Carbohydrates – Friend or Foe?
Carbohydrates, or carbs, are the body’s preferred fuel source and are essential when it comes to exercise and training. Roughly, 75% of the energy that is utilised from carbohydrates is ultimately used to sustain brain function.
Carb rich foods provide fuel for muscle contraction, red blood cell production, which is essential to transport oxygen, enables fat metabolism and prevents proteins from being used as energy.
Having a low carb diet means you may fatigue quicker and unable to sustain exercises for vigorous or long periods. Focusing on nutrient-dense or complex carbohydrates is vital for optimum performance and sustainable weight loss.
Carbohydrate foods and fluids that are rich in sources of other macro and micronutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Some examples are whole grain bread and cereals, grains, starchy vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products, should be consumed in higher amounts.
Nutrient poor or simple carbs, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, lollies and sweets, sports drinks and cordial and foods and fluids that contain refined sugars that may provide kilojoules, but lack vitamins, minerals and fibre, and could potentially leave you hungry.
High-fat carbohydrates, such as pastries, cakes, banana bread, chips (fried and packet) and chocolate may contain refined starches. This could potentially raise blood sugar levels causing an insulin spike and detrimental to weight loss and the health of vital organs.
When carbs are broken down in the digestive system, they produce the main source of fuel: glucose.
Complex carbs take longer to break down and are converted into glucose over a longer period of time. Carbs are an important macronutrient in nutrition, but your main sources of carbs should come from vegetables.
There may be some healthier alternatives to certain simple carbs, but it still important to consume those in small amounts.
Carbohydrates, from a macronutrient perspective, equals 16 kilojoules, or 4 calories, per gram.
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