Carbohydrates are a form of energy stored by plants. Sweet fruits store carbohydrate energy in the form of fructose, which has a fast absorption rate, and vegetables and cereals in the form of starch, which is a complex carbohydrate . Note that fiber, which is part of plants, is also a carbohydrate.
An excess of simple carbohydrates in food leads to weight gain and a number of metabolic disorders (primarily diabetes mellitus), while eating a large amount of fiber foods is good for your health. How to learn to understand which carbohydrates are good and which are bad?
// What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are part of most foods and are the main source of energy in food. Depending on the number of structural units, they are divided into simple and complex. Simple (“fast”) carbohydrates are easily absorbed and quickly increase blood sugar levels - that is, they have a high glycemic index . Their excess in food entails a decline in metabolism and weight gain.
Complex carbohydrates (starch, fiber) consist of many polysaccharides, including from tens to hundreds of structural elements. Food with such carbohydrates is considered healthy. During digestion, it gradually gives off its energy, providing a long-lasting feeling of fullness from food. At the same time, fiber is not absorbed by the body at all - in simple words, it has zero calorie content.
A lot of diets are built on the restriction of carbohydrates in the diet - for example, a low-carb diet for diabetics or a carbohydrate-free diet ( keto diet ) for weight loss. During strength training for muscle growth, on the contrary, it is recommended to use an increased amount of carbohydrates - especially during the period of the carbohydrate window to quickly replenish glycogen stores.
// Carbohydrates - briefly:
- key component of energy in food
- 1 g of carbohydrates contains 4 kcal
- there are simple ( fructose , glucose) and complex (starch, fiber , glycogen)
- glycogen - the main fuel for human muscles
What foods contain carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are found in almost all foods, with the exception of animal products. Only milk contains a small amount of carbohydrates - mainly in the form of lactose. The composition of plant products consists mainly of complex carbohydrates, and products with simple carbohydrates are most often manufactured industrially (from white sugar to baking).
|// carbohydrates per 100 g||// % fast carbohydrates|
|Rice (before cooking)||80-85 g||<1%|
|Pasta (before cooking)||70-80 g||1-2%|
|Buckwheat and other cereals||65-70g||0%|
|Sweet pastries||40-50 g||20%|
|Ice cream||20-25 g||90%|
|Fruit juice||10-15 g||100%|
|Cola and other soda||10 g||100%|
Complete Carbohydrate Food List
The benefits and harms of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are useful both for the human brain (glucose is a key fuel) and for muscles (carbohydrates are stored in them in the form of glycogen). The body's need for various products with carbohydrates is about 250-500 g per day, depending on weight and level of physical activity.
Excess carbohydrates quickly leads to gaining excess weight - especially when the daily diet exceeds the calorie intake . At the same time, the calories of simple carbohydrates tend to be deposited in the form of subcutaneous fat on the stomach, and it is recommended to completely exclude them for burning fat.
Carbohydrates - Simple and Complex
Once in the stomach, foods with carbohydrates are digested and increase blood sugar. In turn, an increase in sugar leads to an increase in the level of the hormone insulin. It is this hormone that allows cells to store energy. Regular consumption of simple carbohydrates disrupts the mechanisms of insulin production, causing the body to experience hunger even when there is enough energy.
Unfortunately, the easiest way to utilize excess fast carbohydrates is to convert their calories to fat reserves. At the same time, sharp fluctuations in blood sugar lead to hunger and a characteristic desire to eat sweet again. There is a vicious circle - a person gets fat from such products, but can not refuse sweets. However, weight loss always begins with the rejection of sweets .
// Simple carbohydrates - product list
- sugar (including honey, sweet soda such as cola and fruit juices)
- jams, jams, marmalade and other sweets
- bread and all kinds of white flour pastries
- most sweet fruits
- White rice
Complex carbohydrates - what is it?
Complex carbohydrates are primarily starch (the main carbohydrate of plants), glycogen (the main source of muscle energy) and dietary fiber . Starch, in fact, is a multitude of simple carbohydrate molecules firmly bonded together. It takes both time and energy to break down foods with complex carbohydrates. That is why complex carbohydrates are called “slow” and are more beneficial.
The main functions of complex carbohydrates are both the provision of digestion processes (for example, fiber is responsible for the normal movement of digested food through the esophagus) and energy storage for physical activities. In addition, the consumption of fiber and other complex carbohydrates normalizes the level of glucose in the blood, which is especially important when dieting for diabetes.
// Complex carbohydrates - product list
- various whole grains
- durum wheat pasta
- green vegetables
- Brown rice
- beans and other legumes
Food glycemic index
The simpler the composition of a specific carbohydrate and the less saccharides it contains in its formula, the faster it is digested and enters the bloodstream, raising sugar levels. Such foods have a high glycemic index. Complex plant carbohydrates (a mixture of starch and fiber), consisting of hundreds of related structural elements, are absorbed much more slowly.
// Healthy and bad carbohydrates
The most useful for health (and for the figure) are complex carbohydrates of vegetables and other plants that have undergone moderate heat treatment. Then there are various cereals (starting from bulgur and other wheat variations, ending with corn), whole grain cereals ( buckwheat , quinoa ) and fruits, which contain many dietary fibers and have an average glycemic index.
Grains that are completely peeled (for example, white rice, white flour and various products from them) are sources of pure starch and are harmful to those who want to lose weight. Eating brown rice is usually more beneficial. Remember that most products with simple carbohydrates (including fruit juices) should be as limited as possible in the diet.
|// Harmful carbohydrates||// Healthy carbohydrates|
|White (ground) rice||Brown rice|
|Fruit juices||Vegetables and low-carb fruits|
|White bread||Whole wheat bread|
|Mashed potatoes||Buckwheat groats, quinoa|
|Cornflakes||Oatmeal (not instant)|
The harm of carbohydrate-free diets
There are many diets that promise weight loss by eliminating carbohydrates - for example, a carbohydrate-free diet. Despite the fact that in the short term they can be effective for losing weight, in the end, such diets become harmful. In particular, a keto diet should not be followed for longer than 5-6 months.
A complete rejection of carbohydrate-containing foods will deprive the body of most vitamins and minerals, which can be harmful to health - not to mention the fact that following a protein diet with a lack of fiber can lead to digestion difficulties.
Carbohydrate Rates for Mass Gain
The opinion that muscles grow from eating protein is a mistake. In the material of the BJU norm for weight gain, we mentioned that during training for muscle growth it is necessary to consume about 60% in the form of carbohydrates. It is carbohydrates that are the main source of energy for muscles, storing in the form of glycogen. In other words, you can’t gain weight on a carbohydrate-free diet.
It is also important for athletes to remember the theory of the carbohydrate window - the time after training, during which the muscles are more susceptible to energy. In particular, the use of simple carbohydrates increases the level of insulin, thus opening up the ability of cells to store energy - the work of gainers is based on this principle. They use maltodextrin , a polysaccharide with a high absorption rate.
// The benefits of carbohydrates for muscles:
- glycogen - a key fuel for muscles
- carbohydrates are part of the gainers
- increase insulin levels
Carbohydrates are a key type of energy stored in plants. Depending on the number of structural elements, they are divided into simple and complex. The glycemic index is used to determine the dangers or benefits of eating carbohydrates. Excess fructose and glucose in food leads to metabolic disorders (diabetes mellitus) and to gain unwanted weight.
- Glucose: Energy Sources, source
- Diet Percentages: Part 2, Lyle McDonald, source
- Low Carb Diet: Health Risks, source