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The difference between good carbs and bad carbs in a low-carb diet

Ever since the low-carb, high-fat Atkins diet exploded onto the American scene, carbs have been labeled bad. Unfortunately, this is only a half-truth and has led to a lot of confusion among the public.

In fact, while some carbohydrates are bad, others are good and should be at the core of a healthy diet. But how can you tell the good carbs from the bad?

Before making that distinction, it’s important to understand that all carbohydrates, good and bad, are made up of various types of sugar, and that can be confusing. The key is how the sugar is packaged and presented to the body.

What is the difference between good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates?

The first distinction is that good carbs contain natural sugars like those found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Bad carbs, on the other hand, are the “added” sugars in processed foods and sodas, and they get dumped into your coffee or tea.

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A second distinction is that good carbohydrates are “complex,” meaning that the sugars are part of a more complex configuration that includes fiber that cannot be broken down in the human digestive system. This slows down the process and that’s a good thing because the sugars in good carbs enter the bloodstream slowly, in a “time release” form. This is important because a slow release of sugar dampens the insulin response. (When blood sugar enters cells and levels in the bloodstream drop, insulin drops as well.)

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