Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

good carbs vs bad carbsWhen it comes to nutrition there always seems to be contradicting information out there.  Especially when it comes to carbs.  Does it even make sense to look at good carbs vs bad carbs?  Or are all carbs bad for you no matter what?  It seems like several new diets highly discourage eating carbs at all.  Whether you get most of your calories from carbs or not, I still think it makes sense to understand what good carbs vs bad carbs are.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs – The Bad

I think it’s easier to start off by analyzing the bad carbs out there.  Bad carbs are the simple carbs that have little to no nutritional value and have been refined so that they do not have their natural fiber in them.  When it comes to the typical American diet, we’re eating roughly 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which adds up to 320 calories.  And extra 320 calories a day might not sound like a lot, but  that’s like adding an extra pound every 11 days.  If you gained weight at that rate you would definitely start to notice it.  Part of this is due to the low-fat craze.  If you pick up a low-fat version of something at the grocery store, make sure to look at the label and see how much sugar is in it.  Often times the fat is replaced by sugar.

Why Are Bad Carbs Bad?

Bad carbs are labeled as bad because they have no nutritional value an are absorbed very quickly by your body.  They get turned into blood glucose very fast as your body digests the food, which can lead to spikes in your blood sugar.  If your body needs quick energy, like right before you workout or compete in an event, that’s a good thing.  But if you’re not going to use it, it easily gets stored as fat.  So you end up with added fat and the spikes in blood sugar also can be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Examples of Bad Carbs

When it comes to bad carbs it’s good to recognize what you should avoid.  Here are some common examples of bad carbs:

  • sugar
  • white flour
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • potatoes
  • other sweetners like high fructose corn syrup

Good Carbs vs Bad Carb – The Good

Now that we’ve looked at what bad carbs are, we can focus on the good carbs.  Good carbs are what you should look for when you are creating your nutrition plan.  Good carbs are not refined and retain their nutrients that you need.  One main thing that good carbs have that bad carbs lack is fiber.  They also contain other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that our bodies need.  Good carbs are more complex and are have a lower glycemic index, meaning they do not get converted to blood glucose as quickly as the bad, simple carbs do.

Why Are Good Carbs Good?

Good carbs are good, because they contain nutrients like I mentioned and also largely due to the fiber they contain.  We don’t digest fiber, but it helps slow down the absorption of the food we are eating.  So that means it helps prevent spikes in blood sugar, which reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes.  It also helps you feel full longer and can help lower your cholesterol.  Fiber is a pretty important thing!  But typically the American diet is pretty low in fiber, which isn’t a huge surprise since it’s high in simple carbs.

Examples of Good Carbs

So what should you be looking for when it comes to shopping for good carbs?

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • oats
  • beans
  • brown rice
  • whole wheat flour
  • whole wheat pasta
  • whole wheat bread

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs – The Conclusion

Ok, this might not be the last word on good carbs vs bad carbs, but I do feel like it should help you to understand the difference between the two and what you should look for when you’re grocery shopping.  I prefer to get most of my carbs from vegetables, beans and brown rice.  That way I know I’m getting plenty of fiber and I’m not spiking my blood sugar.  Plus it keeps me feeling full and not craving junk food.  If you still have questions leave a comment or shoot me a message!




Love these articles! Some of my favorite good carbs are spinach, yams, oranges, lentil casserole, steel cut oats, berries, cooked tomatoes. Susan

Coach Tom
Coach Tom

So glad you find them helpful Susan! Those are some awesome options for good carbs too!


  1. […] you missed the posts earlier this week I’ve posted about Good vs Bad Carbs, which I think is helpful if you’re getting started out or if you’ve never really […]

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