Let’s start by clarifying that a diet are the foods consisting of your everyday eating. Now; you can make your diet specific for different things, but when we refer to diet we refer to our general everyday eating.
We will see what carbohydrates are, explained in the simplest way possible, so you can understand what they really are and avoid misconceptions surrounding nutrition.
Carbohydrates are macronutrients, and they contain minerals and vitamins (micronutrients) that your body needs. They give calories (energy) to your body. One gram of carbohydrate contains approximately 4 calories. This gives fuel to your system. There are good carbohydrates and not so good ones and there are different ways to classify them, but we will look at the simplest one. If you have never heard of this word (carbohydrates) think of whatever complements your meal; potatoes, pasta, vegetables, grains and fruits. We will classify them in two groups, simple and whole.
The processed ones are the ones we should avoid the most, your body doesn’t need them, and they are full of empty (not necessary) calories. These are white flours, white bread, sugar, sweets, biscuits, processed juice, “vitamin waters”, fizzy drinks. Our body digests them very quickly and they are easily turned into sugar. In fact! For our body is the same a spoon full of sugar than a slice of white bread, although it isn’t for our eyes; they are both turned into sugar, and they generate a similar insulin response in the body. High sugar generates a sudden high insulin response which then generates a drop of sugar in the blood, we then feel tired, fatigue and have cravings for more carbohydrate.
We should rely on whole carbohydrates and to make things simple we will divide them into three groups:
1- Fruits: They are high in fructose but full of fibre and vitamins.
2- Starch: Potatoes, rice, pasta, grains…although they are whole carbohydrates we need to moderate they consumption as large quantities are not required, and extra quantities will be stored rather than being used (burned) in everyday / physical activities.
3- Vegetables: This should be the most abundant and diverse in your diet, we can generally eat as much as we want of them. They are carbohydrates because they contain fibre, but they also contain water, vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). This will accelerate your metabolism and control your appetite.
It is important to remember:
- your body will always burn simple carbs first and so if you are looking to burn fat, you need to balance physical activity and carb consumption.
- Hormones play an important role in these processes and if you want to modify your diet to achieve a specific purpose, but you are unsure on how your body behaves with certain foods, it may be a good idea to visit a nutritionist, so you can learn more about this, not everyone’s responses and needs are the same.
- Remember even if something is good, excess will always be not so good, so, moderate your portions with food and starch.
I hope now we have seen what carbohydrates are all about you feel more confident on how to balance your diet and less apprehensive about carbohydrates and more comfortable with nutrition related topics.