Bun Of Discord: Everything You Need To Know About Carbs

Health 2022

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Bun Of Discord: Everything You Need To Know About Carbs
Bun Of Discord: Everything You Need To Know About Carbs

Video: Bun Of Discord: Everything You Need To Know About Carbs

Video: How do carbohydrates impact your health? - Richard J. Wood 2022, November
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THE WORD "CARBOHYDRATES" BECAME ALMOST UNDECENT. At the suggestion of nutritionists like Atkins and Ducan, the mantra about the dangers of carbohydrates has long confused people: many still seriously underestimate the role of these substances in the body, including their importance for maintaining a healthy weight. The global fitness boom has loosened the carbohydrate grip a bit, but it hasn't dispelled doubts. Now we know that carbohydrates are "fast" and "slow", and there is also a "window" when they seem to be possible or even necessary to use. However, what to do with this set of disparate facts is not always clear to everyone. In order to build a balanced diet and not go crazy, we figure out what carbohydrates are, what they are and why you can't go anywhere without them.

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Why does the body need carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are essential nutrients that, along with proteins and fats, make up the energy value of food. In the body, carbohydrates are converted into glucose - an irreplaceable fuel for muscle and brain cells (we talked about these metamorphoses in the article about the benefits and dangers of sugar). With the help of blood, glucose is delivered to cells with the participation of the hormone insulin and provides us with energy for various physical processes, from walking to breathing. Not only fat stores are formed from glucose residues, but also another source of energy - glycogen, which is deposited in liver and muscle cells. When we sleep, the body uses glycogen in the liver to support the brain, nervous system, and other vital functions. And if in a dream carbohydrates in the liver are consumed, then during physical activity "muscle" glycogen is consumed.

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. In addition to sugar, which has a poor reputation, there are other carbohydrates such as starch. They are rich in many vegetables, especially potatoes, legumes, cereals (refined flour is almost pure starch). However, among complex carbohydrates there are also uniquely useful ones, for example, fiber. The human body lacks an enzyme capable of digesting fiber molecules, therefore its nutritional value is zero, but fiber does not affect the blood sugar level either. Coarse fiber also stimulates intestinal motility and normalizes digestion, and some of its types can lower blood cholesterol levels. Mostly plant-based foods are rich in fiber: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, nuts, and even popcorn (it's a shame the added sugar, salt, and butter in movie theater popcorn don't hold true). For women, doctors advise to consume 25 g of fiber per day, and the average norm for men is 38 g, while many of us consume no more than 18 g daily.

Where does the separation of carbohydrates come from?

into simple and complex

This classification became widely known in the late 70s of the XX century after the recommendations of the US Committee on Dietary Standards were published. It was introduced in order to separate sugars, which are also called simple or "fast" carbohydrates, from other carbohydrates (complex or "slow") and call for a reduction in the proportion of simple carbohydrates in the diet. Of course, these recommendations are not the ultimate truth: some complex carbohydrates are less beneficial than simple ones. One way or another, scientists have known for a long time that carbohydrates are different. Depending on the number of structural units of saccharides, the chemical classification distinguishes between monosaccharides, oligosaccharides (most often disaccharides or trisaccharides) and polysaccharides. Usually, the more saccharides there are, the more difficult it is for the body to break down the carbohydrate molecule into glucose, the main source of energy.

Mono- and disaccharides taste sweet and dissolve easily in water (these include, for example, sugar and honey). Due to their relatively small size, they break down to glucose easier and faster, which is why they are called simple.Simple carbohydrates contain many "fast" calories, but the feeling of fullness after them does not last long. Oligo- and polysaccharides take longer to break down to glucose or do not break down at all, which is why they are called complex. These include starch and fiber. Because of the poorer absorption of these carbohydrates, blood glucose levels after consumption increase more slowly and calories are not released as quickly, but satiety lasts longer. Both "fast" and "slow" carbohydrates are needed by the body, but in different situations and for different purposes.

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When is it better to use "fast" and "slow" carbohydrates

When you need to provide yourself with the energy for better performance - say, in the morning or before training - "slow" carbs are needed. Glucose from complex carbohydrates enters the bloodstream gradually and provides the body with energy longer than simple carbohydrates. So, having eaten them, a person does not feel hunger for a long time and, probably, will not eat much more than necessary. The slower a carbohydrate is absorbed, the easier it is for the body to store it and the more energy goes into muscle cells in the form of glycogen.

There is a myth that during training you cannot burn fat until the stores of glycogen in the muscles are used up - supposedly the process of fat oxidation starts 20 minutes after the start of training. In fact, fat is oxidized all the time (even when we sleep), but the rate of oxidation depends on the load on the muscles: the higher it is, the faster the processes are activated. With significant sports loads, the maximum power of oxidative processes is reached by the second or third minute of training. So feel free to eat complex "coals" shortly before a run or going to the gym: no carbohydrates - no energy.

During prolonged intense workouts, you can also replenish with carbohydrates, and here the simple ones will come in handy. They are good for filling the carbohydrate window after training: simple carbohydrates will be spent on the current needs of the body and will not have time to go into fat reserves. "Fast" carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (we'll talk about it later) are found in all foods with added sugar, as well as wherever it is found naturally: in fruits and fruit juices, in baked goods and pasta made from processed grains. Of course, not every "fast" carbohydrate is an ideal choice for an urgent boost of energy: it is better to prefer bananas, crispbreads, white rice to sweets and pastries. In addition, it is important to understand that not every “slow” carbohydrate is healthy. For example, some types of starch increase blood glucose levels almost faster and more strongly than some sugars.

Do I need to check the glycemic index of foods

To understand whether you are consuming "fast" or "slow" carbohydrates will help the glycemic index (abbreviated - GI). GI shows how quickly a product, entering the body, affects the level of glucose in the blood. Low-GI foods (such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes) are important ingredients for a healthy diet, but relying solely on this in your diet is not the smartest choice. While low-GI foods do not spike insulin and make you feel fuller longer, not all of them are automatically beneficial. For example, a watermelon or parsnip has a high GI, while a chocolate cake may have a lower GI. The GI is significantly influenced by the method of preparation and the combination of the product with others, so that during dinner in a restaurant, it makes no sense to calculate by the GI what is useful and what is harmful.

However, it is important to understand that long-term abuse of "fast" carbohydrates with a high GI can actually lead to excess weight. The body gets used to the intense production of insulin, and insulin levels will remain high even when you finally decide to consume foods with a low GI. Insulin quickly transfers glucose, and the feeling of hunger reappears, because there is no glucose left in the blood, from which energy could be obtained for current consumption.As a result, we start to eat more than we need, and the weight gradually increases, if the daily calorie consumption through physical activity does not compensate for this.

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Should you exclude carbohydrates from your diet?

Substantially limiting carbohydrates means depriving the brain of nutrients, depleting the nervous system and damaging muscle tissue. It is to her that the body turns for energy reserves when it is needed urgently, in particular for household physical activity no longer than 2-3 minutes. During activity with lower intensity (for example, walking), mainly fat is consumed, but as the second component of an energy cocktail for those who give up carbohydrates and do not eat enough protein, the body will use muscle tissue. As a result, it will decrease in volume.

Conversely, excessive amounts of protein in a conditionally "carbohydrate-free" diet over time can lead to overworking of the kidneys and liver. The connection between a lack of carbohydrates and increased fragility of bones is most likely another myth. It is understandable, however, that in an ill-conceived diet with a low carbohydrate content, the daily share of not only proteins, but also saturated and trans fats, is often increased. This can lead to a jump in "bad" cholesterol in the blood and, as a result, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

By replacing fatty and sugary foods with high fiber foods and whole starchy foods, you can significantly increase the nutritional value of your diet, while reducing the usual portion without harm to the body. It is believed that in a more or less balanced adult menu, depending on the individual characteristics of the body and the level of physical activity, about 20–35% of calories should come from fats, 10–35% - from proteins and 45–65% - from carbohydrates. Load up on foods rich in "slow" carbohydrates, and save "fast" ones for an emergency recharge. However, you should not get hung up on numbers: the most accurate guideline is not calorie counting, but a healthy measure, and carbohydrates - simple and complex - are an important part of it.

Photos: Yeko Photo Studio - stock.adobe.com (1, 2), MovingMoment - stock.adobe.com, Nik_Merkulov - stock.adobe.com

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