Breaking the Myth: Complex Carbs vs. Simple Carbs
“I’m only eating complex carbs this month to lose weight.”
“Avoid the simple carbs from those potato fries babe! Munch on sweet potato fries instead.”
Let me take a wild guess here: you’re finding it difficult to browse through your favorite Insta feed (including mine) without timely references to #complexcarbs, and can’t even miss the mention on attractive pin boards, and want to know what the heck is the deal with complex carbs and why on earth does everyone wish to avoid simple carbs. In this article, I’ll explain what differentiates simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, and why the latter are favored.
As we all know, Carbohydrates or carbs are one of the primary macronutrients aside from Protein and Fat and are majorly responsible for providing your body with energy. Carbs fall into three sub-categories:
- Sugars – Sugar molecules or short chains of same, like glucose, fructose, sucrose etc. Wondering which sugar type is beneficial for you? Read: Eating Sugar to Stay Healthy and Fit
- Starches – long chain glucose units that are broken down by the digestive system.
- Fiber – type of carbohydrates that the body cannot digest or break down into sugar molecules.
Carbs are the first of the macronutrients to be burnt and utilized by the body for its daily functioning, followed by fats and lastly protein. You certainly do not want to get to the stage where your body resorts to burning protein, as that would start causing muscle loss and irreparable damage to brain functioning. However, it is entirely possible to u your protein intake while lowering your carbs intake and still lose unwanted body fat. Read: How To Lose Body Fat Without Losing Muscle.
Simple vs Complex Carbs
A large part of the confusion regarding carbohydrates is over-generalization – people tend to classify all types of carbs as entirely good or bad. However, not all carbs are built the same way. While simple carbs burn faster to provide fuel for your body, complex carbs take longer time to digest. Simple carbs like refined wheat flour consist of mostly sugars and are devoid of any fiber or nutrients, and these sugars turn into glucose when digested, the unused remnant of which is converted into fats and stored by the body, which can ultimately lead to weight gain and unwanted fat accumulation.
What is more, since simple carbs like fruit juice, ice creams and junk foods tend to digest quickly, the sugars thus released create an instant sugar spike in the body, signaling the pancreas to secrete insulin to remove the additional sugar and store the same. The removal of sugar from the bloodstream results in a sugar crash, making us crave more of such quick-burning, instant sugar-producing simple carbs, thus resulting in creating a sugar craving cycle. Can you see how frequent consumption of simple carbs can dramatically up the storage of body fat!
On the other hand, complex carbs like whole-wheat flour, millets and brown rice are inclusive of dietary fiber, which enables them to burn at a steady rate inside the body, offering us energy consistently and keeping you satiated for a longer time. which is why you should include more of the latter in your food choices.
Complex Carbs Aid in Weight Loss
As explained earlier, simple carbs lead to instant provision of sugars for the body, creating an instant sugar spike and a sudden sugar crash, leaving you craving more and more sugary carbs. This often results in more frequent hunger pangs, binge-eating, and since these carbs are mostly devoid of any nutrition, they provide ‘empty calories’, paving way for fat accumulation in the body.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, are nutrient-dense and digest at a slow pace in the body, thus proving to be more filling in nature. Weight loss aspirants and fitness enthusiasts are advised to include more complex carbs like legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables in their diet. See 10 easy recipes with complex carbs for weight loss
Complex Carbs Prevent Health Conditions And Diseases
Simple carbs are mostly refined and thus stripped off their nutrition, and eating the same in large quantities can raise your triglyceride levels dramatically, putting you at risk of developing heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Since complex carbs have greater nutritional value and are full of fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients, they help preventing diseases. In fact, several researches suggest that diet full of fiber lowers the ‘bad’ cholesterol or LDLs and helps elevates ‘good’ cholesterol or HDLs. Complex carbs also help regulating blood sugar, thus keeping diabetes and obesity at bay.
While simple carbs like refined flour give rise to inflammation, which over a long term can lead to development of chronic diseases, complex carbs actively work on reducing inflammation, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties present in them.
Thus avoiding processed foods with added sugars and refined flour and intake of fresh greens, leafy vegetables, foods with whole grains like wheat, lentils, millets and sorghum etc. empowers you with a healthy and fit body!