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What are carbohydrates and how do they affect the body? (Part 1 on carbs)

What are carbohydrates and how do they affect the body? (Part 1 on carbs)

I am so glad you stumbled onto my article!

One thing I notice a lot while working with my clients is that many people have never been taught the basics of nutrition.

I mean, how the heck are people supposed to know what to eat when they have never been taught or shown the very basics- like what macro-nutrients like carbs or protein are?

So I put together a 5 part series about carbohydrates. In it you will learn what carbohydrates are, what the glycemic index is, what glycemic load means, how to use carb cycling to burn more fat, and finally how to use carbohydrates to help you build more muscle mass.

At different times I eat different amounts of carbs; if I am trying to get leaner and shed fat then I start lowering my carb intake (except for after workouts), but when I am looking to bulk up or get stronger I start eating more carbs to fuel my gains.

Carbs aren’t good or bad and they have positives and drawbacks.

The facts remain though: that carbs are a required part of the diet, they are the bodies preferred source of energy, and they help to spare muscle breakdown, and they taste good!

So go ahead, get started learning how to make a better you today.

 

 

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy.

All of the carbohydrates that you consume are converted into glucose or glycogen; the glucose is released into the bloodstream and used readily by the body to fuel your metabolism; glycogen however, is a complex chain of glucose that your body stores for later use.

The body can function without carbohydrates, but maintenance of bodily functions become more complex without them.

When blood glucose or glycogen levels become low, then the body must convert fats and proteins into glucose to use for energy.

 

Carbohydrates are generally classified as either simple or complex

Simple carbs, sweets, junk food

Simple carbs- try to avoid these guys except for right after a workout or as a treat.

Simple carbohydrates are simple starches or sugar and they are present in high amounts in: some fruits, fruit juices, sugar,white rice, white potatoes, and refined carbohydrates like white bread.

 

healthy food, carbohydrates

Complex carbs- these cabs are better for your health and for weightloss

Complex carbohydrates are complex chains of sugars and starches that take longer for the body the break down. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains like: rice, breads, quinoa, spelt, oatmeal, and are also found in legumes and many vegetables.

 

The distinguishing factor between simple and complex carbohydrates is this: simple carbohydrates are digested rapidly and hit the bloodstream quickly (high glycemic index), while complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to break down (low glycemic index).

Unless you are looking to gain weight, then your goal should always be to limit simple carbs and try to replace them with healthier complex carbs.

 

The excess carbohydrates that your body does not use immediately for energy will get either stored as fat, or stored in the muscles and liver as a complex carbohydrate called glycogen.

When glucose is stored as glycogen it is stored in a complex form and is readily available for energy anytime your body needs it. Glycogen is the bodies primary source of energy immediately after it uses up its ATP stores.

If your blood sugar levels begin to drop, or if you are exercising intensely then your body releases a hormone called glucagon; glucagon causes a release of glycogen into the bloodstream in the form of glucose.

If your blood sugar levels get too high then your body releases insulin; insulin causes the body to store the excess glucose as either fat or glycogen (among other things): this is why refined and simple carbohydrates have a greater effect on weight gain.

Since simple carbohydrates are in a simple form, the body breaks them down quickly and absorbs them rapidly: this increases the chances of fat storage because the body must release insulin to lower blood sugar levels that become too high.

When you consume complex carbohydrates they are absorbed more slowly keeping your blood sugar levels more steady: this cause a less noticeable rise in blood sugar levels, and therefore less insulin and fat storage.


These are the basic principles behind carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are more than just the calories they contain; carbohydrates also cause powerful hormonal signals in the body that have a high effect on our metabolism and whether or not we are storing or burning fat.

Simple carbs are useful for weight gain, post workout recovery, and glycogen replenishment.

Complex carbohydrates are better for weight loss or maintenance, sustained energy, and pre-workout.

Carbs are the bodies primary energy source, and understanding the types of carbs and their effects on our bodies will give you an edge when you are planning the foods to add to your daily diet.

 

Want more help improving your health or losing weight?

Find out how health coaching or personal training can help!

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