Carbohydrates are your body’s favourite source of energy, let's take a look a how they work and why they are so important for you.
What are carbohydrates?
There are two types of carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates require more time for the body to digest before entering the bloodstream. You can find complex carbohydrates in: whole-wheat breads, potatoes, pasta, brown rice, some fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes.
Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and quickly enter the bloodstream to produce an almost immediate energy surge. Examples of simple carbohydrates are: table-sugar, syrups, preserves, jellies, ordinary sodas/soft drinks, sweets, candies and cakes.
What you need to know carbs
- All carbohydrates turn into a sugar, called glucose, once they enter the bloodstream.
- Your body doesn't discriminate between the different types of
- The body knows that sugar is sugar
So, remember that every time you eat more carbohydrates than your body needs, your blood sugar levels will increase as well as your blood glucose levels.
How many carbohydrates do I need?
About 60 per cent of our caloric intake should be in the form of complex carbohydrates.
Do carbohydrates change into fat?
Yes, carbohydrates change into fat if they are not used by the body. Remember, carbohydrates are energy. Your body doesn’t throw away the energy it doesn’t use; the body stores this energy as fat.
What are the best carbohydrates?
All carbohydrates are good. So, if somebody tells you that candies, soda and chocolates are not good, they are wrong. What is wrong is the amount you eat and the time of day you consume them. This will make the difference in your body fat content. You can read a more detailed explanation about time and quantity later. Basically, don’t eat more carbohydrates than your body can burn.
All the excess calories at the end of the day will be stored as fat. But I suggest that you include fibrous carbohydrate in each meal (asparagus, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, spinach, squash, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant). Also, it is better to eat carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
Watch simple carbohydrates
A human body needs about three teaspoons of sugar a day. The average American eats over 42 teaspoons of sugar per day, however, which is equal to 150 to 170 pounds per year. So how come we eat so much sugar without thinking? Take a look at this chart to understand where most of our sugar comes from.
What is the best time to eat carbohydrates?
It is better to eat complex carbohydrates early in the day. These carbohydrates take more time to enter the bloodstream, therefore, I suggest you eat complex carbohydrates in the morning, and reduce them after noon or 1pm.
Remember that the carbohydrates that your body doesn’t use will be stored as fat. When you eat complex carbohydrates early in the morning, your body will use them and burn them up during the day as energy.
What errors do people make with carbohydrates?
Statistics show that 70 per cent of your daily carbohydrate needs are eaten at night, usually at dinner. A lot of people eat big meals at night full of complex carbohydrates. This is often followed by bigtime TV relaxation, then to bed. The body now has to process this large amount of carbohydrates.
The carbohydrates are converted into sugar as it enters the bloodstream. Remember that sugar equals energy and a large meal of complex carbohydrates means lots of sugar.
The brain will ask all the body parts “who needs energy; I have a lot to give?” But when the brain asks this question, most people are already in bed sleeping or relaxing and because no muscle or body part needs energy, the brain will order the sugar to be stored as fat instead. Everything your body doesn’t use will be stocked as fat. Now, I think you understand why people gain weight.
Everybody talks about low-carb diets, what do you think?
A lack of carbohydrates can make it difficult or impossible to exercise properly, especially in higher intensity or longer duration aerobic activities. Remember that high intensity and/or aerobic activities can be beneficial in preventing and treating heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and some forms of cancer.
Proper exercise is vital in weight and stress management. Also, the more muscle you have the more you burn fat. To build muscle you need to workout, to workout you need energy, and once again the body’s favorite source of energy is carbohydrates. Therefore, by shutting down your carbohydrate intake, you will have no energy to workout.
If carbs are good then why do we hear so much about bad carbs?
What you need to look at when you eat carbs is the time at which you eat them and the type that you consume. Immediate energy is produced by simple carbohydrates (sugar), while longer-term energy is produced from complex carbohydrates.
Another thing you need to know about carbs is the Glycemic Index. As we said earlier, GI is the effect carbohydrates have on blood sugar. GI measures how quickly a food that contains carbohydrate changes into blood sugar.
Another tip is to try to eat carbohydrates in combination with protein to decrease the impact on blood sugar.
How many carbohydrates do I need?
Ideally carbohydrates should make up 50 to 60 per cent of your nutrition. Healthy eating requires the majority of carbohydrate intake to come from complex carbohydrates, such as starchy vegetables, whole natural grains, rice, and vegetables, as well as ‘naturally occurring’ simple sugars, such as those found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
These unrefined carbohydrates are packed full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So, as you can see, all carbs are good. It is the quantity and the time you eat them that makes the difference. I believe that the best balanced meal should be as follows:
Lean Protein + Complex or Starchy Carbohydrate + Fibrous Carbohydrate
- Eat simple carbohydrates (fruit) in moderation early in the
- Eat complex
- Eat fibrous carbohydrates because they are less fattening and are very healthy. They are less likely to be converted into body fat, are a great source of energy, and because our brain depends exclusively on
Complex carbs are essential ingredients in any healthy weight loss program. That's why low-carb diets are so UNHEALTHY