More Information on Carbs

Carbohydrates are one of the most important foods for the body supplying & storing the energy we need to move, work & function in our daily tasks.  We need to eat carbohydrates in our diet for energy and other vital functions. Not all carbs are considered to be good. All carbohydrates supply us with energy. Some of this energy is short-lived while some lasts longer and is more sustainable and does not give us peaks and then lows, but maintains our energy levels at a constant and these more sustainable forms of carbohydrates are often called 'Good Carbs.'

good carbohydrates

What is a Carbohydrate?

Carbohydrates are basically an essential food nutrient, made up of sugar molecules containing the following chemical elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbs provide the cells, organs & muscles of the body with much needed energy. Without carbs we would not have the energy to work or walk or run or play. The human body uses glucose for its energy. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose as it most of the food we eat.

How Carbohydrates work!

The digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates we eat into glucose which is also known as blood sugar. This is then used by the body for energy and a store of energy. During digestion, carbohydrates get broken down into a transportable blood sugar called glucose which all the body’s cells use for work, repair and growth.

Good Carbs versus Bad Carbs

Some carbs are considered to be good and others bad, depending on how fast they increase the glucose content in the blood.

wholesome carbohydrates

Carbs are a source of energy for body just like when we put petrol or fuel into our cars. There are different grades of carbs just as there are different grades of petrol. The ‘Good Carbs’ are considered to be the higher grade fuel and the ‘Bad Carbs’  are considered to be of lesser quality. And this is based on simply how sustainable the carbohydrate is.

For example, if we drink a sugary, fizzy orange drink and a piece of chocolate cake, our blood sugar levels are going to quite rapidly increase. Our blood sugar levels are also going to rapidly decrease. This is called a spike in the blood sugar levels which is considered to be a ‘Bad Carb.’

On the other hand, let’s say we now eat some whole grain pasta with some leafy greens. Our blood sugar levels are going to gradually increase and then stay high for some time before gradually decreasing.  This is called a ‘Good Carb’ as the level of energy that we will obtain from it is considered to be more sustainable than the quick fix of the ‘Bad Carb.’

What are the so-called "Good Carbs"?

Complex carbohydrates allow the blood sugar levels in the body to stay at a more even level than with simple carbs.

For example, if you were running a race, then simple carbs would be good for the 100m or 200m. Complex carbs are good for longer periods of exercise and for sustained energy as they maintain the blood sugar or glucose levels in the blood at a higher level for longer with no sudden spikes up or down. If we compare this to running a race, then we could say that Complex carbs would be great for the 400m + races, marathon and cross-country runs.

Complex carbohydrates allow the blood sugar to stay at an even level which will keep you from being hungry and also stops you craving a lot of sugary foods. Here are ten examples of foods you can eat or maybe do eat right now that fall into the category of complex carbohydrates.

Examples of good Carbs:

  •  Leafy greens including spinach & kale.
  •  Beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, navy beans etc
  •  Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
  •  Fruits including apples, prunes, pears, strawberries, and oranges.
  •  Whole grains, pastas and breads such as brown rice, millet, oat bran, oatmeal, buckwheat, spelt, kamut.

Maple Syrup

Complex carbohydrates provide a sustained form of energy for your body as well as fiber which helps to clean out the digestive system.  Complex carbs take longer to be converted into glucose because their molecular structure is much more complicated and usually requires quite a bit more time to be broken down in the digestive system into glucose.

'Bad Carbs' are Fast Acting, 'Good Carbs' take their Time

Of course, each one of us has a different speed for absorbing sugars and this needs to also be considered into the carbohydrate equation. But put more simply, the ‘bad carb’ foods work the body harder by rapidly injecting sugar into the system. There is a sudden inflow of sugar which lasts a short time and the body has to copy with this sudden increase. All systems are a go!

Bad carbs are like a short race up hill. Good carbs are like a gradual increase of speed until a comfortable speed is arrived at and then the body can cruise more easily with less stress for a longer period. The only trouble is that ‘bad carbs’ taste so nice!

Carbs & Self-Discipline

One of the ingredients to a healthy diet and lifestyle is knowing how to self-discipline, especially when we crave something sweet. The idea is to maintain a balanced level of blood sugar so that the body can function well and give you the energy you need to perform your work and exercise and play.

If you eat sugary foods after you have eaten a protein-rich meal, then your blood sugar is already on the way up and so when you then eat a cake or sweet, the result is not as stressful on the body as if you had eaten a piece of cake on an empty stomach.

More information on ‘Bad Carbs’   

Here are some examples of what are called ‘Bad Carbs’ or ‘Simple Carbs’ as they are also known. These foods can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to increase our blood sugar levels. The more quantity of processed sugar you eat, the higher the sugar ‘hit’ in the blood.

Examples of 'Bad' Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates included sugars such as fruit sugar which is called fructose, corn or grape sugar is either dextrose or glucose and table sugar sucrose.

  •  White sugar in cakes and biscuits
  •  Milk chocolate
  •  Jams and spreads with preservatives
  •  Processed grains such as white rice/ white bread
  •  Sugary fizzy drinks
  •  Fruit Juice
  •  Many packaged cereals
  •  Milk
  •  Yoghurt
  •  Honey/Molasses.

Simple carbohydrates are changed into energy-giving glucose more rapidly than complex carbohydrates like grains and starches. Simple carbs give short bursts of energy.