Decoding Carbohydrates - Part 1

The confusion, myths and debate surrounding carbohydrates in our society today is enough to have most of us pulling our hair out. There are so many smoke and mirror theories about what carbohydrates we should be consuming, if any. Let alone when to have them, how much to have, what they do to us, why we shouldn't eat them and then in the same breath, why we shouldn't live without them. It doesn’t matter who you ask, you’ll always get a different opinion. I'm not writing this to give you another, I am writing this simply to shed a bit of light on what exactly a carbohydrate is and the role they play in our bodies. I’ll explain the difference between ‘complex’ and ‘simple’ carbohydrates and hopefully shed a bit of light on these foods, that make up over half of the average persons diet. So, here goes...

What is a Carbohydrate?

Nutrients obtained from food, are what our body uses to assist with the growth, maintenance and repair of our bones, muscles, cells and organs. Nutrients can be broken down into two sub groups:

1. MACRONUTRIENTS (Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates) and;

2. MICRONUTRIENTS (Vitamins and Minerals).

All of these play vital roles in our bodies and a majority of the foods we eat contain one or more of them, which is why it's so important to eat a wide variety of foods and to not omit any specific food group. All macro and micronutrients have specific actions in our body that are for the most part, unique to one another. However, our energy is derived from macronutrients (Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates) and the most readily available source of energy, comes from carbohydrates. So in the simplest terms - all carbohydrates provide us with energy.

Different types of Carbohydrates

Many people don’t realise that along with potato, pasta, rice, bread and the like... Fruit, vegetables, lollies, soft drinks, grains and chocolate, among others, are also carbohydrates. There are two main groups of carbohydrates: complex and simple. All carbohydrates will do the exact same thing in your body once digested, they get converted into Glycogen – the body’s energy source. Our body will do one of two things with Glycogen, it will either be used up as energy or, the body will store it in its energy reserves as fat. This will depend on how many carbohydrates we consume, how active we are pre/post consumption and our overall calorie intake for the day. Fat or fuel, that is as simple as it is for the most part. So where do people get it wrong when it comes to weight loss/muscle gain and carbohydrates? 

Let me know what you think.. Check back next Friday for part 2!

Leave a comment