But it seems like every single diet today is based on cutting carbohydrates out of your life completely.
You’d think that carbs were a macronutrient that wasn’t worthy of space on your dinner plate. While you’re at it, might as well smoke a cigarette. At least that doesn’t have carbs in it.
But really, don’t smoke cigarettes; they’re bad for you.
Like any good business, you need everyone working at full capacity to run efficiently. And in the case of your body, you need energy to churn out maximum performance. Whether it’s at work, in the gym, or life in general.
Carbohydrates help to fuel your:
- Brain – you might need that mental focus at work, just sayin’.
- Red blood cells and nervous system – just your blood and nervous system, no big deal.
- Muscle cells – when you’re doing exercises with periods of high intensity, like intervals, power lifting, or sprinting, you’ll need carbs.
One of the most important things to note is that carbohydrates, specifically complex ones, contain fiber. Fiber ensures healthy bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, and helps you to maintain a healthy weight.
So basically what I’m trying to say is – eat carbs, they’re not bad for you.
But hold up, what’s this ruckus around simple and complex carbs? I’m still kind of confused dude.
Totally feel you. It actually is confusing. So let’s clear it up for you with some basic chemistry 101, along with what carbs are good to eat, and where to find them.
If simple and complex carbohydrates were twin brothers, simple carbs would be the evil one. At least that is how they are portrayed. But what if I told you that fruits are actually simple carbs? Does that mean you should stop eating fruit? No. Check this out:
Monosaccharides are simple sugars, or one sugar molecule. They are commonly in the forms of glucose, fructose, and also galactose.
- Glucose is blood sugar – surprise, surprise, it’s found in you. It’s the most common sugar found in the human body but after it’s been converted as such. It’s also found in various types of foods as well.
- Fructose is fruit sugar – so you’ll find this in primarily in fruits, including but not limited to, strawberries, bananas, and grapes.
- Galactose is part of milk sugar. Milk and dairy products contain this type of sugar. Think milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates that contain 2 to 10 monosaccharides bonded together. And just so you know, disaccharides (just 2 sugar molecules put together) are a separate group of carbohydrates but are most often grouped together with oligosaccharides. They come in the forms of sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
- Sucrose – basically “man made” sugars, and though you’ll find this in some fruits, the majority you’ll find in table sugar, sweeteners, candy, and soda.
- Lactose – is essentially ½ glucose and ½ galactose. Again, you’ll find this type of sugar in milk and dairy products., products similar to those containing galactose.
- Maltose – fused to brew beer and other malt drinks. Get crunk.
Simple carbs aren’t all that bad. You just need to know which ones that you have to stay away from, and how often to eat them. Fruit is not bad for you, so eat it; it’s no big deal. But soda, candy, and beer – chill with it. It’s not realistic to think that you won’t eat candy or have a can of soda, just make sure that these are limited in your diet.
Complex Carbs, touted as the best carb ever. Typical advice is to always eat complex carbs. But what if I told you that white bread was a complex carb? Does that mean you should eat it all the time? No. Check this out:
Polysaccharides, think many sugars. Like hundreds of thousands of monosaccharides strung together. This group is made of up starches, fibers, and glycogen.
- Starches – That’s right, bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. Now, this encompasses ALL types of bread and pasta, white and whole wheat.
- Fibers – Veggies, grains, fruits
- Glycogen – Mainly found in meat and liver, something we won’t cover here.
Complex carbohydrates are great for you, primarily because you’ve got greens, beans, legumes, nuts, whole wheat and various other grains in this category. However, refined grains, like white bread, white pasta, sugary cereals, and pizza isn’t so great. Scarf down your greens and nuts. White pasta and white bread – take it easy. Again, I know you’ll eat pizza, so I won’t tell you to never lay your hands on a slice ever again. I know I will. But just remember to limit those types of carbs in your diet.
If you want an even more thorough breakdown of fiber and carbohydrates in your diet, check out Lyle McDonald for a primer on carbohydrates.
Carbs aren’t all that bad for you. You need fuel in order to get through your at work, dealing with clients, your workout sessions, and even your family. Maintaining a healthy weight and cleaning out your digestive system are things that fibers bring to your life. Carbs are just like fats, in the sense that the only thing that you need to keep in mind when consuming them is which ones to limit.
So before your pile food on your dinner plate tonight, don’t forget to leave some room for these guys.
by Andrew Kobylarz