Simple And Complex Carbohydrates: What’s The Difference?

Hot yoga helps your body’s muscles become stronger and more flexible. The food you eat will support (or hinder) the process. In this series of posts, we’ll suggest ways to naturally increase the resources available to your body through simple but effective changes to your diet.

Carbohydrates come in two forms, simple and complex. These classifications relate to how quickly the body can absorb them and make them available to use as energy. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly and cause a spike in your blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates take a bit more effort to break down and take more time to digest and absorb.

Carbohydrates contain about 4kcal of energy per gram. There are three different types of carbohydrate:

  • Sugar is naturally found in some foods like fruit, honey, fruit juices and milk. Increasingly, it is also added to our food in the form of table sugar and additives like lactose and maltose added to foods to make them sweeter. These raise your blood sugar quickly, leading to spikes followed by troughs.
  • Starch consists of sugars bonded together in long chains which means they take longer to break down and digest. These give us a slow release of energy throughout the day and can be found in foods that come from plants like bread, rice, pasta, vegetables, potatoes.
  • Fibre is found in foods that come from plants. Fibre slows the process of food through your digestive system allowing your body time to absorb all the goodness in your food, adding bulk and keeping your digestive tract healthy. Good sources of fibre include vegetables, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta and pulses like beans and lentils.

It is a myth that carbohydrates are bad for us – our bodies need fuel and fibre to remain healthy. However, it’s wise to think carefully about the type, quality and quantity of the carbohydrates you choose and try to limit the amount of simple carbohydrates like sugar or things that have been heavily processed like cakes and sweets. Instead try to include more starchy carbohydrates like vegetables and whole grain products that have not been heavily processed to remove the goodness from them.

As in anything it is important to get the balance right. Consume more calories than you need and you will gain weight.  By replacing high sugar foods and drinks with high fibre, starchy food you’ll get the balance right. You’ll feel fuller for longer and avoid the sugar spikes that can sap your energy and sabotage your eating plans.