Carbs Defined

Carbohydrates, the scourge of the misinformed, are the body’s main source of energy. During digestion, starches and sugars, the principle kind of carbohydrates, are broken down into glucose, also know as blood sugar. This sugar provides the essential energy for our brain and central nervous system.

You need carbohydrates in your daily diet so that vital tissue-building protein is not wasted for energy when it might be needed for repair. If you eat too many carbs, more can be converted into glucose or glycogen (which is stored in the liver and muscles), and the result, as we all know, is Fat. When the body needs more fuel, it is converted back to glucose and you lose weight. Yeah!! Don’t have such a nasty attitude toward carbs. They are as important to good health as other nutrients and, gram for gram; they have the same 4 calories as a gram of protein. Although no official requirement exists, a minimum of about 50 grams daily is recommended to avoid ketosis, an acid condition of the blood that can happen when your fat is used primarily for energy.

Types of Carbohydrates

  1. Simple
  2. Complex
  3. Indigestible

Simple carbohydrates are commonly referred to as sugars; however, not all sugars are created equal. Naturally occurring sugars, glucose, are also called dextrose, corn sugar or grape sugar. This is the type of carbohydrate found in circulating in the blood (blood sugar). It is also the carbohydrate used by the cells for energy and is absorbed directly into the bloodstream when consumed, as it requires no digestion. Fructose (levulase, fruit sugar) is found in honey, ripe fruits and some vegetables, i.e., corn. It is not assimilated directly into the bloodstream and is absorbed at only half the rate of glucose; consequently, fructose raised the blood sugar level less dramatically, and is less insulinogenic. What this means is that there is reduced demand placed on your pancreas and blood sugar regulation mechanisms, and fructose is less fat provoking.

Complex carbohydrates are complex compounds also known as starches. Though they are compared to sugar, they are not sweet and are not water soluble. Complex carbohydrates are digested more gradually than simple sugars and, as a result, they have many advantages over simple sugars as a source of food energy.

Indigestible carbohydrates are also know as fiber and are the portion of plants which cannot be broken down by human enzymes or digestive juices.

Fiber can be divided into two types: soluble (dissolves in hot water) and insoluble (does not dissolves in hot water). Soluble fibers include pectin, gum and mucilage. Insoluble fibers include cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin. Every whole plant contains a mixture of these fibers, with differing amounts.

A good rule of thumb for balancing macro-nutrition is the 60-40-40 ratio: Carbohydrate - 60%; Protein - 40%; Fat - 40%

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