Ever since the Atkins Low-carb, high-fat diet exploded on the American scene, carbohydrates have been labeled as bad. Unfortunately, this is only half true and has led to lots of confusion among the public.
Indeed, while some carbs are bad, others are good and should be the core of a healthy diet. But, how can you tell the good carbs from the bad?
Before making that distinction, it’s important to understand that all carbs, good and bad, are comprised of various types of sugar, and that can be confusing. The key is how the sugar is packaged and presented to the body.
What is the difference between good carbs and bad carbs?
The first distinction is good carbs contain naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Bad carbs, on the other hand, are the sugars “added” to processed foods and soft drinks, and dumped into your coffee or tea.
A second distinction is good carbs are “complex,” meaning the sugars are part of a more complex configuration that includes fiber which cannot be broken down in the human digestive system. This slows the process and that’s good because the sugars in good carbs enter the bloodstream slowly, in a “time-release” fashion. This is important because a slow release of sugar dampens the insulin response. (When blood sugar enters the cells, and levels in the bloodstream decrease, insulin decreases, too.)