Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are burned quickly and spike your insulin and blood sugar levels, while complex carbohydrates burn more slowly, giving you lasting energy.

Simple carbohydrates are found in foods mostly made up of sugar. An example would be fruit juices (natural sugars) and
soft drinks (refined sugars). Simple carbohydrates can have their place in the diet, but they can increase body fat, decrease
long-term energy, and cause mood swings. Excess simple carbohydrates in the diet are linked with diabetes, high blood
pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

There are optimal times to consume simple sugars. Combined with a protein and eaten after your workout, a simple sugar can kick start your body’s recovery process. But overall, I would suggest you eat whole fruit after your workout or the healthiest option of carbohydrates you can find.

In fact, simple sugars in your diet should be replaced as often as possible by whole fruits (not juices), whole (brown)
grains, oats, vegetables, or water.

Simple sugars:

• Cakes/pastries
• Candy
• Cookies
• Doughnuts
• Soda
• Syrups
• White rice, white pasta
Refined sugars do not contain any nutrients or vitamins. They are
empty calories.

Complex carbohydrates should be the majority of your carbohydrate intake. They are a source of long-lasting energy and keep your blood sugar stable. Complex carbohydrates come from whole grains, and the pastas, rice, and breads that are made from them. Simply put, complex carbs tend to be brown foods while refined sugars tend to be white foods. Choose brown.

Complex Carbohydrates:

(One carbohydrate serving = 15 grams)

One serving of bread, rice, or cereal:
• 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
• 1 slice of bread
• 1/2 small bagel
• 1/3 cup cooked pasta or rice
• 3 cups popped popcorn
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cereal
• 6 Saltine crackers

One serving of fruit:
• 15 small grapes
• 1 small (four-inch) banana
• 2 tablespoons raisins
• 3/4 cup berries
• 1 cup cantaloupe or other melon
• 1/2 cup fruit juice (fresh squeezed or store bought)
• 1 small apple

One serving of milk:
• 1 cup milk, nonfat or low-fat
• 1 cup plain yogurt, nonfat or low-fat

Note: Cheese, including cottage cheese, is counted as
a protein serving, not a carbohydrate; whereas milk is a
complex carbohydrate that also provides a good source of

One serving of dessert or sweets:
• 1/3 of a slice of apple pie (1 slice=1/6 of 8-inch pie)
• 1/2 cup ice cream
• 3 ounces soda pop (1/3 of small can)
• 5 vanilla wafers
• 1 tablespoon honey or sugar

One serving of starchy vegetables:
• 1/2 cup or 1 small ear of corn
• 1/2 cup cooked lentils or dried beans
• 1/2 cup green peas
• 3-inch potato

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