Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How carbohyrdrates affect your body. Part 1- What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy.  All carbohydrates are converted into glucose which is released into the bloodstream and used readily by the body to fuel metabolism.  The body can function without carbohydrates, but maintenance of bodily functions become more complex without them.  When glucose is not present in the body it must convert fats and proteins into glucose, which is not as efficient as utilizing carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are typically classified as either simple or complex.  Simple carbohydrates are usually either starches or sugars and are present in: fruits, fruit juices, sugar,white rice, white potatoes, and refined carbohydrates like white bread.  Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains like: rice, breads, quinoa, spelt, oatmeal, as well as in legumes and vegetables.  The distinguishing factor is that simple carbohydrates are digested rapidly and hit the blood stream quickly (high GI), while complex carbohydrates are not as refined or processed and take longer for the body to break down (low GI).  Unless you are looking to gain weight your goal should always be to limit simple carbs and replace them with complex carbs.

Excess carbohydrates that your body does not use get either stored as fat or stored in the muscle and liver as a complex carbohydrate called glycogen.  When glucose is stored as glycogen it is basically stored in a complex form and is readily available for energy anytime your body needs it.  If your blood sugar begins to get low then your body releases a hormone called glucagon which release glycogen into the blood stream as glucose.  If your blood sugar levels get too high then your body releases insulin which stores the excess sugar as fat or glycogen.  This is why refined and simple carbohydrates have a greater effect on weight gain, since it is in a simple form the body breaks it down quickly causing a spike of blood sugar, which the body then must store. When you consume complex carbohydrates they are absorbed more slowly keeping your blood sugar levels more steady and so you end up storing less as fat as a result.

These are basically the fundamentals and basics of carbohydrates.  I will cover more in depth Glycemic index, glycemic load, and then I will summarize in my fourth post and help everyone to understand how carbohydrates are the key to controlling your weight, whether you want to gain muscle or lose fat it is all influenced by carbohydrates.


Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More