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Carbohydrates: Why and how to add carbs to your diet
Carbohydrates are a nutrient that your body turns into glucose to give you the energy to function.
Carbohydrates, often referred to as carbs, are one of the three primary macronutrients essential for the human body, alongside proteins and fats. These organic compounds consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, forming various sugars, starches and fibers. Carbohydrates serve as a crucial source of energy, fueling our daily activities and bodily functions. They play a fundamental role in maintaining blood glucose levels and are a preferred energy source for the brain. Beyond energy, carbs also contribute to cellular structures and can be found in a wide range of foods, from grains and fruits to vegetables and dairy products, influencing our dietary choices and overall health.
What are the different types of carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, the body’s primary energy source, can be classified into two main types: simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches and fibers).
What are simple carbs?
These are quickly digested sugars found in foods like table sugar (sucrose), fruit sugars (fructose), and milk sugars (lactose). They provide rapid energy but can lead to blood sugar spikes if consumed excessively.
What are complex carbs?
These are made up of longer chains of sugar molecules and are found in foods like grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables. Complex carbs provide sustained energy and fiber, promoting digestive health.
- Dietary fiber: A subtype of complex carbs, dietary fiber, cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. It aids in digestion, regulates blood sugar, and promotes a feeling of fullness. Fiber-rich sources include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Why do you need carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are a fundamental dietary component essential for several critical functions in the body. According to the expert, carbs serve as the primary source of energy. When consumed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which fuels cells, tissues, and organs. This energy is vital for physical activities, from simple daily tasks to intense workouts. Moreover, carbohydrates play a crucial role in brain function. Glucose derived from carbs is the brain’s primary fuel source, supporting cognitive processes, concentration, and mental alertness.”
Carbohydrates also contribute to digestive health. Dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate found in foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, aids in regular bowel movements, prevents constipation and supports a healthy guts microbiome. All in all, carbohydrates are necessary for energy, brain function, digestive health, and physical performance.