Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs-Things to Know

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

We’ve all heard of the term “Balanced Diet” and its importance for maintaining health. There are many diets such as Paleo and HCG Diet that focus on eating healthy grains. Recently other revolutions came to light, and one such campaign was “Clean Eating.” You must have seen your social media flooding with posts and hashtags promoting the cause. The motive behind “eat clean” slogan was to eliminate processed foods from our diet and stick to whole grains. Since most of the commercial and packaged foods are full of carbohydrates, the campaign ended up giving carbs a bad rap.

New diet plans were introduced such as the Ketogenic diet that stressed on eliminating carbohydrates from our meals. However, the craze for the movement has decreased, and people are learning the importance of eating a nutritious diet. But some still wonder if carbs are healthy, whether they should avoid the nutrient or not. Well in this article I aim at clarifying some of your confusions so keep reading.

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches that the body breaks down to provide energy. Our body needs this power to carry out its essential functions. Carbs aren’t the only source; there are three substances (called macronutrients) that are responsible for maintaining proper functioning. These are:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats

Types of Carbohydrates:

Carbs are categorized by structure; there are two kinds:

  • Simple and Complex

Simple carbs are the ones that contain single molecules of sugar known as a monosaccharide or a combination of them called disaccharides. Fruits, milk, honey, etc. include simple carbs. These are refined and added to processed foods such as beverages, desserts, etc.

Complex carbs, on the other hand, have chains of monosaccharides and their linkage classifies them as starch or fiber. Whole grains and certain starchy vegetables contain long chain carbohydrates.

Importance of Carbohydrates:

Metabolic reactions convert the glucose in carbs into energy. This fuel is utilized for the processes involved in the brain, kidney, and nervous system and by the red blood cells. If our body lacks the required amount of carbs, it will take protein from the muscles and organs to convert into energy. Another reaction that might take place due to the unavailability of carbohydrates is ketosis, which may cause the blood to become acidic or dehydrate the body.

Studies have also shown carbs to improve mood. They lead to the creation of serotonin which boosts well-being and pleasure. Carbs as fiber are excellent for weight loss as they increase satiety and control appetite. They also have other benefits such as reducing LDL cholesterol and aid in the digestive process.

Is There Something Like Good and Bad Carbs?

Yes, you heard it right; carbs can also be attributed as good or bad. So what is the difference? Well, the fibrous carbs found in whole foods are the good ones as they are favorable for our health. How are they better? Such carbs contain long chains of monosaccharides that are gradually broken down into glucose. Thus they provide a more consistent form of energy and don’t cause the blood sugar levels to spike. Wait there’s more! It doesn’t mean that only complex carbs are useful, the simple ones found in fruits and veggies are also healthy. They are rich in dietary fiber which makes them behave somewhat like the complex ones. The bad carbohydrates in refined foods are quickly converted to energy hence pose a danger to our health.

High Nutritional Content

The other fact about bad carbs is that since they are processed artificially, they lose their natural goodness and nutritional value. Instead of containing fiber and vitamins they are filled with sodium, fats, and sugar. Unfortunately some portion of the diet most Americans eat consists of refined carbs in one form of the other. Whether you like to fill up on ice-cream or love those crispy fries, we all indulge in unhealthy cravings. Mainly because we are always running short on time, we resort to the commercial options. Who would have time to squeeze fresh juice or mix fruits and oats, people prefer to gobble upon ready-to-eat foods.

Low Glycemic Index

Good carbs have a low glycemic index (GI). It is a number that indicates the effect of a particular type of carbohydrate on our blood sugar levels. As mentioned earlier the processed carbs cause a rapid increase in blood sugar after consumption that is why they have high Glycemic Index. But does that mean that all foods with a high value of GI are unhealthy? Nope, that isn’t entirely correct. Fruits like Melons, Grapes, and raisins have upper GI but are full of nutrition. So how do we determine if a specific food is harmful or not? That’s where carbs come into play. We find out the Glycemic Load which is calculated by multiplying the number of carbohydrates in a single serving of food to its glycemic index and dividing the result by 100. This value explains the actual impact the food will have on your blood sugar levels after you eat it.

High Amount of Fiber

Good carbs are rich in dietary fiber which regulates LDL cholesterol. It also boosts satiety and controls your appetite as it makes you feel full. Due to this characteristic, foods rich in fiber are ideal for weight loss diet plans. They also aid in digestion and helps prevent cancers. Whereas, unhealthy carbohydrates may lead to diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

What Matters?

Of course, the kind of food you eat matters a lot, but the goodness largely depends on the way you cook it. For instance, potatoes act as a good source of carbohydrates if they are baked or boiled, but the same food becomes harmful in the form of French fries. So you need to consider your cooking method and make sure it is healthy. There are many diet plans for losing weight that stress on healthily incorporating good carbs.

Finally here is a list of good vs. bad carbs to help you decide which foods to incorporate into your diet and which ones to avoid:

Good Carbohydrates

  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Apple
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Kidney Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Whole milk
  • Unsweetened Yogurt
  • Quinoa
  • Whole oats
  • Millets
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Leafy greens
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potato
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Pumpkin
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber

Bad Carbohydrates

  • White flour
  • White rice
  • Quick Oats
  • Pasta
  • Corn syrup
  • Ice cream
  • Sweetened yogurt
  • Potato chips
  • Candies
  • Cookies
  • Granola Bars
  • Soda
  • JuiceBear

Author Bio

Michelle Hannan is a nutritionist, and she’s on a mission to give you all the information you need to successfully lose weight. She also blogs regularly at

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