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Simple vs. complex carbohydrates explained


For many years, carbohydrates were called the culprit of unwanted two or three pounds of weight and blamed for unwanted fitness outcomes. This usually happens when people are having trouble losing weight or building muscle.

Therefore, it is not uncommon for fitness enthusiasts, strength builders, and other gym rats to want to go on a low-carb diet or at least question the impact of carbohydrates on their fitness goals.

The most frequently asked question asked by strength builders is, “Do you need carbs to build muscle?” In this article we will explore The effect of carbohydrates on muscle building.

Carb detractors and carb lovers have always been in a tug of war, with critics saying carbs are unnecessary, while carb lovers singing the praises of carbs. However, the truth is that limiting your carb intake can negatively affect your ability to reach your muscle gain goals – but why?

The key is eating the right carbohydrates. You may have heard that you should eat complex carbs and avoid simple carbs, but what does that mean?

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are macronutrients that your body needs along with fats and proteins. Carbohydrates are the source of energy for your body. The carbohydrates you consume are broken down into glucose by your body. Cells use glucose to produce energy when it is transported in the bloodstream to tissues, muscles, and organs.

The glucose that your body stores is called glycogen. When you’re really having a hard time getting through resistance training, it’s likely that your body’s glycogen levels are too low to provide enough energy. Carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores, supporting more intense workout sessions.

If you’re a weightlifter, you may have a hard time pushing your muscles to your limit, you may have a lower one-time max, and you reach failure faster. Even if you’ve had less intense strength training, you may find it more challenging.

Muscle Builder - Image from Shutterstock

Not only is adequate glycogen stores essential for performance, but it is also essential for muscle recovery. This is of particular importance to bodybuilders and others who are working to build lean muscle mass.

Make no mistake—protein intake is important, too, but if you want the best results, upping your carbs could do the trick. The researchers found that Carbohydrates are necessary for the proper metabolism of proteins.

Therefore, a low-carb diet can limit your body’s ability to use the protein you eat.

A large percentage of the calories in your diet come from carbohydrates that you eat as part of your normal diet. They are found in vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, beverages, dairy products, and rice. While your body needs carbohydrates, not all carbohydrates are created equal, and it’s important to understand the difference between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, the two main types of carbohydrates.

Explain simple carbohydrates versus complex carbohydrates

Your first step to healthy eating that will also benefit your fitness goals is to understand that not all carbohydrate sources are healthy, and not all support muscle mass gains. Learning more about the different types of carbohydrates can help you make healthy food choices.

Your body breaks down simple carbohydrates more quickly than complex carbohydrates, giving your body a much faster energy boost.

Simple carbohydrates quickly raise blood glucose levels, which can cause large swings in blood sugar levels, a risk that is no less serious when eating complex carbohydrates. The consequences of these mutations may lead to mood swings and increased food cravings.

Consuming too many simple carbohydrates can lead to serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

In contrast, the effect of complex carbohydrates on the body is quite different. Complex carbohydrates are slower to digest, so the energy they provide is delivered slowly over time. Their fiber content is usually higher than that of simple carbohydrates, making complex carbohydrates a healthy source of nutrients.

Which is better simple or complex?

Carbohydrates are the source of energy for your body. They digest more slowly than simple carbohydrates, which makes them even better when you’re working out. Simple carbohydrates are short-term sources of energy and cause a sugar rush or blood sugar spike while complex carbohydrates provide long-lasting elevated glucose levels, and therefore a longer-lasting energy spike.

Common simple carbohydrates

Not all simple carbohydrates are unhealthy. The best way to explain the difference between healthy and unhealthy simple carbohydrates is by comparing single and compound sugars.

simple sugars Also called monosaccharides, they include glucose, fructose, and galactose.

compound sugars Also called disaccharides or double disaccharides, they are molecules made up of a single-bonded polysaccharide; Common examples are sucrose (glucose + fructose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (two glucose molecules).

Fruits and vegetables are simple carbohydrates, but they are part of a healthy diet because they also contain fiber and macronutrients, along with simple sugars, which make them complex sugars. Similarly, milk and other dairy products contain the simple sugar lactose, which is a simple carbohydrate.

Another example of a disaccharide, or healthy simple carbohydrate, is high fructose corn syrup, used as a sugar-based sweetener, which is a mixture of glucose and fructose. However, it is often combined with cornstarch and used as a sweetener in processed foods, changing it from healthy to harmful.

In contrast, unhealthy simple carbohydrates are those with single sugar molecules added such as candy, syrup, table sugar, baked goods, etc.

Simple carbohydrates without added sugars, but with natural sugars they are also healthy, for example, molasses, honey, dairy products, vegetables and All cereal.

What are simple carbohydrates to avoid?

Unhealthy simple carbohydrates - Image from Shutterstock

It’s not hard to overdo the simple carbohydrates and added sugars; Most people do.

Carbohydrates that you should make sure to limit include:

  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Refined pasta
  • refined grains
  • Soft drinks, cola and other sweetened drinks
  • Chocolate candy bars
  • sports drinks
  • Baked goods and pastries
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Fast food or processed foods

Ways to reduce simple carbohydrates in your diet

First rule – always moisturize. Staying hydrated doesn’t just ward off dehydration. It also promotes digestion and reduces hunger pangs that can lead you to crave simple carbohydrates because it is so easy to use. Water contains no calories and makes you feel full.

cola for water

Simple carbohydrates such as cola and soft drinks raise insulin levels, and can harm your health in other ways. Foods rich in simple carbohydrates also raise blood levels of triglycerides, a reference to blood fats.

In addition, high levels of triglycerides in the blood increase the risk of diabetes, pancreatic problems, heart diseases such as cholesterol problems, coronary artery disease, and fatty liver.

Instead of the unhealthy kinds, you can replace sugary drinks with lemon-flavored water and boost weight loss.

Most baked goods and pastries contain large amounts of carbohydrates and simple sugars that are harmful to your body. Instead, go for salad or fruit if your sweet tooth wants to take over.

Replace foods made with white flour with wholegrain versions. For example, replace white rice with brown rice and white bread with whole-wheat brown bread. Eating a nutrient-dense diet can also promote a healthy weight.

However, don’t focus on carbs only. It is important to ensure that each meal contains the right amount of healthy fats and protein to keep you feeling full and prevent hunger pangs.

Another way to stay healthy by improving the nutritional value of your meals is proper planning.

If you plan your meals in advance, there will be no situations like rushing at the last minute to eat simple carbohydrates. All this does not mean that you can never eat your favorite foods. Instead, it means that you should make sure that most of the carbohydrates you consume are complex carbohydrates, and limit simple carbohydrates to special occasions.

If you maintain this balance, you will not have problems Build muscle mass.

complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are called because they have longer chains of sugar molecules than simple carbohydrates and are also called polysaccharides. Complex carbohydrates provide a steady source of energy because they take longer to digest.

During digestion, your body breaks down the sugar molecules in complex carbohydrates into glucose, which the body uses for energy. Most complex carbohydrates provide minerals, fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals.

What are the best carbohydrates for muscle growth?

Healthy complex carbohydrates - Image from Shutterstock

Your individual goals will determine which types of carbohydrates are best for you. Do you need quick bursts of energy or sustained energy?

Foods that are typically considered “healthy” carbohydrates include:

  • millet

  • Option

  • Black beans

  • Whole wheat pasta

  • oatmeal

  • corn

  • spinach

  • quinoa

  • cantaloupe

  • sweet potato

  • fruit

  • vegetables

  • sweet potato

  • starchy vegetables

  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, peas, and others.

  • Whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta

Do complex and simple carbohydrates have different effects on weight?

If you are Practice losing weightYou must understand that your body breaks down both types of carbohydrates into energy and stores them in limited amounts. However, if your body is not using the stored energy for exercise or other physical activities, it is converted and stored as body fat.

Because your body breaks down simple carbohydrates easier, you have a limited time to use the energy before it is converted and stored as fat, leading to weight gain.

Therefore, you will do much better if you consume complex carbohydrates if your goal is to lose weight. Your body takes longer to break them down, and they don’t cause blood sugar spikes and mood swings. You also have more time to exercise and use up energy before your body turns it into fat.

Something small

The most important takeaway is that your body needs carbohydrates to provide energy. However, it is up to you to control your carbohydrate intake in a way that helps you reach your goals. For long-lasting energy, it is best to replace simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates.

You can achieve long-lasting energy by swapping simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates. At the same time, you will have control over your hunger and reduce the accumulation of stored fat in your body.

In the end, it’s all about maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

Optimal body function needs carbohydrates, protein and fat. When you provide your body with the necessary nutrients, it can respond more effectively to the physical exercises you do.

Although there is no bad food, it is always best to eat simple carbohydrates in moderation.

Arrange a consultation with a dietitian about carbohydrate intake to build lean muscle mass. Likewise, seek guidance for creating a meal plan to build muscle or lose weight with health benefits.


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