Carbohydrates are the body’s fuel.

Carbohydrates are grouped into

  1. Simple sugars – usually come from refined sugar with no nutrients left in them like sugar used in baking.

  2. Starch – more complicated molecules in food which take longer to digest and are turned into simple sugars before absorption.

  3. Dietary fiber (only found in plants)- structural material of plant cell walls eg cellulose which our bodies cannot digest. Fiber slows down digestion of foods and maintains a healthy digestive system. This can lower bowel cancer risk as well as heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.


Complex- Simple

Foods with a combination of starch and fiber are called ‘complex carbohydrates’.

When ‘simple carbohydrates (simple sugars)’ are eaten they create a spike in blood glucose which is harmful for the body.


The measurement of how fast sugars are released in to the system is measured by the glycemic index (GI). Low GI foods are food which take longer to digest by slowly releasing sugars into the blood system. By keeping blood sugar levels more stable low GI foods are more healthy than high GI goods. Low GI foods keep you feeling satisfied for longer and lessen the demand on the body to produce large amounts of insulin, the hormone responsible for letting sugar (glucose) into the cells for energy.

Higher GI (worse) Lower GI (better)
Instant oat mix, rice bubbles, corn flakes, white bread Whole oat porridge, bran pellets, homemade museli, whole grain bread
Jasmine rice, dried noodles, polenta Basmati rice, brown rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat
Puffed crispbreads, water biscuits, sweet biscuits Whole grain crackers, biscuits made with whole oats or grains.
Coke, cordial, fruit juice with out pulp Tea, coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice
Rice noodles, udon noodles, couscous Durum wheat pasta

A huge advantage when on a plant based diet is the increased intake of fiber. Fiber can be thought of as a scrubbing brush cleaning the colon from the inside and helping the body eliminate toxins.


Tips for carbohydrates

  1. Complex carbohydrates are the bodies fuel and will keep you happy and satisfied for longer

  2. Avoid all simple (refined) sugar products eg white flour, white sugar, cordials, fizzy drinks, try a lower GI alternative.

  3. If you are eating a plant based diet you’ll be eating lots of fresh fruit and veges = fiber!!