Understanding Carbohydrates



Carbohydrates are a hot topic at the moment, and they seem to be getting some stick. In this blog I am going to help you understand the truths about this food group.

They are the focus of most diets you read about whether it be high carb, low carb, or the worst of the worst – NO carbs.

Carbs are explained in the media these days as the main reason why people are overweight. Yes some carbohydrates are bad for you, but I prefer to go more along the lines of pointless. You don’t get much nutritional value from certain types of carbohydrates.

The ‘bad’ ones tend to be highly processed and tasty snacks that give our body absolutely no benefits except a taste satisfaction. As these foods are highly tasty, they are also quite addictive. This is usually down to either a chemical, sugar, or salt. They have the reputation of making people overweight as we just want more and more.

Read our article on Food….The Biggest Addiction here

Anyway, enough about these nutritionally empty foods. Lets talk about carbohydrates as a whole.

Carbohydrates come in many forms. Some are good for you, and some are bad. They are the sugars, starches, and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products; and are the body’s main source of energy.

Fibrous Carbohydrates

Now lets start strangely with fibrous carbohydrates. The reason why I am starting with these is because no matter what type of ‘diet’ or food plan you are following YOU MUST consume these.

Fibrous carbohydrates are broccoli, spinach, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts and many more. YOU MUST consume these for three reasons.

  • Carbohydrates contain a hell of a lot of fibre, vitamins, and minerals that keep your body functioning properly and fight disease.
  • They are extremely difficult for your body to break down which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
  • They are high volume, low calories foods which means that you can eat loads and not worry about gaining weight.

Fibrous carbohydrates are one of the good guys, and you should make sure you make lots of time for them.

Complex Carbohydrates

Right lets move on to complex carbohydrates. These are your friend, but if you eat too much they might stab you in the back, so be weary. What we mean by this is you should be eating them, but if you go crazy on your portion size then you will gain weight.

Your body takes both complex and simple carbohydrates and tries to break them down into energy to fuel your muscles and organs. Its not the type of carbohydrate that matters, but how quickly your body can break it down and also how much it will spike your blood glucose levels.

Complex Carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, and peas keep your blood sugar levels under control as they slowly release the sugar in to energy. This means that you do not experience any crazy spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels.

It also means that you won’t get cravings for sugary drinks or snacks as you won’t experience any dips, which can only be a good thing.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple Carbohydrates are like the friend who encourages you to go out drinking on a school night. You have a great night but my god work is a struggle the next day. This is the euphoric spike followed by an extreme dip in blood sugar levels shortly after.

Simple carbohydrates are basically sugar in its simplest form. They give you energy but lack vitamins, minerals, and fibre. You could put these down as empty calories as they contain no nutrients.

Read our article on What Are Empty Calories here

This type of carbohydrate should be avoided most of the time unless you are an athlete that needs to pick your blood glucose levels up quickly during competition.

For the average Joe, you should try and stay clear from these, and work on intaking carbohydrates from complex and fibrous foods instead.

Overall Thoughts On Carbohydrates

In conclusion, you should always make sure that some carbohydrates are in your diet. You should work on intaking as many fibrous carbohydrates as you can as they provide your body with many vitamins, minerals, and fibre. The fantastic news for food lovers is you can also eat loads of them.

You would then want to consume a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates as these maintain blood glucose levels.

Finally if you are to consume simple carbohydrates I would advise you to consume them either around the time you are exercising or on special occasions.

Hopefully you have a greater understanding of all types of carbohydrates and what they do to the body.

Read our article on Good Sources Of Carbohydrates here

Consume Carbohydrates don’t avoid them. It is all about the type of carbohydrate that is important.

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