So here is what Webster has to say about carbs:

A large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water and typically can be broken down to release energy in the body.

Did you get all that?

Essentially carbs are found in almost everything. From vegetables to fruits, grains, potatoes, candy, and yeah, you get the point.

Still unsure if they are good or bad? Good, feel some of my frustrations. Basically, carbs break down into two categories. Good or “Complex” carbs, and bad or “Simple” carbs.

“Good (complex) Carbs”

Complex carbs are low to moderate in calorie density. Which basically means you can eat a good amount of it without having to be concerned with going too far overboard on calories.

They are often high in nutrition value, loaded with nutrients, and aren’t packed with refined sugars or refined grains.

In America, 20% of our daily caloric intake come from refined sugars such as high fructose corn syrup. Our bodies are naturally trained to break down carbohydrates as fuel, but doesn’t quite know how to break down high fructose corn syrup. The rushes of daily sugars to the bloodstream can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, fun stuff like that.

Good carbs are also high in fiber. The fiber helps lower blood sugar and insulin levels helping level off LDL (bad cholesterol).

Complex carbs are also low in saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol.

“Bad (simple) Carbs”

Simple, carbs are usually high in caloric density. Takes much less food to blow through your suggested calories for the day.

These carbs tend to be loaded with refined sugars. Whether it be corn syrup, “natural sugars”, like that in fruit juice, or plain old white sugar.

A lot of your breads fall into this category. Most of which are made out of white flour. (There are some other fiber rich alternatives, you can find them in the food list later in the book.)

Simple, processed carbs are low in nutrients and fiber. The refining process usually strips all of the nature out of the food.

Often times simple carbs are high in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

How Your Body Uses Carbs..

Now that we have a basic idea of what carbohydrates are, let’s get into how the body uses them.

Putting it as simple as I can, when you eat carbs your body breaks them down into sugars.

This is the CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL link between carb intake and diabetes. Diabetes is prevalent throughout both sides of my family, young and old.

The general idea that most people have about the rules of diabetes are, “avoid the sweets”.

While this is a good practice, the majority of people who suffer from diabetes continue to struggle even after they go sugar free. Why? Likely because they do not have an understanding of how their bodies also treat breads and pastas.

So like everything else, let’s take this step by step.

The first step in digesting carbs begins with actually chewing the food.

No, really. According to studies performed at Western Kentucky University (Go Hilltoppers), salivary amylase; an enzyme in your saliva, immediately breaks down carbs contained in food you chew into certain sugars.

These simpler sugars are called Disaccharides and Trisaccharides. This process preps the carbs for the next stage of entering the stomach.

Once these partially broken down carbs make their way into the stomach, Hydrochloric acid begins to break down the cell walls of foods containing carbohydrate sugar. Then it’s on to the next phase of digestion.

Once the carbs pass through the lower muscles of the stomach and enter the small intestine, the key stages of digestion begin. The carbs make their way into the small intestine, they are pried for the final stages of digestion.

An enzyme that is made in the pancreas, pancreatic amylase (this won’t be on the exam), enters the small intestine and begins breaking down long carbs into more simpler forms of sugar. The small intestine produces another enzyme called maltase, which further breaks down sugars into glucose and fructose, while another intestinal enzyme, sucrase, breaks down the sugar sucrose into glucose and fructose, as well (again, fret not on the lingo).

So quick recap, the carbs that you’ve eaten have made their way to the small intestine where enzymes have broken them down into simpler sugars that the body can use for energy.

Those simple sugars (glucose and fructose) are transported through the body via the bloodstream to muscles and organ tissues to be used energy output, and the body’s metabolic process’.

A common misconception is that an abundance of complex carbs are okay. They’re whole grain and healthy, right? Not so much. Think of it this way.

Yes, carbs are fuel for the body. With the right amount of daily exercise they play a great role in the bodies natural ability to fuel. But the problem is that the CDC says that 80% of American adults do not get the recommended amount of daily exercise.

80%!

So lets now think of carbs as gasoline for your car. There is no better feeling that filling up at the pump. Whether you are embarking on a road trip, or preparing for the work commute for the week ahead. With our vehicles, the amount of times we fill up directly coincides with the amount we use.

Now imagine filling your car up with $30 on a Monday, then driving 4 miles to work that day. Then Tuesday comes and you go back to the station and try to put $30 in your tank again. Your tank will overflow (kind of like the waistline).

That’s exactly what happens when we put excess amounts of fuel into our bodies, and do not expend the energy to use that fuel. Unfortunately for us, that excess “fuel” doesn’t simply spill on the ground.

Generally it is stored in the body as fat.

This can happen in one of two ways.

There is a process called de novo lipogenesis (literally: Creation of fat from non-fat sources) that can occur in the body. This process turns glucose into lipids, which are then stored as body fat.

or

Indirectly through insulin. Carbohydrates spike insulin, which is a hormone that mediates glucose metabolism.

Insulin is not good or bad, insulin is insulin.

It can be thought of as a lever that switches the body from fat burning mode into carbohydrate burning mode. This allows carbohydrates (and glycogen) to be burnt at a greater rate, but directly reduces the ability of fat to be lost.

Now that you know what you need to know about carbs, whats next? Lets learn how to manipulate carbs for weight-loss..

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About the author : JustaKidFromKy

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