What is Good Carb and Bad Carbs for Keto?

what is good carb and bad carbs

You have to restrict your consumption of carbs when following the keto diet. But it’s worth noting that not all carbs are bad. In fact, carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. Because of this, some people are asking, “What is good carb and bad carbs?”

So, in this article, let’s find out more about carbohydrates and identify the so called bad carbs and good carbs.

What Are Carbs?

Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel. But not all carbs are the same. In fact, there are three types of carbohydrates. These include fiber, sugar, and starches.

Related reading: How Carbohydrates Contribute To Weight Gain

They are either “simple carbs” or “complex carbs,” depending on their chemical makeup and what your body can do with them.

Fiber comes from plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and grains. Meanwhile, sugar comes from natural and processed foods, such as fruits, pastries, etc. Sugar is also available in different froms like glucose, lactose, fructose, and maltose.

On the other hand, starches are found mainly in vegetables such as potatoes, lentils, corn, and peas. Grains such as barley, oats, and rice also contain starches.

Carbohydrates play an important role in the human body. For instance, glucose fuels our muscles and usually our brains. But, as you no doubt know, it can also get fuel from ketones which is what happens when you follow the keto diet.

Related reading: What Are Keto Diet Ketones?

Fiber is essential for your digestive system. It is not digested but helps to keep you regular. It’s important when you follow a keto or low carb diet to have enough fiber to prevent low carb contstipation. Fiber can also help lower inflammation and keep you feeling full preventing hunger pangs.

Related reading: How to Fix Low Carb Constipation

Good Carbs Vs. Bad Carbs

Again, not all carbs are the same. There are good carbs, also known as slow carbs, which benefit our health in many ways, and there are bad carbs that can be detrimental to our bodies.

Related reading: Are Slow Carbs Better Than Low Carbs for Weight Loss?

Some argue that we should not call foods or carbs “bad”. It’s true that certain foods don’t contain the nutrients your body needs for good health.

Different carb and foods have different nutrients so instead for calling them bad carbs it’s often better to think of them as carbs that won’t help keep you in ketosis or foods that that don’t provide you with the nutrients you need for good health.

Related reading: How Ketosis Works for Burning Fat Faster?

The good news is that it’s easy to identify what is good carb and “bad” carb.

Good Carbs

Complex carbohydrates are considered good carbs. They are the better choice since they will not take long for the body to digest. The glucose from complex carbs enters the bloodstream slowly. Therefore, you will have more stable energy for hours, unlike with a sugar high, which is usually followed by a sudden energy drop.

Another good thing about good carbs is that they are unprocessed. As a result, they often have plenty of natural fibers in them. Fiber is good for keto since it will not count towards the amount of carbs that can trigger an insulin response and prevent your body from entering the state of ketosis.

Related reading: Fiber on Keto – Why Is It So Important?

Whole grains contains more fiber than refined grain. In addition, these foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that are good for the body. They are however the carbs that are restricted on the keto diet as they are not low enough in carbs.

Some of the best examples of complex carbs are whole grains, lentils, quinoa, green peas, potatoes, black beans, brown rice, zucchini, and carrots.

Bad Carbs

Simple carbohydrates are considered bad carbs. They are called simple or refined because most nutrients have been removed. They also do not contain fiber.

These foods are highly processed to increase their shelf life and give them a more appealing taste. Also, during the processing of these foods, certain substances are added to them, which most people do not often use in cooking.

These additives can be detrimental to our health and the products often contain refined sugar and salt which food manufaurers find encourages people to crave and eat more of them.

Another thing about simple carbs is that these foods have empty calories, which means they do not have any nutrients. Some may have a small number of calories in them.

However, they only give you extra calories that your body doesn’t need, which is why you’ll end up gaining weight.

Some of the most common examples of bad carbs are white bread, regular pasta, pizza dough, white flour, white rice, pastries, soda drinks, table sugar, and chips.

Why We Should Avoid Bad Carbs

It should be clear by now what bad carbs and good carbs are. Whether you’re on the keto diet or not, it’s important that we avoid consuming bad carbs.

According to Charlotte Martin, MS, a registered dietician with a private practice,

“Sugars are considered simple because they are simple in structure, consisting of just one or two sugar molecules. Because of this simple structure, your body can break them down quickly. This quick breakdown also allows them to be absorbed quickly, which can lead to blood sugar spikes and can be dangerous for people with diabetes.”

As mentioned above, refined carbs have been stripped mostly of nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because of this, they are considered “empty calories.” Eating empty calories can result in blood sugar spikes and increased inflammation, leading to chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

Related reading: Do You Need to Count Calories on a Keto Diet?

Foods made of simple carbs tend to have a low amount of fiber. Diets with low fiber have been linked to an increased risk of diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, digestive problems, and colon cancer.

Related reading: How Does a Keto Diet Balance Blood Sugar?

Should You Completely Avoid Carbs?

It’s not possible to totally avoid carbs. In fact, carbohydrates play an essential role in our diet. Even if you’re following the keto diet, you can still eat some carbs but have to limit your consumption to less than 50 grams a day.

Related reading: No Carb Diet | Is it Good for You?

Related reading: 5 Amazing Health Benefits of a Keto Diet

The key is to focus on eating good carbs. And now that you know what is good carb and bad carbs, this should be simple.

If you’re not following any low carb diet, you still should avoid consuming simple carbs since it can put you at risk of various illnesses. But if you cannot avoid them, eat them before working out since they digest faster and can provide an instant boost of energy.

Related reading: Is Low Carb Healthy? Get The Answer Here

You can also eat simple carbs as a post-workout fuel, as this is when your body needs them the most.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, knowing what is good carb and bad carbs is pretty easy. If you’re following a low carb diet like keto, it’s best to get most of your carbs from whole foods.

These are complex carbs, which are healthier than simple carbs. They pack more fiber and nutrients, which are good for health. Even if you’re not on the keto diet, complex carbs can still be part of a healthy weight-loss eating plan.


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