Understanding Carbs Is Key For Any Healthy Diet
Carbohydrates seem to be a constant presence in our day-to-day lives. We all have a friend who claims to be an expert on food and nutrition that never really gives a complete answer to your questions. Carbohydrates seem to be everywhere, but do you know what they actually are and how they function?
To begin with, there are three types of carbs: sugar, starch, and fiber. Simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two sugars, and are the quickest source of energy and are easily digested. Complex carbohydrates consist of three or more sugars, and are as a rule fiber-rich and healthier. As one of the main macronutrients, our bodies break down carbohydrates to create glucose.
This glucose is then used as the primary energy source for the brain, muscles, and other important cells. Whether you’re hiking up a mountain trail or taking care of the kids on the weekends, carbs are a huge part of the reason why you’ve got the energy to take on your days.
Indeed, good low-carb meals should be a part of any healthy diet. It’s not until you start eating too many carbs, and especially too many simple carbs, that you run into problems.
What Happens When You Consume Too Many Carbs?
Consuming foods with too much simple carbohydrate content causes rapid spikes in your blood sugar levels. While you can enjoy temporary bursts of energy, you will crash shortly afterwards, causing fatigue and making you long for a nap.
Consuming too many carbs also increases your chances of developing a resistance to insulin, a hormone that helps transport glucose from your blood into the cells in your body so it can be used for energy. If your body develops this resistance, fewer carbs get stored in your cells as energy while more are transformed into triglycerides and stored as fat.
This resistance to insulin can quickly develop into Type-2 diabetes, so it’s worthwhile to moderate the sugars and carbohydrates you consume. Limit your overall carb consumption, and make sure the carbs you are getting are complex carbs, which are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
How Do I Limit My Carb Intake?
The first step is to make sure you’re getting complex carbs and not just simple carbs. A change in diet (with the advice of a nutritionist or doctor, of course) can work wonders, and the best part is you’re not sacrificing flavor! Reach for apples, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables instead of chips or candy for an energy boost. In addition to the complex carbs, these foods are a great source of fiber and promote better cardiovascular health.
Good low-carb meals will focus on the complex carbohydrates – in moderation, of course – and on healthier foods in general. Monitor what you eat and adjust accordingly, and when in doubt, ask a nutritionist or doctor for expert advice.
This is just a starting point for good low-carb meals, but the information here should help you find a diet that’ll promote better health overall alongside a better attitude towards carbohydrates, both simple and complex.