Good carbs Bad Carbs

 Good carbs Bad Carbs


Rather than me or anyone else telling you what to eat I wanted to give you a very very brief explanation of what carbs are,, what are their properties and types of carbs are there. The reason I want you to know this is because then you will be able to make informed decisions by yourself rather than rely on someone else to do it for you.

Dietary carbohydrate (CHO) is digested and utilised in the body in a variety of ways. It is ultimately sent to the liver, muscles, or used immediately as a fuel. Some glucose may enter the adipose tissue (fat tissue), where it is used to help store fat.
Carbohydrates are often thought of as the primary source of energy in the human body.

However, it really depends on what the body is doing at the time.

– under normal daily activities we use carbohydrates and fats for energy

– as the intensity of an activity increases the contribution from fats diminishes and carbohydrates increases.


There are three basic categories::

  • simple carbohydrates also referred to as “sugar”
  • complex carbohydrates also referred to as “starches”
  • non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) referred to as “fiber”




Simple carbohydrates have a very basic structure and usually only contain one or two units of sugar, made up from a combination of glucose, fructose and galactose.

Fruit: a healthy choice Less healthy options: biscuits, cakes, confectionery, soft drinks
  • contain fructose and glucose in varying amounts
  • contain vitamins and minerals
  • contain antioxidants and phytochemicals
  • contain high levels of dietary fibre
  • contain trace of amino acids
  • contain excessive sugar – higher than 15g per 100g (FSA)
  • contain processed, low quality fats
  • high energy density
  • contain no vitamins or minerals
  • adversely affects insulin response


The importance of vitamins

The energy contained in these foods cannot be released without specific vitamins and minerals.

For example we cannot utilise any carbohydrate without the B vitamins.

Fresh fruit provides its own vitamin and mineral requirements for the body.

Heavily refined and processed foods provide us with energy but without needed vitamins and prolonged use of refined carbohydrates can lead to a depletion of certain nutrients. This type of food is often referred to as an “anti-nutrient”.




They consist of multiple molecules which join together to form molecules of glucose called polysaccharides. Once eaten the polysaccharides are broken down into glucose, absorbed into the bloodstream and either stored or metabolised accordingly.

All such carbohydrates will provide energy. However, their real dietary value centers on whether they are refined or unrefined.


Refined carbohydrate

Unrefined carbohydrate

  • white bread
  • white pasta
  • cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • rice cakes
  • CHO content of processed foods
  • white rice
  • wholemeal or whole grain products
  • whole grain rice
  • frozen vegetables
  • fresh vegetables
  • sweet potatoes
  • yams
  • pulses
  • quinoa



  • contain excessive sugar – higher than 15g per 100g
  • contains processed, low quality fats
  • high energy density
  • contain no vitamins or minerals
  • adversely affects insulin response
  •  contains fructose and glucose in varying amounts
  • contains vitamins and minerals
  • contains antioxidants and phytochemicals
  • contains high levels of dietary fibre
  • contains trace of amino acids




  • consists of non-starch polysaccharide (NSP), indigestible plant material such as cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, pectin, gums and mucilages.:
  • found in: fruits, vegetables, grains, beans
  • doesn’t provide any energy, yet scientists believe it is vital for a healthy body as it aids it the transportation of foods through the digestive tract by bulking out the food and faeces for ease of movement.


Insoluble Fiber – the outer protective layer of plants.

  • unrefined wheat
  • bran
  • rye
  • rice
  • most other grains
  • fruit and vegetable skins

Soluble Fiber – found on the inner part of plants.

  • beans
  • barley
  • broccoli
  • prunes
  • apples
  • citrus fruits
  • oats

Soluble fiber has been proposed to help with the reduction in cholesterol by binding with fats in the digestive tract and carrying them out in the stools.



Now the question is which of the 3 types of carbs is better. The answer would be none and all of them.


The reason I give this answer is because every type of carb has it’s benefits on the body. An we need all of them if we are to have a well rounded and healthy diet. 


Simple carbs (sugars) give us energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Remember we need vitamins to be able to utilise the carbohydrate.

Complex carbs (starches) contributes to energy and has fibres, vitamins and minerals.

We need fibers for a healthy digestion process.


The real issue is the quality of carbs we ingest and the quantity, as well as what we do with all that stored energy, where does it go?



UK Nutritional Guidelines recommend about 50% of calories to come from carbohydrate. More than that and it’s probably not a great idea.


The specifics of the national food model provide the following targets:

Adult males: 2550 calories per day
Adult females: 1950 calories per day


The total amount of calories should be divided across each of the macronutrients to achieve the following ratios:

• minimum of 50% calories from carbohydrates
• maximum of 35% calories from fats
• minimum of 55g of protein per day (9-12% calories)


If you would like to know more please book a free consultation with me.