Are refined carbs really that bad?

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Are refined carbs really that bad: Processed carbs have their nutrients and fiber eliminated. These refined carbs could contribute to high blood sugar and overeating.

Not all carbs are the same.

Many whole foods that are high in carbs are extremely healthy and nutritious.

On the opposite hand, refined or easy carbs have had most of the nutrients and fiber eliminated.

Eating refined carbs is linked to drastically increased risk of many diseases, including weight problems, heart disease and kind 2 diabetes.

Almost every nutrition professional agrees that refined carbs should be limited.

However, they’re still the principal supply of dietary carbs in many countries.

This article explains what refined carbs are, and why they’re unhealthy on your health.

What Are Refined Carbs?

Refined carbs are also referred to as easy carbs or processed carbs.

There are two principal types:

  • Sugars: Refined and processed sugars, such as sucrose (desk sugar), high fructose corn syrup and agave syrup.
  • Refined grains: These are grains that have had the fibrous and nutritious parts eliminated. The greatest supply is white flour made from refined wheat.

Refined carbs have been stripped of nearly all fiber, vitamins and minerals. For this motive, they are often thought of as “empty” calories.

They are also digested quickly, and have a high glycemic index. This means that they result in fast spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.

Eating foods high on the glycemic index has been linked to overeating and increased risk of many diseases (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

Sadly, sugars and refined grains are a really large half of the whole carbohydrate intake in many countries (3Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

The principal dietary sources of refined carbs are white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals and added sugars.

They are also added to all types of processed foods.


Refined carbs include mostly sugars and processed grains. They are empty calories and result in fast spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Refined Grains Are Much Lower in Fiber and Micronutrients

Whole grains are very high in dietary fiber (6Trusted Source).

They consist of three principal parts (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source):

  1. Bran: The hard outer layer, containing fiber, minerals and antioxidants.
  2. Germ: The nutrient-rich core, containing carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds.
  3. Endosperm: The center layer, containing mostly carbs and small amounts of protein.
Are refined carbs really that bad

The bran and germ are essentially the most nutritious parts of whole grains.

They contain high amounts of many nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium.

During the refining course of, the bran and germ are eliminated, together with all of the nutrients they contain (9Trusted Source).

This leaves nearly no fiber, vitamins or minerals in the refined grains. The solely factor left is quickly digested starch with small amounts of protein.

That being said, some producers enrich their products with artificial vitamins to make up for some of the loss in nutrients.

Whether or not artificial vitamins are pretty much as good as pure vitamins has long been debated. However, most people will agree that getting your nutrients from whole foods is all the time the best alternative (10Trusted Source).

Diets high in refined carbs also are typically low in fiber. Low-fiber diets have been linked with an increased risk of diseases like heart disease, weight problems, kind 2 diabetes, colon most cancers and various digestive issues (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).


When grains are refined, nearly all of the fiber, vitamins and minerals are faraway from them. Some producers enrich their products with artificial vitamins after processing.

The Refining Process

A whole grain stays intact; it contains three parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran, the outer skin of a grain kernel, contains fiber, antioxidants and B vitamins. In distinction, the germ is the embryo of the grain. It can potentially sprout a brand new grain and is the place healthy fat, minerals, fiber and protein reside. Removing the bran and the germ is a course of that yields products like white bread and white rice.

Refined grains are often enriched with B vitamins and iron which can be lost during processing. But fiber and different minerals found in whole grains, like vitamin E, potassium and magnesium should not often added again in. However, this is not all the time the case. Some refined grains, like cereal, can be fortified with further vitamins and minerals. That’s why it’s also important to learn labels to know what nutrients you might be getting.

Preservatives and different ingredients could also be added to sophisticated grains to boost visible and taste attraction in addition to increase shelf life by stopping mildew and staleness.

Refined Carbs List

Here are some common examples of refined carbohydrates that you just may discover in your diet:

  1. White bread: Made from refined wheat flour, white bread lacks the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in whole grain alternate options.
  2. White rice: The refining course of removes the nutrient-rich bran and germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm.
  3. Sugary beverages: Soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks usually contain high amounts of refined sugar.
  4. Sweets and desserts: These treats are sometimes high in sugar and made from refined flour.
  5. Breakfast cereals: Many cereals are made from refined grains and contain added sugars.
  6. Chips and crackers: These snacks are sometimes made from refined grains and can contain added sugars.
  7. Instant noodles: These are sometimes made from refined wheat flour and contain little to no fiber.
  8. Processed foods: Many processed foods, like frozen meals and quick food, contain refined grains and sugars.

Many of these foods present reasonably priced and accessible nutrients, and fortified choices present important B-vitamins and iron.

It’s important to note that consuming these foods in moderation is unlikely to hurt your health, but they should not make up the majority of your diet. Try to swap them out for whole grain alternate options and foods with pure sugars, like fruits and vegetables, every time possible. And when you do select refined grains, try pairing them with a healthy fat, fiber, and/or protein supply to assist slow down the digestion course of, inflicting a extra gradual launch and absorption of glucose from carbohydrates. This helps to prevent the speedy blood sugar spikes and crashes related to consuming refined carbohydrates alone.

Andrews reminds us that “refined carbs, like white rice, are a staple in several cultures and should be enjoyed.”

Which Carbs Should You Opt For Instead?

Opting for advanced carbohydrates is mostly inspired to make up the majority of your diet. These carbs are slower to digest, present a gentle launch of energy, and are sometimes richer in nutrients. Here are some examples of advanced carbohydrates to include in your diet:

  1. Whole Grains: These include foods like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and whole grain bread or pasta. They’re a supply of fiber, B vitamins, and various minerals. The also could contain antioxidants.
  2. Fruits: Fresh fruits are filled with fiber, vitamins, and pure sugars. They’re an important selection for a nutritious, sweet snack.
  3. Vegetables: All vegetables contain some amount of carbohydrate. Leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, and different vegetables are a good way to get your carbs and heaps of useful nutrients.
  4. Legumes: Foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich in carbohydrates and are a supply of protein and fiber.
  5. Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and different tubers are glorious sources of advanced carbohydrates.

Remember, a balanced diet is key to maintaining good health. These carbohydrate-rich foods, mixed with a good mix of proteins and fat, can present all of the nutrients your body wants.

Food Alternatives to Consider

Nowadays, there are such a lot of whole-grain products available on the market. Look for products that show the 100% whole grain stamp or learn ingredient lists to verify that the primary ingredient is whole. If a product bears the 50% stamp, then no less than half of its grain ingredients are whole grain. It could take time to get accustomed to new flavors and textures, but try making one change at a time.

Here are some glorious swaps.

White breadWhole-grain bread (whole-wheat or multigrain)
White flour tortillasCorn tortillas
White riceWild rice or brown rice
White pastaWhole-wheat pasta, whole-grain pasta or pasta made from legumes like chickpeas and lentils
Sugar-sweetened cerealsOatmeal or cereal varieties made with whole grains
Pretzels and white crackersPopcorn, whole-grain crackers or nut-and-seed crackers

Refined Carbs Can Increase Your Blood Sugar

Diets high in sugar and low in fiber can cause some severe swings in your blood glucose levels. 

Simple carbohydrates act as a fast supply of energy on your body, that means you don’t need to work very hard to get energy from them. When you eat a sugary meal, the energy is launched pretty quickly into your bloodstream in the shape of glucose. Too much glucose, too usually can result in high blood glucose levels or poor blood sugar control. 

This can result in energy crashes, poor appetite controlsugar cravings, and mood swings (1,2). And is especially vital for anybody trying to manage their diabetes

Many people want to make use of the Glycemic Index (GI scale) to differentiate between advanced and easy carbohydrates, but this model is considerably flawed. 

The GI scale ranks carbohydrate foods based mostly on how they impact your blood sugar after eating them using a range of 0 to 100 (100 being the biggest impact on blood glucose) (3).

But in order to really perceive a food’s impact on blood sugar, you could contemplate how much glucose a food can deliver into the bloodstream in addition to how quickly. In different phrases, simply because a low-carb food might be absorbed quickly, does not imply it contains enough carbohydrates to spike blood sugar levels. 

Using glycemic load takes into consideration each and tends to be a stronger measurement of a carbs impact (4). 

Regardless, neither glycemic index or load contemplate your total diet. Eating a high GI/GL food in a mixed dish or now and again is probably going not going to result in uncontrolled blood sugar. Having a donut for breakfast goes to impact your energy levels much extra drastically than including a little honey to your oatmeal. 

Eating Too Many Refined Carbs Might Negatively Impact Your Health

High sugar intake is linked to weight gain, heart disease, and sort 2 diabetes (5,6,7,8,9,10,11).

Too much sugar in the diet can result in increased blood cholesterol, a risk issue for heart disease (12). Excess sugar intake is also related to high blood glucose and insulin resistance, which in flip might increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (13,14). 

Additionally, as a result of of the impacts on blood sugar and urge for food, many argue that refined carbs can result in overeating and weight gain. And they’ve been used in affiliation studies to demonize sugar because the cause of the weight problems epidemic. 

Refined Carb Foods to Avoid

Refined carb foods with a high glycemic index include the next:

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • White pasta
  • Pastries and baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and doughnuts
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Soda and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Candy and sweets
  • Snack foods, including chips, crackers and pretzels
  • Instant noodles
  • Processed and packaged foods: Many processed foods, such as frozen meals and canned soups, can contain refined carbs and added sugars.

Are carbs linked to the Glycaemic Index (GI)?

You could have heard of the Glycaemic Index in relation to carbohydrates.

The GI is a rating system for carbohydrates that’s based mostly on how quickly our our bodies convert them into glucose.

The GI ranges from 0 to 100, in keeping with how much the food raises your blood sugar level after you’ve eaten it, with 100 being equal to pure glucose.

Foods which have a high GI are quickly damaged down and was glucose by your body, which ends up in a spike in your blood sugar level.

They are often (but not all the time) refined carbohydrates, with low GI foods changing into glucose slower. They are usually advanced carbohydrates.


  • There are two totally different types of carbohydrates – refined carbs and advanced carbs
  • Within this are these three carbs – sugar, starch and fibre
  • Refined carbohydrates confer with sugars (e.g. glucose, fructose, sucrose) or something made from grains which have had the fibrous wheatgerm and bran eliminated

Refined Carbs Can Drive Overeating and Increase the Risk of Obesity

A large portion of the population has overweight or weight problems. Eating too many refined carbs could also be one of the principle culprits (14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).

Because they’re low in fiber and digested quickly, eating refined carbs can cause main swings in blood sugar levels. This can contribute to overeating (16Trusted Source).

This is as a result of foods high on the glycemic index promote short-term fullness, lasting about one hour. On the opposite hand, foods that are low on the glycemic index promote a sustained feeling of fullness, which lasts about two to 3 hours (2Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

Blood sugar levels drop about an hour or two after eating a meal high in refined carbs. This promotes hunger and stimulates parts of the brain related to reward and craving (18Trusted Source).

These indicators make you crave extra food, and are identified to cause overeating (16Trusted Source).

Long-term studies have also proven that eating refined carbs is linked with increased belly fat over the course of 5 years (19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).

Furthermore, refined carbs could cause inflammation in the body. Several consultants have speculated that this can be one of the first dietary causes of leptin resistance and weight problems (21Trusted Source22Trusted Source).


Refined carbs cause fast spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, and solely make you are feeling full for a short while. This is followed by a drop in blood sugar, hunger and cravings.

Refined Carbs May Increase the Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

Heart disease is extremely common, and presently the world’s greatest killer.

Type 2 diabetes is one other very common disease, affecting about 300 million people worldwide.

People with kind 2 diabetes have a high risk of developing heart disease (23Trusted Source24Trusted Source25Trusted Source).

Studies present that a high consumption of refined carbs is linked with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. These are some of the principle signs of kind 2 diabetes (14Trusted Source26Trusted Source27Trusted Source).

Refined carbs also increase blood triglyceride levels. This is a risk issue for each heart disease and kind 2 diabetes (28Trusted Source29Trusted Source30Trusted Source31Trusted Source).

One examine in Chinese adults confirmed that over 85% of the whole carbohydrate intake got here from refined carbs, primarily white rice and refined wheat products (32Trusted Source).

The examine also confirmed that people who ate essentially the most refined carbs have been two to 3 times extra more likely to get heart disease, compared to those that ate the least.


Refined carbs could increase blood triglycerides, blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance. All of these are main risk factors for heart disease and kind 2 diabetes.

Not All Carbs Are Bad

Eating lots of refined carbs can have many negative health results. However, not all carbs are unhealthy.

Some carbohydrate-rich, whole foods are extraordinarily healthy. These are nice sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and various helpful plant compounds.

Healthy carb-rich foods include vegetables, fruit, legumes, root vegetables and whole grains, such as oats and barley.

Unless you’re following a carb-restricted diet, there may be completely NO motive to keep away from these foods simply because they contain carbs.

Here is a listing of 12 high-carb foods that are incredibly healthy.


Whole foods that contain carbs are typically extremely healthy. These include vegetables, fruits, legumes, root vegetables and whole grains.

Take Home Message (Are refined carbs really that bad)

While refined carbs might taste so good, they don’t actually do much good for our body.

Unrefined carbs are by far the better of the 2, for therefore many causes, starting from digestive health, to fueling our our bodies with the energy it must operate healthily every day.

Yes, refined carbs may be loved, but it’s best to take pleasure in them in moderation, and fill your diet with unrefined carbs that still contain an abundance of pure goodness, which doesn’t simply include fibre, but vitamins, minerals and nutrients too.


  1. Instant Energy Boost: Refined carbs, like white bread or pasta, are speedy energy providers. They’re like the Flash of the food universe—quick to fuel you up when you need a pick-me-up.
  2. Yummy Factor: Let’s face it, they taste pretty darn good! Cakes, cookies, all those delicious treats fall under the refined carb umbrella. They’re like the rock stars of taste buds.
  3. Convenience Champ: They’re everywhere! Grab a slice of pizza or munch on some fries—they’re easy to find and harder to resist. Convenience level: expert!
  4. Soft Spot for Stomachs: Sometimes, when your tummy’s feeling off, refined carbs can be gentle on the gut. They’re like a cozy blanket for your stomach.
  5. Versatile Buddies: Refined carbs are versatile ingredients. They’re like chameleons in recipes—molding into everything from pastries to pancakes!


  1. Sugar Rush and Crash: They’re like that rollercoaster ride at the amusement park. Refined carbs give you a rush, but then, bam! You crash hard. Hello, sugar lows!
  2. Empty Calorie Trap: They’re kind of like that friend who talks a lot but doesn’t say much. Refined carbs pack in calories but lack the nutrients your body really craves.
  3. Snack Attack Sabotage: They’re sneaky little troublemakers! Refined carbs make you feel hungry again real quick. Before you know it, you’re reaching for more snacks.
  4. Mood Swing Masters: Picture this: feeling amazing one minute, and then suddenly feeling like a deflated balloon. Refined carbs can mess with your mood swings like a prankster.
  5. Not So Digestion-Friendly: Sadly, they aren’t best pals with your digestive system. Refined carbs might leave you feeling bloated and sluggish, not the best combo!

So, are refined carbs really that bad? Well, they’ve got their perks, but like a mischievous friend, they come with some downsides too. The key’s in the balance—enjoy them occasionally, but don’t let them take over the party!

People also ask:

How bad are refined carbs?

How bad are refined carbs

Refined carbs, the rebels of the food kingdom! They’re not exactly the evil masterminds, but they’re not angels either. These sneaky carbs, like white bread and sugary treats, hit you with a quick energy fix—like a speedster in a food race. But hold on to your snack bags! They’re also the culprits behind sugar crashes and hunger meltdowns. Think of them as the rollercoaster of snacks—fun at first, then a bumpy ride. They’re not pure evil, but they’ve got tricks up their sleeve. Moderation’s the secret code; enjoy them but don’t let them hijack your menu!

What is the healthiest carb to eat?

What is the healthiest carb to eat

The quest for the healthiest carb is like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow! Drumroll, please—enter whole grains! These champs, like oats and quinoa, are the superheroes of carbs. They’re packed with fiber, keeping your belly happy and digestion running smoother than a well-oiled machine. Think of them as the Avengers of nutrition—strong, reliable, and always saving the day. Plus, they’re like a marathon runner, releasing energy slowly, avoiding those pesky sugar crashes. So, if you’re looking for the carb with the most cape, these whole grains are your trusty sidekicks!

Which carbs are good which are bad?

Which carbs are good which are bad

Carbs, the food superheroes with a good and bad side! On the good team, we’ve got the whole grains—think oats, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. These are the noble knights of carbs, loaded with fiber and nutrients, keeping you strong like a food fortress. Then, cue the villain music for refined carbs—sugary snacks, white bread, and pastries. They’re like the tricksters at the party, giving you quick energy but leaving you crashed on the couch later. So, remember, the good carbs are the trusty pals, while the bad ones are the mischievous troublemakers. Choose wisely, and your taste buds and tummy will thank you!

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