Carbohydrates may be one of the biggest debates in the fitness industry. There is a lot of confusion around whether carbs will be of any benefit to someone looking to get lean and fit or if they will only hinder progress and cause weight gain.
Luckily, I am here to clear the air and let you know that…..carbs are good for you!
Consuming carbs is actually essential for living and functioning, as well as, for reaching specific fitness goals (yes, even for losing weight)
However, NOT all carbohydrates are created equally and that is one of the main points we will touch on today.
In this article, I am going to break down; what carbohydrates are, why they are necessary, the good vs. the bad, and provide you with a list of clean carbs to add to your diet.
WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES AND WHY ARE THEY NECESSARY?
Carbs, or Carbohydrates are 1 of 3 macronutrients, along with Fats and Proteins. This means they are essential for daily living and need to be consumed in larger quantities. When carbs are digested, they can be broken down into three specific categories:
Sugars: a form of smaller carbohydrate molecules like glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
Fibers: a carbohydrate that can’t be digested, but is still very important for your digestive health.
Starches: a carbohydrate made from strings of joined glucose molecules. Starch gets broken down to glucose when you digest it to provide energy for your body’s cells.
These three categories are exactly why a nutrition label will say, “Total Carbohydrates” because whatever carb sources are in that specific food, they will come from one, if not all of those subcategories, which gives you a total carbohydrate count.
For Example, one serving of Raisin Bran cereal may have 7g Dietary Fiber and 13g Sugar, but a total of 46g Carbohydrates. This is because there is a base of 26g of Carbohydrates and when you add the other sources of Carbs, such as the Fiber and Sugar…...you reach the total count of 46g!
Carbs not only make foods 10x better, but they are essential for daily living. Carbs provide your body with many things, such as: energy, focus, digestion, and faster recovery. They are specifically important for those who have vigorous jobs or for those who workout, because both require a lot of energy!
When carbs are eaten, your body breaks them down into simple Sugars, which are absorbed by the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises in your body, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy.
So the question, “Will Carbs make me fat” is NOT TRUE. Unless you are completely inactive.
For example, if you sat on a couch all day and piled hundreds of carbs into your mouth, and did this day after day…...you will definitely notice some weight gain, due to not properly utilizing those carbs for energy. Plus, you will more than likely be eating more total calories, then what you are burning in a day…..which ultimately leads to weight gain itself.
GOOD VS BAD CARBS?
Remember how I said, “Not all carbs are created equally”.... Well that is 100% true, some carbs are SIMPLE and others are COMPLEX.
When reaching for a carb, you generally want to reach for a COMPLEX carb, which packs in more nutrients than simple carbs. They're higher in fiber and digest much slower, making them more filling and better for weight management.
SIMPLE carbs, on the other hand, are typically your “junk foods”....they are often over processed foods and refined sugars like candy, soda and syrups. (i.e. High Fructose Corn Syrup) They tend to lack vitamins, minerals and fiber, making them rather unhealthy.
LIST OF COMPLEX CARBS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET
- Sweet Potatoes
- Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Brown Rice
Beans (Various Kinds)
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