Understanding Carbs

Understanding Carbs

Carbohydrates are macronutrients, meaning they it is one of three major ways the body obtains energy. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and help the brain and organs function properly. While some people fear carbs because of its association with weight gain, it is important to understand that eating “good carbs” is better than limiting carbs all together.

Complex vs. Simple Carbohydrates
Simple and complex carbohydrates are the most identified types of carbohydrates. The difference between these two carbs are the rate at which glucose is broken down. The more complex the grain, the harder the body’s metabolism must work to break down the food, thus increasing fat-burning potential.

Complex Carbs: Requires the body to use more energy to break down food. When the body works on digesting these grains, glucose (sugar) is released at a slower rate into the system. This allows the body to use some of the produced energy during digestion.

  • Whole wheat pasta, oats, bran cereal, legumes, green vegetables, beans, berries, cantaloupe and lentils.
    Simple Carbs: These types of carbs are essentially already digested. The body does not have to utilize energy to breakdown these types of food. Therefore, glucose levels spike quickly, which forces the body to store any excess sugar as fat.
  • Cookies, soda, candy, juice, white pasta, potatoes, white rice and white bread.
    What are good carbohydrates??

Complex carbohydrates are known as good carbs. These types of food are usually whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. They are typically low to moderate in calories, high in nutrients, high in naturally occurring fibre, low in sodium and saturated fat.

Grains are a reliable source of fibre, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. It is important to choose less processed, whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and whole-wheat pasta.

Fibre Rich Fruits
These types of food are important because they promote bowel regularity, and help control cholesterol. Foods like, apples, berries and bananas are rich in fibre.

Fibre Rich Vegetables
Like fibre rich fruits, fibre rich vegetables also promote bowel regularity and help control cholesterol. Vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens and carrots are great choices.

Lentils and Beans
Both lentils and beans contain complex carbohydrates, as well as fibre and protein. These qualities make it a food that fills you up.

Understanding the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index or (GI), is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 according to the extent in which they raise sugar (glucose) levels in the blood after eating. Food that are high on the GI are those which rapidly digested, absorbed and metabolized and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Foods that are high on the GI are food such as simple carbs as they contain high concentrations of sugar. Foods that are low on the GI are ones that produce slower fluctuations in the blood glucose and insulin levels. These foods are typically your complex carbohydrates.

Stefania Ciulla
Certified Personal Trainer – Level 4