What do carbohydrates do?
Carbohydrates, or saccharides, are one of the three main nutrients your body needs for energy. The other two nutrients are fat and protein. Carbohydrates are found in plant foods and foods derived from plants. Many people do not know what saccharides are and what these sugars do.
What do carbohydrates do?
Carbohydrates provide calories, think of calories as energy, for the body and brain. They feed your muscles and your mind. In addition to providing the necessary energy, they are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. Carbohydrates provide the fuel needed for essential bodily functions. This is why you may feel weak, lazy and dizzy if you have tried all the low carb diets.
Saccharides are generally classified as simple and complex. Saccharides are made up of different chemical structures including carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Simple carbohydrates have a simpler structure than complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are more easily broken down.
Simple carbohydrates are easy to identify, just think of sugars. Sugars like fructose, galactose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose are simple carbohydrates. Processed sugars like those found in table sugar, candy, and carbonated drinks are often called empty calories. This is because the vitamins and nutrients they once contained were removed during processing. These empty calories can lead to weight gain.
Simple sugars are not bad if you get them from the most natural sources. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products contain simple carbohydrates that are packed with the nutrients you need and will provide you with an excellent source of energy.
Complex carbohydrates are generally known as starchy foods. Since complex sugars have a more complex structure, they take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates also tend to contain more fiber than simple carbohydrates. Complex sugars are found in foods such as bread, beans, cereals, rice, and vegetables.
You should eat more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. You need some simple carbohydrates in your diet, but most of your carbohydrates should come from complex food sources. Complex carbohydrates have more vitamins, fiber and minerals than you need. When selecting carbohydrates for your diet, think complex and less processed.
Most of your carbohydrates should come from the least processed and most complex carbohydrates. These foods include whole wheat products, whole grains, brown rice, and baked potatoes.
For the simple carbohydrates you need, choose foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and dairy products like low-fat yogurt.
For most people, you should get 45% to 60% of your calories from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in most foods except protein and fat. Get most of your carbohydrates from less processed and complex sources. The simple carbohydrates that are best come from fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid simple sugars and products made with a lot of simple sugars, such as sodas, cookies, and cakes. These empty calories will cause weight gain. Avoid them and you will lose weight.
Carbohydrates are not your enemy as some diet gurus would have you think. You need carbohydrates to fuel and energize your body and brain. Without the correct carbohydrates in your diet, you will feel weak, tired, sluggish and dizzy. Get the right carbohydrates from the right sources so your body and mind get the right fuel.