The good, the bad, and the undigested carbohydrates

By Ea Francisco | Photo by Daria Nepriakhina/Unsplash

Probably everybody’s heard of low-carb diets these days. But just like fat and protein, people can be easily misinformed about carbs. Carbs are one of those food groups often accused of being the reason for weight gain, but in reality they’re not all bad.

Carbohydrates are one of the primary energy-giving macronutrients. It’s the main and first source of energy, accounting for about 45 to 60 percent of energy intake. Since carbs are used up before protein, it also helps prevent your body from eating its own muscles. Like other food groups, carbohydrates is an umbrella term that can be further divided into three types.

Simple Carbohydrates

Also known as ‘simple sugars,’ simple carbohydrates contain either one (monosaccharides) or two (disaccharides) units of sugar. These should be limited as it can be easily broken down by the body and quickly spike your blood sugar. These can occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products or produced commercially as ‘added sugars’ to sweeten foods. Natural sugars like fructose from fruits and lactose from milk aren’t as bad and comes in small doses, though the sugar that should be avoided are the ones in processed food like candy and soft drinks. These give you easy access to sugar and should only be consumed when you’re active and need the rush of energy.

Complex Carbohydrates

These are sugars too, but it’s made up of more complex chains and is also known as starch. It gives you a more steady blood sugar level throughout the day because these carbs are broken down slowly. Refined starches such as cakes and white bread also fall under complex carbs. These have had their nutritional value stripped off and are considered empty calories. Starchy vegetables like legumes and whole-wheat products are better sources of complex carbs that still contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.


This kind of carb falls under complex carbs but unlike starch, it cannot be digested. These kinds of food just pass through our digestive system but in the process, it cleans the colon and helps maintain healthy bowel movement. Also, many foods that are rich in fiber have low calorie count. Vegetables, oats, and cereals are common food sources of fiber.

If you’re thinking of cutting off more, you have to understand what you’re going to lose. There’s a reason why your body needs so much carbohydrates, so maybe reconsider before completely taking it out of your system. You might find that you’ll lose more than just your weight.