Do you know how to tell the difference when you see a list of carbohydrate foods? It’s important to know the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates, especially when it comes to athletic performance.

It’s important to have a list of carbohydrate foods before going on a low or high carbohydrate diet or simple or complex carbohydrate diet. There is a huge difference between the two.

It’s best to break down carbohydrate foods into two categories. Simple and complex carbohydrates and low and high carbohydrate foods.


As a rule, simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and quickly enter the bloodstream.

This is often why when too many simple carbohydrates are consumed they will cause wild fluctuations in energy levels. Sometimes this is referred to as an energy crash.

This is a simple carbohydrate

Here is a list of simple carbohydrates that should be eaten in moderation and whenever possible eaten along with protein that will help slow the absorption into the bloodstream.

Cake, pie, cookies, muffins, donuts, puddings and most baked treats that are prepared with high amounts of sugar are high on the list.

Candy, chocolate, ice cream, and soft drinks are loaded with sugar. Even some so-called “energy drinks” can be full of sugar and it’s important to check the contents to make sure you know what is going into your body.

A list of carbohydrate foods should also contain some dairy products beyond ice cream. Yogurt has often been called a healthy food choice but that is not always the case.

Plain yogurt is excellent, but yogurt filled with sugar and fruit is nothing more than a simple carbohydrate.

Cream and exotic coffee additives are also full of sugar and are just another form of simple carbohydrate.

Even excessive amounts of fruit should be avoided because of the sugar content and many fruits like oranges, grapes and apples are bordering on simple carbohydrates.


As a rule complex carbohydrates take much longer to break down and to be assimilated into the bloodstream. Basically, this is one of the reasons they are called “complex” as opposed to “simple”.

Carbohydrates are necessary to ensure a well-balanced diet and complex carbohydrates should be high on the list and one of the first choices on the list of carbohydrate foods people consume on an everyday basis.

A complex carbohydrate-Honey whole wheat bread and buns

Whole wheat bread, brown rice, and pasta are tops on the list of complex carbohydrates. Whole grains are much better choices. So in other words, whole wheat bread is a better choice than white bread and brown rice is a better choice than white rice.

Even all pasta is not created equal. Most pasta is a great choice as a complex carbohydrate, but whenever possible make whole grain pasta or exotic pastas like rice pasta and spinach pasta tops on your list of carbohydrate foods.

Many people believe that potatoes are a great choice as a complex carbohydrate. They “are” if eaten in moderation, but potatoes are easily broken down and can enter the bloodstream quickly and even cause an insulin imbalance if eaten in large quantities without at least some protein to create a balance.

A much better choice would be yams or sweet potatoes that take longer for the body to assimilate.


There are many food choices available if one wants to eliminate or reduce the amount of carbohydrates they consume.

Low carbohydrate diets like the “Atkins Diet” for instance promote high levels of fat and protein in the food consumed.

For example most meats like beef, pork, chicken, and fish are low in carbohydrates.

The same can be said for eggs. That’s one of the reasons why the Atkins Diet suggests bacon and eggs, ham and eggs, or steak and eggs for breakfast.

However you won’t see toast and jam or hash brown potatoes anywhere in an Atkins breakfast plan.




Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!