The Truth About Carbohydrates
Your carbohydrates should mainly be made up of unrefined complex starchy and fibrous carbohydrates. Limit your simple carbohydrates as much as you can (sugar, sweets, etc.) and eliminate refined carbs completely from your diet. Unrefined complex carbohydrates should make up most of your diet.
Carbohydrates can be divided into three groups:
1. Simple Starchy Carbohydrates
- Sugar, honey, fruit, fruit juice
Simple carbohydrates have a simple molecular structure and are made up of 1-2 sugar molecules. The simplest form of carbohydrate is glucose. Simple sugars that are found in foods include sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruit), and lactose (found in milk). Not all simple carbs are bad. Natural simple carbs in fruit and milk are perfectly healthy. Low-fat or non-fat dairy such as yogurt, milk and cottage cheese are healthy food choices and rich sources of calcium. Although fruits and fresh fruit juices are healthy and packed with minerals and vitamins, it is probably best to eat it them in moderation, as complex carbs such as vegetables are a superior food source if weight loss is your goal. The best time to eat fruit is before and after your workouts. Never eat fruit at night. You don’t want a high blood sugar level right before you sleep. It will cause your body to store fat instead of burn fat during the night. If you want to lose weight, stay away from sugar (sucrose).
2. Complex Starchy Carbohydrates
- Rice, whole meal, pasta
Complex carbohydrates are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Complex starchy carbohydrates include whole grains, peas and beans, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. The problem with complex starch carbs is that they are often refined.
Refined carbohydrates are foods where machinery has been used to remove the high fiber parts from the grain. When a complex carb is refined it loses it complex structure and thus all the properties that made it a healthy choice. Instead it takes on the properties of a simple carbohydrate and is processed by the body in the same way. White rice, white flour, white bread, sugary cereals, pasta, noodles and pretty much anything made from white flour are all examples of refined carbohydrates. You should stay away from refined carbs as much as you should stay away from sugar.
Stick to unrefined complex carbohydrates. They still contain the whole grain, including the bran and the germ. Therefore they are higher in fiber and will keep you feeling fuller for longer which is great for weight loss. Examples include whole-grain rice, whole meal bread, porridge oats and whole-wheat pasta.
3. Complex Fibrous Carbohydrates
- Most vegetables
Fibrous carbs are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients and tend to be green vegetables. These are full of fiber, which is the indigestible portion of plant material (vegetables). This means that much of the food passes straight through the gut and is not absorbed, thus they are great ‘colon cleansers’ and are essential for keeping the digestive process running clean. Even better, fibrous carbohydrates are very low in calories and it is virtually impossible to overeat on green vegetables. Some vegetable are so low in calories they contain less calories than it requires to eat them e.g. celery.
The Rule Of Thumb When It Comes To All Carbohydrates Is That:
BROWN or GREEN is GOOD (whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice)
WHITE IS BAD (white bread, white pasta, white potatoes, white rice).
The exception to the rule is cauliflower. Cauliflower is GOOD!
Carbohydrates are the most efficient source of fuel for your body’s cells, which is probably why they’re so abundant in nature (grains, beans, fruits, veggies). If you eat too many carbs the surplus goes to fat cells. Cutting back too much forces your cells to scramble for fuel and throws your body out of balance. A reasonable portion of carbs provides enough fuel to help you feel energized but not enough to feed your fat cells. You can even shed body fat by eating reasonable amounts of carbs. It’s all about striking a healthy balance with the carbs you eat daily and the amount of activity you are getting daily.