A Guide to ‘Good’ & ‘Bad’ Carbs

Carbs are misunderstood — even blacklisted as the worst food you can ever eat if you want to lose weight. Paleo dieters go as far as believing we should eliminate all grain carbs from our diet completely. Yes, there are “bad” carbs, but the truth is there are “good” carbs too.

Carbohydrates are in unhealthy and healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, bread, beans, potatoes, nuts, seeds, cakes, pies, cookies, pasta, popcorn, soft drinks, and grains. Reading that list, you can probably already see which carbs are healthy and which ones are not. You can enjoy carbs, as long as you choose them carefully.

Both fruit and chocolate muffin have simple sugars  but in different quantities and with different other nutrients.

Both fruit and chocolate muffins have simple sugars, but in different quantities, and with different nutrients.

Your Body Needs “Good” Carbs!

Your brain, nervous system and muscles require about 60-65 percent carbohydrates to keep them nourished. The predominant carbohydrate used in the body is glucose. Glucose in the blood is called blood sugar and is a major fuel source for most cells of the body.

Our muscles and brain need good carbs for fuel. The brain relies on glucose to be fully alert. When there is an inadequate supply of carbohydrates, the body will go into starvation mode and to fuel the brain during starvation, glucose is synthesized from amino acids obtained by the breakdown of muscles. Thus we lose muscle and gain pounds.

What are “Good” Carbs?

They are complex carbohydrates full of dietary starch, often rich in fiber. They have less sugar molecules, so they’re lower on the glycemic index and take longer to digest.

• Unprocessed whole food filled with health giving vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
• High in fiber
• Help boost metabolism.
• Very filling so you stay full longer

good carbs vs bad carbs

Good “Carb” Foods

1. Vegetables are at the top of the list, especially greens like kale or dark, leafy lettuce.
2. Beans such as garbanzo beans, black beans, mung beans, lentils and kidney beans.
3. Seeds including as sunflower, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
4. Nuts. The best are: pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and peanuts.
5. Fruits, although high in fructose, are full of fiber so they take longer to digest. They’re full of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, making them a better alternative to refined sweets. Limit bananas and dried fruit.
6. Whole grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, whole grain bread & pasta, multi-grain cereal and bread, and oatmeal. It’s beneficial to eat whole grain carbs for a healthy heart according to research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

What are “Bad” Carbs?

They are simple carbohydrates made of only one or two sugar molecules. They digest rapidly, thus are a quick source of energy.
• Highly refined foods that are high in glucose, scoring high on the glycemic index.
• Low in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
• Low in fiber.
• Empty calories that turn into fat.
• Eating too many “bad” carbs is more than simply a weight gaining process they can cause diabetes and heart disease.

“Bad” Carbs Foods

1. All sugars (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.) are the highest scoring on the glycemic index.
2. Candy, chocolate bars and any sweet made with sugar.
3. Cakes, cookies, and pies especially those made with refined carbohydrates but even those made with the healthier sugars.
4. White bread & pasta.
5. White rice.
6. Bottled and canned fruits and juices.
7. Soda.

Bad carbs are high calorie foods with very little to no nutrition in them.


This delicious apple cake has no white sugar and is made with healthy ingredients.

Good Carb Recipes: 

How To Cook Quinoa: If you’re going to enjoy good carbs, quinoa should be on the top of your list. Learn how to cook it properly. Training video included.

Apple Cake: It’s hard to believe this gluten-free cake is also sugar-free.

Every recipe at Real Food For Life is made with good carbs.  You can receive a super healthy recipe in your email inbox once a week by subscribing to our newsletter. All recipes are not only healthy carbs, but also gluten free and dairy free.


Past Member
Past Member 8 months ago

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Kelly S
Past Member about a year ago


Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago


Sonia M
Sonia Mabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

Vanessa Hartmann
Vanessa Hartmann3 years ago

The challenge is to take in just the right amount of carbs at just the right times. I don't remember all the different low-carb diets and weight loss efforts I made over the years, but usually, my weight loss attempts did not last long. It was a nightmare to me. I just love carbs and can't imagine living without them. For me, the key to success was to alternate higher carbohydrate days and lower carbohydrate days. This promote fat loss by tricking your body into burning fat for fuel instead of the sugar from the carbs it would normally get (more about carb cycling: http://everydayhealthhero.com/can-carb-cycling-help-you-lose-weight). Been using this method since late January and this really do help!. Have lost 16 lbs and it's the only diet I've ever been on that made me feel full and kept me from being hungry.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago


Angela K.
Angela K4 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you

Zahra I.
Zahra I4 years ago

Thank you for the article!