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CARBS. What are they? What do they do?
ARBOHYDRATES (“Carbs” – short form) are usually referred to as sugars or starches. Carbs may be classified according to their structure – simple and complex.
All consumed Carbs (simple or complex) are converted into glucose (blood sugar) by the liver. Your body uses the glucose for energy for your cells, tissues, and organs and stores any extra sugar for when you need it.
All simple Carbs are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested. The most common simple Carbs are glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose (milk sugar) and maltose.
They are found naturally in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products. All kind of processed foods and refined sugars, such as candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks are considered Simple Carbs.
While providing glucose, simple Carbs have no other nutritional value and often are called “empty calories”. Because they are low in fiber and digested quickly, eating simple Carbs can cause huge swings in blood sugar levels. This can contribute to overeating.
This is because such types of foods promote short-term fullness, lasting about one hour.
Blood sugar levels drop about an hour or two after eating a meal high in refined carbs. This promotes hunger and stimulates parts of the brain associated with reward and craving.
These signals make you crave more food, and are known to cause overeating.
Long-term studies have also shown that eating meals with high in simple Carbs is linked with increased belly fat over the course of five years.
Fruits are the exception because fruit contains simple sugars and unlike the others mentioned above simple Carbs, also contain nutrients and dietary fibers. Fruits supply naturally occurring simple sugars as well as valuable vitamins and minerals and are categorized as complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed more slowly than simple Carbs and may be referred to as dietary starch.
They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals.
Complex carbohydrates are a key to long-term health. They make it easier to maintain your weight, help in fat loss and even guarding against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.