Good Carbs & Bad Carbs- What is the Difference?

Carbs, or carbohydrates, are molecules that have carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. One of the primary purposes of carbohydrates in our diet is to provide fuel for our bodies. Dietary carbohydrates have three main categories:

  • Sugars. These are sweet, short-chain carbohydrates found in foods.
  • Starches. These are long chains of glucose molecules, which eventually get broken down into glucose in the digestive system.
  • Fiber. Humans cannot digest fiber, but the bacteria in the digestive system can make use of some types.

Good Carbs

Carbohydrates are naturally found in plant-based foods, and these are typically good carbs. This type of carb is also called a complex carb, which promotes a healthy digestive system and metabolism. Examples of whole carbs include- vegetables, quinoa, barley, legumes, oats, etc.

Whole carbs are minimally processed and contain the fiber found naturally in the food that make you digest them slower. Not digesting as fast also leads to a slow but steady release of glucose, preventing spikes in blood sugar.

Bad Carbs

Assortment of products with high sugar level. Food that’s bad for skin and teeth.

Bad carbs are added to processed foods as starches and sugars, which have a variety of consequences. These are called simple carbs, which are absorbed into the bloodstream and become blood sugar. They have many of their necessary nutrients removed, are digested quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar and making you feel hungry sooner leading to overeating, weight gain, and conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Natural and added sugars are simple carbs, which means they are processed by the body quickly. The sudden spike and subsequent quick drop in blood sugar is often known as a sugar crash.

Not all carbs are created equal. While it is important to limit refined carbs and added sugars, whole carbs should be a part of a balanced diet.


Author: Pallabi Sinha

I am a Nutritionist with 6 years of expertise in the field. I have a knack of convincing people to switch to a healthier lifestyle.