Carbohydrates, just like fat, have earned a negative reputation due to the increased prevalence of chronic illnesses such as obesity and diabetes that plague millions of Americans. Excessive consumption of carbohydrates in the forms of processed foods like cakes, donuts, sugary energy drinks, coffee drinks, white breads and white pasta - which are all void of many healthy nutrients, are contributing to America’s health crisis, however, you may not be aware of the whole story about carbohydrates!
There’s good news about these powerful energy makers!
All carbohydrates aren’t bad for you!
That’s right, all sugars aren’t created equal. There are healthy forms of sugars and your body can utilize these sugars as fuel for your workout and overall health!
Therefore, let’s talk about the two main forms of carbohydrates!
But first, let’s define the meaning of a carbohydrate!
Carbohydrates are the body‘s main fuel source that provides quick energy for basic bodily functions such as breathing, body movements, digestion and normal heart functioning. When compared to fat and protein, carbohydrates are more readily available than any other macro-nutrient. A carbohydrate is a sugar molecule! It’s really that simple! No really!
What are the Two Forms of Carbohydrates?
There are two primary types of carbohydrates or sugars: they are complex carbohydrates (3 or more sugar molecules) and simple sugars (1 or 2 sugar molecules). Carbohydrates are categorized by the number of sugar molecules they are made up of and each type of carbohydrate metabolizes differently in the body based on their chemical structure.
What are complex carbohydrates?
Complex carbohydrates are made up of 3 or more sugar molecules. This molecular structure results in a slower absorption rate into your bloodstream as compared to simple sugars. This slow absorption process provides the body with sustained amounts of energy and you’re less likely to experience the blood sugar spikes you would experience when you consume simple sugars. These sugars are found in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and whole oats.
What are Simple Sugars?
Simple sugars are made up of 1 or 2 sugar molecules. Their molecular structure results in faster absorption into your body which can lead to spikes with your blood glucose levels. Consumption of simple sugars provides quick, but inadequate and unsustainable amounts of energy. These sugars are found in processed foods such as baked goods, milk products, cereals and white breads. Consuming high amounts of simple sugars has been linked to diabetes, weight gain and other health related issues including inflammation. Therefore, these sugars should be consumed in moderation.
Make Your Carbohydrate Consumption Individualized
Consumption of carbohydrates is just like your fitness plan. It is individualized and based on what you want to accomplish. If athletic performance is what you desire, your consumption of complex carbohydrates can be as high as 50-55 percent of your daily caloric intake.
If weight loss is what you desire, based on your daily caloric consumption, your carbohydrate intake may be lower.
Regardless of your fitness or weight loss goals, keep in mind, all carbohydrates are sugars. Your body requires sugar for energy production, cellular functioning and everyday living but be mindful and choose more complex versus simple carbohydrates.
Here’s to your health!
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Action Jackson and The N-Powered Coaching Team