By: Rick Bellanti – June, 2020
Most of the nutrients in food we eat daily fall into three major groups; Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates, altogether these make up macro-nutrients. (You may have heard of counting your Macros in some of the newer keto diet type plans. The body can obtain everything it needs to survive from protein, fats and the right kind of dietary carbohydrates, the Good Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are mainly sugars and starches that the body breaks down into glucose (a simple sugar that the body can use to feed its cells). Carbohydrates provide us with energy, spare protein, helps us maintain digestive health. So why do carbohydrates get such a bad reputation in fad diets that tell us to stop eating them?
It’s really about the type of carbohydrate you are consuming. That’s right, there are two different categories of carbohydrates that we will discuss here. Complex carbohydrates which are found in foods such as starchy vegetables, grains, rice, bread, pasta and cereal and simple sugars such as fructose, glucose, and lactose.
The body will break down most carbohydrates into the sugar glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. As the glucose level rises in your body, your pancreas will then releases insulin. Insulin is needed to move sugar from your blood into the cells, where it now can be used as a source of energy.
Studies from health professionals say between 45 and 55 percent of the calories you consume should come from the good carbohydrates. The best carbohydrates to eat are those that do not raise blood sugar fast or too high, but also provides the best nutrition. Those kinds of carbohydrates that are described as good carbohydrates or low glycemic foods. Good carbohydrates include vegetables, low glycemic fruits such as berries and apples, as well as legumes and unprocessed high fiber whole grains.
You want to stay away from the bad carbohydrates as much as possible, they are highly processed carbohydrates, such as refined breads, cereals, and pastries, that raise blood sugar too high and too quickly. These refined carbohydrates are not only higher in sugar and significantly lower in nutrients and fiber than whole foods, but they also break down more rapidly into glucose and enter your bloodstream far faster than vegetables and other good carbohydrates.
Your body can break down carbohydrates for energy much more efficiently than protein or fat.
Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source of your body, when you eat foods that contain carbohydrate, your body breaks them down into glucose. The glucose provides fuel for each cell in your body, providing us with energy.
Most fad diets will tell you to skip the carbohydrates, but if you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, your body will use protein in your body as an energy source. Keep in mind that protein is needed to build muscle as well as several other functions, but if it is used for energy due to lack of carbohydrates, then protein cannot perform its proper function.
How do carbohydrates in my diet help my digestion?
Fiber is also a type of carbohydrate that is necessary for digestive health. Some fiber is digestible and some is not. Both types of fiber are necessary to help food move through your intestinal tract. As we spoke about this a few columns back, fiber also helps you feel full longer, which helps you avoid overeating.
Watch for common simple carbohydrates added to foods such as raw sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup (especially high fructose corn syrup) glucose, fructose, and sucrose and juice from concentrate. Simple Carbohydrate foods to avoid to start would be, sugary soda, baked goods, breakfast cereals and white bread.
Load up on low glycemic foods, whole grains, fiber rich fruit (some of these are apples, berries, and bananas), leafy greens, carrots and broccoli. Whole grains are also good sources of fiber as well as beans.
Remember, a diet that is focused on eating plenty of good carbohydrates is naturally low in sugar, especially processed or added sugar. When you focus on eating good carbohydrates , you are also avoiding all the hidden sugars that can make us feel sick and may cause us to put on more weight.
Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs, and has lost 160lbs since the start of 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will address a few of the topics here ◊