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What are carbohydrates and does our body ACTUALLY need them?!?

There is always someone saying that carbohydrates are “bad” and our body doesn’t need them. Or someone else saying that carbs are the problem to so many health problems.

And then you have someone else saying that carbohydrates are an essential nutrient for the body.

What’s the deal?!?

WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES?

A carbohydrate is a molecule that our body uses for fuel and energy. They are categorized as monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, polysaccharides, nucleotides. But you can’t just go to the grocery store and buy a bag of monosaccharide molecules, can you?

The reality is that when we eat carbohydrates containing foods like bread, rice, pasta, fruits, veggies, they are not 100% carbohydrate molecules. They come with other stuff like fats, or proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrate containing foods come as a package.

What are carbohydrates - Food sources of carbohydrates. Cereals, beans, fruits, vegetables berries nuts and bread.

Food sources of carbohydrates. Cereals, beans, fruits, vegetables berries nuts and bread.

WHAT DO CARBOHYDRATES DO?

Your body uses carbohydrate molecules to create energy in your body. Your body needs energy to be able to move, play sports, run around, go to work, think and breathe. It’s the source that gives you life.

ARE CARBS NECESSARY?

Let’s put it this way, if we don’t eat carbohydrates, the body will make the energy from other sources like fats (ketosis), or proteins (gluconeogenesis), if necessary, but your body doesn’t prefer these options.

When given the choice, your body will choose carbohydrates every time!

WHAT ARE SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES?

Simple Carbohydrates are pure sugars. They have very little nutrient value, and cause unnatural fluctuations of insulin release in your body, and cause an unnatural spike in your your blood sugar levels

When we choose simple carbohydrates, all those other nutrients are missing, so you’re consuming just sugars, which is why they are often referred to as ‘Fast Burning Carbohydrates.”

Simple Carbohydrates will be broken down in your body very quickly, and the energy that is produced will only be available for a short period of time, which means LESS energy throughout the day which results in, the commonly known, afternoon-3pm crash.

What are carbohydrates - Assortment of simple carbohydrates food.

Assortment of simple carbohydrates food. Products high in sugar

WHAT ARE COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES?

These are the full-package deals you want! They contain fibers, vitamins, minerals and all that micro nutrient goodness your body loves!

When we choose complex carbohydrates, and you get all those other nutrients, your body will use the carbohydrates more efficiently, which is why they are often referred to as “Slow Burning Carbohydrates.”

They will be broken down in your body and the energy that is produced can be used over a longer period of time. Giving you sustainable energy; MORE energy throughout the day and; Little to NO afternoon crashes.

WHAT ARE THE BEST FOODS FOR COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES?

The best complex carbohydrates sources are whole foods. Fruits, Vegetables and grains that have not been refined or processed. You can also find some packaged foods that have not been ultra-processed and still contain as much of their whole form as possible.

The trick is to ALWAYS check the back of the label and read the ingredients list. This way you can know what you’re buying, and more importantly, what you’re putting into your body.

What are carbohydrates - Fresh vegetables and legumes.

Assortment of whole foods.

WHERE DO SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES COME FROM?

Simple carbohydrates were once complex carbohydrates! (say what?!)

Most major food companies apply their refining processes to extract all the nutrients like the fibers, vitamins, and minerals and will concentrate the carbohydrates into simple refined sugars.

Refined sugars and carbohydrate foods include things like: white rice, white pasta, white bread, and cereals. This also includes all the sugars, and their hidden names, that exist in the processed packaged foods.

WHY DO COMPANIES REFINE FOODS?

This refining process speeds up production. The quicker the production, the more they make. The more they make, the richer they get.

Some companies will add nutrients to the processed foods, which is often referred to as fortified foods. This way they can produce the foods quickly and then add some of the nutrients back in.

What are carbohydrates - agriculture machinery harvesting beet field

Agricultural machinery for harvesting on a beet field

The truth is, your body prefers those foods in their whole form (Whole foods!)

This way nothing is missing out and you’re just eating real food! Not processed, refined, or tampered with.