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  • Writer's pictureTea Writes

Carbs: Simple & Complex. What's the difference?

What purpose, effect, and benefit (if any) does each have on your body?

Info on carbs, simple and complex is common knowledge; it's all over the internet. It took me a minute to understand the difference and how each functions within my body and their effects.

I did an experiment by accident and actually discovered how my body responded to each type of carb.

It helped me to get a clearer understanding of how both simple and complex carbs made my body "behave" overtly, from which I garnered an immediate response to help me 1) remember the difference between simple and complex carbs, and 2) what each one does to my body, once I ingest them.

So, as a lay person, I want to explain the bare-bones basics of how simple and complex carbs (carbohydrates) function in the body and the effects of each.

But, first, what are carbs?

Carbs or carbohydrates (simple and complex) fuel our bodies and our brains by providing them energy when broken down into blood sugar as glucose.

Let's begin with the simple carbs---what are they?

Simple carbs are sugars (added and naturally occurring)---bad carbs, which are:

Added sugars:

  • Sodas

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Baked goods

  • Frozen desserts

  • Candies and other sweets

  • White table sugar (100% sucrose)

  • Brown sugar

  • Honey

  • Molasses

  • High-fructose corn syrup

  • Concentrated fruit juice sweetener

Naturally-occurring sugars

  • Fruit sugar (fructose)

  • Milk sugar (lactose)

What are complex carbohydrates?

Complex carbs produce starch---healthy (good) carbs, which provide high and low fiber:

Refined, processed foods, (low fiber)

  • "Enriched wheat flour" breads and cereals

  • White rice

  • White pasta

  • Instant and French-fried potatoes

Whole foods (high fiber)

  • "Whole" wheat or grain breads and cereals

  • Oats, brown and wild rice, whole wheat pasta

  • Beans, peas, whole vegetables, and fruits

The Experiment:

Found the difference between simple and complex carbs via serendipity.

The Bad Stuff:

Periodically, on days when I had a taste for snacks---I'm talking about my guilty pleasures, Oreo cookies, bubble gum, sweet tea, caramel macchiatos with the works, hotcakes with syrup, white pasta, coffee in my cream (more cream than coffee) with sugar, (again, not all in the same day or at the same time), I noticed that I had to immediately go to the latrine and (please, I don't mean to gross you out) relieve #2.

Each time I ate the sugary, bad stuff, this happened, and I stayed hungry---my stomach was a "bottomless pit."

The Good Stuff:

On my normal "clean-eating" days when I'd eat oats, brown rice, fruits, veggies, beans, and drink lots of water, I would sit for at least four hours until the next meal without any #2 bathroom breaks---I didn't need to go---it may be hours later.

But most often at the same time every day no matter what, as long as I would practice healthy eating, I was very "regular." I also was satiated---rarely hungry between meals---I didn't want or need any snacks.

When I did snack, I would have carrots, apples, sardines, berries and unsweetened, unflavored Greek yogurt---the healthy stuff on the menu.

The Conclusive Outcome:

Bad/Simple Carbs

  • Immediately broke down and digested to make blood sugar glucose

  • Quickly digested

  • Immediately had to relieve #2 after eating

  • I craved to crash for a nap, which I call the "2 o'clock crash"

  • I grew tired and sluggish

  • low energy

  • Sometimes even depressed and irritable

  • I would get the jitters from the sugar rush

  • Constant hunger

  • Insatiable sugar cravings

  • Insomnia

  • Headaches

  • Bloating

  • Blurred vision

  • Irregularity

  • Constipation

  • Water retention

  • Empty calories---no nutrients

  • Weight gain

Good/Complex Carbs

  • Satiated until the next meal---I stay fuller longer

  • Slower to digest

  • Little, to no desire to snack between meals

  • Energized

  • Regularity

  • Upbeat mood

  • Good night's sleep

  • Wake-up rested and refreshed

  • More gassy (from the raw fruits and veggies)

  • I don't enjoy the good/complex carbs as much as the bad/simple ones

  • I feel more grounded and healthier

  • I eat less

  • Fewer calories

  • Weight loss

I discovered that the complex carbs, which are in grains and veggies have an abundance of fiber and water----this makes them more bulky, which fills me up with out extra calories.

Consuming complex carbs are the healthy choice. However, I still consume some of the "bad" carbs, but in moderation---over time, and every-now-and-then---I'm human---I still have a "sweet tooth."

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