|Grainy Breads offer more nutrients than those with refined flours|
First let’s start off with a simple definition. Carbohydrates are compounds made of single sugars or multiple sugars and composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates are also the body’s preferred source of energy (calories).
There are two different classifications of carbs: Simple and Complex
Complex carbs are long chains of sugars, more so starches and fiber. Carbs in this category are breads, pasta, rice, and more. You are encouraged to chose half of your grains whole. That is, out of the six servings of carbs a day, make 3 of them whole-grain options.
Simple carbs are those which have only one or two sugar molecules. Naturally occurring sugars, like those which come from fruits, are in this category; since these sugars are in fruits, they are accompanied by fiber, which you would not get by eating sugar in another format. Refined sugars like fructose, glucose, sucrose and lactose are also included in this category, and you should limit your intake of them. Luckily a lot of refined grains/carbs are enriched so you get some nutrients you would have gotten with complex carbs. (But know that your body cannot absorb these vitamins as well as naturally occurring nutients.)
Since complex carbs are long chains of sugars, your body has to work harder to break them down, thus requiring more energy, thus burning more calories. Your body stores extra sugars in your liver in the form of glycogen (sugar after it has been broken down by your body), and the liver can then regulate your blood sugar. Once the liver stores enough glycogen, your muscles store their own glycogen and the rest of the unused, unburned sugars travel to your fat cells where they are stored until you need them. This is why carbs get a bad rap, the excess your body doesn’t need is stored as fat. But what many people don’t know is that fat you consume that your body doesn’t use ALSO gets turned into fat, and protein you consume that your body doesn’t use ALSO gets turned into fat.
So in conclusion, you should pick at least 3 whole-grain complex carbs a day. The other carbs you pick can be fruits, in which case they will double for that food group. The RDI, recommended daily intake, of carbs based on a 2,000 calorie diet (for an average, middle aged female who has 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity) is 300 grams which is about 6 servings of carbohydrates. Click here and navigate the right side panels for more information.
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