Simple and complex carbohydrates: differences and food list


Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Find out how simple and complex carbohydrates work for you. We also provide a list of recommended products.

Simple and complex carbohydrates: differences and food listSimple and complex carbohydrates: differences and food list

Nutritionists are often plagued by questions about whether there is a significant difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. There is a point of view that this difference is not great. All these are carbohydrates, ultimately they break down to glucose, which is the main source of energy for the body. There is another point of view: everything related to health and proper nutrition can be both harmful and beneficial.

The flexible diet principles have led many people to believe that there is no difference between 25 grams of carbohydrates from sweet potatoes and cookies. According to the principles of this diet, if you fit the amount of simple carbs into your daily intake, then everything is fine.

In fact, the structure and composition of carbohydrates directly affects how the body will absorb them. This has an effect on blood glucose levels, energy levels and feelings of fullness. If your approach to carbohydrates is not based on the principles of a healthy lifestyle, but only on their strict calculation, then all day the rise in energy will be followed by a decline, just like on Roller coaster. In the long term, it will harm your metabolism and will be critical for weight loss.

1 how simple and complex carbohydrates work

Simple carbohydrates are composed of one or more compounds (up to 20) called saccharides. The amount of these compounds in complex carbohydrates is much higher – from 20 to 100 and even higher. This means that the body will digest each product differently.

See also: Carbohydrates as fuel for crossfit training

2. Glycemic index and absorption rate

The glycemic index (GI) is a system that shows, on a scale from 0 to 100, how quickly glucose (the end product of the breakdown of carbohydrates) enters the bloodstream. The higher the glycemic index, the faster after a meal, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream.

  • Examples of simple carbohydrates: potatoes, white bread, white rice, biscuits, sweets, fruit juices, sports drinks.
  • Examples of complex carbohydrates: brown rice, oatmeal, apples, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots.

The health, well-being and appetite of a person largely depends on how quickly glucose enters the bloodstream.

3. Raising insulin and blood glucose levels

When glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas begins to produce insulin. It acts as a conduit to direct glucose into muscle or fat cells, thereby normalizing blood levels. If glucose enters the bloodstream quickly, such as after eating sweets, large amounts of insulin are released to transport glucose into cells.

After a while, excessive insulin production (hyperinsulinemia) puts the pancreas on a real test, and it stops producing insulin. The 2005-2006 US National Health and Nutrition Survey to identify the prevalence of prediabetes and its association with a group of cardiometabolic risk factors and hyperinsulinemia in adolescents (published in the journal Attention to Diabetes) found that ultimately hyperinsulinemia leads to impaired glucose uptake and weight gain.

Numerous studies (such as Abdominal Fat and Insulin Resistance in Normal and Overweight Women, published in Diabetes in 1996, The Role of Glucose and Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes: Results from a 25-Year Study “- the journal” Lancet “, 1992;” Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia “- the journal” Attention to diabetes “, 2008) revealed the following. As a result of frequent exposure to insulin, cells do not react to it in any way – so-called insulin resistance occurs. This leads to increased blood glucose levels. The risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and certain types of metabolic disorders increases.

At the same time, eating complex carbohydrates leads to a slower flow of glucose into the bloodstream, less insulin release, and does not cause spikes in blood glucose levels. It is definitely healthier.

4. Energy and well-being

Unscheduled skipping meals should be considered. This may be in line with your weight loss plan, or it may be due to a busy schedule. If you do not eat for a long time, your blood glucose level is below normal. The so-called hypoglycemia begins. Its symptoms are fatigue, dizziness, hunger and an irresistible desire to eat something sweet.

Eating fast carbohydrates after a long fast will cause glucose to flow quickly into the bloodstream and then into the cells. This will lead to a jump in sugar levels. Therefore, if you regularly opt for simple carbs throughout the day, your level of performance will constantly jump up and down.

See also: Carbohydrate Alternation – Diet and Menus

five. Satiety from fast and slow carbohydrates

The feeling of hunger is associated with digestion and the amount of food in the stomach. The faster the carbohydrates are absorbed and pass through the gastrointestinal tract, the faster you will experience hunger again. Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly, but …


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