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Understanding & Choosing Carbohydrates & Fiber

A mini carbohydrate and fiber crash course is in session!

Carbohydrates are classified as Simple and Complex

  • If you ever feel like you don’t understand the whole simple v. complex carbohydrate topic along with how fiber plays a role, then look no further. Let’s educate ourselves so that we can make better decisions when choosing our carb and fiber choices to accompany our protein and fats!

  • Let’s first focus on simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs give quick “bursts” of energy to the body because they break down faster. Simple carb food examples include raw sugars, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and juice concentrates. This might sound like we should avoid simple sugars at all costs, however, simple sugars are also found in fruits and milk. Therefore, making wise decisions about which simple carbohydrates we should consume is the best way to achieve a sustainable diet. Simple carbohydrates are also found in many sweet treats and cutting those out of our diets completely is unrealistic for many. Moderation is important when considering simple carbohydrates in the diet. Food is not inherently bad for us, but simple sugars have gotten a bad rep because of poor habits and fads around simple sugars. Eat your fruits!

  • Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, take longer to digest and breakdown, thus can leave us feeling fuller longer. Most of our carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates. Some common foods considered to be complex carbs include whole grains, potatoes, legumes, veggies, and oats. Because complex carbs take longer to break down, they give us lasting energy throughout the day. Like simple carbs, complex carbs also have gotten a bad rep, but our bodies need complex carbs, again focus on getting quality complex carbs into your diets. Our bodies and brains use both simple and complex carbs as energy sources to keep us functioning.

  • You could even classify carbohydrates further into monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides, however, it is not as important from a simple and general dietary standpoint. You can begin to ease into learning more about those different carbs as your goals and maybe your gut health becomes more specific! Dietary strategies such as FODMAPS get a little more specific with their guidelines and can aid in figuring out gut issues if diet related.


  • Fiber is a type of carbohydrate. The body cannot digest fiber but it aids in the digestion of other molecules and keeps blood sugar in check. There are 2 types of fiber: soluble & insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is dissolvable in water, while insoluble fiber is not. Soluble fiber examples include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils. Insoluble fiber examples whole grains, brown rice, legumes, carrots, and tomatoes.

  • Notice how fiber is found in many complex carbohydrate examples. By including a variety of complex carbohydrates in your diet you should be hitting good levels of fiber as well.

How much fiber should I consumer = 20 to 30 grams per day