All You Need to Know About Carbohydrates

While it is conventionally agreeable that we need carbs to supply the body with energy, there are hot debates about the right amounts of carbs to take. The earlier you get informed about this great dietary requirement, the better you will be to select the best carbs to take and in what proportions.

The body needs energy to function normally and carry out its operations well. For it to get this energy, you have to eat the right foods, including carbohydrates. While it is universally agreed that some amounts of the needed energy should result from carbs, researchers have not agreed on the exact amounts of calories to be yielded from carbohydrates. In fact, some studies suggest that specific carbs should be eliminated entirely from the diet. This article tries to enlighten you about what you need to know about carbs, the refined versus whole, and other critical pieces of information about carbs.

What are carbohydrates?

Knowing the basics about carbohydrates is of utmost importance before getting to the nitty-gritty about this dietary element. Carbohydrates refer to a macronutrient composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Their main aim in the body is to provide fuel. Carbohydrates can be categorized as sugars (short-chained carbs, which are sweet and include glucose, fructose, sucrose, and galactose), fibers (indigestible carbs that feed bacteria in the gut to facilitate fatty acid formation), sugar alcohols (sweet carbs with fewer calories), and starches (long-chained carbs usually broken down to release glucose).

Carbohydrates are mostly appreciated for their energy-giving roles through the release of calories. In abundance, they are converted to fats and stored in the skin as the fatty layer. Fibers are yet another class of carbs that the body cannot digest. However, the bacteria in the gut area break them down, feed on them, and make fatty acids, the primary food source for some cells.

Classifying carbohydrate-containing foods

While many foods are rich in carbs, the amount differs, and so does the effect on the body. Carb-containing foods can be grouped as simple or complex, where the simple carbs refer to the short-chained sugars like glucose while the complex carbs denote the long-chain carbs that are further broken down to glucose for the body to benefit from them. The other class groups carbs as whole and refined. Whole carbohydrates refer to unprocessed carbs, while refined carbs attribute to the carbs that have undergone industrial processes meant to modify them. Whole grains, barley, rice, oat, and quinoa are some examples of whole carbs. On the other hand, white bread, sweetened beverages, most confectioneries, and white flour-made products constitute refined carbs.

While refined carbs may seem simple, studies discourage consuming them in large quantities for fear of worsened diabetes type 2 symptoms, sugar spikes, heart complications, and obesity. Most of the nutritional constituents of refined carbs are sapped, and a lot of sugar is added to them, making them the major cause of most chronic and lifestyle diseases. However, not all carbs are bad; whole carbs are good for the body. Legumes and whole grains have whole carbs and fibers, which are good for good gut health and improved digestive health. Besides, whole carbs can boost metabolism and promote overall good health.

Low carb diet

The internet is full of information on the low-carb diet. Some special cases can attract the consumption of little carbs. For instance, the obese, diabetics, those on a weight-loss diet, and people with metabolic syndrome focus more on low-carb diets. Some studies have even claimed that the high fiber content in carbohydrates can reduce the fecal retention time, worsening the symptoms of diabetic syndrome. Besides, some studies suggest that doing a low-carb diet helps reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and increases good cholesterol. Even after such studies, being on a low-carb diet hasn’t been shown to be effective in reducing the risk factors of cardiovascular complications.

Are carbs the primary cause of obesity?

For a long time, people (probably even you) have debunked on the notion that eating a high-carb diet leads to obesity. Well, this is a myth! Even if you lowered your carb intake and registered considerable weight loss, it doesn’t necessarily mean that carbs were the main cause of your obese condition; there is more to it. And this goes down to the main classes of carbs; whole and refined. It’s beyond any doubt that eating lots of added and refined sugars will increase the risk of obesity. However, eating whole carbs, which are rich in fibers, has nothing to do with obesity. In fact, some world populations majorly depend on the Paleo diet that consists of many whole carbs, yet they don’t suffer from obesity and maintain a pretty healthy weight. For instance, the Ok people eat foods rich in carbs and are healthy. However, if a person increases his intake of refined and processed carbs, the risk of obesity will rise.

Enjoy and benefit from the incredibly healthy carb-rich foods.

The RDI value of carbs is 130mg. However, some low-carb diet enthusiasts claim that carbs are not essential in the diet. Well, this may hold some levels of truth. However, the brain and the body need carbs to function well. While some parts of the brain need ketone for action, most brain parts depend on carbs for fueling. Therefore, do not deprive yourself of the unique health benefits you can only explore from carb-rich foods.

Making the right choice

As a rule of thumb, focus more on the whole, fiber-rich carbs for optimal nutritional benefits and increased metabolism. In fact, foods rich in a single carb ingredient are the best. However, if you yearn for more, focus on the complex carbs as opposed to refined carbs. Thus, add more whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, leafy green vegetables, and fruits to your diet. In addition, avoid refined carbs such as pastries, white bread, potato crisps, and French fries, ice cream, sugared drinks, and chocolates.

Conclusion

Just as in other nutrition elements, there is no black and white in the right amounts of carbs to eat. However, it is unanimously agreed that the body needs carbs. Although some people can survive entirely on a zero-carb diet, they deprive themselves of the unique health benefits they can reap from whole carbs. Therefore, the rule of thumb suggests whole, fiber-rich carbs and less or no refined carbs.

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