The Difference Between Simple and Complex Carbs

The Difference Between Simple and Complex CarbsEverything in moderation is what you are told, but understanding how to apply moderation is the trick.  Sugar is an essential part of the everyday diet.  Without sugar, the cells in our body would struggle to thrive.  Broadly defined, a sugar is based in the category of a carbohydrate, along with starches, grains, and fiber.  But what exactly is a sugar?  Are there different forms for which you should be aware?  The next sections of the article will describe differences between the sugars and will discuss which actually is good for you.

Sugar is one of your primary dietary staples found in a variety of foods such as sodas, breads, pastas, coffee, tea, dinners, lunches, and virtually anything anyone truly desires.  As many restaurants and meal preparations find differing ways to make foods taste better, our waste lines suffer.  As a result of copious amounts of added sugars in foods, weight gain becomes easier.  The primary form of added sugar in meals comes from simple sugars, which are a part of the sugar groups defined as a monosaccharide (simple sugar).  In comparison, a polysaccharide (complex sugar) is a complete carbohydrate that takes much longer to breakdown in the body, which is something that researchers have been examining over the years.  Listed below is a complete comparison between simple and complex carbohydrates with a telling truth at the end regarding sugar consumption.

The Primary Differences Between Simple and Complex Carbs

  • Simple Carbs. If you are unaware of what sugar can do to your body then brace yourself, this may overwhelm you.  A simple carb is beneficial for the brain.  The brain requires fast energy and the only way to get fast energy is through a simple sugar.  The brain will oftentimes “crave” sweet foods in an attempt to influence the consumption of simple sugars, which can sometimes explain sugar addictions such as chocolate, ice cream, and sodas.  As a result of high consumption of simple sugars, the body’s organs react in an unflattering way.  Physically, the waistline becomes larger and the body stores fat at a faster pace under the skin (subcutaneous fat).  Physiologically, high sugar consumption can lead to type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and cardiovascular disease [1].  In addition, cross-sectional studies have shown that regular consumption of added sugars (simple sugars) in the diet can increase diastolic blood pressure and increase triglyceride levels, which greatly increase one’s risk for a stroke, a leading cause of disability in the United States.  Think simple sugars are ok to eat?  Think again.  Be sure to exude moderation with simple sugars and read all food labels.  Just because something is fat-free or low-calorie does not mean it is low in added sugars (simple sugar).
  • Complex Carbs. Complex carbohydrates are a form of sugar which has been touted as being beneficial for health when consumed in moderation.  Known to be starchy and carry an abundant amount of dietary fiber per serving, complex carbohydrates take longer to breakdown in the body, meaning the insulin release in the body is slower, meaning you are at less risk for type II diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and cancer.  Some foods considered a complex carbohydrate include potatoes, vegetables, whole wheat products, certain fruits, beans, and lentils.  In comparison to simple sugars, it is clear and simple to see that complex carbohydrates are the food source of choice and your health is gracious for this choice.

The Verdict and Challenge

It is hard to avoid eating a simple sugar, but if you have the option, avoid adding sugar into teas, coffee, on meals, or when enjoying dessert.  If you bake at home, use half of the sugar recommended in the recipe to reduce the amount of sugars in the diet.  Challenge yourself from here on out to avoid adding sugar to beverages and try eating raw vegetables at dinner to help your mind rid sweet things and cravings.  If you use sweeteners (such as Splenda), try to limit your consumption, as these are typically about 300 times more sweet than table sugar and can have your mind craving sweet foods more often.




About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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