The battle rages on. When you hear the term carbohydrate what do you think of? Bread, pasta, maybe even certain vegetables. Understanding carbohydrates is a little more complicated than just pastas, breads, and veggies. There is a lot of bad press about carbs. You have so many low carb diets out there it’s easy to lose count. And most of them are boo on carbs. But before you throw caution to the wind and swear off carbs forever, let’s take a closer look at exactly what they do and the different types.
What Are The Functions Of Carbohydrates?
One of the main functions of carbohydrates is to produce energy. The glucose found in carbohydrates breaks down and is used right away by your cells. But don’t think for a minute that is all a carb does. It’s a little more complex than that. Here is a little known fact about those pesky carbs: your brain needs carbs to function properly. That’s right! Without carbs you will have trouble putting your thinking cap on. In fact it is the only source of energy for the brain! How about them apples? Some carbs even help prevent deadly diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. If your intestines are low on the friendly bacteria what are you to do? Simple eat some healthy carbs. I will discuss which ones to eat later in the post.For anybody that exercises on a regular basis, carbs are your friend. You will have trouble getting through a workout without any carbohydrates in your body.
Not All Carbs Are Created Equal
Most do not know the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. This knowledge is important to have. Why? Because if you eat the wrong kinds you could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. There are two types of carbs: complex (good) and simple (bad). There are technically 3 types, I will cover the one later.
The Main Two are Complex and Simple.
Complex carbs are also known as starches. It takes longer for the body to breakdown complex carbs than it does simple carbs. Because of this the body gets more nutrients. But that is not always the case. Complex carbs include: oatmeal, pasta, and bread. Remember to buy whole grains avoid anything white: like white rice and white flour. Fruits include: plums, prunes, blueberries, apricots, and many more. Vegetables include: potatoes, eggplant, cabbage, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, and kale. There are a few low carb fruits and vegetables you can munch on.Not all simple carbohydrates are bad, but a good many of them are. Some can give you good quality nutrition while others can make you gain weight. Here are a few to avoid: soft drinks (that should be the most obvious), fruit juices, anything made with white flour ( white bread, white pasta, cakes), white rice, and of course processed sweets. Yes krispy kreme falls into that category too in case you were wondering. Fruits include: bananas, apples, figs, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit, and strawberries to name a few. Honey is one example of a healthy simple carbohydrate that if taken in proper amounts (1-2 tablespoons a day) can have some health benefits.
Carbohydrates And Starches: What Is The Difference?
Now that we know the difference between a good and a bad carb, let’s find out the difference between a carb and a starch. Starches are the same thing as complex or healthy carbs, they make up just one cateogory of carbs. The other two are fibrous and simple. Fibrous carbohydrates come from green leafy vegetables like broccoli. Eat as many of these as you want and you don’t have to feel guilty afterward. A big difference between complex and simple is how they affect insulin. A simple carb will cause a insulin spike, while a complex carb will cause a more gradual insulin spike. The slower insulin spike allows you to feel fuller longer.
When Should I Eat Simple or Complex?
After a workout is the best time. Eating a complex carb within an hour after a workout is a great idea. Why? Because your body is depleted of glycogen after a workout, that glycogen gets replenished when you eat a complex carb. Eat a complex carb with a protein in the same meal. This will help minimize the chance of the carbohydrate being stored as fat. Eat plenty of carbohydrates during breakfast and lunch, minimize the amount you eat at dinner. Minimize the amount of simple carbs you eat as much as possible.Remember not all carbs are bad, if it is white stay far far away. Remember to eat a carb that is high in fiber and low in sugar.