You hear a lot about how having eating habits of consuming low carbohydrates is good for you and can help you lose weight. While this may be true, at least to a point, it’s not so much the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed as it is the type of carbohydrates. Are carbohydrates good for you ? Here we cover the basics concerning types of carbohydrates, how the body uses them, which carbohydrates to avoid, as well as ones that are good for you.
So how are carbohydrates good for you ? There are two types of carbohydrates, simple, and complex. Glucose is the form of sugar the body uses as carbohydrates for fuel. You should try to avoid simple carbohydrates as much as possible. These are made from simple sugars and consist of mainly processed foods such as sweets, sodas, candy bars, ice cream, and all the other delicious sweet and tasty foods. While you don’t have to totally avoid these all together, you want to consume them in moderation.
When you consume simple sugars such as these, you get what is called a sugar high. This is where your level of blood glucose rises quickly, and then drops after a short time. This rise in blood glucose levels comes from increased insulin levels which are responsible for transporting glucose to the cells. In comparison to this, when you consume complex carbohydrates, they break down at a slower rate than do simple carbohydrates. This gives you a more stable glucose level. The type of carbohydrates consumed, as well as the timing are both important. This is especially true if you have diabetes which is explained here.
There are two types of diabetes, types one and two. Type one diabetes (1) is where your body is not able to produce enough insulin to transport glucose from the blood to the cells for use. This type of diabetes is usually treated by taking a shot of insulin. Type two diabetes is where your body is not able to accept insulin due to an increased adaptation to sugars that are consumed. This will lead to what is known as insulin resistance where your cells resistance to the use of insulin increases. A decrease in what is known as insulin sensitivity, making your body less sensitive to levels of insulin also occurs. Due to over consumption of simple sugars, the body becomes used to insulin. If you decrease the amount of simple sugars that are consumed the insulin resistance will decrease, while increasing the bodies’ sensitivity to insulin. This allows the body to become more efficient at using insulin. It can be done through adjusting your diet to consuming more complex carbohydrate and less simple carbohydrates. This type of diabetes does not require more insulin production, but only for the insulin to be working more efficiently.
Why are carbohydrates good for you ? Consuming more complex carbohydrates from things such as vegetables, as well as whole wheat grains and breads are the best way to maintain blood sugar levels. Vegetables are also very fibrous as well which assists your digestive system. Complex carbohydrates, unlike simple carbohydrates take much longer to digest into your system. This is why it is good to have a meal that has these carbohydrates a few hours before an active event like a sporting event. If you are consuming a diet that is more than forty percent in carbohydrates, it is near impossible to consume enough without some being simple sugars. This is one reason why a low carbohydrate diet is good. As mentioned before, vegetables, as well as whole grains and pastas are your main sources of complex carbohydrates. All others come in forms of simple sugars such as sodas and candy. There is also the option of using meal replacements in between meals as a snack in order to assist in consuming the total number of calories in a day that you need. You should only make sure that it is low in the total amount of sugar it contains.
In actuality your body is much more efficient in producing and using energy if smaller meals are consumed throughout the day. The timing of intake of carbohydrates is also important. When are carbohydrates good for you ? If you consume carbohydrates at the right time, mainly prior to and after activity, while consuming less when not active, it will assist you in health and weight loss. It is when you get up in the morning, and prior to the most active part of the day that the largest amount of carbohydrates should be consumed. Here is a general example of a meal plan that someone may follow and the difference between consuming fewer or more meals during a day.
Sinerio 1: Three meals a day: 3000 calories total
Meal 1: 7:00 AM Meal 2 1:00 PM Meal 3 7:00 PM
1,000 calories 1,000 calories 1,000 calories
Sinerio 2: Six meals a day:
Meal 1: 7:00 AM Meal 2: 10:00 AM Meal 3 1:00 PM Meal 4 4:00 PM Meal 5: 7:00 PM Meal 6: 10:00 PM
400 calories 500 calories 600 calories 600 calories 500 calories 400 calories
In both cases, the same total number of calories consumed in a day are the same. In the first case, the same amount of calories are consumed each meal. Doing this will cause more of a rapid increase in your blood sugar. If you consume smaller meals throughout the day such as in the second case, your blood sugar will remain much more stable. When consuming a larger number of meals, this also allows you to distribute your calories more equally. Also, when consuming smaller meals, three of them should be in the form of a healthy snack, or meal replacement bars or powder.
Concerning the percentage of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, a good combination is no more than 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Consuming a diet low in carbohydrates may also be good for those with diabetes. (2) You should first speak with a doctor or nutritionist before adjusting your eating habits if you have any medical condition. Consuming the minimum amount of carbs needed, along with an appropriate amount of proteins and fats will assist you in weight loss when combined with physical activity. When consuming carbohydrates, your body can only use so many of them, and what it doesn’t used is stored as fat. This is why eating a smaller number of carbohydrates may be effective at weight loss. When your body has used up the carbohydrates that it has stored, it goes into a state of what is called ketosis. This is where the body uses other sources such as fats and proteins for fuel. This can be, and is effective in the process of losing weight. (3)
So are carbohydrates good for you ? Since carbohydrates are the bodies’ main source of fuel, they are good and should not be totally eliminated from your diet. What should be done is to decrease the amount of simple sugars consumed, while focusing more on complex forms of carbohydrates while consuming smaller meals throughout the day. This helps in maintaince of blood sugar throughout the day, and when combined with daily activity can assist in weight loss. I hope that this has given you a good understanding on the different types of carbohydrates there are, as well as the best way to consume them so that you use them more efficiently for fuel.