What are Carbs?
Friend or Foe?

What are Carbs, and should I be eating them? Which ones and when? Take the mystery out of carbs and weight loss.

Carbohydrates, nicknamed "carbs," provide ENERGY for your body.

That energy is used immediately or stored in your muscles and liver for later use.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 130 grams of carbs per day. However, the average intake for women is 220-330 grams per day and 180-230 grams per day for men.

A carb chart can help you figure out which foods have carbs and which ones don't.

A gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories. Kind of.

Scientists also argue that while many carbs are absorbed through your small intestine, some are absorbed at a less efficient rate through your large intestine. Taking them both into account, they would like to change that statistic to 1 gram of carbohydrate = 2 calories.

Little known fact:
Your brain ONLY USES CARBOHYDRATES.

What do you think of carbs now? Friend or Foe? Definitely a friend, but read on to find out how to keep carbs from becoming your enemy . . .


What happens to Carbs
after I eat them?
By Dr. Dave

Carbohydrates are broken down from long chains of sugar by protiens called enzymes into simple molecules of things such as glucose.  Some of this takes place in the intestinal wall and some takes place in the cells as they metaboize the carbohydrate into a useable form. 

Glucose is the main carbohydrate that our body uses in energy production. 

There are many ways the body regulates the amount of glucose in the blood stream.  One of the most well know is insulin.  Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls how glucose interacts with the different systems of the body such as the liver and muscles. 

As the body extracts energy from glucose it produces carbon dioxide and water as the by products.

Which Foods have Carbohydrates?

What are Carbs?

Basically everything that is not a protein or fat.

They include fruits and vegetables, grains, sugars, and most dairy products.

For an excellent list of carbohydrate foods, click here for more information.

Also remember that foods don't have to be just a carbohydrate or protein or fat. They can be combined. For instance, my one serving of fat-free plain greek yogurt has 7 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of protein.


What are Carbs - Simple or Complex?

Both. You can also categorize carbs into Sugars or Starches (fiber included with starches).

Based on the number of sugar units in carbohydrates, they fall into these groups . . .

Sugars/Simple Carbohydrates:
1 - Monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose)
2 - Disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose, trehalose)
3 - Trisaccharides

Starches/Complex Carbohydrates:
3-10 - Oligosaccharides (raffinose, stachyose)
10+ - Polysaccharides (starch, glycogen)


OK, great! I should only eat
Complex Carbohydrates, right?

Wrong. I think most nutritionists and scientists would like to get rid of the term "complex" carbohydrate when it comes to deciding what we should eat.

Why? It all has to do with HOW FAST OR SLOWLY A CARB IS DIGESTED.

Most people would think that simple carbohydrates are digested fast (oo, bad) and that complex carbohydrates are digested slowly (yea, good).

But the glycemic index has taught us otherwise. It's crazy, but some simple sugars are digested slowly. And even more mind-blowing is that some complex starches are digested fast.

So don't base your diet choices on complex carbs - instead choose Low Glycemic foods. The glycemic index is our new best friend when it comes to carbs.

Click here for a great list of low glycemic foods.

Sources:

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=265
Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) ( 2005 ) / 6 Dietary Carbohydrates: Sugars and Starches and Fibers

http://www.mayoclinic.org/glycemic-index-diet

http://www.fao.org/docrep/w8079E/w8079e07.htm
Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition

http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/low_carb.html

http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/food/carb.html



What are Carbs? Our friends! Let's manage them well.

Return to Definition of Carbohydrates (from What are Carbs)

Return to Home page for WeightCruncher.com (from What are Carbs)




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