Balancing Simple and Complex Carbs | Youth1

Balancing Simple and Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body, both for normal body functions (such as heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and brain activity) and for sports/exercise (like biking, walking, running up the stairs and all types of resistance training, that accompanies a sports training program). A good supply of carbohydrates is necessary for a healthy existence and a must if your goal is to reduce your body fat and enhance your fitness level.  More often than not, this critical understanding of carbs is often lost on youth athletes who are more focused on protien intake vs carb intake.  Lets take a look at some of the major differences between simple and complex carbohyrdrates and how you as an athlete can enhance your game by learning more about these very important biomolecules.

Simple vs. complex carbs

Carbs are generally considered to be divided into two types, simple and complex. Simple carbs can give you a quick boost, while complex carbs provide a slower and more sustained release of energy. Both turn into fat if not used, so how much carbs are right for you will depend on how active you are, and how much energy you need. Overall, complex carbohydrates are the healthier choice, and the best source of energy. They will also keep you feeling full longer, a plus if you are trying to trim fat.

Complex carbohydrates refer to either starch or fiber, and are chemically made of three or more linked sugars. Simple carbohydrates refer to either monosaccharides or disaccharides - simple sugars containing either one or two attached saccharide molecules.

The “simpler” that the carb, the faster your body will digest and absorb that food (think sugar, candy, soda, etc.). The more “complex” that structure is, the slower the digestion and absorption process will be (think vegetables, beans, grains, etc.). Not that all simple cars must be avoided. Simple carbs also include foods such as fruit and milk. These are better sources of simple carbs because they contain vitamins and fiber, and also important nutrients that your body needs, like calcium.

Carbs and fitness

Obviously the increased activity of workouts, training or competition requires extra energy. Complex carbohydrates are generally because they are digested slowly, contributing a lasting source of energy to the diet. Complex carbohydrates are ultimately broken down into units of glucose, which the body uses for immediate energy, stores in the muscles and liver for later use, stores as fat for later energy use, or uses to synthesize protein. A diet built around high levels of complex carbohydrates and protein intake is the best approach.

Simple carbs can be ideal for pre-competition and pre-workout meals in which the body is in need of instant energy. They also are good following workouts or competitions to help replenish depleted muscle glycogen. However, simple carbs are also less filling, which means you’ll be hungrier sooner after eating them. Not to mention, that large spike in blood sugar will result in a crash soon after, and that crash signals hunger and food cravings.

Even as much as carbs are important for active living, a diet too high in carbohydrates can upset the delicate balance of your body's blood sugar level, resulting in fluctuations in energy and mood which leave you feeling irritated and tired. It is better to balance your intake of carbohydrates with protein, a little fat and fibre. And this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat simple carbs ever, it all about the balance.

GI Index

Unfortunately, while understanding complex and simple carbs is a big step forward in fuelling your body, recent research shows that the glycemic response, the increase in blood glucose levels after a food or combination of foods are consumed, can vary greatly. In fact, some complex carbohydrates can be digested, absorbed and utilised as quickly as simple sugars, meaning that they have similar glycemic responses. We’ll be discussing GI index in a future article, keep checking back.



Healthy Carbs and Complex Carbohydrates 
• Spinach
• Strawberries
• Skim milk
• Whole Barley • Okra • Lentils
• Grapefruit • Wild rice • Broccoli
• Apples • Oranges • Navy beans
• Lettuce • Cabbage • Garbanzo beans
• Prunes • Brown rice • Brussels
• Water Cress • Yams
• Sprouts
• Oat bran bread • Celery
• Cauliflower
• Dried apricots • Multi-grain bread • Kidney beans
• Zucchini • Carrots • Eggplant
• Oatmeal • Cucumbers • Soy milk
• Pears • Pinto beans • Lentils
• Asparagus • Potatoes • Onions
• Oat bran cereal • Dill Pickles
• Whole meal bread
• Plums • Low fat yogurt • Split peas
• Artichokes • Soybeans  
• Museli • Radishes
Processed Refined carbs
• tacos
• wheat
•  products with sugar
• corn chips • • polished rice
• granola bars
• wraps                 • corn • breakfast bars
• pizza • cornflour starch • cereals
• croissants • all products containing corn • soft drinks
• pasta (of all kinds)
• candy • sodas
• rolls • toffee • foods containing corn syrup
• muffins • sweets • sugary drinks
• flour (of all kinds) • potato chips • cordials
• crumpets • breadcrumbs • doughnuts
• pastries • biscuits • cookies
• bagels • desserts • dumplings
• bread (of all kinds) • jams • pies
• buns • jelly • all sugars
• pretzels • jello • cakes
This article was provided by: youthfitafrica





















































































Speak with a Youth1 Recruiting Counselor

Youth1’s Recruiting Counselors are on a mission to educate you on the recruiting process - one that's very competitive and starts early. Let us provide guidance through the most important decisions that shape your athlete's journey in sports.

Learn how to become a recruitable student-athlete, find out what colleges you match best with, and get the ability to message college coaches directly with a specialized recruiting package. 

Don't wait, schedule a time to speak with a Youth1 Recruiting Counselor. It's FREE! Just fill out the following information and then select a date and time in the form below. 



This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.