Are foods high in Carbohydrates really the villain? The answer is no.
Carbs don’t make us fat, extra calories do.
Honestly, I don’t know who begun this ‘carbs make us fat’ myth but whoever did so has a serious talent in marketing and I’d love to hire them to market this blog. Basically, What I am trying to say is … it’s not true.
I’d love to simplify all our weight gain problems and blame it all on one macronutrient but it’s just not that easy.
Weight gain is simple:
If you eat excess energy than your body needs, you will gain weight. Whether it be that you eat excess carbohydrates, excess fat or excess protein, either way you’re going to gain weight… because there’s excess energy that has no place to go.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fibre found in food. Carbohydrates are a Macronutrient and generally make up 45-65% of our daily food intake. Carbohydrates are the main energy source within the body as our body chooses to deplete our stores of carbohydrates before burning fat or protein, this is because the energy is more readily available to use.
What are Simple Carbohydrates/Sugars?
Carbohydrates are made up of units of sugar. Carbohydrates that are monosaccharides (contain one sugar unit) or disaccharides (contains two sugar units) are referred to as simple sugars and they’re the sugars we eat that taste very sweet. These sweet tasting sugars are easy to break down due to their simple structure which allows the release of energy to occur rapidly. There are two monosaccharide sugars that are common within our diet: Glucose and Fructose. Fructose is the monosaccharide sugar found in fruits and glucose is the monosaccharide stored in the human body for energy. Both Glucose and Fructose have the same chemical formula however their structures are different.
When fructose is bonded with glucose, it is a disaccharide molecule called: Sucrose. Sucrose is what we refer to as table sugar.
What are Complex Carbohydrates/Sugars?
Complex carbohydrates are just long chains of the simple sugars mentioned before. They’re complex before there are so many of these simple sugars along the chain, this chain is called a polymer. Starch is an example of a complex carbohydrate as starch is a polymer of glucose. Starch is the polymer found in foods such as rice and potatoes. When we eat starch, an enzyme in our saliva and also in our intestine called amylase- breaks the bonds between the glucose units within the polymer which allows the sugar to be absorbed in to our blood stream. Once in our blood stream, out body distributes the glucose molecules to the areas energy is required or it is stored as glycogen. Glycogen is also a polymer of glucose units and is what us humans use to store our energy. The difference between a starch polymer and a glycogen polymer is that a starch polymer is a long straight chain of repeating glucose units where as the glycogen polymer is a chain of glucose units that stem off of different branches.
How does our body breakdown starches?
Starches are long chains of repeating glucose units joined together by something called ‘alpha linkages’. For our bodies to be able to use the energy within the starches, our body has to break the polymer back down to it’s monosaccharide units. To break the polymer down to it’s simple sugars, an enzyme has to cleave the alpha linkages. This is a rather simple process done in our digestive system.
‘I lost weight on a low-carb diet’
You’re going to lose weight on a low-carb diet, yes. But guess what? It’ll most likely all come back, plus some more. Our bodies naturally crave carbohydrates as it’s the energy source our bodies prefer to use. Obviously, if you have depleted all your carbohydrate stores, your body will start burning your fat stores and you’ll lose weight. The problem with this is that it’s not sustainable. Our bodies need carbohydrates and your body is going to continue to crave them and crave them until you eventually give in. The problem is that when you do eventually give in, the likelihood that you’re going to reach for those healthy carb sources is unlikely. People on low-carb diets often end up binging on carbohydrates eventually and end up destroying all their eating habits and portion control, resulting in rapid weight gain.
What Carbohydrates should we eat?
Eat Whole, Plant-Based Carbohydrates.
Fruit, Vegetables, Legumes, Grains.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet, consisting of all three macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein.
For more information of these macronutrients and what % you should be consuming, visit this link.