April 2021

Simple vs Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex. Generally speaking, simple carbs are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex carbs.

Simple carbs are also in lollies soft drinks and syrups. Unlike fruit, they don’t have any other nutritional benefits – you’ll often hear them referred to as "empty calories" and can sabotage your healthy lifestyle goals.

Complex carbohydrates are the better carb option overall

They include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn, parsnips, whole-grain breads and cereals.

Simple carbs cause bursts of energy much more quickly than complex carbsbecause of the quicker rate at which they are digested and absorbed.Simple carbs can lead to spikes in blood sugar levelsand sugar highs, while complex carbs provide more sustained energy.

It's best to focus on gettingprimarily complex carbs in your diet, including whole grains and vegetables.

Complex CARBS are:

  • Low or moderate in calories
  • High in nutrients and Low in calories
  • Unprocessed
  • High in naturally occurring fibre
  • Low in salt
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Good for reducing Cholesterol due to high fibre content.

Simple CARBS are:

  • High in calories
  • Full of refined sugars, like corn syrup, white sugar, honey and fruit juices
  • High in refined grains like white flour
  • Low in nutrients
  • Low in fibre
  • High in sodium
  • Sometimes high in saturated fat
  • Sometimes high in cholesterol and trans fats

There you have it! The two types of carbohydrates.

Knowing both of them and understanding how they can affect your body and health, helps you maintain your weight and achieve your weight loss goals.

It is important that you ask the help of your doctor or dietician on how you can optimise your carbohydrates intake.

Jacqui Lewis

BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

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