All you need to know about carbohydrates
Everyone serious about their body tends to pay quite a bit of attention to what they eat. It is well known that a well-balanced diet that includes all the nutrients required by the body is the key to remaining fit.
When it comes to nutrients, carbohydrates are often viewed as the enemy of fitness. It is widely believed that carbs do nothing beneficial for the body and play a significant role in weight gain. Perhaps the reason for this is that that all the comfort foods that cause weight gains such as bread, cereal and chocolate are enriched with carbs.
However, few people seem to realize that carbohydrates are present in abundance in various fruits and vegetables as well. Thus, it is vital to understand that all carbs are not the same. Let us shed some light on the multiple types of carbohydrates and the effect they have on the body composition.
The various types of carbohydrates
The classification of carbohydrates is somewhat complicated. It is how the carbs are processed by the body that decides whether it is suitable for you or not.
These are the carbohydrates whose structure is not very complex, and thus they are referred to as simple carbs. Glucose, sucrose and fructose are classified as simple carbohydrates. These are made from a couple of sugar molecules bound together.
The simplest examples of simple carbohydrates are table sugar and white flour. The sugar is fruit is also simple carbohydrate. Contrary to popular belief, simple carbs can prove to be quite beneficial to the body.
These carbs work as a quick source of energy. They are readily available as well. You must have noticed a lot of athletes consuming something sweet right before a match. This is because they require the rush of energy that only sugar can provide.
Simple carbs cause an increase in blood sugar levels. This is why they can be quite dangerous for people with diabetes and thus close monitoring of their intake is required. Simple carbs provide the body with energy via glucose. However, once this source is depleted, the glucose levels get low causing the body to crash.
Simple carbs are not nutritious to a large extent. They lack minerals and vitamins. Furthermore, since they are quickly digested, they do not satisfy the hunger for long. You will start feeling hungry soon after consuming simple carbs.
Simple carbs can also lead to quite a lot of health problems as they increase the risk of some severe conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are also quite high in calories leading to weight gain.
When carbs are processed, and their molecular structure is changed, refined carbohydrates are produced. Owing to the change in their structure, they last longer and thus production is more accessible. Refined carbs are present in the majority of fast food items, white bread, muffins and doughnuts among other things.
Thus, it is apparent that they lead to weight gain and can be detrimental to health. They cause insulin resistance, weight gain and increased risk of cardiac conditions.
Complex carbohydrates compose of multiple sugar molecules bound together in the form of chains. Unprocessed plants, whole grains and vegetables are all examples of complex carbs. These are processed in the body after breaking down to starch and fiber.
The process of digestion of complex carbohydrates is somewhat long and begins in the mouth. The enzymes in saliva turn the complex carbohydrates to the simple carb, maltose. Maltose is subsequently converted into glucose by the digestive system in the body, and the glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream.
The processing of complex carbs from this point is similar to simple carbs. However, the process is slower. Since the blood sugar levels rise slowly, the pancreas is stimulated to release insulin to either store the sugar or utilize it as an energy source.
The fiber present in complex carbs does not break down as it makes its way through the digestive system. Soluble fiber plays a role in the absorption of nutrients by the intestine while the insoluble one speeds up the process of digestion. Those both are beneficial for health.
Complex carbs have quite a lot of benefits. For one thing, they satisfy the hunger for a long time as they are digested slowly. This slow process of digestion also allows one to feel energetic for a long time as the energy levels are kept steady. The starch present in these carbs is enriched with vitamins and minerals. The fiber component of these carbs also leads to a healthy system.
Thus, it is apparent that while simple and refined carbohydrates can be harmful to health, complex carbs can be quite advantageous to the body.
Carbs and Weight Loss
People usually believe that a low-carb diet is essential if you want to lose weight. However, while it is true that such diet plans can lead to rapid weight loss but when it comes to sustaining the weight, they are not very helpful.
When you are on a low-carb diet, your body has to use fat to fulfill its energy requirements, thus leading to weight loss. However, such diets can harm the body if followed for long term. Glycogen is stored in muscles. When the glucose level in your body is low, the glycogen concentration in the muscles also reduces thereby decreasing the energy stores.
On the other hand, a diet with high complex carbs not only enhances weight loss but also does so without compromising on your overall health.
High-carb diets restrict the intake of calories thereby leading to increased weight loss. The weight loss caused by a high complex carb diet is gradual and healthier. It is easy to sustain as well.
Thus, if the right type of carbohydrates is consumed, they can play a significant role in your weight loss. A well-balanced diet with a high quotient of complex carbs can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. It also deals with obesity effectively.
Therefore, if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to incorporate carbohydrates in your diet. It is merely vital to make sure that you consume the right type.