Fast and Slow Carbohydrates

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Do you know the difference between fast and slow carbohydrates? As an athlete or anyone who is interested in physical fitness you probably should. Here are some quick facts:

Basically fast carbs are those carbohydrates that are processed quickly and tend to be lower in fiber and higher in calories than slow carbohydrates. Fast carbs are typically simple carbohydrates which contain a single sugar molecule. Some examples of fast carbohydrate foods are white bread, chips, soda and candy. Yes those are all “junk” foods but don’t forget, fruit is a simple carbohydrate also, but fruit is also rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals which may lead some to believe it is a slow carb. However, fruits are high on the glycemic index therefore they are considered fast carbs. There are always exceptions to rules, some complex carbs, such as potatoes, are considered “fast” because the starch causes a spike in blood sugar. There are times when fast carbs are desirable, such as low blood sugar levels, or after high-intensity exercise, when glucose is needed for muscles, cells and organs quickly.

Slow carbohydrates on the other hand take longer to absorb, keeping you full for a longer period of time without flooding the bloodstream with glucose. It is believed that the body will utilize more stored fat when eating slow carbs since less glucose is available within your system. Slow carbs are typically complex sugar molecules containing fiber, vitamins and minerals. These carbs take longer to digest and prevent a rush of glucose immediately after a meal. Some examples of these carbs include, black beans, soy beans, skim milk, lean protein, cottage cheese and non-starchy vegetables. Got all that? So, if there’s anything that you should walk away from this with, its slow carbs BEFORE your workout or competition and fast carbs AFTER. Stay tuned to Snake Pit U.S.A. for more interesting nutrition facts!

Yours in fitness,
Coach Bane


  • “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; The Glycemic Index Concept in Action; Helen L. Mitchell; January 2008
  • “Physiology of Sport and Exercise”; Jack H. Wilmore; 2008

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