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Examples of Simple and Complex Carbohydrates

Blog Image: Examples of Simple and Complex Carbohydrates

If you've ever tried to lose weight, then it's likely you're familiar to some degree with the term carbohydrates. And boy are there a lot of opinions on whether they are good for you, bad for you, help you gain weight, help you lose weight, and everything in between! At Metabolic Research Center we've found after more than 30 years of helping individuals lose weight (and keep it off) that carbohydrates can have a place in a health diet - whether you are actively trying to lose weight or maintain your weight where it is. 

While it is possible to lose weight (and often times very successfully and in large amounts) by completely eliminating carbohydrate intake, we've found that this approach to food is often not sustainable in the long run. Many individuals find that once they begin to add back in the carbohydrates, the weight comes back on (sometimes faster than it did before). And depending on how strict you are about carbohydrate intake, it can be very difficult to get enough nutrients and minerals found in many fruits & vegetables. For these two reasons, our approach to weight loss chooses to incorporate carbohydrates into a daily diet in amounts that will facilitate weight loss and long term weight maintenance. 

So, what are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are organic compounds in foods and drinks that the body stores until they're used as energy or broken down and converted to fat. When talking about carbohydrates, it's commonly accepted that there are two types: simple and complex. And, the type of carbs you are eating matters! Simple carbohydrates are more quickly converted to fat, while complex carbohydrates can help to make you feel fuller and boost your energy levels, helping you to lose weight. So, for those of you trying to lose weight, complex carbohydrates are going to be more useful to you. For those of you trying to maintain weight, you can consume either, but really want to consume simple carbohydrates in moderation and in much smaller quantities in order to avoid gaining unwanted fat and weight.

So, how's a gal (or guy) to know which is which? Metabolic Research Center offers a quick cheat sheet of the most common of both carb types that you'll be exposed to in your diets and daily lives:


Foods with Complex Carbohydrates:

  • Apples 
  • Artichokes 
  • Asparagus 
  • Bananas 
  • Beans - garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto
  • Berries -  blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, & strawberries
  • Black currents 
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels sprouts 
  • Buckwheat & buckwheat bread 
  • Cabbages, lettuces & spinach
  • Carrots 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celery 
  • Cucumbers & dill pickles 
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit 
  • Kiwis 
  • Lemons 
  • Lentils 
  • Low-fat yogurts 
  • Melons 
  • Multi-grain breads 
  • Muesli 
  • Oat bran bread & cereals 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Okra 
  • Onions 
  • Oranges 
  • Pears 
  • Potatoes 
  • Radishes 
  • Rice - brown & wild
  • Skim milk
  • Split peas 
  • Soybeans & soy milk 
  • Stone fruits - apricots (fresh & dried), cherries, lychees, peaches, plums, & prunes
  • Turnip greens 
  • Watercress 
  • Whole barley 
  • Whole meal breads, flours, & pastas 
  • Yams 
  • Zucchini

Foods with Simple Carbohydrates:

  • Baked goods (including bread) made with white flour
  • Cakes
  • Candy & candy bars 
  • Carbonated beverages 
  • Chocolate & fudge 
  • Cookies 
  • Corn syrup 
  • Fruit juices 
  • Fruit preserves & jams 
  • Honey 
  • Milk - 2% or regular varieties 
  • Most packaged cereals 
  • Pasta made with white flour 
  • Table sugar 
  • Full-fat yogurts

You've probably noticed some similarities in the lists above that will help you determine if foods not on the list might contain simple or complex carbohydrates. In general, foods that are whole, natural, and unprocessed typically fall into the complex carbohydrate family. Foods that are processed, made with white flour, or contain added sugars will typically fall into the simple carbohydrate family. Most practitioners agree that limiting your intake of simple carbohydrates and instead filling your carbohydrate intake with complex carbs is generally healthier for the body, weight loss, and long term health and wellness.

 Whether you're trying to lose weight for the very first time or you've started and stopped 100 times, Metabolic Research Center can help. With personalized programs that are tailored to your unique goals, health, dieting history, lifestyle, and more, MRC has a program and approach that can work for virtually every body! Click here to connect with a local MRC Team and Weight Loss Specialist today! We offer free consultations to learn more about our guided approach to safe, healthy, and long-term weight loss.


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