Carbohydrates: Simple vs. Complex / by James Leath

So, should you eat carbs or abstain from them? Are they the enemy or a friend?

Are you confused? Yeah, so are many others. Let's start with the basics. There are three macro-nutrients (four if you count water, and many people do): Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. All three (or four) are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY

for your body to function. If you are still scared of carbs, ask a person who follows the Atkins Diet. That is, if they haven't died of heart disease from eating all that meat. But I digress...

Carbohydrates provide the bulk of the energy needed in our daily lives, both for basic body functions such as your beating heart, using your lungs, and digesting your food. In fact, eating carbs is like throwing gasoline on a fire that is burning fat- it speeds the process along. Additionally, you need carbs for exercise such as swimming, cycling, walking and running. Here is the difference between Simple and Complex Carbohydrates:

  • Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly. Many simple carbohydrates contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals.  Some examples of simple carbohydrates include fruits, fruit juice, milk, yogurt, honey, and sugar.
  • Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are usually packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are vegetables, breads, cereals, legumes and pasta.

Most experts recommend that 50 to 60 per cent of the total calories in our diet come from carbohydrates. The bulk of the carbs we consume should be complex and most of the simple ones should come from fruits and milk or yogurt, which also contain vitamins and minerals.

Avoid getting the bulk of your carbs from refined foods high in sugar. I REPEAT: Stay away from refined sugars. Refined sugars are usually low in the nutrients we need to maintain health and energy levels.

Lastly, no carbs before bed. Eating carbs before bed will inhibit REM sleep and release of human growth hormone (HGH). Do yourself and your metabolism a favor and stop eating crap before you go to sleep.