The term ‘Carbohydrate’ is a word we have all heard before and one that lends itself to foods that give us energy. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates, when eaten, are converted into glucose. Glucose is our bodies form of sugar that provides the energy we need during the day. A diet that is laden with carbohydrates can result in weight gains and a spike in blood sugar levels. This spike in the short term provides energy, but the long term can leave you feeling irritable, tired and hungry. Carbohydrates are the important part of any solid diet and should not be overlooked, but at the same time need to be combined with a healthy balance of proteins, fat, and fiber.
So what are complex and simple carbohydrates?
Complex carbohydrates can be found in foods as a ‘natural starch’ or as a more unhealthy starch in processed foods.
Foods that have complex carbohydrates as a natural starch include barley, bananas, whole grain products (including cereals, rice, flour, and pasta), oats, lentils, and chickpeas.
Foods such as pizza, pastries, sugary processed breakfast cereals, white bread and pasta contain complex carbohydrates that are not so natural.
Simple carbohydrates are otherwise known as sugars and exist in two elements: a natural or refined form. The natural carbohydrate sugars are found in fruits and vegetables.
The refined sugars are common in foods such as biscuits, chocolates, brown and white sugar, cakes and pastries, sauces, soft drinks and sweets.
What are the main differences when it comes to complex and simple carbohydrates?
When digested, both forms of carbohydrates form glucose, which is transported around our body via the blood stream. This glucose is what provides us our energy
Without going into too much detail, insulin is stored in our pancreas glands in our abdomen. This controls the bodies uptake of glucose by our cells. When we have an overload of carbohydrates and glucose levels rise, the body will convert this into glycogen, which is stored in the body as fat or in the liver.
If your body has a constant stream of glucose for energy, it will never be able to transfer its source of fuel to body fat and therefore you will put on and retain weight. This is the hardest part of dieting and kicking the body into weight loss mode. The bodies preferred source of fuel is fat, so limiting your intake combined with exercise will eventually trigger fat burning.
Carbohydrates are essential in providing energy so it is important to include them into your diet. The trick will find the balance between the food groups.