Learning the difference between simple and complex carbs is an important lesson for weight maintenance.
Written by Ideal Protein.
According to a recent article from Bodybuilding.com, the structure and nutrient content of a carbohydrate significantly affects how your body digests it, which influences blood-glucose and energy levels, as well as fullness.
Simple carbohydrates are composed of a single sugar unit, or multiple units strung together (fewer than 20 units), whereas complex carbohydrates are composed of strands with at least 20 sugar units, and often more than 100. This structure means the body will break down and digest each differently.
The glycemic index (GI) is a system that ranks carbohydrates (on a scale of 0-100) by how quickly glucose (the end product of carbohydrate breakdown) enters the blood. The higher the GI value, the quicker glucose enters the bloodstream after eating that food.
- Simple Carbohydrates: White potato, white bread, white rice, cookies, candies, fruit juice, sports drinks
- Complex Carbohydrates: Brown rice, oats, apples, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
When glucose enters the bloodstream, your pancreas releases insulin to shuttle glucose away for storage in muscle or fat cells to maintain a normal blood glucose range. When glucose rapidly enters the blood—as is the case after eating a piece of candy or a cookie—a large amount of insulin is released in an effort to quickly shuttle glucose to its destination.
Over time, excessive production of insulin, known as hyperinsulinemia, taxes the pancreas and leads to insulin dysfunction, which is associated with impaired glucose tolerance and usually weight gain, too. As a result of frequent insulin exposure, cells may become numb to the effect, a condition called insulin resistance. This results in elevated blood glucose levels. The presence of both conditions has an additive impact on the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and several other metabolic abnormalities.
Conversely, eating complex carbohydrates results in the slower release of glucose into the bloodstream, lower insulin release, and steadier blood glucose levels. This bodes well for long-term health.
The Bottom Line
Choose fiber-rich, complex carbohydrates over the stripped-down, simple version most of the time, and you’ll take better control of your weight, health, and energy.
The full article can be found here.