Complete Guide to Carbohydrates: Simple “Bad” vs Complex “Good” Carbs – What Are They? Role, Benefits, Sources, Classification

The foods we drink or eat can have a major impact on our health in ways we haven’t even thought about!

Carbohydrates have long dominated the tops with the most blamed foods for a whole host of problems facing modern man, most notably fattening.

But is that the case? To find the answer to this question, we must first understand the types of carbohydrates and their role in the body.

In today’s article we will go through the complete guide of carbohydrates: simple “bad” carbohydrates vs “good” complex carbohydrates – what are they? their role in our diet, benefits, food sources from which we can take them, and their classification.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are the body’s favorite source of energy.

Carbohydrates are sugar molecules broken down in the body into glucose – the only sugar molecule that the body uses to fuel its engine.

Carbohydrates are important macronutrients and are one of the most important sources of energy in the body. Some weight loss programs discourage carbohydrate intake, but the key to success is finding the right carbs – without completely avoiding them.

Consumption of complex carbohydrates is better than consumption of simple carbohydrates.

However, product labels do not mention the type of carbohydrates used. It is important to understand how these foods are classified and how they work once they reach the body, to choose the right carbohydrates.

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The role of carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are the cornerstones of a healthy diet.

Of course, they can be eliminated, but this measure involves the adoption of a diet that deviates from the natural human, these macronutrients are necessary for the proper functioning of the body, and in their absence, the body will use fats and proteins to obtain energy so necessary day by day.

9 Benefits of carbohydrate consumption:

Carbohydrate-rich foods offer many health benefits to any person. This is especially true for foods that contain complex carbohydrates made up of large amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber and resistant starch.

Here are 9 of the major benefits that can come from eating high carb foods:

• Resistant starch and insoluble fibers that are found naturally in the composition of foods such as green bananas, whole grain bread, are beneficial for colon health.

• Prevents constipation and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce excess body weight.

• The foods rich in carbohydrates act as fuel for the body, improve muscle contractions and facilitate the development of several physiological functions. They provide energy and power to the body, either by increasing blood glucose levels or by preventing these levels from falling.

• Adequate carbohydrate intake helps reduce the functional problems of the central nervous system.

• Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods that help improve digestion, stabilize blood sugar, and maintain optimal energy levels.

• You lose weight more easily if you consume complex carbohydrates.

• Better recovery after exertion.

• Reducing the risk of diabetes.

• Better mood and better quality sleep.

Carbohydrate absorption rate:

Some factors increase the rate of carbohydrate absorption and therefore increase blood sugar faster and more.

These include:

• liquid form of food (juices, sugar dissolved in water or tea)

• boiling and crushing food (purees)

• processing (for example refined bread and pasta, compared to unprocessed cereals)

• solid form of food

• association of carbohydrates (bread, pasta) with dietary fiber (vegetables, fruits, etc.) and fats

• the temperature, too cold or too hot, of the food

• slowing down the movements of the stomach.

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4 Tips to reduce a glycemic index of a meal:

These 4 tips can help you lower your glycemic index in a meal and reduce your impact on your blood sugar.

1. Consume carbohydrates with foods high in fiber, such as vegetables, because they will slow the absorption of glucose into the circulatory system.

2. Eat carbs along with healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil, and avocados. In this way you will decrease the GI of the meal, the healthy food fats being absorbed more slowly.

3. Eat carbohydrates along with slow-digesting proteins, such as chicken, steak, or eggs, because this will reduce the effect of blood sugar.

4. Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice can also greatly lower the glycemic index of a meal, due to their acidic nature. They are also excellent for metabolism and digestive health.

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What Foods Are Rich in Carbohydrates?

There are three types of macronutrients:

• Carbohydrates

• Proteins

• Fats.

They are essential for the optimal functioning of the body. Each of the three types of macronutrients must be obtained from your diet, the human body not having the ability to synthesize these substances alone.

The foods that provide the recommended daily dose of carbohydrates in your diet are fruits, vegetables, grains, flours, legumes, and many other foods that, once consumed, contribute nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber necessary for the optimal functioning of your body.

Carbohydrate Classification: Simple Carbohydrates “Bad” vs Complex Carbohydrates “Good”:

Given their composition and the impact they have on blood sugar, carbohydrates can be classified as simple and complex.

• Simple carbohydrates – (sugar, sweets, white flour, white rice) are those with a fast metabolism, those that provide immediate energy but also those that greatly increase blood sugar levels – THE BAD CARBS!

• Complex Carbohydrates – (wholemeal flour, wholemeal rice, vegetables) are those that have a slower metabolism and a low glycemic index – THE GOOD CARBS!

These two types affect the way blood sugar rises differently and also affect the feeling of satiety differently. Insulin secretion can be triggered more slowly or faster, as can the way energy is stored in the body.

Simple Carbohydrates – The Bad Carbs: To Be Avoided!!!

Consumption of simple carbohydrates translates into a simplistic diet and not at all thought. Simple carbohydrates are sugars. While some of these are found naturally in milk, most simple carbohydrates in the diet are added to food.

They cause sudden blood sugar differences, and the appetite is negatively affected.

The most important sources of such carbohydrates are refined sugar and white flour, and everything obtained from them.

Why Simple carbohydrates should be avoided:

• Low in fiber

• Refined Sugars

• High Glycemic

• Fast Digestion

• Energy Levels Decrease Quicker

• Causes Weight Gain

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates:

• White bread

• Cakes

• Sweets

• White rice

• Milkshakes

• Pies

• Canned fruits with added sugar

• Sodas

• Chips

• Candies

• Junk food

Try to avoid some of the most common refined sources of simple carbohydrates and look for alternatives to satisfy these sweet cravings.

Here are some top products you should avoid, to reduce your intake of simple carbs.


Carbonated beverages are harmful to health in many ways. But you can try lemon-flavored water, meaning normal water in which lemon has been squeezed or in which lemon slices are added.

You can also add mint or ginger leaves to the water for a more interesting flavor.

Baked flour products:

Sweet cravings can be satisfied with fruit and not with flour-baked cakes that have added sugars and are full of simple carbohydrates.

Packaged cakes:

You can make your cakes using substitutes such as apples or sweeteners, or you can look for other combinations that do not include white flour and simple carbohydrates.

Fruit juice concentrate:

Fruit juice concentrate is still popular for flavoring drinks or desserts. It is important to read nutrition labels correctly.

Choose only products that have 100% fruit or you can make your concentrate at home.

Breakfast cereals:

Breakfast cereals tend to be loaded with simple carbohydrates. If you can’t get rid of the habit of eating processed cereals for breakfast, consult the list of ingredients and choose only products with whole grains, without sugar.

You can also use other sources of carbohydrates such as oats and bran in the natural state, along with fruits and milk. Processed cereals can be replaced with gluten-free oatmeal.

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Complex Carbohydrates – The Good Carbs!

Complex Carbohydrates – You need to eat as often as possible.

Simple carbohydrates benefits:

• High in fiber

• Natural Sugars

• Low Glycemic

• Slow Digestion

• Provide High Energy

• Help with Weight Loss

Complex carbohydrates such as sugars that are released slowly are good for the body because they have a high quality, they are much harder to absorb compared to the simple ones and provide the body with constant energy until they are completely digested.

These complex carbohydrates have the role of preventing sudden differences in blood sugar and give a feeling of satiety for a long time. They are found primarily in legumes and whole grains.

The more complex the carbohydrates, the more beneficial they are for health. Complex carbohydrates contain more nutrients than simple carbohydrates.

They are richer in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them much more satiated, which means they are a good option for weight control.

They are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes, as they help to manage the glycemic thresholds correctly in the afternoon.

Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it helps control cholesterol and better intestinal transit.

The main sources of good carbohydrates are:

• Whole grains

• The vegetables

• Fruits

Nuts and seeds

• Beans and legumes

Complex carbohydrates are the key to long-term health.

Here is a list of the best products that contain carbohydrates and that you should include more often in your diet, instead of simple carbohydrates.

Whole grains:

Whole grains are good sources of fiber, as well as potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Cereals such as quinoa, whole wheat, and buckwheat are the most recommended.

Ensures optimal digestion prevents constipation and prolongs satiety.

Whole grain sources that contain complex carbohydrates:

• Barley

• Oats

• Brown rice

• Buckwheat

• Bulgur

• Mei

• Quinoa

High fiber vegetables:

Eat more of all vegetables, including broccoli, leafy greens, and carrots. Spirulina powder is also a great solution for delicious snacks.

I recommend the daily consumption of a wide variety of vegetables, from leaves to berries.

Vegetable sources that contain complex carbohydrates:

• Cabbage

• Broccoli


• Celery

• Endive

• Asparagus

• Eggplants

• Chilli

• Pepper

• Tomatoes

• Turnips


• Garlic

• Carrot

High fiber fruits:

These include apples, berries, and bananas. Avoid canned fruits because they usually contain syrup.

As in the case of vegetables, a large variety of fruits per day is indicated, which are recommended to be eaten raw, without additives.

Sources of fruits that contain complex carbohydrates:

• Cranberries

• Cherries


• Apples

• Pears

• Bananas

• Apricot

• Blackberries

• Kiwi

• Pineapple

• Raspberry

• Strawberries.

Nuts and seeds:

Consumed raw and fresh, nuts and seeds are an important source of healthy carbohydrates.

Sources of nuts and seeds that contain complex carbohydrates:

• Nuts

• Hazelnuts

• Brazilian nuts

• Macadamia nuts

• Almonds

• Caju

• Pecan

• Pistachio.

• Flaxseed

• Chia seeds

Pumpkin seeds

• Hemp seeds

• Sunflower seeds

• Sesame seeds

• Pomegranate seeds.

Beans and legumes:

Apart from fiber, beans are a good source of iron and potassium.

Sources of legumes that contain complex carbohydrates:

• Black beans

• White beans


• Lentils

• Quinoa

• Amaranth

• Green peas.

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A low-carb diet helps to lose weight:

A low-carbohydrate diet should consider limiting carbohydrates that cause negative effects on the body, such as sugar and white flour while ensuring an increased intake of healthy carbohydrates for the proper functioning of the human body.

Reducing negative carbohydrates contributes greatly to the process of weight loss, but also to maintain the health of your body, preventing the occurrence of certain pathologies, such as diabetes.

A low intake of negative carbohydrates has been correlated with a feeling of satiety that lasts for a longer time and an inhibition of the body’s appetite.

Carbohydrates should be calculated by people looking to reduce fat tissue. The main factor that will contribute to weight loss, however, will be the total calories consumed each day.

For an average person, 150g of carbohydrates/day is a good number to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a body with a normal height/weight ratio.

To reduce the carbohydrates consumed daily, without turning food into a count, the solution is to make wiser, healthier choices.

For muscle mass gain:

If your goal is to build muscle mass in large quantities, or if you are a performance athlete, the best range is between 30-50% of total calories or 200-400 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Last Thoughts:

In addition to monitoring the correct amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, it is very important to choose the healthy type of nutrients essential for the body to function properly.

Limit the consumption of foods with added sugar, which have a high glycemic index and predispose the body to fatten, or complications caused by diabetes.

It is also recommended a higher consumption of vegetables and fruits. The chosen cereals can be whole grains because they do not lose their properties, not being processed.

A balanced diet, which contains at least 3 servings of vegetables each day helps to establish and keep blood sugar under control.

In addition to vegetables and fruits, it is important to include in the diet and protein in a balanced way, and thus you will get a dream figure without those very restrictive and harmful diets for weight loss.

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In today's article we will go through the complete guide of carbohydrates: simple "bad" carbohydrates vs "good" complex carbohydrates - what are they? their role in our diet, benefits, food sources from which we can take them, and their classification.

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