Carbohydrates are a quintessential part of healthy living. These are the major energy sources and building blocks of all organisms. But people have maligned carbs for no reason at all. Most people targeting a healthy and fit body try to keep a low carb diet. But that’s a huge misconception.
Carbohydrates if taken in proper quantity and from right sources can enhance your fitness regime. You can witness far better results with carbs than without it. It supports muscle growth, inhibits muscle loss, and even boosts metabolism. So the fundamentals of healthy eating suggest that the right use of carbs is vital to your health and fitness goals.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates along with proteins and fats are one of the three macronutrients that our body needs to survive. These macronutrients are vital for proper body functioning. Carbs also form polymers that constitute stored foods, protective membranes for organisms, and main structure for plants. Our body can’t synthesize these macronutrients and we need to obtain them from our diet.
Carbohydrates aka saccharides or carbs are basically the starch, sugar, and fibers found in our food items. These macronutrients are one of the mains sources of energy for our body. They contain Aldehydes and Ketones as the two basic components made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms.
Why are Refined Carbohydrates so Bad for Your Health?
Refined Carbs aren’t the healthiest form of carbs to eat. These comprise sugars and refined grains deprived of fibers, brans, and nutrients. When consumed, these carbs quickly fill your blood with a lot of sugar. They hence induce a surge of insulin to get rid of blood sugar. And that’s not healthy at all.
With high insulin levels due to refined carbs, you crave for even more sugary carbs. This only results in gaining more fat leading to obesity. A long term consumption of refined carbs is also related to issues like type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Other side effects include heart disease, high blood pressure, mood disorders, hyperactivity, and even suicidal intentions.
Types of Carbohydrates (good and bad)
Carbohydrates are basically categorized as monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. A monosaccharide is the smallest carb unit. Two monosaccharides combine to form a disaccharide while polysaccharides are the polymer form of carbs.
Another classification from a dietary point of view includes good and bad carbs. Good carbs are the complex carbohydrates or polysaccharides. These are the long chain molecules rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and are slow digesting. That’s why these carbs keep you fuller for longer and reduce cravings. These are healthy and hence good carbs. Sources of good carbs include vegetables, fruits, pulses, etc.
Talking about the bad carbs, these are simple carbs and include monosaccharides and disaccharides. These carbs are sugars and are single or double molecule units. These carbs digest really fast and provide quick energy. However, it makes you hungrier and you end up consuming more carbs. That’s why it’s an unhealthy and bad carb. Sources include candies, sugars, and bread.
Sources of Carbohydrates
There are both healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates sources. It’s important to identify your source of carbs. Good carbs sources include plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, milk, etc. On the other hand, the bad carbs sources include white bread, synthetic sugar, soda, and other processed foods. Here’s a list of good carbs sources.
- Unrefined whole grains – brown rice, bran cereal, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, multigrain or whole wheat bread, etc.
- Non-starchy vegetables – tomatoes, green beans, spinach, celery, brussels sprouts, etc.
- Legumes – peas, baked beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc.
- Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts, peanuts, etc.
- Fruits – citrus fruit, apple, bananas, berries, pears, etc.
How much of Carbohydrates do you need?
How much carbs you need is subject to your health goals. Firstly, you have to decide your daily calorie intake. Then you can decide the calories to gain from proteins and fats as per your fitness goals. The leftover calories are to be gained by the carbs.
Generally, most dieticians recommend 135 grams of carbs for adults. They advise consuming 45 to 65 percent of your daily calorie in the form of carbs. A gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories and according to that, you can calculate the amount you need. Also, diabetics should take at most 200 grams and pregnant women at least 175 grams of carbohydrates.
How to Cut Down on Extra Carbohydrates?
Want to cut down the extra carbohydrates in your diet? You can do this by switching to good carbs. Eat complex carbs and reduce the consumption of refined carbs and sugary foods to almost nothing. By cutting bad carbs you also cut the cravings for those carbs. And by accepting good carbs, you keep yourself full for longer.
Carbohydrates Supplements: What you Need to Know?
Considering to include carbohydrate supplement in your diet? A lot of us stay confused whether to obtain our daily carbs from foods or supplement. The ideal thing to do is including both. Carbs in whole foods digest really slow keeping you fuller for longer. This can help you curb your hunger and cravings. On the other hand, supplements digest much faster and help achieve an insulin spike.
For a healthy eating habit, you need to find the right balance between carbs from foods and supplements. The best supplements to consume would be the high glycemic ones lie glucose, maltodextrin, and dextrose. Also, it’s better to have supplements before, while, and after training while whole foods at other times.
With all the above information, we conclude that carbohydrates just can’t be neglected. We need carbs for health and fitness. The only thing that needs to be taken care of is to consume carbs from the right sources.
A healthy eating habit is highly important for proper weight management. And skipping your carbs is never healthy. So grab the number of carbs you need from unprocessed sources and you’re almost there. A balanced diet with proper exercising is all it takes.
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