What Are Carbohydrates ?

What a lovely week it’s been so far, eh? Dreaming of carbohydrate concoctions…..

carbs!

As a woman it is almost my right to crave carbohydrates at certain times of the month (duh!). I used to ‘hate’ carbs because I was told they would make me fat (this was back in the ‘disordered eating days‘). I became, essentially, a carb-phob.

I was scared of carbohydrates.

Phobia

Dumb, I know. But I was not alone with that phobia. Millions of people (mostly American women, but 0thers are included), were led to believe that carbohydrates (read:bread,rice,fruit,pasta,tortillas) were what was making us fat (or fatter).

these carb-filled berries are making us fat?! WRONG.

This was of course the tactic of many diet books, diet ‘experts,’ and unfounded research that reached the public and made a billion dollar killing in the supermarket. Out came low-carb everything to every shelf.

I did not really buy into it that much, I just cut out ‘bread carbs.’ Silly me.

I did lose weight, yes, but I felt deprived, unhealthy, and really cranky. Don’t take bread or chocolate or crackers away from a woman. Just don’t do it.

bring on the oats

And for good reason- get this: carbohydrates are the staff of life. They are needful, purposeful, and so very important to growth, development, brain functioning, and nutrient delivery. And besides, there is a very significant difference between ‘good-for-us carbs‘ and ‘not-so-great-for-us carbs.’

What are Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy to the functions and work of the body because carbohydrates are chains of chemical bonds that allow for work, heat, and proper functions to take place within the body.

Essentially, carbohydrates are energy yielding compounds.

Carbohydrates deliver 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate (as does protein; fat delivers 9/gram and alcohol 7/gram). The minimum for carbohydrate consumption is about 130 grams (or 520 calories from carbs) PER day. This is the minimum amount of energy needed for proper functioning to take place.

Types of carbohydrates:

  • monosaccharides : one, simple sugar (i.e. glucose)
  • disaccharides : two, more complex sugar (i.e. lactose -which is glucose + galactose)
  • polysaccharides : several, many chains of simple sugar  (i.e. glycogen -glucose hooked to glucose in a long chain)
  • dietary fiber : soluble and insoluble types (humans lack enzymes that digest this) -fiber is there to aid digestion, slow absorption of glucose, and speed up elimination of waste

Not all carbohydrates are created equally though, people.

white (Swiss) bread is delicious, but not necessarily amazing for our bodies

White bread, refined sugar, bakery treats, and doughnuts are all carbohydrates, but they are also made up of mostly simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars. These foods cause a shock to the body with the influx of all the simple sugars, and leave the body crashing after several minutes.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are just that, complex. These foods include fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, wheat (whole), bran, vegetables, and legumes. These foods help aid the body in feeling satisfied, full, and allow for a steady release of insulin, which keeps the body in a happy state (instead of crazy highs and lows of energy swings).

Well, what are carbohydrates then?? They are vital pieces of energy yielding compounds that are necessary for us to live, breathe, and enjoy life. Did you know that our brain functions mostly on carbohydrates??

That is why we feel confused, unhappy, cranky, and limited in our brain power when we limit our carbohydrate intake!

true brain food

The body has a limited supply storage of carbohydrates, but the recommended amount of carbohydrates to be eaten per day is about 45-65% of daily caloric intake. *These numbers may vary dependent on age, exercise need, and disease state.

Don’t be a carb phob! But do be wary of hidden ‘enemies’ in the carbohydrate-type foods (i.e. simple sugars, added saturated/trans fats). So go ahead and enjoy the whole wheat bread, the delicious pita chips, and hoard the fruits and vegetables :)

What is YOUR favorite carb?? <— whole wheat pitas, spinach, berries. What carbohydrate food do YOU wish was not full of simple sugars?? <—ice cream

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Comments

  1. i should really stop reading your blog at school… it makes me drool!!! i love oatmeal! ever since i have been eating it and packing it full with berries, protein powder, bee pollen, flax seeds, chia seeds, & wheat germ (yeah, i really load it up!) i have never felt so full and satisfied!!!!!

    • Hehe. Drooling on your phone again, Linz? 😉

      I love oatmeal bowls….can’t wait for Fall and Winter when I can crave them again (it is too hot for me to even want it right now–weird, I know)!

      How’s school??

      • i mix it all up the night before and stick it in the fridge! then, in the morning it’s cold and thick and delicious! school is great! lunch/dinner date soon to catch up!!!

  2. MmMmMm carbs!!! I love my fruits, veggies, homemade whole wheat pancakes and muffins….etc!!

    Complex carbs are my lover 😉

    Salt Water taffy is my simple sugar weakness!

    • I never give pancakes and waffles enough credit….YUMM.

      Salt water taffy eh? I like it too, but caramel or fro yo would be my weakness :)

  3. caroline says:

    My favorite carb….BREAD. I love bread. So sad I missed out on the swiss bread. I also love fruit and oatmeal. =)

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  1. […] that chocolate milk is one of the best drinks to consume after a workout because of the perfect carbs-to-protein ratio, allowing the right amount of macronutrients to help recover the muscle cell […]

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