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THE SCOOP ON CARBOHYDRATES

February 17, 2014

 

If you hang out with people trying to lose weight, you will hear about carbohydrates all day long and how they are trying to stay away from carbohydrates as much as they can. Biologically, carbohydrates are macromolecules that are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The term “carbohydrate” is a synonym of saccharides. There are four different groups of them: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.

 

Carbohydrates perform a number of tasks in living organisms. To start, polysaccharides store energy. All of the different types of saccarides work together to perform various roles in the immune system, fertilization, preventing pathogenesis, blood clotting, and development. In terms of food, carbohydrates refer to any food that is rich in carbohydrate starch (cereal, bread, pasta, etc.) or simple carbohydrates like sugar (candy, desserts, etc.) Carbs

 

Per each gram, four calories of energy are able to be digested. Foods that have a large number of carbohydrates are foods that are incredibly processed or refined foods made from plants. Examples of these foods which have not been previously listed include: table sugar, honey, soft drinks, crackers, jams, etc. Unrefined foods (beans, rice, unrefined fruit) contain lower levels of carbohydrates.

 

Carbohydrates do not just make energy in your body. It also helps to protect your muscles, regulates the amount of sugar that circulates in your blood, provides nutrients for the friendly bacteria in your intestinal tract to help digest food, assist in your body absorbing calcium, regular blood pressure, and it might help lower some cholesterol levels. This makes it sound like carbohydrates work wonders for the body, however, we all know that it is not the case.

 

The cells in your body do not store more energy than they need. Any glucose that the cell does not need is converted into glycogen and used as stored energy in your liver and muscles. Four hundred grams of glycogen can be stored in your liver and muscle cells. Each gram of carbohydrate (including glucose) contains four calories. This equals to about 1,800 calories of energy. If you are not using the energy that has been stored in your body, the excess will be converted into fat and you will gain weight.

 

Fiber (the ingredient inulin that we have previously discussed) is a type of carbohydrate that is important to consume when eating other carbohydrates. Fiber does not contribute to calories because it is not broken down by the human body and does not raise blood glucose levels. If you are counting carbohydrates for a diet, you can actually subject the total amount of fiber you consume from the amount of carbohydrates consumed. Keep in mind that food that contains fiber also contains other non-fiber carbohydrates so you must take that into account as well. It is recommended that you eat twenty to thirty five grams of fiber every day.

 

Insoluble and soluble fibers help to keep your digestive tract working properly. Eating fiber also adds bulk to help you feel full, so you wind up eating less. Besides compensating for eating non-fiber carbohydrates, fiber is important to add to your daily diet.

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