January 28

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Carbohydrates: to eat or not to eat?

By Karen

January 28, 2021

carbohydrates, carbs, starch, sugar, weight gain, weight loss

Carbohydrates are one of three macronuturients, the bodies main source for energy.  Protein, which I covered protein in The Importance of Protein and your weight loss/gain goalsand fats , which you can learn about in the blog What are Fats? Learn why you should not fear them, are the other two macronutrients your body uses for energy. 

Carbohydrates are typically the main source of energy your body needs and uses, with them making up 40 -60% of your total calories per day.

Simple and Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two sugars.  Fructose, which you find in fruit, and galactose, which you find in milk products are called monosaccharide. Mono meaning one.  Disaccharides, such as lactose (found in milk), sucrose (table sugar), and maltose (found in beer and some veggies) are made up of two sugars. 

Complex carbohydrates, or polysaccharides, are made up of three or more sugars.  These make up your more starchy food. Beans, lentils, rice, corn, and whole grains are examples of complex carbohydrates

Empty Calories

Candy, sodas, sweets, and cakes are made up of sugars.  Unfortunately these sugars are processed and refined and are considered “empty calories”.  They are referred to as empty calories because they hold no nutritional value and are responsible for weight gain when consumed in excess.  

Fiber

Fiber, another type of carbohydrate, is found in the cell walls of plants and is necessary for healthy digestion.  There are many fruits and vegetables that are very high in fiber.

Good carbohydrates

A good carbohydrate will have a lower calorie content while still maintaining high amounts of nutrients.  They should also have a good amount of fiber.  Good carbs are low in sodium, fats, and contain no refined sugars.  Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals are considered good carbohydrates.

Bad Carbohydrates

Bad carbohydrates are high in refined or processed sugars but low in nutrients. They are typically higher in calories as well. White breads, donuts, candy, and soda are all examples of bad carbohydrates

Why do I need to eat so many carbs?

Carbohydrates are the fuel your body stores and uses first for fuel.  If you deplete your carbohydrate storage then your body will switch to using protein as a fuel source.  You do not want this because we need protein for muscle growth and repair.

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