Complex Carbs vs Simple Carbs for Bodybuilding
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Complex Carbs vs Simple Carbs for Bodybuilding, which is better?

Quick Answer

Complex carbs are generally considered to be better for bodybuilding as they provide sustained energy and provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Simple carbs, on the other hand, provide a quick burst of energy but lack essential nutrients.

Complex carbs vs simple carbs for bodybuilding

Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that plays an important role in bodybuilding nutrition. They provide a fuel source for the body to use for energy and can help with muscle growth and recovery. Complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates are two types of carbohydrates that have different benefits for bodybuilders. This article will discuss complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates, and the importance of both types of carbohydrates in bodybuilding nutrition.

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient found in food that the body uses for energy. They are commonly divided into two types: complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are made up of multiple chains of sugars and are broken down slowly, providing a steady release of energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and potatoes.

Simple carbohydrates are made up of single, or fewer, chains of sugars and are broken down quickly, providing a more immediate, though short-lived, energy source. Examples of simple carbohydrates include honey, candy, and other sweet treats.

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for bodybuilders, as they provide the body with the fuel it needs to perform intense workouts and build muscle. While simple carbohydrates can provide an immediate energy source, they do not help provide sustained energy, which is important for long-term performance. 

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are broken down slowly and can provide sustained energy, making them a more beneficial choice for bodybuilders. Additionally, complex carbohydrates are a source of dietary fiber, which is important for digestion and overall health. For these reasons, complex carbohydrates are a better choice for bodybuilding nutrition than simple carbohydrates.

Complex Carbohydrates

Nutritional properties of complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are a type of carbohydrate consisting of three or more molecules of sugar bonded together. These carbohydrates are typically found in plant-based food sources and are made up of starch and fiber. Complex carbohydrates provide energy and contain important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are essential for health and performance. 

The key nutritional properties of complex carbohydrates are that they are high in essential vitamins and minerals, providing essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium, and iron. Additionally, these carbohydrates are low in fat and cholesterol, and have a low glycemic index, meaning they are gradually released into the bloodstream, helping to maintain energy levels. 

The fiber content of complex carbohydrates is especially important for bodybuilding and physical fitness. Dietary fiber is essential for digestion and can help regulate the absorption of nutrients, including carbohydrates, in the body. Furthermore, fiber helps to reduce cravings, improve digestion, and aid in weight loss.  

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Examples of complex carbohydrates

There are many sources of complex carbohydrates that can be included in a bodybuilding diet. These include a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, and dairy products. 

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates and provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits and vegetables that are especially high in complex carbohydrates include apples, oranges, berries, melons, bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, kale, and broccoli. 

Grains and legumes are also important sources of complex carbohydrates and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whole grains such as quinoa, barley, oats, and brown rice are especially high in complex carbohydrates and can be included in a healthy diet for bodybuilding. Common legumes that are high in complex carbohydrates include beans, lentils, and peas. 

Nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of complex carbohydrates and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and seeds are especially high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and can be eaten as snacks or added to salads, yogurts, or other dishes. 

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are also important sources of complex carbohydrates. These dairy products provide important vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin D.

Benefits of complex carbohydrates for bodybuilding

Complex carbohydrates are essential for any bodybuilding diet and provide numerous health and performance benefits

Increase energy

Complex carbohydrates provide energy to fuel workouts and help to maintain energy levels throughout the day. The fiber content of complex carbohydrates helps to regulate the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, providing a steady flow of energy to the body. 

Improve endurance

Complex carbohydrates are also essential for improved endurance and performance. The slow-release energy provided by complex carbohydrates ensures that the body has a steady supply of energy to fuel workouts and physical activities. 

Rapidly reduce hunger

The fiber content of complex carbohydrates helps to reduce hunger and cravings, making it easier to stay on track with bodybuilding nutrition. Complex carbohydrates also provide important nutrients and vitamins, ensuring that the body is getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and perform at its best.

Simple Carbohydrates

Nutritional properties of simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates, also known as monosaccharides and disaccharides, are the most basic form of carbohydrates and are composed of one or two simple sugar molecules. They are found in many foods, such as fruits, dairy, honey, and some grains. Simple carbohydrates are quickly digested by the body and enter the bloodstream as glucose, which is used as a primary source of energy. The most common forms of simple carbohydrates are glucose, fructose, and sucrose.

Examples of simple carbohydrates

Common examples of simple carbohydrates include table sugar, honey, syrup, molasses, agave nectar, maple syrup, fruit juice, soft drinks, and other sweets. These are found in both processed and unprocessed forms.

Benefits of simple carbohydrates for bodybuilding

Simple carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy and can help increase muscle glycogen, which is the stored form of energy used during exercise. This can help bodybuilders maximize their performance and recovery.

Simple carbohydrates can be especially beneficial post-workout when the body needs a quick source of energy to replenish its depleted glycogen stores.

Additionally, simple carbohydrates can help promote muscle growth by helping to spike insulin levels, which are necessary for the body to build muscle.

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Common Sources 

Common sources of complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are important in bodybuilding nutrition as they provide a slow, sustained release of energy, which can be beneficial during workouts. Complex carbohydrates can be found in a variety of whole-grain foods, such as oatmeal, quinoa, bulgur, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. Beans, lentils, and legumes are also good sources of complex carbs. Other sources of complex carbs include fruits, vegetables, and some dairy products, such as milk and yogurt.

Common sources of simple carbohydrates 

Simple carbohydrates, while not as beneficial in bodybuilding as complex carbohydrates, can still be part of a balanced diet. Simple carbohydrates can be found in foods such as white bread, and white rice, and sugary foods such as candy and cake. Other sources of simple carbs include honey, syrups, and some fruits. Simple carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation and should not be the main source of energy for bodybuilding nutrition.


Drawbacks of complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are the main source of energy for most bodybuilders, but they can also have drawbacks.

Slow digestion

Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates, which can hurt performance. This is especially true for high-intensity exercise, as the body cannot process and utilize the energy from complex carbohydrates quickly enough.

High calorie and fat content

Complex carbohydrates are usually high in calories and fat. This can lead to weight gain and can be especially problematic for bodybuilders who focus on maintaining a low body fat percentage. Furthermore, some complex carbohydrates are processed and refined, making them unhealthy and reducing their nutritional value.

Lower Nutrient Content

Because complex carbohydrates are usually processed, they often lack essential vitamins and minerals. This can lead to a deficiency in important nutrients and make it difficult to meet nutritional goals.

Drawbacks of simple carbohydrates

High risk of weight gain

Simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and absorbed, resulting in a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This increases the body’s insulin production, which in turn promotes the storage of excess calories as fat. Regular consumption of simple carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, as well as insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Low nutritional value 

Simple carbohydrates are usually low in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Processed and refined carbohydrates, such as white sugar and white flour, provide little nutritional value and are generally empty calories. Furthermore, because simple carbohydrates are quickly absorbed, they do not provide much in the way of satiation. Eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates can lead to feelings of hunger and cravings for more food.


Both complex and simple carbohydrates are important parts of bodybuilding nutrition. Complex carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for bodybuilders because they provide sustained energy and are generally healthier than simple carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are generally not recommended for bodybuilders as a primary source of energy, as they can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and lead to fat storage. However, simple carbohydrates can be beneficial for bodybuilders when used as a quick source of energy in the form of pre-workout snacks. Ultimately, bodybuilders need to experiment with different sources of carbohydrates to determine which works best for their bodybuilding goals.

Walter Nedum

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