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Not all carbs are created equal: complex vs. simple carbs

Carbs have received a bad rap lately, especially since the boom in much higher fat diets. And, while not all carbs are created equal (some that we should all avoid), healthy, complex carbs still provide us with a wonderful energy source that the body thrives on.

We’re breaking down why the right kind of carbohydrate can make a great addition to a well-balanced diet. Plus, we’re sharing the good and the bad of which to enjoy and which to avoid.


The Benefits of Complex Carbs

Carbs provide our brain with glucose, its preferred source of energy. Our muscles also need carbs, which is why many athletes choose to carb load before a big athletic event. This all has to do with the fact that our muscles rely on glycogen—aka carbs that are stored in our muscles as well as our liver.

By adding complex carbs to your diet, you can give your muscles the fuel they need to power through each workout and just carry out every day normal muscle function.

And, let’s talk about the fact that restricting carbs has been linked to some pretty serious health consequences. In fact, a study found that low carb diets may be linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

These are all reasons to keep enjoying those plant-based complex carbs as part of a balanced diet.


Not All Carbs Are Created Equal

Ok, so we know that complex carbs are a great healthy addition to a plant-based diet, but not all carbs are created equal.

Refined, simple carbs (think white bread, sugar, and pastries) are inflammatory and can increase the risk of diabetes and weight gain. These simple carbs are also the ones that can cause that sudden spike and then crash in blood sugar.

Let’s take a closer look at the carbs you want to avoid, as well as some of our favorite complex carbs to enjoy regularly.


Carbs to Avoid

  • White sugar
  • White bread
  • Candy
  • Pastries
  • Ice cream
  • Sweetened beverages
  • Sweetened yogurt
  • Sweetened cereal

    Carbs to Enjoy

    • Legumes
    • Quinoa
    • Brown rice
    • Oats
    • Buckwheat
    • Starchy veggies: like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots
    • Fruit


    Get Smart About Carbohydrates

    As you can tell, we’re big fans of the right kind of carbs. Many plant-based superfoods (like all those yummy starchy veggies) are very rich in carbs, but those are the complex carbs we rely on for energy.

    So, don’t fear carbohydrates—just get smart about your carb choices. By replacing all the simple carbs in your diet with nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates, you’ll be doing great things for your health, while enjoying some super delicious plant-based goodness at the same time.


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