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As of 2019, around 39% of adults worldwide are overweight. And at risk of developing a (serious) health condition.  This huge number has a lot to do with the negative effects of “bad” carbs.

And people simply eating enough good carbs. Because, no, not all carbs are created equal. For you to understand the differences between these carbs, you must first understand what carbohydrates are. And what role they play in your body.

What are carbohydrates, and what are their key functions?

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Carbohydrates are one of the three essential macronutrients along with proteins and fats. The primary function of carbohydrates is to supply your body with energy. But they also play an important role in the functioning of your cells, tissues, and organs.

Carbs are made out of sugars. And the different types of carbs can be identified based on how many sugar units are combined in one molecule. The single-unit sugars are known as “monosaccharides” and include:

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose

The double unit sugars are known as “disaccharides” and include:

  • Sucrose (table sugar)
  • Lactose (milk sugar)

What is the difference between “whole and “refined” carb?

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Whole carbs are unprocessed and still contain all of its nutrients, like fiber vitamins and minerals.

Refined carbs, on the other hand, have been processed and stripped from most of these nutrients. Because refined carbs have been processed, they are also digested more quickly than whole carbs.

What makes whole carbs “good” and refined carbs bad?

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Foods with refined carbs are generally bad for you because:

  • They cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. This causes you to crave more bad carbs, which can lead to overeating/binge-eating.
  • They have a high calory density, which means they contain a lot of calories relative to their weight. That’s why they don’t make you feel full, which can lead to eating too much.      
  • They’re very low in nutrients.
  • They’re low in Fiber.
  • They can be high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats.

Foods with whole carbs are good for you because:

  • They have a low calory density, which means they contain fewer calories relative to their weight. This means they satisfy your hunger quicker without eating too many calories.
  • They contain more essential nutrients.
  • They don’t contain refined sugars.
  • They’re low in sodium, saturated fats, cholesterol and contain zero dangerous trans fats.

What are the health risks of eating too many bad carbs?

Because of these keys differences, eating too many bad carbs puts you at risk of:

  • Developing depression[1]
  • Weight gain[2]
  • Heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide[3]
  • Type 2 diabetes[4]
  • Cancer[5]
  • Developing acne[6]
  • Energy crashes[7]
  • Aging faster
  • And many other health conditions

How you can make the right food choices?

Now that you know WHY eating too many bad carbs can put your health at risk.

You now need to know HOW you can avoid these carbs. One way is to choose a lot of foods that are low on the Glycemic Index (GI).

The GI indicates how much a specific type of food raises your blood sugar levels. You can find out how high a particular food is on the Glycemic Index here.

Also, you can reduce your sugar intake by making smarter choices:

  • Drink your coffee and tea without sugar
  • Avoid drinking sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juices entirely
  • Consume fruits instead of smoothies and fruit juices
  • Avoid eating cereals with over 5 grams of sugar per serving
  • Replace sugar-filled salad dressings with salad dressing based on
  • Avoid sweets
  • Eat more whole foods and less processed foods

Examples of foods that contain good carbs

  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Pure oats
  • Beans
  • Fresh fruits
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts like peanuts, walnuts macadamia nuts & hazelnuts
  • (Sweet) Potatoes
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Peas

Examples of foods that contain bad carbs

  • Cookies
  • White bread
  • Potato chips
  • Soda & Fruit juices
  • White crackers
  • Cake
  • Pizza
  • French fries
  • Ice cream
  • Pastries
  • Fruit juices

If you notice you’re having a hard time cutting out bad carbs from your diet, it’s worth the effort to keep a food diary. In a food diary, you keep track of what you eat each day.

This will give you a better understanding of your eating habits. And make it easier to make healthy choices.

The Bottom Line

Eating a small amount of “bad” carbs is not necessarily bad for you. But the problem is it can hard to stick to just a small amount. This is because bad carbs contain a lot of calories.

They don’t make you feel full. And worst of all: They make you crave more bad carbs. That’s why so many people are addicted to bad carbs. And why it plays such a big part in the obesity epidemic.