all carbs are not created equally. Consumed correctly, carbs can help
you meet your diet and fitness goals. The trick is knowing the type of
carbs to consume.
Carbs can be broken into two groups: complex carbs and simple carbs.
The Nutrition MD website gives a great breakdown of the two.
Complex carbs may be referred to as dietary starch and are made of
sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a
coil. They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health
promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant
foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals.
These whole plant foods are great sources of complex carbohydrates:
- Green vegetables
- Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and
- whole-grain breads
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin
- Beans, lentils, and peas.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars. All simple carbohydrates are made of
just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of
energy, as they are very rapidly digested.
Some food sources of simple carbohydrates:
- Table sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Jams, jellies
- Fruit drinks
- Soft drinks
- White rice, white bread, and white pasta
- Potatoes (which are technically a complex carb, but act more like
- simple carbs in the body)
- Pastries and desserts
What does all this mean? A meal containing mainly complex
carbohydrates is likely to give you more energy and leave you feeling
fuller than a meal containing mainly simple carbohydrates, according
to a study published in the “International Journal of Obesity and
Related Metabolic Disorders” in June 2003.
According to Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, a nutritionist and owner of
Nutrition Works in Louisville, Ky. says that you can enjoy simple
carbohydrates on occasion, you just don’t want them to be your primary
sources of carbs. And within the simple carb category, there are
better choices — a baked potato, white rice, and regular pasta — than
others — chips, cakes, pies, and cookies.