Are carbohydrates really the enemy!
We often see a new trend nowadays where people believe that carbohydrates are their biggest enemy in the food they consume. But is it really true? For that, let’s first understand what carbohydrates are and what is their feature in your food.
Being part of the macronutrient family, carbohydrates play a major in providing our body with calories and energy. Often cited as the primary energy source in our body, carbohydrates are essential for proper body functioning. In fact, our body needs carbs in large quantities to maintain its health, just like protein and fats, the other two micronutrients found in our body.
Functions of carbohydrates
- Essential for brain function as they influence our moods and memory.
- Provide fuel for the nervous system.
- Provide energy for working muscles.
- Stop usage of protein as an energy source.
- Helps in fat metabolism.
Types of carbs:-
These are long chains of glucose molecules, which our digestive system eventually breaks down into glucose. They are a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, and B vitamins. They also provide us with a range of nutrients and a very high energy source.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that forms when the carbs break down in the form of glucose and fructose. Our small intestine absorbs these carbs units and transfers them to the liver through the bloodstream. The liver fully converts the sugar into glucose and stores it in the form of energy. Our body requires energy for elementary body functioning and physical activity.
If glucose is not immediately used as energy, then our liver stores the extra energy in the form of calories called glycogen. The liver can store a maximum of 2000 calories at a time. If there is more intake of calories in the form of carbohydrates, then it will become fat.
Alternatively, if there is not enough energy stored, then our body starts using protein as fuel. The problems happen here because protein helps in making muscles. This can put stress on the kidneys, leading to more health problems.
Fiber is considered very important for our healthy body functioning as it promotes the bowel system and helps us fight problems like coronary heart disease and diabetes. They don’t pass on to the small intestine like sugar and starch; rather, they go to large intestines and are mostly in intact form. Here they get converted to hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and fatty acids.
Sources of fiber – Fruits, grains and vegetables, legumes, and dairy products.
What’s a good carb and a bad carb?
Not all carbs are good, neither are all of them bad. It’s essential to understand the difference between the two. Good carbohydrates are the unprocessed ones, and so, their fiber remains intact in the food. In contrast, bad carbs are processed foods that do not offer any fiber.
Good carbs offer many health benefits and have many essential nutrients necessary for our body. They don’t have refined sugars and refined grains, while they are very high in fiber content. You won’t find any sodium in good carbs and also significantly less saturated fat. Also, they come devoid of trans fats, cholesterol, and moderate in calories.
On the other hand, bad carbs are just the opposite of good carbs. Bad carbohydrates raise your blood sugar levels very quickly and highly; this causes one to feel hungry quickly, leading to more food intake.
Examples of good carbs – Vegetables, quinoa, barley, legumes, potatoes, whole grains
Examples of bad carbs – Pastries, sodas, highly processed foods, white rice, white bread, and other white-flour foods.
The big question: Are low-carb diets essential?
Definitely not. Various studies have shown that low-carb diets can show temporary improvements in weight loss, but the body gets symptoms like dizziness or mental and physical weakness and getting lethargic in the long run. Without a proper amount of carbohydrates, the body tends to have less energy which further causes health problems.
What’s important here to understand is our body doesn’t need a low-carb diet, but instead, we should avoid the consumption of bad carbs and especially excessive quantities of bad carbs. They don’t provide any good nutrition to our body but rather become extreme fat sources.
We need good carbs that are fiber-rich in nature. Each of your leafy greens, bright, sweet potatoes, juicy berries, tangy citruses, and crunchy apples contain carbs. Start eating whole grains as they improve your heart health, reduce cholesterol, mental health. At the same time, various studies find that whole grains contain antioxidants along with fiber, energy, and polyunsaturated fats.
Fiber-rich grains and vegetables with skin actually help you solve your weight loss problem, as the fiber helps in digestion, which becomes difficult while following a low-carb diet.