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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carbohydrates: Comparing Both Sides of the Equation

Hello again everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day! My day is getting a bit hectic, but at least I can say that I am blessed with have something to do, right? :)

Over the past few days, I've had to type this sentence on many of my blog posts "(this is the good kind...we'll get into this in a later blog)." Well, this is that later blog.

Today is the day we do a brief overview of simple and complex carbohydrates! Yay! I know you are thrilled!

So...first we have to define it: what is a carbohydrate? Do we even know? We hear about carbs. all the time, but do we actually really know what they are or are we just being sheeple? (ahahaha...I love that word! :)

To put it simply without going into the chemistry of all of it, carbohydrates are the fuel for our daily activities. They provide us with the energy to carry out tasks like exercising, running to the store for healthy snacks, or relaxing during a yoga session. A carbohydrate (a compound derived from food and then turned into glucose) is a macronutrient (a nutrient that the body uses A LOT! - fat, protein, and carbs). The body cannot function properly without carbohydrates because the glucose is necessary for healthy brain and muscle functioning. Click here for more information and the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates.

The key to understanding how carbohydrates affect your diet is to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are essentially sugars (after the body converts the compound). Simple carbohydrates contain less sugars than complex carbohydrates, and therefore, are easier to break down and burn through faster. This is why eating simple carbohydrates leaves you feeling very hungry after a short amount of time. Complex carbohydrates are actually made up from simple carbohydrates, but the amount is greater, thus, the amount of time to break them down takes longer and provides a steadier source of energy. For this reason, simple carbohydrates have been labeled as "bad," while complex carbohydrates have been labeled as "good."

It is important to point out here that not all simple carbohydrates are bad for you. Fruits are part of the simple carbohydrate family, but they are good for you as long as they are eaten in moderation. This is why it is best to eat your fruits in the morning (as they only take about 30 minutes to break down, but give you a good boost of energy to get the day started). Honey and dairy are also part of the simple carbs. group, but they are still very good for the body in moderation.

Simple carbohydrates are typically found in the following foods and should be eaten in very small quantities if necessary at all:

  • White breads, white pastas, white rice
  • Processed foods with added sugar
  • Crackers, potato chips
  • Baked goods
  • Sodas
  • Candies
  • Most fruit juices
  • White sugar
The best types of simple carbohydrates are completely natural, such as fruit, honey, or dairy as stated earlier.

Complex carbohydrates are typically found in the following foods and should be eaten with most meals throughout the day to provide a "full" feeling, give the body the nutrients it needs, and stabilize blood sugar:

  • Whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice
  • Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, corn
  • Certain tropical fruits such as kiwis, bananas, apricots, grapefruits, and plums, pears, prunes, dates, apples, strawberries
  • Beans (legumes)
Click here for even more information on simple and complex carbohydrates!

Eating the right type of carbs on a daily basis will help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It will also help you manage your weight in a healthy way.

Enjoy the rest of your day and I'll see you back here tomorrow!

*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

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