Examples of Simple and Complex Carbohydrates


Many health experts recommend cutting down or eliminating sugar and other simple carbohydrates, and increasing the servings of complex carbohydrates in the diet.

Carbohydrates are necessary to your health, because every cell in your body uses them for energy. In fact, your brain can only use carbohydrates for energy.

Unfortunately, over-consumption of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other highly refined carbohydrates has been associated with a higher incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even breast cancer. And eating refined carbs can, over time, result in almost uncontrollable sugar cravings.

According to the World Health Organization, sugars and other simple carbohydrates are a leading factor in the worldwide obesity epidemic.

With the popularity of low-carb diets, many people are afraid to eat any carbohydrates, but it is important to distinguish between the health-robbing effects of simple sugars and other carbs, and the health-giving properties of complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods, which improve your digestion. They help stabilize the blood sugar, keep your energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied longer after your meal.

In contrast, sugar and other simple carbohydrates can alter your mood, lead to cravings and compulsive eating, cause wide swings in your blood-sugar levels, and cause weight gain in most people. In addition, a high consumption of sugar can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you finally decide to improve your diet and forgo the sweets.

Examples: simple and complex carbohydrates

Some examples of healthy foods containing complex carbohydrates:

Spinach Whole Barley Grapefruit
Turnip Greens Buckwheat Apples
Lettuce Buckwheat bread Prunes
Water Cress Oat bran bread Apricots, Dried
Zucchini Oatmeal Pears
Asparagus Oat bran cereal Plums
Artichokes Museli Strawberries
Okra Wild rice Oranges
Cabbage Brown rice Yams
Celery Multi-grain bread Carrots
Cucumbers Pinto beans Potatoes
Dill Pickles Yogurt, low fat Soybeans
Radishes Skim milk Lentils
Broccoli Navy beans Garbanzo beans
Brussels Sprouts Cauliflower Kidney beans
Eggplant Soy milk Lentils
Onions Whole meal spelt bread Split peas

Some examples of foods containing simple carbohydrates:

Simple carbohydrates are more refined, are usually found in foods with fewer nutrients, and tend to be less satisfying and more fattening.

Table sugar
Corn syrup
Fruit juice
Candy
Cake
Bread made with white flour
Pasta made with white flour
Soda pop, such as Coke®, Pepsi®, Mountain Dew®, etc.
Candy
All baked goods made with white flour
Most packaged cereals

If you are trying to eliminate simple sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, but you don’t want to refer to a list all the time, here are some suggestions:

Read the labels. If the label lists sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or “wheat” flour, they contain simple carbohydrates. If these ingredients are at the top of the list, they may contain mostly simple carbohydrates, and little else. They should be avoided.

Look for foods that have not been highly processed or refined. Choose a piece of fruit instead of fruit juice, which is very high in naturally occurring simple sugars. Choose whole grain breads instead of white bread. Choose whole grain oatmeal instead of packaged cold cereals.

The closer you get to nature, the closer you get to health.

Simple carbohydrates, like sugar and corn syrup, are created in a factory – while complex carbohydrates in vegetables and whole grains are designed by nature, and help you maintain your health.

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

bunmi September 10, 2010 at 12:33 pm

pls i need to know the differences between a refined sugar and a complex sugar

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Jonni September 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Do you need a description of the molecular structure of different types of carbohydrates, or the different way that carbohydrates affect blood sugar, (glycemic index)? Perhaps this, from Wikipedia, might help:

Classification

For dietary purposes, carbohydrates can be classified as simple (monosaccharides and disaccharides) or complex (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides). The term complex carbohydrate was first used in the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs publication Dietary Goals for the United States (1977), where it denoted “fruit, vegetables and whole-grains”.[14] Dietary guidelines generally recommend that complex carbohydrates, and such nutrient-rich simple carbohydrate sources such as fruit (glucose or fructose) and dairy products (lactose) make up the bulk of carbohydrate consumption. This excludes such sources of simple sugars as candy and sugary drinks.

The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 dispensed with the simple/complex distinction, instead recommending fiber-rich foods and whole grains.[15]

The glycemic index and glycemic load concepts have been developed to characterize food behavior during human digestion. They rank carbohydrate-rich foods based on the rapidity of their effect on blood glucose levels. The insulin index is a similar, more recent classification method that ranks foods based on their effects on blood insulin levels, which are caused by glucose (or starch) and some amino acids in food. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly food glucose is absorbed, while glycemic load is a measure of the total absorbable glucose in foods.

If you’re doing research for school, that page might be a good place to start.

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Peter June 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Would it be correct to simply say refined sugars are processed while complex sugars are naturally found in fruits and vegetables?

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nicole February 28, 2012 at 4:36 am

normal cane sugar is high GI which affects mood swings, blood sugar levels etc.

an alternative that is natural and low GI (therefore the body takes longer to process it and it doesn’t muck with your metabolism) is something like Stevia (which is available under the brand Natvia) or else Agave nectar. usually these are available in your health food aisle at the supermarket.

basically the more processing involved in getting the end product to your table the more likely that it is a simple sugar and therefore not so good for you.

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beadqueen September 21, 2010 at 5:15 am

i mostly eat beans, brown rice, fish, red meat, milk, lots of fruit and vegetables…. i will only eat fast food maybe once every 4 months IF and only IF im super hungry coming back late at night after a party,,,thats a big nono but i only do this couple times a year…i run and bike 5 times a week, im in great shape because of the foods i eat, i just wish people can grab life by the horns and eat the right foods :(

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Ryan October 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm

A lot of times when you are super hungry like you said. Try drinking some water. A lot of people mistake stomach pains for hunger when they need water. You probably need food to, but drinking water will help with the hunger allowing you to hold off on fast food. Find this information on some guys website, I don’t remember which one, but it works really good for me. Especially in the mornings when I wake up.

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Darleene January 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I think fast food once every 4 months is fine because you are practicing the “once in a blue moon” principle. Enjoy that occasional treat; you earned it!

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Peg December 13, 2011 at 2:46 am

Darlene,
I use to think that too. In fact, when I was employed in the work force it was easy for me to justify doing exactly as you suggested. But since, I am taking care of my 91 year old dad and have been for over 12 years…we don’t even venture near the fast food places. They hold no desire. I cook most our meals at home. Due to dad’s health condition we haven’t visited a restaurant in 2 years. I did have brunch recently with a good friend, first outing in over 12 years…felt wonderful, but I watched what I ordered. Some times situations keep us from doing things we feel we could never give up….like fast food. I don’t even miss these places for a meal.

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Sue June 3, 2012 at 12:23 am

Peg’s right! You deserve BETTER than fast food!

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Leah September 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm

White flour acts almost like a poison to our bodies. Our bodies were not created for candy, cakes and other simple carbohydrates. I avoid white flour and I ingest minimal amounts of sugar throughout my diet. This has made a great difference in my blood sugar, appetite and my energy level. I used to struggle with low blood sugar every morning (I used to eat white rice for breakfast, along with a cup of tea). Now, I eat oatmeal and tablespoon of organic peanut butter. I lost a lot of unhealthy abdominal fat. I also workout 8-10 hours a week at the gym and ride my bike around 50 miles a week. I feel like I have a different body. What a blessing!

My body feel so much stronger and I do not get tired near as easily. Avoid the poison! Change your diet!

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Jonni September 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I agree totally. Thanks for sharing.

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Jenny D April 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I have just started to cut out refined carbohydrates as part of a healthy eating plan (prompted by being diagnosed with an underactive thyroid). By cutting out simple carbs and sugar, and combining good quality fats, protein and complex carbs at every meal and snack I have more energy than I have had for 10+ years. This is just after 5 days of eating like this. I can’t believe the difference. I have cut out caffeine too. Amazing.

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Peter June 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm

100% accurate; I agree. I have done exactly the same, and I love how I feel along with having a great body, as a result.

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Carley October 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Hey i was wondering if you had anything for an eleven year old?I’m eleven,and i weigh one hundred and forty four pounds. Is that over weight ?Well thanks for the help maybe i can hear something from you later.

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Jonni October 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I’m not quite sure what you’re asking – but I am pretty sure you should be asking a doctor, and not a stranger on a website. What I can say is that if you drink any sodas at all, either regular of “diet,” you should stop. That’s where most of us get the empty calories. One diabetic expert calls soda pop “liquid candy,” and it’s been blamed for much of the childhood obesity that’s become so epidemic in industrialized countries.

I wish you all the best.

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Julie March 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Not sure what she’s asking? Did you read it? You answer could have been more tactful and kinder, especially when an overweight 11-year-old is reaching out for help; maybe she doesn’t see a doctor regularly because her family can’t afford it. At least she knows she needs to do something, and she unfortunately turned to a source who — 1) apparently can’t read very well; and 2) couldn’t be bothered to write more than a rather snotty answer.

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Jonni March 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Julie, I’m sorry you felt so offended by my answer, but I stand by it. It is not possible for me — or anyone else on the Internet — to know if Carley needs to be on a diet since we don’t know how tall she is or how active she might be. And I really don’t think children should get dieting advice from total strangers – if her family can’t afford a doctor, perhaps she and her mom can read a good book on children’s nutrition.

And, since soda pop is one of the biggest sources of excess calories for people in this country, suggesting that she give it up is solid advice for anyone, regardless of her age. I wasn’t trying to be snotty – I was trying to be honest.

I can’t help but notice that you didn’t volunteer any advice for her, either – so we may not disagree as much as you think we do.

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Roger Who March 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Okay! you two.

Why not give this young person “information” not advice.

As example might be: Did you know there was a Soda that has No sugar, caffeine or any of the ingredients that cause obesity. In fact there are several
of them. . .I drink Diet-Rite . . .and love it.

mark November 16, 2012 at 10:15 am

Jonni, don’t worry about Julie, I have given up blogging because Icouldn’t stand people like that any more. I found your article informative and easy to read so keep at it.

Star December 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Hi Carley,

140 lbs for an 11 year old is a little to much only if your height is 5’11″. But don’t worry you can change that. Just do not eat junk food and don’t drink pop, and try not to drink juice because it has a lot of sugar. Try to be active and enjoy your life.

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Julie Hinton October 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I thought wheat bread was supposed to be good for you. Is it better than white bread? I am on a limited budget and the
oat bread is very expensive here.

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Jonni October 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Yes, whole wheat bread is definitely better than bread made from white flour. The list above includes examples of complex carbohydrates, but it doesn’t include all of them. Check ingredients on the package, though. Some “wheat” bread is made from white flour, with coloring added to make it darker. Whole wheat is what you’re looking for.

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Shirley October 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Actually what you are looking for is Whole grain. Meaning at least 2 grams of fiber per 100 calories. Check label. Many say they are but the first ingredient is only enriched wheat flour not Whole Grain Wheat flour. Just remember to read the nutritional label and after awhile you will learn the difference

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Tammy January 16, 2012 at 1:11 am

Any wheat product is bad for the body… wheat is not processed the way it was back 200 or so years ago. The outer shell of the wheat kernal is VERY bad for us and that is not removed in the current processing of wheat. It attracts alot of the nutrients we need and doesn’t let them absorb into the body. Cut out all wheat, sugar, and industrialized oils (anything that is “man made”) and you will really be alot healthier. Eat lots of meat, veggies, fruits. Check out fit4godonline.com and look at the life transformation classes for info to back all of this info I have given. Good Luck and I hope this helps, I’ts done wonders for me!!!!

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Justin October 21, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I think you should at least say that simple sugars do help you because 1 hour before every swim meet i have i have a small amount of white pasta to reinvigorate myself i ussualy do 100 or 200 yd races so i dont do a lot of endurance

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Jonni October 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Hi Justin. It sounds like you’re doing a modified form of carb-loading for a sporting event. For folks who are interested in this concept, here’s an interesting article.

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Kelly November 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

ive recently lost alot of weight but im finding it really hard to shift the excess weight on my stomach, ive started to cut out all white pastas and rice and replace them for brown. do you think this will help to lose the extra weight?
i normally have oats and berries every day in the morning and i dont really eat alot of bread but when i do its always wholemeal. im also very active i normally work out 3-4 times a week. im feeling very healthy at the moment just struggling with that last litle bit!

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Jonni November 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm

The last few pounds are always the hardest. You might want to substitute veggies for the grains, at least for a while.

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Rich January 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Hi Kelly,
a bit of a delayed response so hopefully you have shifted that extra weight. If not I would ask, how is your sleep?
A lack of sleep (or increased stress levels) can lead to increased cortisol levels. This leads to retained abdominal fat and dieting/eating won’t change that.
Its your bodies defence system just looking out for you.
Get plenty rest, relax and enjoy the weight loss you’ve had, Drink plenty water and you’ll find that last bit of mid-riff will soon dissapear.

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Offred November 13, 2010 at 5:59 pm

In some gastrointestinal disorders, such as bacterial overgrowth, simple carbs are required. This is because complex carbs are food to the bacteria, simple carbs are not. It is possible then to “starve” the bacteria with simple carbs, which the bacteria cannot utilize. True, antibiotics are usually the front line defense, but if “natural” is the objective, removing complex carbs may be the only answer.

This seems contrary to most nutritional advice, but may be the only natural solution to gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Of course if these are present a doctor should be consulted, but GI problems are sometimes hard to diagnose, and an “eating healthy” diet may be the absolute wrong diet for some.

As someone with undiagnosed GI problems, it has been extremely difficult for me to find a “right” diet. Gluten and lactose free foods seems to help, but not always.

I have had to return so many foods to the store, or had to throw them out because of GI problems. I think every person is different, and until science finds a method of determining what a particular person should eat, discovering and maintaining a proper diet may prove very difficult if not impossible.

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Ginger February 10, 2011 at 12:46 am

Research Blood type Diets. Author Is Peter D’Adamo. Find out your bloodtype and read, with an open mind, the vast info he provides. I am not a ‘die-hard’ for any diet,but I just read and made adjustments to my eating habits and dropped some foods. I found that any ailments or health issues I had started to resolve rather quickly. I have now been free of many things like GI trouble, fatigue, nausea, respiratory distress for 3 Years.!
It’s definitely worth checking out.

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Joanne May 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Hi Offred…. I know where you’re coming from. I also suffer from GI disorder and absolutely agree with you. I try to eat as healthy as I can, but when I have a flare-up I depend on simple carbs. What everyone see’s as healthy is very un-healthy for my disease.

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Sharon December 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I just want to thank you for the list of simple and complex carbs. I have just been diagnosed with hypoglycemia. Unfortunately my Dr. hasn’t been that helpful Ladies at a drug store (they have diabetes) have been helpful but of course they aren’t Dr’s. I keep reading books and finally found two books addressing Hypoglycemia. I’m finding your list very helpful and I appreciate this website.

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jody January 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I recently purchased a software program that allows me to enter everything I eat and the exercises I do and the program tells me where I am at as far as daily nutrition goals. I was very surprised to see how much sugar I was eating! I am only allowed 40 grams – I was over that with breakfast alone in eating a banana, oatmeal & blueberries with a little juice! I have cut down on my sugar (from fruits/foods – I do not drink sodas or refined sugar). I read on the Internet that natural sugars (in fruits and foods) do not go towards the 40 grams. Is this true?

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Jonni January 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I think the answer would depend on which program you’re on. I think Weight Watchers recently put all fruits and veggies in the OK to eat category, but I haven’t studied their new point system enough to know for sure.

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Vicki January 7, 2011 at 5:03 am

Jody,
I have neve ever counted calories, points, carbs, etc. I have never been on Weight Watchers, Jenny Craigs, The Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet,etc. I do eat basically good, low sodium diet, not much red meat, lots of water (no sports drinks) and lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish. I do have a very soft spot for ice cream! I am beginning to train for my first KY Derby Mini-marathon. And I am very interested in the software program that tracks your eating, exercising, and your daily nutrition goals. Can you please give me the name of the program and where you purchased it? I would be very interested in trying this out. Thank you very much for your help. Sincerely, Vicki

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Becky February 24, 2011 at 8:54 am

You don’t need to purchase anything. myfitnesspal.com will do the exact same thing for you. Track fitness and exercise goals, food, weight loss, etc…good luck! :)

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Kathy July 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Like Becky said, you don’t need to purchase anything. I have used sparkpeople.com, and have recently found livestrong.com, which is AWESOME, and has great articles and LOTS of helpful information for a healthier lifestyle. Check it out!

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Sue June 3, 2012 at 12:29 am

They have an iPhone app too! It’s great!

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Tamara Cosby January 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I am curious about Quinoa. Is that considered a good complex carb? I am trying VERY hard to make sure we are not eating unhealthy foods and am finding it difficult to find variety for a meal. I think I may have it TOO ingrained in my head that you have to have a protein and carb and a veggie for a meal to be complete.

Any advice is welcome! Thank you!

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Jonni January 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Quinoa is a whole grain, with all it’s nutrients intact. If you’re looking for healthy food, I think it would be a great addition to your diet. Any whole grain should be fine.

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Asia January 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Vicki, instead of spending money on a program myfitnesspal.com does pretty much all of that for free. You can keep a food and exercise log and it tells you the calorie count/carbs/fats/proteins count, etc. of your foods…I just recently started using it, it’s pretty great. I’m sure there are other websites that will do similar things for free as well.

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ELLEN January 15, 2011 at 2:58 am

I HAVE TYPE 2 DIABETES, WHEN EATING A COMPLEX CARB DO YOU NEED TO EAT PROTEIN WITH IT AND WHAT PORTION SIZE WOULD BE APPROPRIATE.

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Jonni January 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Ellen, this is the kind of question you need to ask your doctor. He or she should have a diet recommendation for you. If not, ask for a referral to a nutritionist.

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Suede January 18, 2011 at 1:39 am

Whst is a good cookbook to use to start eating healthier?
Is there a way to wean yourself from sugar and processed foods without going to the nuthouse? I want to eat healthier, but really don’t know where and how to start. Any suggestions? How can you lower your tryglicerides, my levels are high.

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Jonni January 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm

For people who are also cutting down on meat, I like Joel Fuhrman’s books, and for non-vegetarians I like the Nourishing Traditions book. Right now is a good time to find a cookbook, because a lot of people are moving to local, non-processed foods.

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Tata January 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I’ve been having some major problems with bacteria in my small intestine. I started going to a new GI recently and he recommended a simple carb diet and to eliminate all complex carbs. I said I would consider it, but honestly I’m concerned about the effects it will have on my weight. I’ve started to exercise more and have been steadily adding more complex carbs to my diet and completely removed anything with sugar added. I’m nearly down to the target weight my regular doc and I set. I’m sorta at a loss for what to do. I also can’t use antibiotics because I’m allergic to most, and a while ago I did find one I could handle but along with the bad it killed off the good bacteria and I had to start a L. acidophilus treatment. Right now though I’ve restricted myself to fish, green vegetables, and an apple a day(:couldn’t live without them) until I figure out a plan. Do you think there is some sort of compromise between the two? My GI said to completely cut out complex carbs. I have no idea what to do. If I do do the diet do you think there’s a way to keep from putting on more weight, besides exercising like a dog- I do that already;) are all of the simple carbs bad or are there some that are at least ok or leaning towards good?

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Jonni January 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hi Tata. I’ve never heard of a diet that leaves out all complex carbs, but your doctor might think you have sensitivities to grains or other common foods, and this might be causing your GI problems. The best person to ask about specific foods to eat is the doctor who put you on this diet – just saying “don’t eat complex carbs” is really not enough to go on.

I definitely suggest that you call the office and ask for a recommendation for a diet that will work for you. There may be a book the doc suggests, or maybe he has a printed copy of a diet he thinks would be good for you. Just a few weeks of menus should get you on the right track.

Good luck – I hope you find the answers soon.

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Teresa March 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

I have been having stomach and intestinal problems for about four months (I’ve lost almost 50 lbs.). I have been to several doctors, and am now in the care of a gastroenterologist at Duke University Hospital. However, we have not been able to find a diagnosis. The doctor’s latest idea is that I am having “dumping syndrome” (I had gastric bypass surgery nine years ago), and has suggested I eat only complex carbs. In reading these postings, I have seen several references to intestinal bacteria problems that are helped by simple carbs. Can anyone give me a general list of symptoms for this?
Thanks

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Jonni March 13, 2012 at 2:22 am

You can read more about the dumping syndrome here. It’s a common occurrence with gastric bypass patients, especially after eating sugar.

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Laura Cupp January 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Hi Jonni,

I just wanted to share my story with you. I was 320 pounds in Nov. 2008. It took me 14 months to loose 150 pounds. In January 2010 weighing in at 170 pounds I have reached my goal. No surgeries or diet pills. I exercise 4 times a week and eat whole grians, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, fish and chicken. I have maintained my weight now for 1 year and I feel great. I am 51 years old and in the best shape of my life. I have been overweight most of my adult life, so I know how tough it can be to loose weight and keep it off. It is a life-style change. I have a video on you-tube check it out laura cupp inspirational video. I hope this will inspire all how need support. Thank You Laura Cupp

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Jonni January 30, 2011 at 12:21 am

Thanks, Laura. This is an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

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Orna February 17, 2011 at 1:17 am

You are amazing!! Well done to you on your weight loss, you should be so proud of yourself!

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brandy February 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm

What is your input on sodium intake? If you cut back does it help you lose weight?

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Jonni February 2, 2011 at 12:36 am

Hi Brandy. I know some people say that reduced salt diets help you lose weight because it improves the mineral balance inside each cell, which also improves the cells’ ability to burn calories. But I’m not an expert in this subject. Most of us eat too much salt anyway, so the easy way to find out is to try it.

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Sue February 25, 2011 at 2:00 am

Jonni, What a pleasure to come across your site. I couldn’t agree more with your statement “The closer you get to nature, the closer you get to health”.
As an RN, I would like to commend your recommendations to those who have asked questions based on their medical conditions, as well as to Carley. Everyone’s condition and circumstances are unique and your advice is absolutely the right advice! Keep up the good work and the site :)

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Leslie March 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Sharon, your reply of December 23,2010 at 5:59 PM was valuable, but it would help to have names of the two books and their authors that address Hypoglycemia.

Thanks for the great website.

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Shelby March 23, 2011 at 1:39 am

Thanks for the lists clarifying the difference between complex and simple carbs! It was such a huge help for me. Made me realize the small bit I needed to tweak my diet to get that extra healthy kick!

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Wali March 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

what are some foods that are simplex and a complex carb?

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Jonni March 31, 2011 at 12:08 am

Sugar would be a simple carb, while whole wheat or squash would be complex. Although there are a number of different ways that people define carbs, and this is only one of them.

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Jade March 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

Please can you advise me which food groups e.g complex / simple carbs these foods/drinks fall in to…

Marmite
Wine
Greneche
Baileys
Sweetner
Crisps
Pot Noodle
Custard
Oat biscuits
Dumplings made with suet

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Jonni March 31, 2011 at 8:46 pm

The easiest way to do this is to look on the label. If it contains sugar, sucrose, fructose or corn syrup, consider it a simple carb. If it’s whole food, just as it came from the ground or the tree, it’s complex. Does that help?

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Jade April 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Yes thank you,

Just wondered where you get ur info from? Have you been on a course?

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Jonni April 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm

From my own experience and from reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m not an “expert” as it is usually defined.

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Thom April 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

This article is rubbish, no offense, but you said “your brain can only use carbs for energy”. WRONG! Your brain can also use FATS!

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Thom April 16, 2011 at 10:18 am

Maybe it was a bit harsh saying it’s rubbish but your info is wrong. “In fact, your brain can only use carbohydrates for energy.” – look up Ketosis.

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Jonni April 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Yes, of course you’re right. For those who aren’t familiar with no-carb diets or fasting, Ketosis is a process that is used by the body to keep the brain and other body cells alive in the absence of glucose. In the technical language on Wikipedia, “During prolonged fasting or starvation, acetyl-CoA in the liver is used to produce ketone bodies instead, leading to a state of ketosis.”

Diets that lead to ketosis are not really a subject for this blog, but if readers are interested, this might be a good place to start.

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Lorynn April 23, 2011 at 6:26 am

Wheat flour IS better for you than WHITE flour. IE: Wheat bread over white bread. However, wheat flour is still considered a sugar due to the way the body metabolizes it. I eat Ezekiel bread which is made from grains. Another name for it is “protein bread”. It contains 9/18 amino acids and is considered a protein equivilant to the Omega 3 egg. I am addicted to it. I toast it and dip it in a little olive oil. Yum!

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Jonni April 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Lorynn, do you bake your own bread? I’d like to try making some Ezekiel bread (your comment “sold” me on the idea – it sounds great.) I found a recipe online. The recipe include some spelt flour (which won’t be easy to find in my small town) and quite a lot of honey. Is this similar to the bread you recommend?

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Jonni April 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Wait – I just read a bit more, and some sites say that Ezekiel bread is made from sprouted grains, but the recipe I linked to in my first comment is just whole grains turned into flour with a home grain mill. That would be healthier than most store-bought bread, but now I’m confused. Can you tell me exactly what Ezekiel bread is, in your opinion?

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Jonni April 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I just found a better recipe, with great instructions. I’ll bake some as soon as I can gather all the grains together – it looks quite delicious.

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Julie May 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm

I’m not 100% sure this is what Lorynn is talking about, but I know that Trader Joe’s (and probably place like Whole Foods) sell Ezekiel bread. It’s made from sprouted grains.

Laura May 8, 2012 at 4:31 am

Lorynn,
WHOLE wheat flour is better than white flour. Both are made from wheat. I often find that breads that are labelled as “multi-grain” (rather than whole grain)will list “wheat flour” as one of the first ingredient. This is white flour. Whole wheat flour is listed as whole wheat flour — 5 letters, big difference.

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J.D. Pettit May 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I was recently told by my doctor to lose weight and lower my blood sugar. He gave me a diet plan booklet that says no more than 195 grams of carbs per day. I have found out that EVERYTHING seems high in carbs. Fruits, vegetables, and even the nuts that are recommended as ‘good fats’. Help! How do I balance this????

everything

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Jonni May 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Did your doctor give you a reason why he chose to put you on a low-carb diet? There are some very popular books on the market that give recipes and menus for low-carb diets, and many people swear by them. However, they do require some effort to get used to them. It might be easier for you to make the effort if you find out exactly why the doctor prescribed this diet.

Good luck with it.

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ginger June 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I am 59 years old. Four years ago after having diabeties, shots and pills and weighting 220 lbs, I had the gastric bypass. I weigh 104 pounds, no shots or pills for 4 years. I feel so much better and feel like I have added more quality years to my life. I have had a few gastric problems but nothing that I can not fix with my diet. You learn what to eat and what not to eat. My problem is that I can not eat rice or noodles of any kind. So I am eating mashed potatoes with cheese or baked potatoes. Is this a bad thing?
thank you
Ginger

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Angel June 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I recently was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I was lost about what to eat until I talked to a nuetritionist. She told me something even my doctor neglected to say. Pre diabetics can reverse the condition and never be diabetic if they take care then. If you dont you will become diabetic and once you are there you can control it and treat it but you will always have it. I was a pre diabetic and didnt understand this or how to cut back. I watched carbs and didnt know what was acceptible per meal. Now I know even though it is too late for me. 15 -20 grams is 1 serving. If that gets confusing stick to 15g is 1 serving. For breakfast I can have 3 servings or 45 g. For lunch 4 servings and dinner 4 servings. with a fist size piece of meat or a serving of protien…a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter. For snack I get 1 serving protien and 1 serving carb. I eat 1500-1600 calories a day and forget trying to balance all the different information that comes at me. Salads while they have carbs dont have enough to really count so I can have as much as I want while watching not too much dressings. In 1 month I have lost 27 pounds. I have a variety of health issues which makes exercise not possible for me. But for a diabetic exercise can also lower sugar levels in the blood.

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Jonni June 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Angel, you might like to take a look at the video about sugar that I posted on my home page. Anyone who is dealing with diabetes needs to see it – it really helps to see why some carbs are dangerous, and some are good for you.

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sayan June 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

thanks a lot for shairing this.

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music gear guy July 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Very informative article. It was only recently that I discovered the terms simple and complex carbs and I was wondering what they meant. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

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Ilana July 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Wonderful article, Jonni!
One question perhaps you can help me with. I read somewhere that wine, especially red, does not turn to fat. Is it true or its a myth? Thank you ahead of time.

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Jonni July 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I don’t have the answer to that, I’m afraid. There are several positive reasons to drink red wine, but part of Dr. Lustig’s lecture was all about how sugar turns to fat because it’s metabolized the same way as alcohol. I think the definitive answer would have to come from a scientist who specializes in metabolism. Does anyone know how to find the answer?

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Ernesto August 11, 2011 at 1:07 am

Can anyone tell me why is the word wheat in quotations under the Read the labels tab? I understand that we should stay away from white flour but I thought that we are supposed to eat wheat flour instead of white. Also, what are some ways that I could naturally increase my metabolism?
Thank you

Read the labels. If the label lists sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or “wheat” flour, they contain simple carbohydrates.

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Jonni August 11, 2011 at 2:11 am

I think that some labels use the term “wheat” to give the impression that their product is made from whole wheat, when it’s not. White flour is made from wheat, but all the nutrients have been removed. Whole wheat is much better.

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Esther August 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

Hi my name is Esther I am 23 5ft 3 and weigh 60′kg I don’t know what that is in pounds I avoid most simple carbs and haven’t had a soda in 6 months, I make smooties to avoid cravings is it healthy to weight that much beccause I am not losing any weight.

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Jonni August 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

According to the BMI calculator, you’re at a healthy weight.

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Kenny Bellew September 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm

This article is right in spirit but wrong in facts. Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex by the number of sugars in their molecules. Fruits are simple carbohydrates–not complex. They contain fructose, which is a monosaccharide, meaning it only has one sugar in its molecule. Complex carbs are composed bonds of three or more sugars. These type of carbs are called starches. White rice and white bread are complex carbohydrates and they increase the blood glucose levels much faster than any fruit, which is a simple carb. People are just repeating false information by mistake because it is everywhere.

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Jonni September 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Yes, I’m sure you’re right. I keep intending to rewrite this article, but never seem to find the time. One of these days…

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binny tutu October 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

My mother (who is in her late 80′s) was told by a doctor 4 or 5 years ago to go on the South Beach Diet to help her heart. She had great results, so I tried it ,too. I love it! It is not low-carb, but there are “phases” that restrict foods in order to wean you off sugars and simple carbs that spike blood sugar. It does reference the glycemic index, but goes further because it is heart-health conscious. By the time you are in phase 3 you can choose to eat almost anything because you have learned how to compensate. Truthfully, I have found there a lot of thingsI don’t want to eat any more- sugar and empty carbs are just not satisfying. I rarely eat pasta, either. I have my spaghetti sauce with broccoli. The only thing I cannot wrap my tastebuds around is low-fat cheese…YUCK! Like eating erasers! But, even with regular cheese, I find I am able to keep my weight at a nice consistent number. My cholesterol is fabulous and I I have lots of energy. My skin was never great and i have suffered with adult acne, but this way of eating has made a huge difference in the amount of breakouts I have too.

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Roxie March 1, 2012 at 3:35 am

I have had a yeast infection for sometime. My doctor cultured but didn’t isolate the specific type and determine proper medication. She prescribed fluconazole for 3 months. (One week a triple dose) This week a new doc tested and results will be in next week. In the mean time with a treatment of cream he suggested I eat a diet which will suppress the growth of yeast. There are so many diet suggestions out there. Some are opposites in content. Do you recommend a diet?
Roxie

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Jonni March 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hi Roxie. I’m not a doctor, but the best thing I can think of is to not eat things that yeast likes to eat. That would basically mean giving up sugar, anything sweetened with corn syrup, and white flour. People have told me that it helps. Good luck.

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abdourahman March 20, 2012 at 12:05 am

as a player which type of food is good for me to eat?

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Jonni March 20, 2012 at 12:13 am

I’m not quite sure I understand your question, but if you’re an athlete, the person to ask would be your coach, I think.

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Jade August 7, 2012 at 1:34 am

I have been on a strict diet since I was five because of chronically low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). They had different names for it back then, but basically all I’ve eaten for the last 50 years is high protein, high complex carbs, low simple sugars, and as I’ve got older, low cholesterol, low sodium, and low or no fat foods. And I eat six small meals a day (a meal the equivalent of half a sandwich). It has kept me healthy and my metabolism singing since I was 5, with few adjustments. And as the author says, it’s not hard to do. Just become a label reader. You might be surprised at how many foods that are not sweet actually contain high fructose corn syrup, and sugar. I can think of spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and many canned soups. I don’t buy things in cans, though. Much as it makes my budget cringe, I buy fresh fruits and vegetables all year, and make my own sauces. And there is a lovely brown rice pasta available in some health food stores that is much healthier than that white stuff, and you boil it for one minute and then take it off the heat, cover it, and leave it alone for 20, so it has the added benefit of being energy conserving, too!

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Jonni March 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Unfortunately, sugar substitutes have their own health problems, and I’m not sure they’ve been thoroughly tested for safety with younger kids. But, on the plus side, there’s a lot of really good books on nutrition and diet, by people who have far more professional knowledge than I do, so I’m sure she’ll find the info she needs. If nothing else, she could have a nice talk with her school nurse.

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Robert April 22, 2011 at 6:43 am

Hi Jonni, nice site here! I have recently decided to change my eating habits. I got a few tips from another blogger about his ideas for weight loss.

I work overnight as a security guard, and it’s so hard to eat properly, especially when I eat dinner after I wake up, a few hours before I go to work, and then I eat while at work too. I am 6ft 250# and I recently started working out to help with the weight loss.

Anyways, I started buying salad mixes and similar, and I was wondering what else I could make? (I get sick of salads real quick) I like to eat turkey wraps, so should I go to corn tortillas instead of flour, or is there a better alternative? I am assuming the turkey is fine to eat, since it’s a lean meat… What other suggestions do you have? What do you usually eat for lunches and dinners that you prepare yourself? I also started taking Chromium Picolinate 1000mcg and Niacin 500mg (both once a day) to help with weight loss.

Thanks in advance!

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Jonni April 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Hi Robert. I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t make specific recommendations for anyone, but I personally follow the guidelines in Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. It fits the way I like to eat, because I hate worrying about fat (she says the right kinds of fat, like butter, are good for you) and I can’t stand keeping track of calories. So, basically, I eat anything I want as long as it’s not made in a factory and as long as it doesn’t have sugar or corn syrup in it. Although white flour is made in a factory, I do sometimes cheat and throw some in the bowl when I’m making whole grain bread, just to get a better rise. I actually avoid “fat-free” products, because the 30-year long low-fat experiment has failed so miserably. But that’s just me – you’ll need to find your own way of eating that helps you stay healthy while satisfying your taste-buds.

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Robert April 23, 2011 at 7:12 am

Thanks for the Reply Jonni. I can’t stand to keep track of calories either, but I am slowly trying to cut my sugar intake at least in half, so I have been trying to keep track of that. I have learned a few things from watching Sugar: The Bitter truth, and I will definitely look into the book you recommend. I also hate corn syrup/HFCS, yet it’s very hard to find anything to eat or drink that does not contain HFCS, and I really try to stay away from diet drinks containing aspartame (which would be 99% of them.) I am just finding it quite difficult to do a 180 and change my eating habits altogether, but as I read through other peoples responses, I am seeing it might take a week or two to get used to it. Thanks for the website, it’s a great learning experience!

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Julie May 5, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Robert – You might want to try reading Ultrametabolism. It’s a great book by Dr. Hyman. For years he was the doctor and nutritional expert at Canyon Ranch (a healthy resort/spa in Massachusetts). Reading the book really helps understand why some things are bad for you, and exactly what their effects are. His information is very similar to what Jonni is saying about simple vs. complex carbs. Even if you don’t subscribe to what he says and suggests 100%, you can still get a lot out of it. And even though I’m not a health care professional, I have to say — drink water. Nothing else if you can help it. I know its not as exciting as soda, energy drinks, juice, etc. But those things are truly empty calories…you might as well have a candy bar. I gave up drinking anything but water (and one cup of coffee a day) years ago, and it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be!

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Robert June 15, 2011 at 1:45 am

Thanks Julie, I will definitely look into the book. I have to say, I tried cutting out soda, and for me, it’s been really hard, but I have cut back considerably. It really is addicting, probably like smoking I would assume (I’m a non smoker so I wouldn’t know) but like you said, sodas really are just empty calories!

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