Carbohydrates is one the three main Macro-Nutrients essential for us. Carbs are primary providers of energy for bodily functions, as it gets converted to glucose. At a chemical level it is composed of carbon, hydrogen & oxygen, formula being CHO. Vegetables, Fruits, Milk, Grains, Sugars & Starch contains CHO. Macro-nutrients are essential for body functions and cannot be produced by our body, hence we are dependent on diet for Protein, Fats & Carbohydrates. Also, we require them in large amounts, e.g. For per Kg of body weight we need equal grams of Protein. So typically, a person weighing 60Kgs would require 60gms of Protein on daily basis.
Main Functions of Carbohydrates
Energy to Central Nervous system & Working muscles.
Save protein stores of our body, because if we go low on carbs then body can break muscles to release the protein which is bad in long run.
Brain needs energy, rather our carb requirement is defined by how much energy our brain needs.
Carbs influence our moods, memory & other brain functions.
So how much should do we need?
- On average 135 grams of Carbohydrates is needed. But consumption of Carbs can depend on your personal health goals as well.
- Person who wants to loose weight might go low on Carbs & Fats but increase Protein.
- Person who wants to gain weight might go some what higher on Carbs & Protein with moderate Fats.
- People with Diabetes should control Carbs & Fat consumption with help of Nutrition expert.
Types of Carbs
- Simple & Complex Carbohydrates are two different types of carbs.
- Simple carbs are those in which you get one or two types of sugar Fructose (Fruits) or Galactose (Milk products). Also known as monosaccharides.
- Then we have Carbs with two sugars known as disaccharides, like sucrose or lactose (Milk) or Maltose (beer or some veggies).
- Simple carbs are usually found in processed or refined foods like doughnuts etc.
- Complex carbs have more three of more sugars known as polysaccharides. Sometimes referred as starchy foods or foods with high fiber content e.g. whole-grains, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn and cereals and more.
- Simple carbs cause a spike in blood sugar level and hence it is also linked to Type-2 Diabetes as well.
- Body can store up to 2000 calories and after that carbs could be stored as fat.
You can check Pritikin Centre’s checklist for Good and Bad Carbs.
Benefits of Carbohydrates
If you eat complex carbohydrates, then you get following benefits.
- Right Carbs consumption will give us good mental health & memory, it is needed for normal brain functioning.
- People of Weight loss journey should have complex carbs instead of completely leaving out carbs. As complex carbs contain fiber which helps in digestion that results in proper absorption of nutrients in body.
- If a person follows low or zero carbs diet to reduce weight then, the results will be temporary and weight will increase once person reverts to regular diet.
- Complex Carbohydrates are good source of nutrients esp, fruits, vegetables & whole grain. Always include them in your diet.
- Fiber is present in complex carbs, so Heart health can be managed well by it. Fiber is known to reduce cholesterol in body and hence a good way to combat heart health related to issues.
So as you Carbohydrates are not as bad as some people make you believe. It all depends on which carb you are consuming Simple or Complex. If you go on low or zero carb diet then your protein store in body will reduce and put burden on your kidneys as well.
Do have your bowl of fruits and vegetables daily to fulfil the need of Carbohydrates.