrestrictive energy giving. It has been recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015 – 2020) that carbohydrates should be part of your food intake up to between 45 to 65 percent.

On the other side, OpenFit has recommended an intake of carbohydrates to 40 percent. This gives room to add up proteins and fats percentage to 30 percent necessary for losing weight, gaining muscles and probably maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The different types and aspects of carbohydrates have come with diverse complications. A Facebook relationship determines these as a complicated concept. To determine which ones need to be restricted or limited requires a perfect understanding, which thing is quite tricky. You must make a distinction between complex and simple carbs, soluble and insoluble, and, sugars and starch. Though, complex carbs are considered better.

Increasing Complex Carbs Is Better Than Simple Carbs

We should actually eat more of complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. Why? Because they indicate a relatively rich chemical composition that is utilized in the body, and their breakdown releases quite a significant nutritive contents for body assimilation.

Complex Carbohydrates?

While simple carbohydrates are single sugars in their basic units, complex carbohydrates are made up of chains of simple sugars that are longer and intertwined to another. For it to be broken down completely to simpler sugars, it has to take some time of digestion which allows for a gradual and continuous release of energy. One greater significance of this type of carbs is that they also provide a greater reservoir of vitamins, minerals and some phytonutrients. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are such as, starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and some tubers foods.

We are recommended for this complex carbohydrates for our rich diets. Naturally occurring carbohydrates such as milk, vegetables and fruits are also considered better to further a rich diet. Conversely, refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread among others cannot fulfil their nutritional value in comparison.

Why is fiber important?

Fiber is a carbohydrate content that is very vital in the body. It keeps you fuller and makes you regular in your digestive process. Apart from that, it is the component giving a distinction between complex and simple carbs. The major difference is that complex carbs are well enriched with fiber in the form of starch. Where is this fiber found? Its sources are only from plants e.g. fruits, vegetables and cereals. In the human digestive system, though, fiber cannot be digested but it is important as a cushion and reducer of constipation. However in America, we are facing a disadvantageous moment of inadequate fiber provisions or intake. When below 50 years should be consuming a quantity of 38 grams (men) and 25 grams (women) of fiber per day, we are only accessing 16 grams of it per day. For men above 50, the fiber requirement is 30 grams while that of women should be 21 grams per day.

Two classifications of fiber are the soluble and insoluble fibers. All of them are essential in our bodies. Insoluble fiber is that one which does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber keeps one regular. Its sources include nuts, fruits, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. While, soluble fiber, as in the name, is water soluble. It dissolves in water easily to perform a nutritive function for the body. They generally help to soften the stool and slow the digestion process. Its sources may include; fruits, oats, beans among others.

There is also another type of fiber that contributes to body nutrition fulfilment called resistant starch.

What Is Resistant Starch?

This type of fiber does not get digested normally in the digestive system but is fermented by the bacteria into short-chain fatty acids. It is referred majorly to as ‘a moment’ of late. In the large intestine, the bacteria works on this fiber and after its conversion into short-chain fatty acids, it activates healthy bacteria in the gut by creating an optimal environment and thus allowing their flourishing. This is the component that attributes to satiety as has been confirmed in the research.

Generally, all carbs with fiber are known as ‘healthy’ carbohydrates because of their great role in maintaining our health.

Examples of complex carbohydrates that you should eat more abundantly;

  • Pears
  • Pinto beans
  • Quinoa
  • Red lentils
  • Spinach
  • Amaranth
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Blueberries
  • Black beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Millet  

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are easily digestible carbohydrates that have potentially high sugar but low fiber and nutrient. Refined white grain foods in essence are not whole foods in nature. Having been refined, they have lost fiber and any other nutrient.

In terms of functionality, simple carbs harvest energy as fast as possible after being consumed. The main reason is attributed to its short-chain nature. Their short chains make them easy to be broken down easily and faster for energy release into the body.

For clarity, not all simple carbs are refined. Food sources like milk and fruits contain fructose and lactose which are simpler carbohydrates. These sources also make provision for minerals and vitamins to a greater extent.  While, the processed foods and beverages such as soda and candy bars are simple carbs derived from added sugars. They probably don’t offer a lot except the calories they provide.

Simple carbs are best for pre- and post-workout session to provide energy instantly during the training. Athletes are advised to take quickly digested carbs. When you see them consuming sugary beverages and candies before, during and after races. These sugars are stored in them as glycogen which is broken down to glucose to fuel the body for the exercise requirement. They only do this during the training and contests at certain times and place. However, they eat normal complex carbs out of their contest schedule.

These simple carbs have very little to offer. They are very high in sugars and need to be limited or restricted as much as possible on normal health times.

Choosing Suitable Carbohydrates

Learn to know the nutritional values of food or the labels of Nutrition Facts to regulate what you are eating to maintain better health. Carefully look at the ingredients in their order and weights. Check on the weights of carbohydrates from greatest to the least. When the nutritional value of a simple carbohydrate is higher than that of complex carbohydrate, limit the food item. Specifically, look for higher weights of whole grains, vegetables, fruits or whole wheat in the ingredient list and try to avoid those with high added sugar such as maltose, high-fructose corn syrup and white sugar among others.

Whole fruits are perfect selection for diet but avoid canned fruits syrup, frozen and dried fruits with added sugars. Try limiting fruit juices also, because they are void of fiber. Importantly, always confirm the actual nutrient content in the food.

Carbohydrates You Should Limit

Though Americans add sugar excessively, they need to limit that. It has been recommended by the American Heart Association that women should limit the amount of added sugar they take to about six teaspoons per day (which converts to 100 calories) while men should limit it to nine teaspoons per day (which converts to 150 calories). Apparently, we see people eating more than 20 teaspoons (converting to 350 calories) of added sugar per day. Limit some of these sugary carbs:

  • Pastries, cupcakes, and most baked goods
  • Refined white bread and pasta
  • White rice
  • Candy
  • Cola
  • Chocolate candy bars
  • Sports drinks (except when used by endurance athletes)
  • Sodas, and other sweetened beverages like tea and coffee

General Facts About Carbs

Carbs are very vital for a normally healthy diet but only on right weights and portions. If you want to choose a type of carb that will create in you the effective health, then you have complex carbohydrates to choose from. Simple sugars should be limited as much as possible and only use for reserved purposes.