What’s the Difference Between Fast and Slow Digesting Carbs?

Carbs get a lot of bad press these days. With low-carb and keto diets on the rise, carbs have become synonymous with something that you want to stay away from at all costs, tempting though they may be. 

However, there are more than one kind of carb, and not all are created equally. You may want to think twice about cutting carbs entirely, especially if you want to work out and gain muscle mass. 

What are Carbs?

Carbs are macronutrients that are composed of fiber, sugar, and starch. They provide glucose, which fuels energy throughout the day. 

Fast and Slow-Digesting Carbs

There are two primary types of carbs: fast and slow-digesting. They are also known as simple and complex carbs. Fast-digesting carbs move through your system and put glucose into your blood much faster, while slow-digesting carbs slowly release glucose throughout the day. 

Energy drinks often have lots of fast-digesting carbs to give you an instant burst of energy. However, these kinds of carbs result in a dip in energy later. 

It is generally better to consume slow-digesting carbs, which give energy continuously and avoid the highs and lows of the other kind of carb. However, if you find yourself slumping in your workout, fast carbs can give you the boost that you need to get through your workout. 

Benefits of Slow-Digesting Carbs

Slow-digesting carbs have many benefits that should not be overlooked, regardless of how popular carb-free diets have become. 

  • Maintain energy. Slow digesting carbs continuously fuel your body, which means that you can consume a slow digesting carb load and continue to have your workout or activity fueled for hours. 
  • Maintain blood sugar levels. Fluctuating blood sugar is often why we feel tired and worn out throughout the day. Slow digesting carbs help to keep blood sugar levels even.
  • Reduce hunger and cravings. Unlike fast burning carbs, which can make you hungrier when they’re gone, slow-digesting carbs reduce hunger because they remain in your system and take time to digest. 
  • High in protein and fiber. Slow digesting carbs are a valuable source of protein, which helps your muscles to recover. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer. 

Where Can You Get Slow-digesting Carbohydrates?

A healthy diet is full of slow-digesting carbs. Incorporating these foods into your diet may be easier than you think. Here are some sources for slow-digesting carbs:

Vegetables and Fruit

  • Peas and green beans
  • Carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Onion, tomatoes, eggplant and red peppers
  • Lettuce, spinach, and arugula 


  • Oat bran and rolled oats
  • Brown rice and brown rice products
  • Whole wheat crackers and tortillas


  • Skim milk or lactose free skim milk
  • Fat-free, sugar-free yogurt
  • Soy milk and almond milk

Should You Add Slow-Digesting Carbs to Your Diet?

There are advantages and disadvantages to a keto or low-carb diet, but think twice about jumping on the bandwagon because it is popular. Slow digesting carbohydrates offer a range of benefits to help you lose weight, build muscle, and regulate your appetite. Besides, these kinds of carbs offer lots of other benefits in protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

Pick the Right Diet for You

The right diet to make you feel and look your best may not be the same as someone else’s ideal diet. Think carefully about the benefits of various diets, and don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different options. 

Whatever you try, do your research and give a given diet a sufficient trial to really let you know whether it’s right for you. Details like fast vs. slow-burning carbs can make a big difference in whether a food is good for you.