Simple carbs and complex carbs: What's the difference?

valentine lady
By valentine lady Latest Reply 2012-12-27 19:59:43 -0600
Started 2011-10-10 15:19:26 -0500

I have Type 2 diabetes and have just come to realize I really don't know the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs. Could my DC friends help me out as well as so many others who don't know the difference either?

21 replies

Lakeland 2012-12-27 19:59:43 -0600 Report

I was told to look at the fiber number in the carbs, the if the number is "4" or above the body takes a longer time to break down those carbs & blood sugars won't spike, so if your classes told you about carb counting they may have mentioned you can actually deduct the"4" from the carb count. for breads I use "sandwich thins" they are higher fiber & work well for me. I read labels & not what manuf put on the front package cover, it's amazing how many grams of whole grains they advertise & thoes should show up as a higher fiber number, but they don't so I just go by the fiber number on the back.

troublemaker27 2011-12-06 15:43:29 -0600 Report

well i eat healthy foods now instead of junk food-yuck.
i do my blood sugar at night i hope there's a cure for diabetes we don't want people to die this year or in the future.
so long

valentine lady
valentine lady 2011-12-06 17:48:16 -0600 Report

Troublemaker: Thanks for the response. I am glad to hear that you are now eating healthy. That's important…as for a cure for diabetes, their working on it, but as far as I know they're not close yet, to a cure that is. If you know
anything concerning a cure, please share. Since your eating healthy I suggest that you read the next thread by Gabby. She explains complex carbs and simple carbs. Really quite interesting. Valentine Lady

troublemaker27 2011-12-07 10:54:36 -0600 Report

hello valentine so how are you? i'm good for breakfast i had a bowl of cereal and a cup of joe-coffee.
so are you a coffee fan or a espresso drink?
i mean do you drink coffee?
well thanks for replying i have a meeting wish me good luck bye and happy christmas

GabbyPA 2011-10-10 19:10:47 -0500 Report

I was trying to find the discussion I posted this in the other day, but it escapes me so here is how I have been taught to tell them apart. All carbs are not created equal and you will find the ones that work best for you.

Simple carbs are ones that have already been processed or refined. They are already broken down into a more easily absorbed form and thus they tend to raise your glucose levels quickly. Your body doesn't have to do any of the work. Things such as refined flours, white sugars, milk, candy without fat, and juices fall into this category.

Complex carbs are those that are whole or less processed. Your body has to work harder on these and thus your rise in glucose is slower and often not as high. A complex carb with have fiber, fat or protein attached to it to help make your body work harder. Things such as beans which are high carb, but also have fiber and protein in them are a great example. That is why they work better for us. That is why whole grains, brown rice, whole fruits and even dark chocolate are better for us. There are other things in there that are harder for the body to convert into energy or glucose.

This is important to know specially if you are having a low episode. I have heard people say they ate chocolate to help with a low. That is not the right thing to bring up sugar fast. You need a simple carb, such as fruit juice or even a packet of table sugar to do that.

Same if you are running high. Eating a zero carb food (or near zero) such as cucumbers and drinking plain water can help.

troublemaker27 2011-12-07 10:57:00 -0600 Report

thank you gabby i'm well just trying to lose weight but i'm not on any diet i weight 159 pounds so what's up?
getting ready for christmas?
i am but i'm not done yet i still have more shopping to do.
again here's a question for you.
do you drink coffee?
i love that stuff much as i like 80's music

GabbyPA 2011-12-07 21:34:48 -0600 Report

My shopping is done! Now if I can stay out of the stores and avoid those impulse purchases, I will be fine. LOL
Coffee, yes I do drink on occasion. I drink decaf. But I really have pretty much cut it out along with sodas. I try to stick to water or decaf unsweet teas.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2011-12-06 17:53:04 -0600 Report

Gabby; Again you came through for me and hopefully others that didn't know the differance either. I understand completely now…Thanks…Valentine Lady

lanykins 2011-10-11 19:58:15 -0500 Report

I tend to get low blood sugars a lot. I used to end up in the ER from them, sometimes not even knowing my own name. Now I am getting better at knowing when my BG is low and responding. I'm not sure I'm handling it right but I always keep orange juince in the fridge and I drink some of that. I have been told I need protein too so I eat a couple of Tb of peanut butter to get that. That might not be the right protein but I can tell you that if I rest for 20 min. after eating all that I feel and test my BG much better.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2011-10-12 10:44:19 -0500 Report

I had the same problem as you and through the help of the members of DC, I learned how to control it much better. The Oj and peanutbutter is good. But better to have snacks around the time you know your sugar drops. As an example, mine would drop around lunch (once at night while I slept, but I woke up in tme, it was 20) so it was suggested I eat a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit arounf 11:00am. I has been working on changing my eating habits for my BS sake as well as to not hsve BS drops. I had to have surgery on my pancress for a cyst removal and I thought that fixed the trick. But alas I was wrong. I was forced to change up spme things. You didn't say what type of diabetes you have. I'm type 2, my A1C used to be 9 now, as of this week I'm 5.4. Hope we can be friends…Valentine Lady

lanykins 2011-10-14 11:20:40 -0500 Report

I'm a type 2 diabetic and my A1C is now 7.5. It did go down to 6.8 but my doctor has assured me that this is not much of a rise and I'm doing well. Lately, my BS are running from 68 to 180 in a day. But the last few days, even when they are in the 90s I have been feeling like my blood sugar is very low. I sweat, tremble and am exhausted. This may be because I am very anxious about my mother coming 3,000 miles to visit me next week, I haven't seen her in 2 years. We have a rocky relationship. Anyway, yesterday I bought some unsalted almonds and some raisins so I will try those as snacks before lunch and dinner. At bedtime I need a little peanut butter on 2 crackers to keep my BS up during the night. I take a big insulin shot at bedtime so I need the help. I am praying that after my mother leaves my body will start feeling like my BS. I shouldn't be feeling like they are in the 40s or lower. I'll keep staying on my regular diet since I don't want my nerves to fool my body into eating more!

Jeanae 2011-12-07 08:48:14 -0600 Report

I just attended a class taught by an endocrinologist. He said stress can absolutley affect your bs. He also said though that if you keep treating yourself for low blood sugar (like in the 90's) your body will reset its gage which is a bad thng. He said instead of eating or drinking anything, do some deep breathing, sit down, relax, meditate,… good luck. I had a very rocky relationship with my Mom. Fortunately we decided to agree to disagree and to accept that we both had flaws and love each other anyway. I am so glad we did because she passed away last year. I am so thankful that we had so many positive memories and conversations in between that time. I will pray that your visit goes smoothly. But don't let your nerves or your Mom affect you negatively. Don't give her that power.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2011-10-14 16:22:42 -0500 Report

I'm not so sure that your nerves can affect your BS that drastically. I know when I've been upset my BS does show some differance, but not that differant. I would absoluetly go see my Dr. ASAP. Something could be real wrong, and wouldn't you want to get it fixed before your Mother comes for the visit !?!? Sorry I couldn't be more help. Valentine Lady

Type1Lou 2011-10-10 16:12:54 -0500 Report

Here's how Gary Scheiner explains carbs in his book "How To Think Like A Pancreas" "Carbohydrates include simple sugars like glucose, sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), and lactose (milk sugar) as well as complex carbohydrates better known as "starch." Think of simple sugars as individual railroad cars, and starch as a whole bunch of cars linked together to make a train. Most starches are composed of many glucose molecules linked together."
He goes on to say that simple carbs include fruit and juices, regular soda, candy, cookies, cake, milk, honey, syrup, jelly, ice cream, frozen yogurt. Complex carbs include potatoes, rice, pasta/noodles, cereal, oatmeal, bread, bagels, crackers, tortillas, pancakes, beans, corn, beer.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2011-10-10 18:19:59 -0500 Report

Type1Lou: you certainly opened my eyes. I even said outloud, "Oh no" when I read it I plan to buy that book, thank you so much…Valentine Lady

2011-10-10 16:38:45 -0500 Report

I know Lou that as diabetics we should all try and avoid alcoholic beverages but when I read your pst on simple & complex carbs I knew what you were saying is the truth but it is so sad when I came upon the final word of your post. "beer" I enjoy it on a scorching hot day. I don't indulge in it (not even if there's a full blue moon!) but it did sound good. Can't even consume it w/the meds that I'm on. :(

Type1Lou 2011-10-11 05:55:19 -0500 Report

Dear Lisa, I'm not much of a beer drinker although I did enjoy one with ice on a really hot day. I used to have a glass of dry red wine with dinner several times a week but because of several severe low blood sugar episodes, I've cut out the wine too. Alcohol can make your blood sugar both rise and drop…because I coudln't predict it's effect on me, it's easier to avoid it…but I do miss it.

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