Many people find themselves asking what are carbohydrates. Many know them as being hazordous to a weight loss plan, as they believe that they can cause you to gain weight.
Diet products have even been created to block carbohydrates from being absorbed into your body. Which of course are pretty good if you feel you consume too many on a daily basis.
But how essential are they for your body and do you really need to go through life eating as little of them as possible if you want to successfully lose weight?
So exactly what are carbohydrates?
This food group is also known as saccharides. They are made up of both sugars and starches which provide you with the energy you need to sustain your body and carry out daily tasks without feeling drained and exhausted.
There are two types of carbohydrates simple and complex, or as they are scientifically known monosaccharides and polysaccharides.
These are easier for the body to digest. They are found in foods like dairy products, white pasta, white bread sugar and fruit. Simple carbs are used up quick fast by your body and therefore only give a short burst of energy when they are eaten.
These ones are harder for the body to digest. They are found in foods such as vegetables, whole grain breads, brown rice and brown pasta. Brown rice and pasta contains the complex type because they are not refined which results in them remaining complex as they contain all their nutrients.
Eating complex carbohydrates will fill you up and provide you with long lasting energy, unlike simple carbs.
How are they processed by your body?
So that’s the ‘what are carbohydrates’ question answered, next lets take a look at how they are processed by your body.
Your liver breaks the carbs down into sugars or glucose. This result in your pancreas producing insulin in order to digest them. This results in the sugar or glucose being transfered into your cells so they can be used up as energy.
The two types of carbs have different effects on your insulin. The simple type cause a drastic rise of insulin which drops quickly, this is why you only get a sort lived boost of energy but complex causes a steady rise as they take much longer to digest. Because of this they provide you with energy for much longer.
The way your body handles too many carbohydrates is by storing excess amounts known as glycogen in the cells of both your liver and muscles for use when the body runs out of energy. When them stores are full the rest of the excess is stored as fat all over your body.
The only time the fat stores will be used for energy is when your body has run out of glycogen supplies in the liver and muscles and is exposed to long period of exercise or vigorous movements such as cleaning the house or walking around.
Should we avoid carbs in our diet when losing weight?
As you can see from the question discussed above ‘what are carbohydrates’, you can see pretty clearly that they are essential for giving you energy. If you drastically limit the amount you consume it will cause problems such as:
1- Muscle cramping
2- Extreme tiredness
3- And even poor mental focus
Yes your body can get energy from foods like protein and fat but it is not as an effective or long lasting as the supply carbohydrates would provide you with. For this reason diets such as the adkins diet are really unhealthy for you to follow over a long period of time.
Your best bet is to have a varied diet with 55-75% of your food being carbs with only about 10% being simple carbs. Getting the right amounts in reasonable portion sizes is essential to keeping you healthy and feeling at your best all the time. Only then will you lose weight and stop storing excess fat on your body!
So what are carbohydrates? There an extremely important part of any diet and should never be avoided in an attempt to lose weight. Portion control and variety of all food groups is the key to effective weight loss!
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