Whether you’re wanting to lose weight, get into shape or just lead a healthier lifestyle, knowing the difference between good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates can make all the difference in your success. While we would like to think that all carbs are good for us because they’re an energy source, that’s just not the case. While they definitely shouldn’t be avoided, there is a big difference in the way your body processes good carbohydrates as opposed to bad ones.
The Good Carbohydrates
The complex or good carbohydrates, such as whole grain products and peas have longer chains of sugar molecules. What this means is that they take much longer to be broken down and used by the body. This is a good thing as it keeps your blood glucose levels from spiking up. This also will give you a more even level of energy, instead of spikes and drops.
How to Tell a Good Carbohydrate From a Bad Carbohydrate
So, how do you figure out if a carbohydrate is a good one or a bad one? One great way is reading the label on the product. If it’s high in fiber, say over 5 grams of fiber per serving, it’s most likely a more complex carb and better for you. With 0 to 1 gram of fiber per serving, it’s typically a simple carb and not so great for your weight loss efforts. You’ll find this type of carbohydrate in foods such as cakes, candies and flour tortillas. It’s also found in white pasta, potatoes and white bread. Also, avoiding processed or refined foods and anything with sugar added is a good way to avoid bad carbs.
Fruit and Fiber
Did you know that fruit is actually a simple carbohydrate, too? However, the difference in fruit is that the high sugar content is balanced out by the high fiber, therefore making it a good carbohydrate. Fiber is structured in a way that it can’t be broken down into sugar molecules, and it passes through the body undigested. Foods that have lots of fiber in them make them a less digestible carbohydrate, and they deliver less sugar to the body.
Good Carbohydrates List
Now that you’ve learned the benefits of good carbohydrates, it’s time to start choosing them over the bad ones! Here is a sample list of good carbohydrates. These should be chosen over bad carbs whenever possible for optimum weight loss.
- Romaine Lettuce
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage and Cauliflower
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans and Green Peas
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Cranberries and Blueberries
- Natural fruit juices
- Peaches and Pears
- Limes and Lemons
- Beans and Legumes
- Raw Nuts and Seeds
- Whole oats
- Brown Rice
If you have a choice between fruit juice and fruits, choose the actual fruit because of the fiber content. It will fill you up faster and be healthier for you. While it’s great to eat your vegetables raw to get the full nutritional value out of them, having them steamed or baked is also a fantastic way to work them into your meal.
Finally, between vegetables and whole grains, vegetables are better for your weight loss efforts. This is because with vegetables, the conversion to simple sugars like glucose is even slower, and an added benefit is that they will also help in lowering the insulin level.