Carbohydrates have earned a bad reputation among some members of the fitness and nutrition communities. When a person wants to lose weight, they’re often told to avoid carb-heavy foods like white bread and pasta. But are all carbs bad? Do they have a place in a healthy diet alongside high performance supplements and other nutritious elements? Let’s investigate.
Carbohydrates are molecules that perform a variety of roles in the human body. In general, their primary function is to provide your body with energy.
There are many types of carbohydrates with varying impacts on health, but the three main varieties are sugars, starches, and fiber, each of which has different benefits.
Sugars include glucose, or blood sugar; fructose and sucrose, the sugars found in fruits and vegetables; and lactose, the natural sugar in milk. Sugars obtained from fruits, vegetables, and other natural whole foods contain vital nutrients in addition to providing a natural energy boost. However, added sugars obtained through processed food and artificial treats add calories to your diet without contributing redeeming health benefits. Consumed in excess, added sugars can lead to elevated blood sugar levels and may promote weight gain.
Starches contain long, strung-together chains of glucose, and come in two primary categories: those that digest rapidly, spiking blood sugar; and those that digest slowly, providing energy and helping you feel full. Starchy foods like peas, corn, beans, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains all deliver essential vitamins and minerals, while peas and beans also contain protein and fiber.
Whereas most carbohydrates break down into sugar molecules, fiber passes through the body undigested. Found in whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, this wondrous carbohydrate helps to regulate the body’s use of sugar, keeping hunger and blood sugar in check. Combined with high performance supplements, a balanced diet containing plenty of fiber will improve the function of your digestive organs, help you maintain a healthy weight, and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Low-carb diets are thought to help people lose weight more quickly than low-fat diets, and an excess of carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain if it causes fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. However, carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced, healthy diet, and should not be shunned altogether.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates comprise between 45 and 65 per cent of your total daily caloric intake. As long as you get your carbs from healthy sources like whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, legumes, and beans, and maintain an active lifestyle, eating carbs should not cause weight gain or interfere with weight loss.
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