What Color are Carbs?

What Color are Carbs?

What Color are Carbs?

When I say carbs, you say what? Typically, I hear things like “bread, pasta, potatoes” as a response. We’ve been conditioned (by BIG food) to think of carbohydrates as the white, simple kind. When in fact there are various types of carbohydrates. Some that will usually serve you well and others that will work against you. Let’s look at the four categories of carbs and identify the green one that always supports your health goals.  

Categorizing Carbs

As far as food categories go, there are macronutrients and micronutrients. The macronutrients include fat, protein and carbohydrates while micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. At an element level, carbs contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen… and that’s about as technical as I’m going to get here! The four categories of carbs include simple refined, simple unrefined, complex refined and complex unrefined. In a nutshell, the carb categories are all about how quickly they are digested, absorbed and converted to sugar.  

Simple Refined Carbohydrates 

Sugar is not necessarily thought of as a carb, but it is. Fruit juice, corn syrup and white sugar are a few examples of simple refined carbohydrates. These typically have little nutrient value for the body. Sugar, has been referred to as an anti-nutrient, and eight times more addictive than cocaine. Check out all the evidence on sugar’s detrimental effects in your body in the book Lick the Sugar Habit

Simple Unrefined Carbohydrates 

Foods in their whole, natural, unrefined form are also categorized as simple carbs. Examples of simple unrefined carbs are: fruit, raw honey and maple syrup. Are these foods “healthy”? They can be, sure! But key factors to remember are that nutrition is bio-individual for everyone. What’s healthy for you might not work for me. Depending on who is eating the fruit and how they are eating it (i.e. juicing 3 oranges for one drink) can still make your pancreas work too hard. Doing so frequently could dull insulin receptors and we don’t want that! It could lead to insulin resistance. This could potentially have a negative effect on health — that is why it’s so important to understand the signals your body is giving you. (Incidentally, you can do this by getting an assessment with someone like me.) 

Complex Refined Carbohydrates 

This is the go-to category that people typically think of when the word “carbs” is used. Complex, yet refined carbohydrates consist of things like bread, pasta and chips. Again, it’s not an either/or question of health or not, for the food alone. It’s more like the evil is in the processing. Some chips could be healthier than the rest, some breads and pasta too. BUT — and it’s a bit BUT — most of the bread, chips and pasta readily available to us in the modern day food system (in the U.S.), aren’t fit for human consumption. Don’t believe me? Watch What’s with Wheat and That Sugar Film, then refer to this list of documentaries to learn more about the modern day food supply.   

Complex Unrefined Carbohydrates 

I’ve saved the best for last! I like to say #carbsaregreen to help remind us that the veggies are the good kinds of carbs that we want in our diet. From squash to spinach, legumes like lentils and dried beans like chickpeas, you can eat as many complex, unrefined carbohydrates as you want without consequence! So chow down on the zucchini, sauté some spinach, and crunch on some carrots because eating raw or lightly-cooked vegetables is something we can all use more of in our daily diet.

Interested in understanding your body’s signals and raising your awareness around food? As a health coach, I can help! Contact me today here if you have any questions about how it works and what you can gain.  


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  1. Thank you for your wisdom and kindness to help me and others.

    • Thanks for the comment, Bob! I’m glad to assist 🙂

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