Simple vs. Complex- What’s the Difference:
Carbohydrates often get a bad rap. Since they can be found in some of our most savory, and therefore high calorie, foods, we often associate them with the term ‘unhealthy’. However, carbs play an important role in our everyday lives, providing our bodies’ main source of energy. In fact, some of our organs only run on glucose energy, including your brain.
The key is to increase the amount of complex carbohydrates you are eating while simultaneously decreasing the amount of simple carbohydrates in your diet. So how do you do that? Well, first understand that carbs are found in most foods, including dairy products, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, and, yes, breads and sweets. However, not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbs (those found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains) are made up of fiber and starch, important nutrients that are necessary in our diets. Simple carbs (those found in sweets and dairy products) are made up of sugar, and therefore should be limited.
We know that the fiber found in complex carbohydrates contain fiber, which digests more slowly than sugars, and therefore make them more filling. This helps them to be a good tool in controlling our weight, as well as managing our blood sugar levels. Fiber can also help with your cholesterol levels as well.
Carbs to Include:
If you are currently avoiding carbs, it’s most likely you are also avoiding some extremely healthy, nutrient-rich foods. While avoiding sodas, candy, and chips is a good idea, the following should make some sort of appearance in your everyday diet.
- Whole grains: Good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Look for these in quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-wheat bread.
- Fruits: Especially apples, berries, and bananas, fruits can provide you with a lot of your daily fiber intake.
- Vegetables: Some veggies can be just as fiber-rich as grains, including broccoli and leafy greens.
- Beans: Not only do beans contain fiber, but they are also a great source for folate, iron, and potassium.
Yes, you can have too many carbs, especially simple ones. However, all diets should include some, though this varies from person to person depending on their activity levels, age, gender, and other personal factors. Overall, however, they should make up 45-65% of your daily caloric intake, with at least half of them coming from complex sources. More specifically, when it comes to fiber, men should aim for 38 grams per day, women 25 grams.
Week 4 Recipe
Apple Quinoa Salad: A great summer time lunch or side to a cookout!
It’s Complex (Carbs): Fiber Challenge
Why It’s Important: Fiber helps with reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, can contribute to weight control, and improves gut health. It is an amazing nutrient!
Your Challenge: As you track your food this week, aim to eat at least 20-25 grams of fiber each day.