carbohydrates

carbohydrates


The human body is designed to run on carbohydrates. While we can use protein and fat for energy, the easiest fuels for our body to use are carbohydrates.
  When we eat complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, vegetables, beans and lentils, or simpler carbohydrates like fruit, the body does exactly what it is designed to do: it breaks them down and gives us energy. Even better, as these foods haven’t been modified or processed, all the nutrients that the body needs for digestion and metabolism are already present in them. They also contain fibre, which is a less digestible type of carbohydrate that helps the digestive system run smoothly.
  Carbohydrates have developed a pretty bad reputation over recent years, but when used correctly, they can be massively beneficial in keeping blood sugar stable and energy levels constant and fuelling your body for workouts.
  Remember, carbohydrates have one job – to give you energy. There is no ‘essential carbohydrate’ like essential amino acids from protein or essential fatty acids from fat: they exist to give your body and brain energy. Keeping this in mind, their correct use can be a great weapon in your arsenal. I like to think of carbohydrates like a guard dog – if you treat them well throughout their life, they will look after you, make you feel better and help you sleep better at night. If you abuse them though, they can turn around and bite you just as fast.
  Why do we need carbohydrates?

  As mentioned above, we don’t ‘need’ carbohydrates. However, if you are a highly active individual, carbohydrates will definitely have some great benefits for your body.
  Body’s main source of fuel: glucose and glycogen.
  Easily used by the body for energy: fuelling intensive workouts.
  Used by all tissues and cells for energy: glucose.
  Can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy. Note: This is great for fitness-seeking people for whom performance is key, but overdoing it can also lead to fat gain.
  Good source of fibre: certain types of carbohydrates that our body can’t digest are passed through the intestinal tract intact and help to move waste out of the body.
  Are fruits good or bad?

  Unlike vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, which are nearly impossible to overeat, the answers regarding the effect of fruit on body composition can vary depending on who you speak with. I have heard every argument from ‘Fruit will make you fat’ to ‘We’re evolved to eat fruit, which should be a staple part of every diet on the planet!’. There are a few topics, which I can argue just as strongly on both sides.
  On one hand, I am a massive fan of the vitamins and minerals that fruits naturally contain. In addition, if timed right, they can balance blood sugar and enormously curb a natural sweet tooth. On the other hand, fructose is converted to glucose pretty easily and excess of it can lead to unnecessary fat gain. Further, there are certain fruits that are nearly pure glucose and can hugely elevate blood sugar levels, leading to a whole host of energy crashes and fat-gain problems. The truth isn’t whether fruits are inherently good or bad; it’s the selection choices you make and their timings that are key.
  Fruits contain a simple sugar called fructose, which needs no digestion and can therefore enter the bloodstream quickly, like glucose or sucrose. However, unlike them, fructose is classified as slow releasing because the body can’t use it as it is and has to convert it into glucose before your body can effectively use it. This slows down the sugar’s effect on the metabolism.
  Some fruits such as grapes, mangoes and dates contain pure glucose and are therefore faster releasing. Bananas contain both fructose and glucose and thereby raise blood sugar levels quite speedily and are thus worth watching out for too.
  Through personal experience, the negatives of raising blood sugar dramatically, even post workout, massively outweighs the benefits. It feels as if you are spending the rest of the day trying to stabilise your energy levels as your blood sugars balance. I would use these fruits in moderation to avoid an imbalance in blood sugars, which can slow down the fat-burning process and lead to unnecessary energy drops during the day.
  Avoid refined carbohydrates

  Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice or refined cereals have a similar effect to refined sugar. When you eat simple carbohydrates, you get a rapid increase in blood sugar level and a corresponding surge in energy. A drop however follows the surge, as the body scrambles to balance your blood sugar levels. This drop, especially if it happens frequently through the day, can give you a whole host of problems, right from short-term problems like irritability, tiredness and headaches to long-term problems like fatigue and weight gain. This is where balancing your blood sugar levels becomes the key.
  Balancing blood sugars

  Keeping blood sugar balanced is probably the most important factor in maintaining steady energy levels and weight. The level of glucose in your blood largely determines your appetite. When the level of glucose drops, you feel hungry. The glucose in your bloodstream is available for your cells to produce energy. When the levels are too high, the body converts the excess to glycogen or fat, our long-term energy reserves. If our blood sugar levels are too low, we experience a host of symptoms including fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, depression, headaches and digestive problems. So how do we keep our blood sugars balanced?