Good vs. Bad Carbs For Your Diet

January 26, 2017


The human body is a machine, and whether you keep your body healthy or not is up to you. In general, to keep this machine running properly you must eat good foods and get lots of rest. With winter sports now in season, athletes need to start or continue fueling their bodies properly.

As an athlete myself, I have been told to eat lots of vegetables and stay away from most carbs. However, some types of carbohydrates are beneficial for the body. The carbohydrates we eat are categorized under two titles: simple or complex.


Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are usually referred to as the “bad carbs,” although this name can be misleading. These carbs are simple to digest and don’t supply the body much energy. Some foods that contain these carbs are:

  • fruits
  • white bread
  • milk products
  • candy
  • sodas

As you can see, some of these substances are healthy for our bodies like milk. While others, such as candy, are not. If you were to eat merely simple carbohydrate products before a long workout, your body will struggle to complete the activity. If a cross country runner were to eat a meal full of simple carbs, they would not have the energy to win or finish the race. Instead, simple carbs are good to consume right before short and quick activities like weightlifting. Certain simple carbs can be helpful to your body, so choose what you eat wisely.

Simple sugars like candy do not give your body much energy.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are considered the “good carbs.” Additionally, there are two major ingredients that make up complex carbohydrates: starch and fiber. Fiber can be found in foods such as:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains

Foods containing starch are similar to those with fiber. For example:

  • beans
  • whole wheat bread

These carbs can be advantageous before a long run or workout. Cross country runners often carb-load before a run to increase the fuel in their bodies. Many cross country teams even get together and have a “pasta party” before meets. This is because complex carbs are full of nutrients which digest slowly in our bodies, giving us more energy. Overall, the more complex, the more fuel your body gets.

Although simple carbs are fine to eat from time to time, complex carbs will fuel your body with the nutrients needed. Eating more complex carbs than simple will also help to keep your body healthier in the long run. Before your next physical activity, make sure to pick your pre-workout snack carefully.

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