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Simple versus Complex – How to Know Which Carbs to Avoid

Whether you’re eating at home or eating in your favorite dining establishment, knowing which foods have the best carbs for your body can be more difficult than figuring out whether to leave 18% or 20% for a tip. At home you’re able to fix as much food as you’d like, even if you’re the only person there to eat it. And when looking at a menu of food that someone else will prepare, everything looks so delicious – especially if you’re hungry – that carbs might be the last thing on your mind. However, not all carbs are bad.

The Difference between Good Carbs and Bad Carbs

There are two different types of carbohydrates; good carbs and bad carbs. Complex carbohydrates are the good carbs that you want in your diet.  The good carbs provide you with the energy that you need to make it through the day. Complex carbs are better for you because they take longer to break down, and last longer providing more energy. Meanwhile, simple carbs have been named the bad carbohydrates. Simple carbs are the opposite of complex ones in almost all aspects. For example, it takes little for your body to break them down, and they provide normally no nutritional value.

The Importance of Having Some Carbs in Your Diet

Without carbohydrates, you cannot make it throughout the day. Carbohydrates provide your body with the energy that is necessary for you to push through from morning until bedtime. Because complex carbs take longer for the body to break down, you’re provided with a steady amount of energy over a longer period of time. As you’re body breaks the carbohydrate down, it will release into the energy that you need. Certain foods are good for this and will provide you with that necessary energy. These foods include:

  • Anything high in fiber. Fiber is filling, and just all around good for your body.
  • Whole grain bread. White bread is not your friends, stick to whole grain for the complex carbohydrates.
  • Any type of legume. They’re a major source of protein as well as complex carbs.
  • Fruits and veggies! They’re not just for little kids’ health. They are truly wonderful for everyone.
  • Whole grain rice and when it comes to breakfast, whole grain cereal is a great way to start the day off right.

Just Say No to These Unhealthy Carbs

Everyone has foods that they crave, and some popular cravings include some of the worst simple carbs that we can put into our bodies. If you’re not sure which carbs those might be, here are some of the popular ones. This may be able to help you decide whether you’re craving something that isn’t exactly the best for your body.

  • Soda. It’s bad for your teeth, has too much sugar, and is a simple carbohydrate. There is just so much about soda that is not good for you at all, yet it is so addictive.
  • Candy. Even if it has nuts in it, it’s still filled with sugar and it still is a candy bar that doesn’t like to provide you with enough energy to make it throughout the day. What it does give you is a sugar rush that causes you to crash not long afterwards.
  • Potatoes. Yes, they are a starch which is generally a complex carbs. However, your body treats them like a simple carbohydrate, especially if they are white. Ironically enough, if you must add potatoes to your diet, select the sweet variety.
  • Deserts, pastries, cake, brownies, the whole nine yards. You know what I’m talking about. Portal, a popular video game, uses a catchphrase that “The cake is a lie” and they aren’t kidding. Desserts have next to no nutritional value whatsoever. Sure they look good, but you probably feel the guilt not much long after – not to mention a painful sugar crash.

The Throwdown on Carbs from Chef Bobby Flay

If you suspect that those delicious foods that you crave most often are in fact types of simple carbs, then don’t fret it. The longer you try to put it off, the less strength you will have in pushing them out of your diet. However, there’s no need to kick them out completely. Chef Bobby Flay offers the advice that, “For me, it’s all about moderation. I don’t kick things out of my diet, like carbs. But I’m not going to eat fast food.”

Take his advice. Eat what you want, but eat it in moderation. Don’t pig out, but have the serving size or under. If fast food is what you crave, then cut back to once a month at first, and then even less as time goes on. After a while, your taste buds will most likely change, and you you’ll find you don’t care for it at all! And if not, then the opportunity to have it will be a special thing that you’ll enjoy much more due to having it less often.