Carbohydrates are actually a macronutrient, along with fat and protein which means they are the main ways our body obtains energy and plays a vital role to our overall health and productivity. All macronutrients must be obtained through our diet as our body cannot produce it on its own. Carbs are the starches, sugars and fibers found in foods like grains, fruits, vegetables and some milk products.
It can be found in a wide array of healthy and unhealthy foods. Being a macronutrient, carbs should be included in our diet. This is when we should keep in mind that in considering carbohydrates, it is the quality that matters. What’s most important is the type of carbs you will choose to eat. Hence, it is but crucial for us to learn and understand the kinds of carbohydrates.
There are complex and simple carbohydrates.
Complex or “good” carbs contain a complex chain of sugars as well as some protein, fiber and healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. The higher in fiber and lower in sugar the food is, the greater the chance you are actually looking at a product which has a good or complex carbohydrate. The presence of fiber, fat and protein is vital because it slows digestion and helps prevent a spike in our blood sugar levels and aids in making us feel full and satisfied longer. Sources of complex carbs are fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. They are low or moderate in calories, low in sodium and saturated fat. High in nutrients and naturally occurring fiber.
Simple carbohydrates on the other hand, are often found in refined grains, processed foods and drinks. They are easier for our body to break down since the molecular chain is very short and will not keep us full and may lead to irregular blood sugar levels. Simple carbs will only give you a short burst of energy. These foods are made with refined sugars and doesn’t contain vitamins and minerals or even fiber. They are actually called empty calories and even can lead to weight gain. Simple carbs contribute to overeating as they break down easily and leads to cravings and hunger. Excessive consumption can also cause your cells to become resistant to insulin, which greatly heightens our risk to type 2 diabetes.
In the blame game fitness and health practitioners can agree that excessive sugar consumption is not the best for those who are looking to improve their current and long-term health. It is very true that the secret behind carbohydrates is to identify the amount of sugar content in your carbohydrate sources, make whole foods more of your choice and pay attention to portion sizing.
Carbs raise inflammation, which tends to increase the risk of heart disease. You will be surprised to learn that carbs, not fats are the culprits in heart disease. A diet heavy in grains can be inflammatory. It is best to identify the right kind of carbs to include in our diet which will do good for you.
The truth is that complex carbs are not our enemy, they are in fact, far more nutritious that simple carbs. Cut the simple carbs, you cut the weight.