After reading the newest and “best” diets, you’d think that carbohydrates are suddenly the enemy. Eat any amount and you’ll put on a ton (pun intended) of weight. The truth is that carbohydrates are not all that bad. There are two main groups of carbs, both of which have different effects on health: simple and complex. It’s true that you want to limit your intake of bad carbs but if you eliminate the good ones, you’ll be missing out on some key health benefits.

Simple Carbs

Simple carbs are known as the bad ones mainly because they are digested and absorbed very quickly. This quick absorption causes a spike in your blood sugar which leads to: an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a sugar rush and crash, fat storage and weight gain.

A large intake of simple carbs will add a huge amount of calories to your system in a very short period of time. If this energy isn’t burned off right away, it’ll be stored as fat and lead to weight gain over time. This quick absorption will also force you to eat more because your stomach won’t be full for a very long time. When your stomach is empty, you’ll get hungry and eat again. Foods containing simple carbs (sugars) include soda, candy, fruit juices, white bread and pasta and most junk foods (check the ingredient label for high fructose corn syrup).

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs take a lot longer to digest which allows you to use the calories over a longer period of time and avoid any fat storage. Foods that are made of complex carbs are also high in fiber which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, keep you regular, prevent colon cancer and help you eat less to promote weight loss. Foods high in complex carbs include vegetables, 100% whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice and beans.

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