As part of a series of blog posts designed to answer many of the commonly asked questions our customer services department recieves we find ourselves turning our attention to Which Foods are Carbs?
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients essential for proper body function that we need in high amounts on a daily basis. Simply put, they are sugars, fibres and starches found in grains, fruits, vegetables and milk products that our body use to obtain energy (calories).
In fact, carbohydrates are our number one source of energy, and they break down inside the body into smaller units of sugar such as glucose and fructose. They are absorbed by the small intestine and sent through the bloodstream to the liver. The liver converts these sugars into glucose, which moves around the body through blood and supply energy for the brain, essential cells and muscles.
Amazingly, our body is capable of storing up to 2000 calories of glucose in the form of glycogen if we don’t need it for energy right away. Anything beyond that will be stored as fat. In case our body has insufficient carbs, it will consume protein for fuel.
Carbohydrates should take between 45-65% of our daily calorie intake. And as 1 gram of carbs is equal to 4 calories, a diet of 1800 calories should have between 202-292 grams of carbs.
Carbs are divided into two groups – simple and complex.
Simple carbs can be either natural or refined. Natural carbs are healthy fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals, while refined carbs consist of processed food such as sweets, cakes and biscuits. People should avoid eating refined carbohydrates as they contain high amount of calories and cause insulin spikes and unbalanced energy levels. Therefore, they are known as bad carbs.
Complex carbohydrates are healthy, provide a steady energy supply and are packed with fibre. They promote weight loss and are considered as good carbs.
Basically, good carbs are low in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and trans fats and high in nutrients and fibre.
All food groups except fats and oils contain some amount of carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, grain and legumes are all considered as good carbs, while sugary sweets are known as bad carbs and should be avoided or at least limited at all cost.
So it turns out carbs aren't all bad, in fact they're quite good. It is too many carbs that is the problem!