Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs Guide: Get to Know Carbs

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs – How Can We Know The Difference?

I’ve always struggled with this one. I grew up in an Italian family, where carbs were our main source of food (pasta + bread especially). I didn’t know what a “carb” was back then, I didn’t even really care to be honest.

Now I am all about being healthy. I have also slowly learned how to gauge how my body feels when I eat one thing vs when I eat another, and I now know what foods are technically bad for me! I can just feel it. If I feel bad/sick/bloated, I know it’s my fault from what I decided to eat that day. If I feel good/energetic/light I know that I am eating right!

Once YOU learn about the different types of carbs and what is good for you, and what is bad for you – you’ll be well on your way to good health and weight loss. It’s a learning process, but don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs - a healthy guide to carbohydrates

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs Guide

While some people advocate that you should avoid carbs at all costs because they can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity, others state that at least part of your calories should be from carbs. So, where do you stand? Which position is the right one?

Both sides present good arguments and the truth is, it depends on you. However, it’s important to note that there are different types of carbs and we’re here to guide you through good carbs vs bad carbs to help you understand the difference and help you make good eating choices throughout your life.

{{Reading food labels can be daunting, let us help you – read out guide to nutrition labels.}} 

What are carbohydrates?

Simply put, carbs are one of the 3 macronutrients required in a healthy diet, besides fats and proteins.

Carbs can be divided into 3 main categories: sugars, starches, and fiber. And as you can imagine, not all carbs are the same. You can have whole or refined carbs. Just take a look at the following example and you’ll easily understand the difference:

When someone speaks about having a healthy clean eating diet, this usually includes fruits and vegetables, which are whole carbs that include fiber. They are not processed in any way, so they are healthy carbs. These are good carbs for weight loss. On the other hand, you have fruit juices, for example. Despite the fact that the juice contains fruit, your carbs source isn’t natural because the fruit was processed. So, this is considered a refined carb.

Refined Carbs vs Whole Carbs and Your Health

There are many different studies that continuously show that the consumption of refined carbs can be associated with different health problems like type 2 diabetes and obesity. And this is simply because they usually cause the blood sugar to increase drastically. And when the blood sugar numbers come down, it usually triggers hunger for more high-carb foods.

On the other hand, other studies prove that whole carbs are good for your health and they are usually tied to a lower risk of disease as well as to an improved metabolic health.

One of the myths that have been around for many years is stating that carbs are the cause of obesity. However, they can actually reverse obesity, at least partly. And this is why we started by establishing a clear difference between good carbs vs bad carbs, between the whole carbs vs refined carbs.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs Grocery List

When it’s time to make your choices, just take the following lists to the grocery store with you. This will make sure that you only get the good carbs and not the bad carbs. Below the image is a list of good carbs and a list of bad carbs.


Feel free to use this infographic on your site, but please give Healthy Happy Smart credit since we designed this personally and own the image. Thank you. 

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs - healthy carbs vs unhealthy carbs. Helpful carbohydrate food list

Good Carbs:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Legumes like peas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.
  • Whole Grains like brown rice, quinoa, pure oats, etc.
  • Seeds like pumpkin or chia seeds
  • Tubers like sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc.
  • Nuts like walnuts, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, etc.

Bad Carbs:

  • Fruit Juices
  • Sugary Drinks like Pepsi or other soda or pop, Vitamin water, Coca-Cola, etc.
  • Cookies, pastries, and cakes
  • White bread or white crackers
  • Regular pasta
  • Chocolates and any other candy
  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt, or any other frozen sweet treat
  • Potato chips and French fries.

Keep in mind that everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for another. This post is for educational purposes only, seek the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional if you’re concerned about obesity or diabetes. The amount of carbs that your body needs simply depend on many factors like your age, gender, physical activity, personal preference, metabolic health, and food culture.

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