Complex carbohydrates are the best form of fuel for athletes and are also referred to as starch. They have calories and nutrients examples include as bread, cereal, muffins, pancakes, rolls, tortillas, bagels, rice, crackers and pasta. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas and corn contain complex carbohydrates.
Beans (kidney beans, chick peas, lentils, edamame, refried beans, baked beans and hummus) are an amazing source of complex carbohydrate and also contain fiber and protein. Other foods containing protein and carbohydrates are milk, cheese, cottage cheese, frozen yogurt and yogurt.
Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and can spike blood sugars. Examples are candy, cookies, sugar and soda. A 12 oz can of coke and a pack of 2 oz Skittles contains about 80gm of pure sugar that’s equivalent to eating 20 tsp of white sugar. Problems arise due to rapid absorption and blood sugar is high and then a sudden drop in blood sugar as a rush of insulin tries to get it all into the cells for energy.
Fruit is also a simple carbohydrate- but a whole apple for example contains fiber and other nutrients so it is not as rapidly absorbed as say apple juice. Try a large apple, some popcorn and a mini bagel with 1 Tbsp light cream cheese. (have regular cream cheese for weight gain).
A list of easily digested complex carbohydrates are included below.
www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Easy_Energy.htm by Clara Silverstein Runners World.
This article has a nice charts on energizing foods containing carbohydrate levels from 30-60 grams.
Food Carbs (g)/cals
8 ounces Gatorade 14/50
1 packet GU gel 25/100
1 PowerBar 45/240
4 Fig Newtons 44/220
5 saltines 10/65
4 graham crackers 20/120
1 small plain bagel 30/157
2 tablespoons honey 34/128
1 ounce jelly beans 26/105
1 ounce dried fruit 17/65
3 hard candies 18/72
1 orange, sliced 15/62
1 ounce Gummi Bears 30/120