Carbohydrates - What They Are, Why We Need Them

Written by Abhinav

September 22, 2021

Carbohydrates - What They Are, Why We Need Them

One of the first things you should do when getting started with any diet is to learn about the type of carbohydrate you should be eating. Carbohydrates are the most energy dense foods around, and you need a lot of them to fuel your workout or weight-loss efforts. If you aren’t eating enough of them, you certainly won’t lose weight or lose lean body mass. However, not all carbs are created equal. Some carbs are easier to digest than others which can result in higher blood sugar levels and greater hunger pangs when eating carbohydrate-rich foods in lieu of other nutritious foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, eggs).

CARBOHYDRATE BASICS

Let's look at the various types of carbohydrates and how they affect your body. Simple carbs are consumed as snacks and drinks like bread (usually), fruit, and vegetables. Complex carbs are found in starchy roots and tubers like potatoes and yams. These carbs occur naturally in many foods and are broken down by your body into simple sugars as they're absorbed by your digestive tract. When you eat complex carbohydrates, your metabolism favors storage of energy rather than use it for energy production.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES#

Simple carbohydrates are also known as “sugar.” It’s made of up to two sugar building blocks connected in a chain. The building blocks can be glucose, fructose and galactose. Because the chains are short, they’re easy to break down, which is why they taste sweet when they hit your tongue. They are also digested and absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. When eaten regularly, simple carbs can raise blood sugar levels for a few hours, but this can be strongly compensated for by increased insulin levels. This keeps blood sugar stable and prevents the pancreas from producing too much insulin.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES

Complex carb sources include fruit, honey, beans and pasta. Starch is easily digested and slightly sweetened. Most complex carbs contain fiber, which can slow down digestion and absorption of nutrients. Simple sugars -- such as table sugar, honey and molasses -- are usually absorbed quickly through the mouth while complex carbs also include fiber, which keeps blood sugar stable and prevents spikes in blood sugar that occur when eating foods with carbohydrates

Fiber is a carbohydrate, but it doesn’t contribute much to calories because it can’t be broken down and absorbed by the body. Just looking at a nutrition label, you’ll see “dietary fiber” and “sugar” listed under “total carbohydrates,” but the grams never add up. That’s because “total carbohydrates” includes all the types of carbohydrates: sugar, fiber and starch. When you eat well, it also includes one important nutrient that helps lower blood sugar levels — resistant starch

Fiber is a carbohydrate, but it doesn’t contribute much to calories because it can’t be broken down and absorbed by the body. Just looking at a nutrition label, you’ll see “dietary fiber” and “sugar” listed under “total carbohydrates,” but the grams never add up. That’s because “total carbohydrates” includes all the types of carbohydrates: sugar, fiber and starch. When you eat more than the daily value for carbohydrates (the amount of sugar you can get in one meal), your body uses storage proteins from starch to increase the amount of glucose available for use by muscle cells.

Net carbs#

In theory, net carbs are the amount of carbs from your food that can affect your blood sugar levels. The thinking behind net carbs is that insoluble fiber and sugar alcohols (which aren’t digested by the body and don’t enter the bloodstream) shouldn’t count toward your overall carbohydrate intake. The concept of net carbs became popular with the emergence of keto and the Atkins Diet. Low-carbohydrate diets change how your body reads and processes carbohydrates. Insoluble fiber, which is not absorbed by the body, has been shown in some research to cause blood sugar spikes and maintain blood sugar levels high enough to make you feel hungry even when you don't have any food in your stomach.

©2022 . Made by Abhinav