The Skinny on Carbs

Carbohydrates, or Saccharides, are sugars and starches, which provide us with energy.

There are two types of Carbohydrates, Simple, or Monosaccharides and Complex, or Polysaccharides.

Simple Carbohydrates (a.k.a. Bad Carbs) are often found in processed and refined foods such as white sugar, pastas, white bread and baked goods. Because Simple Carbohydrates are smaller molecules of sugar unlike the long chains in Complex Carbohydrates they are digested quickly leaving you hungry sooner.

Bad Carbs = Body Fat
The liver digests carbohydrates by breaking them down into simple sugars, or glucose, which stimulates the production of insulin in the pancreas. The insulin functions to get the sugar into the body’s cells to be used as energy. The two different types of carbohydrates affect the production of insulin differently—when digesting simple carbohydrates, insulin levels spike faster, and the carbohydrates are used up more quickly for energy. This explains why many who turn to a chocolate bar for a quick supply of energy find that their energy levels crash when the “sugar high” comes to an end. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, resulting in longer lasting energy, and less of an insulin reaction in the body which in the end keeps you fuller longer.

If the body produces too much glucose, it will be stored in the liver and muscle cells as glycogen, to be used for when the body needs an extra burst of energy. Any leftover glycogen that isn't stored in liver and muscle cells is stored as fat. The body uses the immediate store of glycogen for short bursts of exercise. For extended periods of exercise such as long distance running and more strenuous workouts, the body will turn to its fat reserve to draw extra energy.

Complex Carbohydrates (a.k.a.Good Carbs), which take longer for the body to digest, are most commonly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, and legumes. Because of its complex chain form, your digestive enzymes have to work much harder to access the bonds to break the chain into individual sugars for absorption through the intestines. Because of that, the digestion of complex carbohydrates takes longer. The slow absorption of sugars provides you with a steady supply of energy and limits the amount of sugar converted into fat and stored. Eating a serving of whole grain cereal such as oatmeal will fill you up and give you longer lasting energy than a bowl of sugary cereal due to the way the body processes and uses the carbohydrates.

Low Carb Diets = Bad Health
The body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates to function properly, and insufficient intake may cause fatigue, muscle cramps, and poor mental function. Although carbohydrates are an important part of our diet, the body can produce energy from fat and proteins alone. While this may do for short periods of time, avoiding all carbs will adversely affect your body. Many low-carb diets have been labeled as healthy, but if taken to the extreme, they can be very dangerous to a one’s overall well-being.

It's important to remember that "low-carb" doesn't mean "no-carb." Be sure to eat moderate amounts of the right type of carbohydrates to keep your body fueled properly.

Daily Recommendation
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 55-75% of an adult’s “dietary energy” should come from carbohydrates; no more than 10% of carbohydrate consumption comes from simple carbohydrates.

Complex Carbohydrates
• Dried apricots and prunes
• Beans: Navy, Kidney, Romano, Pinto, Garbanzo, Soy
• Peas: Split peas, Lentils
• Whole Grains: Buckwheat, Barley, Millet, Quinoa, Brown rice, Wild rice, Oats, Ezekiel, Spelt.
• Fruit: Apples, Pears, Berries, Plums, Citrus (oranges, grapefruit)
• Cruciferous Vegetables: Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Radishes, Kale, Collard Greens, Bok Choy, Rapini. Arugula.
• Night Shade Vegetables: Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peppers
• Other Vegetables: Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Leafy greens (spinach)
• Sprouts

Simple Carbohydrates
• Table sugar
• Fruit juice
• Candy
• Cake
• Bread made with white flour
• Pasta made with white flour
• Soda pop
• Candy/Chocolate
• All baked goods made with white flour
• Most packaged cereals
• Honey
• Milk
• Jam

Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains are excellent foods which are rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and essential nutrients. Here are some of the many benefits of whole grains.

1) Weight Loss – Whole grains are Complex Carbohydrates; Complex Carbohydrates keep you satisfied for a longer period of time than simple carbohydrates thus making you eat less. Complex Carbohydrates also don’t have the same insulin effect as simple carbs do. Simple carbs release excess insulin which your body stores as fat.
2) Beautiful skin and beautiful mood– Whole grains are high in B Vitamins. B Vitamins are known to help kick depression and give you glowing skin.
3) Elimination – Whole grains contain a large amount of fiber. Your body needs fiber to move waste out of the intestines and into the toilet where it belongs.
4) Basic bodily functions improve – Whole grains help your body metabolize protein, release energy from muscles, protects your cells, keeps your bowel movements regular, provides heart health and helps relax your nervous system.

Some Whole Grains to consider introducing to your diet
1) Barley – Highly nutritious with high values of niacin and thiamine. Known to lower bad cholesterol.
2) Buckwheat – Contains all 8 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Good source of calcium, B Vitamins, iron and fiber.
3) Kamut – High energy grain and easily digested.
4) Millet – Gluten-free. Great source of magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and B-complex vitamins.
5) Oats – Known to lower bad cholesterol. Mildly laxative. Contains good level of protein, B vitamins and minerals.
6) Quinoa – Contains all 8 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Rich in iron, calcium and phosphorous.
7) Brown Rice – High levels of B Vitamins and fiber.
8) Rye - High in B vitamins, protein and iron. Highest of all grains in the essential amino acid, lysine. Whole grain flour is best, then dark and light flour.
9) Spelt – More easily digested than wheat for most people. Higher in nutrients – protein, minerals, vitamins than wheat as well.
10) Amaranth– High in protein, Vitamin C, calcium and iron. Great source of fiber. Gluten-free. High level of lysine, essential amino acid.

The information presented here is not intended to replace professional medical care when needed. Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner for disease diagnosis, therapy choice, medicine selection and dosage.


Anonymous said...

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