Good Carbohydrates Vs Bad Carbohydrates

Which one do you prefer, French fries or a tomato and spinach salad? These two types of food are carbohydrates, however, the second option contains good carbs (vegetables.)

Carbohydrates (carbs) are essential in the body, nutritionists recommend that 60% of our everyday intake should come from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are classified into:
1. Sugar: This is a simple carbohydrate. Some sugars are natural while others are added to your meals.
2. Starch: It is a complex carbohydrate, which is slow to digest.
3. Fiber: This is a complex carbohydrate, which just like starch breaks down more slowly compared to sugar.

Difference between Good Carbohydrates vs Bad Carbohydrates

Since carbohydrates are not similar, they perform differently. Some have a high increase and decrease in blood sugar levels. Such carbs have a high GI (glycemic index)

Other carbohydrates raise and lower the levels of blood sugar gradually, such carbs contain a low GI. Experts refer to carbohydrates that have a high increase in blood sugar levels as “bad carbs.” On the other hand, carbohydrates with a lower increase in blood sugar levels are known as “good carbs.”

So, how do we differentiate the two?

The main difference between “ bad” and “good” carbs is how they are processed in the body. Simply put, the larger the amount of fiber, sugar, starch, vitamins, proteins, etc. in a certain type of food the more complex it is to break down.

Nevertheless, if a type food contains large amounts of sugar than fiber, vitamins, and starch, the simpler it is to break down. Hence the terms “complex” and “simple.”

good carbs vs bad carbs difference chart

Definition of Bad Carbohydrates Food

Bad carbs can also be referred to as simple carbohydrates. But, why the name bad carbs? This is because they contain small particles of sugar that are broken down and absorbed quite fast. The energy produced is known as glycogen and if not put to work immediately (exercising) it converts into fats.

Examples Of Bad Carbs
• Sugar
• Pastries
• Fruit juice (refined)
• Candies
• Soda
• White bread and white pasta
• White bread
• Desserts
• Processed potato, rice and corn products
• Bagels

What Makes Bad Carbs Unhealthy?

If they are not put into use instantly they convert into fat. Besides, they contain very low nutrient content since most of the nutrients are stripped out to make them easy to consume.

They have refined carbohydrates with empty calories that turn into fats thus resulting in weight gain. The bad carbs also increase blood sugar levels.

Definition of Good Carbohydrates Food

Also referred as complex carbohydrates. They contain nutrients, fibers and a chemical structure that compels your body to work extra hard to break them down and the energy produced last for longer periods.

Examples Of Good Carbs
• Brown rice
• Fresh fruits
• Nuts
• All types of vegetables
• Oatmeal
• Wholemeal bread and cereals
• Lentils
• Quinoa
• Beans
• Seeds

What Makes Good Carbs Healthy?

Good carbohydrates are either natural or quite close to that. They contain generous amounts of nutrients and fiber and they make you full with minimal calories. In addition, they help to boost your metabolism and have a low GI.

How Many Carbohydrates Should I Consume In A Day?

Your daily meal should contain 60% carbs, 20% fat and 20% protein. This can change depending on your workout routine and your fitness goals. For instance, you may prefer your meals to have 50% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fat.

When Is The Most Appropriate Time To Consume Carbohydrates?

As we mentioned earlier complex carbs break down gradually, therefore the best time to consume them is during the morning and afternoon hours when your body is active unlike in the evening.

Taking carbohydrates just before bed will make you inactive and leave your stomach bloated. Carbs are the key source of energy so it is good to take some prior your workout and after.

Can I Completely Eliminate Carbs?

NO. You should not do away with carbs completely since they are a great source of energy. Carbohydrates are essential to your body. Without them, your body will lack the energy needed for muscle and brain function.


Carbs that are natural, rich in nutrients and fiber are good for your body, whereas the processed ones are unhealthy. The whole grain meals are healthy and suitable for most individuals regardless of the level of carbohydrates in them.

We know several foods that make the list of bad carbs are your favorite, however, if you want to remain healthy and maintain a good body shape look for healthy alternatives. With this in mind, you can differentiate between “bad” and “good” carbs and what is best for you.

Of course, it’s always best to visit a nutritionist to create a specific plan that will help you meet and exceed your daily goals.

Everyone’s body is made up differently and that plays a big factor in creating a plan that includes fitness, diet, and daily habits/rituals to get in the right mindset in order to see maximum results.

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