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What Are Complex Carbohydrates And Why Do We Need Them?

Updated on December 29, 2015

What Are Complex Carbs and Why Do We Need Them?

Most of us are familiar with the term, carbohydrates. I am sure you've the term "complex carbs", and you while you know what carbs are, you aren't quite sure what a complex carb is.

Carbohydrates come in two forms, simple and complex. So what does that actually mean? You might think simple carbohydrates must be better for your body. Why? Because they are simple. They are able to be broken down simply, and simple is usually easy, right? Wrong! The opposite of that statement is true.

When you are talking carbohydrates the complex ones are the good carbs and the simple ones are the bad carbs. Right?

Do You Know The Difference In These Carbohydrates?

The Difference Between Complex (Good) and Simple (Bad) Carbohydrates

The difference between these two types of carbs is how your body absorbs them. These two types are also digested quite differently. Carbohydrates are made of sugar, both the good and the bad ones.

Complex and simple carbohydrates very differ in how they are absorbed into your body. They are also digested differently. Simple carbs are broken down by your body quickly. They are essentially sugar and are digested and absorbed right away. We all know the rush of energy sugar gives you, the rush that doesn't last long. They aren't very nutritous and they just supply your body with a short burst of energy. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly and supply your body with a large amount nutrients & minerals while also providing you with some energy.

Why you ask? Here's the science behind carbs...Complex carbohydrates have longer molecular chains. What that means is it takes your body longer to break them down and absorb them. This also allows these complex carbs to evenly distribute energy to your body for a longer time. And you will feel full longer after eating them than you would if you ate some simple carbs. That's because simple carbohydrates are eaten and delivered to your bloodstream immediately. These carbs are processed quickly, they have little or no nutritional value, and can lead fat storage, short spikes in energy and in the end, an energy crash.


Quinoa is a Complex Carbohydrate that is good for you.  Check the chart on this page to see the nutritional value of 1/2 a cup of this grain compared to 1/2 a cup of white rice.  It will surprise you.
Quinoa is a Complex Carbohydrate that is good for you. Check the chart on this page to see the nutritional value of 1/2 a cup of this grain compared to 1/2 a cup of white rice. It will surprise you.

Why Your Body Needs Complex Carbohydrates

There are several reasons complex carbohydrates are important. They are nutrient and mineral rich. Your body needs what they have to function properly...vitamins, phytonutrients and plain old healthy, natural goodness. These complex carbs are high in dietary fiber.

That fiber keeps your digestive tract in good working order and it allows you to keep a healthy body weight by keeping that digestive system working properly. These "good" carbs also promote proper sleep, boost your brain function and help to keep your nervous system healthy. And, for the most part, they are low in calories, just the opposed of those not too good for you simple carbohydrates. Simply put, your body needs these complex carbs. They deliver several important benefits that promote overall health.

Do You Know The Difference Between Simple And Complex Carbs?

Now that you've read the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs, do you remember the effects these two different types of carbs had on your body?

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Some Examples of Complex Carbohydrates

Here is a list of some healthy complex carbohydrates you should be eating more of.

  1. Quinoa
  2. Oats
  3. Broccoli
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Spinach
  6. Brown Rice
  7. Cucumbers
  8. Peas
  9. Asparagus
  10. Soy Milk
  11. Beans
  12. Whole Grain Breads

Sugar Is A Simple Carbohydrate

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate.  It has no real nutritional value and gives you quick energy followed, usually, by a crash.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. It has no real nutritional value and gives you quick energy followed, usually, by a crash.

Simple Carbohydrates to Avoid

Avoid or limit the following list of simple carbs. Your overall body health and waistline depend on it.

  1. Sugar
  2. White Rice
  3. White Bread
  4. Pasta
  5. Potatoes
  6. Desserts and Pastries
  7. Artificial Syrups
  8. Candy and Cookies
  9. Soda and Energy Drinks
  10. Cereal

Understanding Carbohydrates

Let's Go Over The Carb Info

  • Complex and Simple Carbs are basically different types of sugar.
  • Simple Carbs are absorbed quickly and offer no nutritional value
  • Complex Carbs are absorbed more slowly and do offer nutritional value
  • Complex Carbs are important for digestion

Simple And Complex Carbs

Now that you understand the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs I know you will begin to think about it the next time you eat either of them. Once you start to think about what you eat, you might just begin to eat a little bit healthier.

Remember ... simple carbohydrates have almost no nutritional value while complex carbohydrates have lots of nutritional value. Which one will you choose to eat?

The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter


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