How do you determine if something is good carb or bad carb? Reason I ask is after a month of hardcore working out I realized my body has changed. While I was eating five meals a day with very low carbohydrate I find myself now in need of six - seven meals daily else I feel dizzy. I am ALOT leaner compare to pre-workout condition. I was told to intake more carbohydrate but I don't want to over do it. So, what's the best way to determine if food is good carb or bad carb?

I guess i should word it better. Ok let's say if i were to go into a grocery store today and shop for "good carb" food what would i be looking for and what's the most obvious way to look for them? Besides simply reading the label, which fresh produce usually don't have.

2 Answers 2


Typically a "good carb" indicates that the food has nutrients and is absorbed into the bloodstream slowly.

  • Whole: Fibers, husks, and other materials provide fiber (which limits an insulin spike) and vitamins. (e.g. Choose brown rice over white rice)
  • Unrefined: Refining processes typically remove nutrients. In addition, they tend to render foods such that they are absorbed faster. (e.g. Avoid regular white flour in favor of stone-ground, or better yet avoid flour altogether)
  • Complex: Natural foods containing "complex carbohydrates" instead of sugars or starches have fiber and other material that helps slow the absorption into the bloodstream (e.g. Choose beans over potatoes)
  • Low-Glycemic: The glycemic index (and the related glycemic load) is a measurement of how quickly foods are absorbed into the bloodstream. Low-glycemic is typically defined as foods with an index no higher than 30-50 (normalized against table sugar at 100).
  • awesome break down of carbohydrate.
    – KJYe.Name
    Mar 2, 2011 at 1:43
  • i also heard that basically anything that is not white is considered good carb? is this true?
    – KJYe.Name
    Mar 3, 2011 at 15:19
  • @kjy I don't know if would consider any of this some universal truth, but avoiding white foods is a good rule of thumb. (Healthy exceptions to this rule include cauliflower, eggs, and whole milk)
    – G__
    Mar 3, 2011 at 17:31
  • reminds me of a "theory" that a coworker of mine had that all healthy foods were brown. So therefore, if it is brown it is healthy. Triple chocolate fudge brownie with icing anyone? May 10, 2011 at 18:47

Generally, the difference between "good" and "bad" boils down to whether the carbs are "simple" or "complex." In more modern days, the glycemic index is also a good measure of "goodness"

  • very simple way to look at carbs, but is there a visual way to determine what is simple or complex?
    – KJYe.Name
    Mar 2, 2011 at 1:44
  • i also heard that basically anything that is not white is considered good carb? is this true?
    – KJYe.Name
    Mar 3, 2011 at 15:19
  • @kjy112 No. Not the color specifically. However, as a general rule, you could say that anything that can be turned in to a white carb can be considered bad (although that'll likely include some good carbs, while eliminating most/all bad carbs) i.e. Cauliflower is a good carb Apr 19, 2011 at 20:50

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