The Importance of Complex Carbohydrates


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Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. They seem to be getting the blame for the obesity problem throughout the world.

But carbohydrates are definitely not to blame. The fact is that your body needs carbohydrates to function properly-especially if you live an active lifestyle and exercise regularly.

Carbohydrates do not make you fat. A sedentary lifestyle makes you fat. Carbohydrates are meant to give your body long lasting and sustained energy for when you are active and exercising. You need to fill up your muscles glycogen levels in order for them to function properly. Regardless of what kind of exercise you are performing, carbohydrates are essential fuel you will need to power through your workout.

The best kinds of carbohydrates to consume are slow digesting carbohydrates, otherwise known as complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are used by your body as a long term energy source and are less likely to be stored as body fat. This is because they won’t spike your blood sugar like simple sugars and other bad carbohydrates do. Complex carbohydrates are typically high in dietary fiber so they are digested much slower and are able to be used as efficient fuel for your body.

The problem with people who don’t exercise is that regardless of what carbohydrate you are consuming it will be stored as body fat. What is the point of consuming a food that is meant to give you a sustained energy source if you aren’t going to expend energy?

If you are exercising regularly it is best to consume a few servings of complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before exercise. My favorite times of the day to consume complex carbohydrates are the morning and 2-3 hours before working out. If you are looking to lose weight, you still need to consume several servings of complex carbohydrates per day, but you should cut off your last serving 4-5 hours before bedtime. This will assure that the carbohydrates you are consuming will be used as an energy source and not stored as body fat.

So what are the best complex carbohydrates to consume and what are the carbohydrates to avoid? Let’s take a look at the list of good carbs and bad carbs.

List of Bad Carbohydrates

Bad Carbohydrates

Consume Very Sparingly

  • Sodas
  • Flavored Teas
  • Energy Drinks
  • Sports Drinks
  • Potato Chips
  • Baked Potatoes
  • White Rice
  • White Bread
  • Candy/Ice Cream/Sweets
  • Crackers or anything with Enriched Wheat Flour

List of Complex Carbohydrates

Complex Carbohydrates

When to Consume: 3-5 Servings per Day

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Wheat
  • Rye
  • Oatmeal
  • Rolled Oats
  • Fruit
  • Whole Grains
  • Black Beans or Legumes

Conclusion: Why Complex Carbs Are Important

There is a wide variety of delicious and healthy carbohydrates available to the active fitness enthusiast. Remember to consume several servings of complex carbohydrates per day regardless of what your weight loss goals are.

Even if you are trying to lose weight you still need to consume complex carbohydrates for your energy levels. If your energy levels are low you will not be able to work out and your weight loss results will suffer. Complex carbohydrates are also heart healthy and won’t spike your blood sugar levels.

By consuming complex carbohydrates you will greatly enhance your body’s energy levels and be a much healthier person. Remember that the food pyramid was created for a reason, and healthy carbohydrates are an essential part of any person’s diet.