Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs

Last time we posted on why sugars is bad for you. For this blog post lets talk about the different type of carbohydrates. In my opinion, not all carbs are created equal.  Some carbs are “better” than others and there are some which add no nutritional value to your diet at all!

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, aka carbs, are 1 of the 3 main macronutrients The other two are Protein and Fats. It is these 3 things which make up your overall calorie consumption. Carbs are used for the bodies main energy source. Everyone requires a different amount of carbs depending on many different factors such as body type and activity level.  Understanding the difference between types of carbs can be complicated!

Eat more Complex Carbs and limit Simple Carbs:

You may have heard of “simple” carbs and “complex” carbs. The differences are important!

Simple Carbs: These are refined and highly processed.  They digest quickly and tend to leave us feeling unsatisfied. Simple carbs will cause unstable blood sugar and insulin levels, stimulate appetite, and make you want more.

Examples include, but not limited to:

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Donuts
  • Baked goods
  • White bread

Complex Carbs: These come from whole-food sources, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. These are slower digesting and will leave us feeling fuller longer.  Our blood sugar and insulin levels stay stable releasing energy slowly.

Examples include, but not limited to:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains, oats
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Nuts, seeds

When it comes to choosing the type of carbs to consume, complex is the best choice!  In addition, including some with naturally occurring sugars such as fruits is good as well.  Try to avoid/limit the intake of refined carbs or foods with added sugars.  By choosing to avoid refined and highly processed carbs, you are doing your body a favor!

Carbs to Limit

Instead of:

Smarter Carb Options


Best Carb Options

Even better to choose:

Candy Dried Fruit Whole Fruit
Soda/Sugary Beverage Fruit Juice Water with a slice of fresh fruit
White Bread Whole Wheat Bread Sprouted Grain Bread
Enriched Pasta Whole Wheat Pasta Brown Rice Pasta, Black Bean Pasta, Chickpea Pasta, Edamame Pasta, etc.
Sugary Cereal Bran Cereal Oatmeal


Don’t forget about Fiber!

Fiber is an important part of carbohydrates.  It helps to keep you regular. There is nothing worse than feeling backed up! It will also help keep you feeling fuller longer.  Anyone looking to make a positive impact on their nutrition will want to make sure they are getting enough fiber! Women should get in roughly 25g and men 35g of Dietary Fiber each day.  If you are choosing more complex carbs, this should be easily attainable! On the other hand, if you find yourself loading up with simple carbs, you are going to fall short of reaching your fiber goal and find yourself with increased cravings!

Carbs play an important role in your nutrition! Be mindful with your choices. Lean more towards ones which will help you reach your goals!  Avoid simple carbs as much as possible. Instead, save those for a treat or special occasion. Your future self will thank you!

Liz Jenkins Nutrition Coach at CrossFit Elkhorn

Sugar Is Not Your Friend!

The news on sugar has been out for quite a while and it’s not good news, especially when it comes to our health.  Now before you get too carried away, I am referring to refined table sugars, not naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruits. Believe it or not, there is a big difference and your body knows it!  Consuming excessive amounts of added sugars have been linked to many health concerns such as obesity and even Alzheimer’s.

In a report put out by the Food and Drug Administration, back in 2014, they defined added sugars as “Sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono, and disaccharides, syrups, naturally occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component (eg., fruit juice concentrates), and other caloric sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are not considered to be added sugars.”

Most of you should already know, these things are loaded with added sugars: pop, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, candy, cookies, most baked goods, gourmet coffee drinks, ice cream, the list could go on!  But, are you aware that almost all processed foods have unnecessary added sugars hidden within the ingredients? As consumers, we need to pay attention to what are in the foods we buy, especially if you have fat loss goals with your nutrition.

Here is a list of some of the negative effects of consuming added sugars:

  • It is directly linked to weight gain and fat gain.  By over consuming sugars, it will become very difficult to lose weight and body fat
  • Added sugars cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash.  When blood sugar levels are unstable, it can lead to mood swings, cravings, and even headaches and fatigue.  When you eat sugars, it has been said to have the same effects as cocaine. You experience this feel-good feeling, then whens its gone you crash and are left wanting more
  • Stress!  Sugar has even been said to increase stress. When your blood sugar levels are low, which is experienced after crashing from a sugar high, the body will release stress hormones such as adrenaline, epinephrine and cortisol as a response to the drop in blood sugars.  Elevated levels of cortisol can negatively impact someone looking to lose body fat
  • Sugar is full of empty calories, so those who fill their day with sugar loaded foods will be missing the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which are essential to reach our optimal level of health and leanness.
  • Added sugars also lead to other health issues such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Be mindful as to how much added sugar you are consuming on a daily basis.  Sugar could be something which is hindering your progress with your nutrition goals.  Read the labels of the foods you consume, paying special attention to the ingredients.  This is another reason why I recommend you try to get most of your daily intake from real foods and be cautious to the amounts of processed foods you are consuming.

For advice on how to get off sugar or start a new fitness program, click here and meet with one of our staff members by signing up for a free consult session. We have many program options that will help you discover your inner athlete and create a healthy lifestyle.

Our Couch To Fitness program is a great way to start. Couch To Fitness is a 6 week fitness and nutrition program that helps you build your confidence, teaches you proper lifting technique, increases energy, and gets you started on the right track to your goals.

Again click here for more information!

Liz Jenkins CFE Nutrition Coach

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