Good nutritional principles are based on a number of solid foundations. For example, you need to eat servings of each of the food groups, on a daily basis, to remain healthy. You’re allowed more servings of carbohydrates than you are of fats and oils.
However, how you go about good nutrition isn’t a hard and fast rule. You need to see what your particular lifestyle – and what you can and can’t eat – and make sure that you get the correct nutrients to sustain your body. For example, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan you won’t be able to get your required amounts of protein from meat or fish. This means that you’ll need to find another way that you can stock up on protein.
The same is true for carbohydrates – or carbs, as they are colloquially called. The ‘good’ carbs that we mentioned in the title of this article are called ‘complex’ carbs. The ‘bad’ carbs are called simple carbs. While all simple carbs aren’t bad, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t eat too many of these as well as what the nutritional difference between these two is.
What are complex carbohydrates?
Complex carbohydrates are those carbs which are broken down in the body slowly. Because they take a longer period of time to leave the stomach and be transported to the rest of the body, for energy purposes, they give the person the impression of being fuller for longer which helps in a fitness routine. Also called ‘slow-release’ carbohydrates – or low-GI –they release energy in a metered fashion into the body. As such, they don’t cause a spike in your blood sugar.
Good examples of complex carbs are the following foods:
- Kidney beans
- Brown rice
- Bulgur wheat
- Sweet potatoes
- Chick peas
If you’re gluten intolerant, there are still a lot of nutritional options that you have for eating complex carbohydrates. For example, you can eat sweet potatoes and corn.
What are ‘simple’ carbohydrates?
Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body and cause a massive amount of energy to be released into the blood stream all at once. People will often say that after they’ve eaten a meal that is full of simple carbs they have a burst of energy and then – a short while later – they will be left feeling tired and listless. To get over this feeling, they will usually eat something else that is a simple carbohydrate which they know will give them another burst of energy. Because simple carbohydrates don’t keep people full for a long period of time, and they are constantly eating, the people who eat a lot of these types of carbs may complain of putting on weight.
Simple carbohydrates are found in foods such as:
- Sugar for your tea and coffee
- Sweetened soda
- Refined white bread
Fruit and milk also contain simple carbohydrates which is why we said that all simple carbohydrates are no bad. For example, even though milk does contain simple carbohydrates it does contain calcium which is essential in helping to build healthy teeth and bones.
So in order to make sure that you reap the nutritional benefits of simple and complex carbohydrates you need to make sure that you take in a balanced diet of both of these types of carbohydrates.
Remember that you won’t be able to keep up a balanced and healthy diet unless you allow yourself a bit of freedom to eat the foods that you enjoy – even though you technically shouldn’t be doing this. If you’re extremely strict with your nutritional habits all the time, chances are good that you may just binge on junk and processed food one day – and not want to go back to your healthy eating habits. So have one cheat day a week – even personal trainers do so why can’t you?