Not all carbohydrates are created equal, there are complex and simple carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates are better than others, some are packed with nutrition, where as other hold very minimal nutritional value.
Below I will explain the importance of carbohydrates in a diet, the purpose of carbohydrates and the difference between the two types. I will also give examples of the ones to avoid and the ones better to keep or add to your diet.
The purpose of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates (carbs) are an essential part of a healthy diet, they provide your body with vitamins & minerals, they help with weight control, they help control blood sugar levels and they are what your body primarily uses for energy.
If you are someone with type 2 diabetes you will fully understand the importance of carbohydrates in a diet, you feel the effects it has on your blood sugar and energy levels more so than others.
Your body digests carbohydrates to create glucose, which your body can then use right away for energy, then what isn’t used right away is stored to be used for energy when needed. It’s important to control the quantities of carbs that you consume, this amount is dependent on you physical needs for energy.
Carbs are stored in the liver and the muscles. However, they can only store a limited about, someone who is continually consuming more carbs than they need for energy will eventually convert the carbohydrates into fat, this happens once the muscles and liver can not store anymore.
The more someone exercises, the more the stored energy is depleted. Someone who does regular resistance workouts, someone who is an athlete or someone who has a very physical job would have a greater need to consume a larger amount of carbohydrates for energy. This means that they would be capable of consuming larger amounts before it’s then converted to fat, this is because the energy stored by the muscles would be regularly depleted and in need of topping up.
In regards to weight loss, although you might want to limit the amount of carbs you’re consuming, they are NOT “the enemy” as many are led to believe. It is still important to consume a sufficient amount of carbs when trying to lose weight. If you try to cut them out completely you will have unstable blood sugar levels, your mood and energy levels will become unstable (not much fun for you friends and family around you), you will start to crave, and then you will eventually crash, which will lead you to be more likely to give up on your weight loss goal altogether.
When your body gets to the point of craving carbs (Energy), it usually wants something that will give it the fastest boost of energy, which is usually something that has a high sugar content. The problem is, these types of high sugar carbs only give you a short, sharp burst of energy, which leads you to craving that hit over and over again.
What you should focus on is the quality of the carbs you’re choosing and insuring that you’re getting a sufficient amount to avoid those peaks and valleys in your energy leaves. A better source of carbohydrate will supply your body with energy and keep you feeling full for longer.
Although the quantity of carbohydrates consumed is important for health and physic, The quality of the carbohydrate is just as important.
Simple vs Complex
These carbs are sugars. While some of these occur naturally in milk, most of the simple carbs are added to foods. Below are some examples to look out for that will be added to some food and drinks.
- Raw sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Glucose, fructose and sucrose
- Fruit juice concentrate
Simple carbs (sugars) are what I call “empty calories”, for the amount of calories that most of these foods contain, most of it does not have much benefit for your health or physic. They only provide short burst of energy leaving you needing more after a short amount of time. These are the ones to keep a check on and limit in your diet, specially if you’re trying to lose weight. Below are some of the food and drinks where you might find this type of simple carbohydrate.
- Fizzy drinks/soda
- Pastry treats
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Cereal bars
The more complex the better! Complex carbohydrates contain a lot more nutrients than simple carbohydrates. They contain a lot more fibre and digest slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. Complex carbs are very important for your heath. They help maintain a healthy weight, they help stabilize your blood sugar levels and the can even help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. There are two types of complex carbohydrates, fibre and starch.
Fibre actually passes through the body undigested. It helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar regulated.
The main fibrous foods are:
- Whole grains
- Beans (be careful of baked beans in source as the source contains a lot of the simple carbs, ‘sugar’
Starchy carbohydrates are a good source of energy and they are packed with nutrients that are good for our health.
Starch carbohydrates are found in some of the same foods as fiber. They are our main source of many nutrients and they are a good source of energy. Certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous.
These foods are;
My Top 7 Complex Carbohydrates
A starchy carb that is also high in fibre, packed with nutrients and vitamins and one of the best things is its high content of an antioxidant known as beta-carotene.
Whole grain pasta
This type of pasta has a higher nutritional value than refined white pasta, It has a high content of B vitamins and minerals such as copper and magnesium.
This type of rice is whole grain and it contains higher amounts of nutrients than white rice. It’s High in fibre, which has many benefits, such as reducing cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels.
A heavyweight when it comes to nutrients, full of vitamins and minerals. They have a high content of potassium which makes this a super fruit! this mineral has many health benefits, like regulating heartbeat and keeping the brain alert.
Low in calories but high in nutrients. They are super antioxidants, they are known to contain the highest levels of antioxidants when compared to other common fruits and vegetables.
This vegetable is a high-fibre powerhouse, Full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
This popular vegetable is high in fibre and protein, they are also rich in antioxidants and contain nearly every vitamin and mineral you need.
If you ever need a hand or have Any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,