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Good Carbs Vs 'Bad' Carbs

Good Carbs Vs 'Bad' Carbs

The poor old carbohydrate molecule has had a lot of bad press in the last few years. Many see all carbs as dietary evil, but that isn’t the whole story. The important thing is the difference between the two types of carb, which could be called friendly and less-friendly.

As the name implies, carbohydrate is a chemical compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Here is more detail on the science of carbohydrates. 

1. WHAT ARE GOOD CARBS?

These are the complex carbs, which are often found in foods that are also rich in dietary fibre. These complex molecules take longer for the body to break down, so we feel fuller for longer and are less likely to start snacking. Good carbs come from vegetables (not just potatoes), rice, wholegrain cereals and legumes.

2. WHAT ARE ‘BAD’ CARBS?

While no food is really ‘bad’ in itself, there are definitely some carbs that need caution. These are the simple carbs, which are variants of basic sugar and are broken down quickly by the body. As you have probably guessed, that means cakes, biscuits, sweets and chocolate! These all need to be regarded as treats rather than essential foods. Yes, even those ‘healthy’ cereal bars!

3. WHAT DOES THE BODY DO WITH CARBS?

Starting with the saliva in the mouth and continuing through the gut, our bodies extract the glucose from carbs and move it into the bloodstream. From there, the organs of the body take it as energy. Any not needed immediately is stored in the liver as glycogen. When this ‘reservoir’ is full, the excess is stored in the same way as any other excess calories – as body fat.

4. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CARBS?

Carbs are a good source of the calories we need, and the fibre in starchy foods gives our bowels the ‘bulk’ they need to work on. The glucose from carbs is also essential for the brain.

5. WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES OF CARBS?

All diets need to be balanced, and too much of even the good carbs can result in weight gain. Also remember that fruits contain simple sugars as well as their vitamin and mineral benefits.

The message? Eat in the right portions, try to minimise the processing of your food and eat a good mixed diet.

Want to learn how to manage your carbohydrate needs? Start calculating your macros for a perfectly balanced plate.

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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