Carbohydrates Food List-best choices for seniors

There are many seniors who don’t fully understand the role of fat, protein, and carbohydrates’ play in their everyday diet. Perhaps this carbohydrates’ food list will give you some insight on the best choices for seniors when it comes to the carbohydrate food choices they make.

The first thing to understand is that there are two distinct categories for carbohydrates’. One is called simple carbohydrates’, and the other is called complex carbohydrates’. It’s very important to understand the difference between the two.


The list of simple carbohydrates’ is a very long one. They are called simple because they are assimilated into the bloodstream quickly. Your body will break down carbohydrates’ into simple sugar. Once the sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream, insulin is created. The insulin hormone is released by the pancreas.

Insulin expedites the transfer of sugar from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Once the sugar reaches the cells, it can be used as a source of energy. There are several downsides to utilizing simple carbohydrates’ as your main source of energy. For one thing, because the process happens so fast you will most likely be hungry again very soon.

The biggest downside to eating copious amounts of simple carbohydrates’ is that it can cause very fast spikes in your blood sugar. There have been many studies done that indicate that big jumps in blood sugar can lead to certain health issues. The two main ones are heart disease and diabetes.

This is one of the main reasons why Type Two Diabetes among North American teens has reached epidemic proportions. It’s also why many schools have eliminated soft drinks in place of healthier choices in the school cafeterias. When you combine too much social networking time with poor diet and lack of exercise it’s not difficult to see where the problem is.

The ramifications of too many simple carbohydrates relating to poor health are just as serious among seniors as it is teens.

Here is a list of a few simple carbohydrates’ that should be enjoyed as an occasional treat as opposed to being the cornerstone on one’s diet.

  • Candy
  • chocolate
  • cake
  • cookies
  • muffins
  • pie
  • ice cream

Well, you get the picture. These food choices are all loaded with sugar. Fruit and fruit juice are also considered simple carbohydrates’ and should be consumed in moderation.

carbohydrates for seniors.
This is an ideal example of a simple carbohydrate. Were you active enough today to earn this treat?

There is a way to slow the assimilation of simple carbohydrates’ into the bloodstream. Taking in some protein just before the simple carbohydrate it will slow down the absorption into the bloodstream. For example, if you really feel like having a chocolate bar or ice cream cone, eat a half cup of cottage cheese first.


The advantage of complex carbohydrates’ is that they are absorbed into the bloodstream much more slowly than simple carbohydrates’. Much like simple carbohydrates’ they are a source of energy once the carbohydrates’ are converted to glycogen.

The advantage of complex carbohydrates’ is that they provide energy over a longer period. They don’t spike your blood sugar as simple carbohydrates’ do. Maybe you have heard the term sugar crash. Better yet, you may have experienced it. If you ever felt suddenly weak, dizzy, or tired after consuming a lot of sweets you are probably having a sugar crash.

It’s a sudden injection of energy that ends quickly and leaves you virtually without energy.

Here are some complex carbohydrates that are far better choices.

  • Whole wheat bread
  • pasta
  • oatmeal
  • potatoes
  • brown rice
carbohydrates for seniors
Pasta is one of the most common complex carbohydrates.

Here is an excellent article titled Older Adult Health Facts that discusses carbohydrates.

There’s a carbohydrate loading diet that endurance athletes often use as a long distance race like a marathon or Ironman Triathlon is approaching.

In the days leading up to the race, they eat copious amounts of pasta, rice, and whole wheat bread and other complex carbohydrates’.

The idea is to top up their glycogen stores for the big race as this is one of their main sources of energy.

Trust me, you won’t see a marathoner eating a gallon of ice cream, an apple pie, and a chocolate cake as he prepares for the big race. He would last about a mile and would be out of energy.

This does not mean that a person can eat all the complex carbohydrates’ they want. Any excess of protein or carbohydrates’ will eventually be stored as fat.


So, how do you earn your carbs? You earn your carbs by being active and burning the energy created by carbohydrates’. The more you exercise, the more energy stores(glycogen) you will use. You will have to eat in order to maintain your energy.

At the peak of my Marathon and Ironman Triathlon career the cornerstone of my diet was the five complex carbohydrates’ I listed above. I raced at about 150 pounds. When I was in full training, I never gained weight no matter how much I ate in the way of complex carbohydrates’.

How could I? It wasn’t unusual to do 60-70 mile bike rides, three hour runs, and long swim workouts on pretty much a weekly basis. I was especially ravenous after a long bike ride. Often I would make a salad and helping of pasta that was enough for about three people and eat it myself. Yet, I never gained weight.

In essence, I was earning my carbs. The more you exercise, the more you get to eat the food you love. I had simple carbohydrates’ as a very rare treat, because spikes in my blood sugar would leave me with a lack of energy for training and racing.


It matters little if you are a teen, middle-aged, or a senior, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Studies have shown that almost two-thirds of Canadians and Americans are obese or overweight.

It really won’t matter if the carbohydrates’ are simple or complex. They will both turn to fat if you overeat and live a sedentary lifestyle. The reason why most diets don’t work is because few of them include regular exercise in the equation.

carbohydrate list for seniors
A few extra pounds are no big deal, as long as your blood pressure isn’t too high.

There isn’t a diet in the world that won’t work better if you incorporate regular fitness into the equation. You don’t have to be super skinny.

There’s nothing wrong with carrying around a few extra pounds as long as your blood pressure isn’t high. Your blood pressure is an indicator of potential health problems brewing.

As a matter of fact, stats show that a man who weighs over two hundred pounds and has normal blood pressure(and doesn’t smoke), and stays fit, can potentially add eight years to his life expectancy.

The bottom line is, if you love to eat, I sure hope you love to exercise as well.


There’s no reason you have to completely deny yourself the pleasures of life, including eating. Most seniors have worked hard all their lives and deserve to have enjoyment in their golden years.

However, moderation is a key to having control over your health. Go out there and keep moving. Run, swim, walk, hike, bike. Find the physical activity you love, just keep moving.

By keeping active and paying attention to your diet, you will be able to enjoy your golden years much more. Take the time to learn about proper diet and the benefits of regular exercise.

Hopefully the carbohydrate food list I provided will give you some insight into how the body reacts to the food we eat. There is a huge payoff if you take care of yourself as you age.

It’s not just about increasing your longevity, it’s also about quality of life. And you deserve both.

A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with a regular exercise routine. Here are some Exercise Videos for Seniors that might help.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you for such an interesting post. As a fan of chocolate and cakes I was pleased to hear that eating protein before indulging in a sweet treat slows down the absorption of simple carbs. As someone who keeps active by walking daily, I certainly burn plenty of carbs:)

  2. Wow, I didn’t know fruit was considered a simple carb and didn’t know that eating some protein before it slows down the assimilation. Will do! Yes, very familiar with a sugar high and crash! Even though it’s a complex carb I get hungry fast after eating oatmeal. What about veggies. They are carbs. Complex – right? Thanks for the article – very useful for me.

  3. I am diabetic 2 and this article has helped me immensely as I now understand more of how carbos work  and will look into my diet in depth now

    I exercise and eat well but I admit I love Italian food and often eat pasta and I also know I eat too much bread even though its rye or wholemeal- I need to exercise more when I eat these types of foods.

    Thank you so much for sharing this as my sugar levels need attention and this post has really made me think hard

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Vicki. I believe diet for seniors is a very serious and important issue when it comes to health and longevity. Many people, both young and old, are unsure of the role of fat, protein, and carbohydrates play in their health and fitness level. I wrote about this topic in more detail in my latest book, Seniors On The Move..

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