The weather is getting cooler and that can only mean one thing… It’s carb season! Who doesn’t love a good flavored coffee, loaded baked potato soup, or some warm pancakes? Are your taste buds anticipating those feel good foods? 

This week, we want to take a look at what each type of carbohydrate brings to the table and how some small changes can improve our overall health.  

There are two main types of carbohydrates: Simple and Complex. These are also called simple sugars and starches. Carbohydrates are made up of fiber, starch, and sugar. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, while fiber and starch are both complex carbs.

Simple Carbohydrates

Since simple carbs are sugar based, it is a little easier to see which foods we are talking about. You can find simple carbs in foods like syrup, milk, whole fruits, sodas, and baked foods. Simple carbohydrates will add a quick spike in your blood sugar while giving a shorter source of energy and of course these are the culprits to the added inches to the waistline as well. 

Simple carbs can also provide vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. But those sugary drinks and treats can be hard on your health!  Some healthier options of simple carbohydrates are whole fruits and vegetables. While they are simple carbs, they are high in vitamins and fiber. Because your body has to digest the fiber it works harder, burning calories and so better choices of carbohydrates brings better nutrition in a couple of different ways.  Yet, this is not something you want to have a lot of in your daily diet. Simple carbohydrates to remove from your diet are processed foods, candy, syrups, and juice concentrate. Be on the lookout for simple sugars that are snuck into foods and drinks, too! Fructose, sucrose, and corn syrups will increase your blood sugar, while providing almost no real energy. 

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are, well, more complex. They take longer for the body to digest and provide a more stable source of energy. Complex carbohydrates have longer chains of sugar molecules than simple carbs. This takes the body longer to break down the food which makes the energy source last longer. The main job of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy, which complex carbs do better than simple carbs. 

Whole grain foods like brown rice, oats, and buckwheat contain higher fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins which makes them one of the best complex carb options. Vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts also provide great benefit. 

Small Changes 

Making some small changes to what we include in our diet can greatly help our overall health. 

Try some of these alternative options instead:

Simple Carbs:

  •  Lemon water instead of Soda
  •  Have an apple instead of candy
  •  Use applesauce or honey to sweeten baked goods and coffee
  •  Choose fruit juice instead of concentrate

Complex Carbs:

  • Try buckwheat, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta instead of more processed options
  • Eat fresh fruits like apples, bananas, and berries instead of canned fruits
  • Try adding in broccoli, carrots, and spinach 

All carbohydrates can be useful if you understand what your body needs. Don’t let carb season take over your health.  Remember, swimsuit season will be just around the corner! 

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