Why Do I Need Carbohydrates?
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Carbs.Carbohydrates, also known as ‘carbs’, get a bad rap. ‘Good Carbs, bad carbs’. ‘Low carb, no carb’. We’ve all heard these anti carbohydrate speeches and diets. Truth is, your body needs carbohydrates to function properly. Let’s talk about what a carbohydrate is, why you need them and the different kinds.
What is a Carbohydrate?A carbohydrate is a macro nutrient and one of the six major nutrients. Protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water make up the other five. All are needed for your survival.
Why Do We Need Carbohydrates?Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our muscles.
Carbohydrates are essential for muscle performance.
Carbohydrates are needed for proper functioning of the brain, nervous system and kidneys.
An inadequate amount of stored carbohydrates in your system while exercising can cause quick fatigue, light headed and dizziness and exercise performance to deteriorate. Inadequate carbohydrate intake for a long period can lead to more serious problems.
What Kinds of Carbohydrates?Good Carbs and Bad Carbs. There is such a thing.
Good CarbsGood Carbs, also known as Complex Carbohydrates, are the preferred carbohydrate. ‘Good carbs’ are unprocessed. They are in their natural state and not (or minimally) altered by man or machine.
Simply put, complex carbohydrates break down slowly in your body and give you a steady, sustained amount of energy. ‘Good carbs’ are high in fiber, high in nutrients and have a low glycemic index. Good carbs should make up most of your carbohydrate intake.
Examples: Fresh vegetables
Nuts, Seeds and Whole Grains
Bad CarbsBad Carbs are refined and/or processed. This unnatural process (done by man or machine) takes most of the natural fiber and nutrients out of the carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates end up being high in simple sugar and starches. This simple sugar is broken down quickly by your body and if not used, is stored as excess body fat.
Simply put, when consumed, ‘bad carbs’ are quickly turned into sugar. This quick injection of sugar is leads to a high amount of energy, followed by a crash. This crash leaves you feeling slow and looking for more ‘bad carbs’. You’ve heard of ‘sugar high’ and ‘sugar crash’, right?
‘Bad carbs’ also contain mostly ‘empty calories’. Empty calories are calories that do not contain many nutrients. Too many empty calories turn into excess body fat.
Examples: White bread
How Much Carbohydrates?The Food Guide Pyramid, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), recommends we consume 45 – 65% percent of our total daily calories in the form of carbohydrates. In grams: 8-10 grams per kilogram of body weight.
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