Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy life.
Carbohydrates are macronutrients (they are the PRIMARY source of energy) ,meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy.
The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbs is around up to 40% of total calories. One gram of carbohydrates equals about 4 calories.
Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. Also, "carbohydrates are important for brain function,. They are an influence on "mood, memory, etc., as well as a quick energy source."
Simple vs. complex carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex, The difference between the two forms is the chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is absorbed and digested. Generally speaking, simple carbs are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex carbs.
Simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugars, such as fructose (found in fruits) and galactose (found in milk products). These single sugars are called monosaccharides. Carbs with two sugars — such as sucrose (table sugar), lactose (from dairy) and maltose (found in beer and some vegetables) — are called disaccharides
Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have three or more sugars. They are often referred to as starchy foods and include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn, parsnips, whole-grain breads and cereals.
While all carbohydrates function as relatively quick energy sources, simple carbs cause bursts of energy much more quickly than complex carbs because of the quicker rate at which they are digested and absorbed. Simple carbs can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and sugar highs, while complex carbs provide more sustained energy.
Good carbs vs. bad carbs
Carbohydrates are found in foods you know are good for you (vegetables) and ones you know are not (doughnuts). This has led to the idea that some carbs are "good" and some are "bad." According to Healthy Geezer Fred Cicetti, carbs commonly considered bad include pastries, sodas, highly processed foods, white rice, white bread and other white-flour foods. These are foods with simple carbs. Bad carbs rarely have any nutritional value. Carbs usually considered good are complex carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. These are not only processed more slowly, but they also contain a bounty of other nutrients.
Recently, nutritionists have said that it's not the type of carbohydrate, but rather the carb's glycemic index, that's important. The glycemic index measures how quickly and how much a carbohydrate raises blood sugar.
High-glycemic foods like pastries raise blood sugar highly and rapidly; low-glycemic foods raise it gently and to a lesser degree. Some research has linked high-glycemic foods with diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
The right kind of carbs can be incredibly good for you. Not only are they necessary for your health, but they carry a variety of added benefits.
*Mental health - carbohydrates help with the production of serotonin in the brain.
*Weight loss - This happens because many good carbohydrates, especially whole grains and vegetables with skin, contain fiber, Dietary fiber helps you to feel full *Heart health - Fiber also helps to lower cholesterol carbohydrate deficiency.
Not getting enough carbs can cause problems. Without sufficient fuel, the body gets no energy. Additionally, without sufficient glucose, the central nervous system suffers, which may cause dizziness or mental and physical weakness. A deficiency of glucose, or low blood sugar, is called hypoglycemias.
If the body has insufficient carbohydrate intake or stores, it will consume protein for fuel. This is problematic because the body needs protein to make muscles. Using protein for fuel instead of carbohydrates also puts stress on the kidneys, leading to the passage of painful byproducts in the urine.