What Exactly are Complex Carbohydrates?
What exactly are complex carbohydrate’s and why is adding them to your diet so important? I’m sure you have heard good and bad things about carbohydrates, and in this article, I will discuss the positive and negatives. In the past, I would avoid carbohydrates and to this day I was not really sure why. In the back of my mind, I just assumed carbohydrates are what made you gain weight. What I have learned is that I should have done my research before making that decision. In fact, complex carbohydrates are very important. In this article, I will discuss what carbohydrates are, the importance of complex carbohydrates, the Glycemic index, and which are the most beneficial.
There are three main categories of carbohydrates, polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates), monosaccharides and disaccharides (simple carbohydrates). When consumed, carbohydrates are a very important energy source for our body in the metabolic process.
Monosaccharides and Disaccharides:
Monosaccharides and disaccharides are simple carbohydrates which are processed into simple sugars. When consumed these carbohydrates are converted to simple sugars which can lead to weight gain and increased fat. Simple carbohydrates are ones you want to limit in your diet since they are made of just one or two sugar molecules. Some examples of simple carbohydrates are honey, sugar, soft drinks, and candy.
Both monosaccharides and disaccharides are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Since they are absorbed at a faster rate, your bodies blood sugar will spike, causing immediate storage into your cells as fat. The overall goal is to eat the correct type and amount of carbohydrates based on your bodies energy needs.
A polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) is multiple monosaccharides connected together to form a chain of carbohydrates. What’s great about polysaccharides is its function to help our bodies create and store energy. Once energy is needed, the chain of molecules breaks down to fulfill our bodies needs. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed into your bloodstream at a much slower rate. This prevents a spike in your bodies blood sugar, therefore it can gradually be used for energy demands rather than being stored in your cells as fat.
Polysaccharides are a great source of energy. When doing our daily activities, working out, and staying active, we need an energy source to do so. These complex carbohydrates are what give us the energy to stay active and allow us to do the activities we want to pursue.
The glycemic index is a numeric scale from 0 to 100 that is used to help determine the glycemic response in our bodies (the conversion to glucose in the body). The higher the number leads to am increase in blood sugar (which is something you want to prevent). The reason this scale is important is to educate ourselves on what carbohydrates perform best in our bodies. The overall goal is to maintain a consistent blood sugar level without fluctuations. When we consume simple carbohydrates (higher on the scale), insulin is released to lower sugar levels and the sugar is to used as energy but stored as fat. When we consume lower scale carbohydrates, they stay in our bloodstream longer and our body uses it as energy. Here is a great website to help you decide the gycemic index (Glycemic Index) for foods.
Glycemic Index Common Foods:
White Bread: 70
Maple Syrup: 65
White Rice: 64
Ice Cream: 61
Brown Rice: 55
Lowfat Yogurt: 33
Brussel Sprouts: 15
My Take On Carbohydrates:
My relationship with complex carbohydrates has grown immensely. I consume many versions of complex carbohydrates daily. I do have a few that I would call my favorites, and one is including old fashioned oats. I could eat old fashioned oats all day long, and I would say this one is my absolute favorite and number 1. A close second is a sweet potato, which is a great carbohydrate which you can cook it in multiple ways and it’s delicious. I have a couple recipes on my blog as well about fun ways to cook sweet potatoes, such as baked fries and easy mashed potatoes. Other great carbohydrates that I incorporate into my clean eating, is brown rice, red potatoes, quinoa, rice cakes, Ezekiel bread and whole wheat pasta.
When consuming carbohydrates it’s all about moderation of course, but our bodies need them to create energy. If we deplete carbohydrates from our diet, we are not doing ourselves any favors. If you want to work out, train, or just stay active you need a natural energy source and that’s where the complex carbohydrates come in.
Carbohydrates don’t need to be the enemy. It’s about eating the appropriate ones that benefit our bodies the most. Carbohydrates are important to incorporate into our diet and key to maintaining energy and proper body function.