Are carbohydrates enemies or friends?
Carbohydrates: the benefits and harm
Someone calls carbohydrates the main culprits of the hated extra centimeters at the waist and various diseases. Others claim that carbohydrates are the basis of a healthy diet. Who is right in the eternal dispute? Let us try to impartially understand what the benefits and harm of carbohydrates are.
The very first question that arises is why do we need carbohydrates for the body? Their main function is to meet our energy needs. After all, it is carbohydrates that supply up to 60% of all energy in our body, the rest is fats and proteins. In addition, they are necessary for the full functioning of the heart, nervous system, brain and all metabolic processes. Glycogen is synthesized from carbohydrates – a more complex carbohydrate compound in structure, which is a vital energy reserve for us.
However, not all carbohydrates are equally beneficial. They are usually divided into simple (fast) and complex carbohydrates. The first group includes known to all monosaccharides: glucose, fructose, galactose. Once in our body, they are almost instantly split, enriching it with energy. However, insulin quickly quenches the jumping sugar level, and soon the brain insistently demands a new portion of nutritious fuel. And since carbohydrates, unlike proteins, do not neutralize hydrochloric acid in the stomach, the imaginary feeling of hunger increases.
Simple carbohydrates are found in sugar, and therefore, in any sweets, confectionery, honey, some fruits and vegetables, and many other products. Thus, the main harm of simple carbohydrates lies in the fact that if they quench their hunger beyond measure, they cease to be absorbed and begin to be deposited in the form of fat cells. As a result, extra pounds and related problems are formed.
Complex, or slow, carbohydrates act differently, although they perform the same functions. These include fiber, starch and pectins, which are digested by the body slowly and thoroughly, permanently drowning out the feeling of hunger. This is the main benefit of carbohydrates for the body.
Fiber, among other things, keeps the intestines in good shape, thereby creating optimal conditions for the reproduction of beneficial microorganisms. Its high content normalizes the level of cholesterol in the blood and reduces the risk of developing cancer of the digestive tract. Most of the fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and bran.
Starch, contrary to popular belief, is not so harmful to our body, and its reserves need to be replenished from time to time. It is well saturated, slowly digested and eventually splits to the glucose we need. The main sources of starch are potatoes, various cereals, pasta, and legumes. Strict adherents of a healthy lifestyle categorically reject these products, considering them too high in calories and harmful. Although most often they are harmful to add fatty sauces and spicy seasonings. In addition, a healthy diet should be balanced, so periodically to include in the diet pasta or potatoes is very useful.
Stocks of complex carbohydrates can always be replenished by pectins, which also give a pleasant feeling of satiety, stimulate the functioning of the digestive organs and remove harmful substances from the body. Pectin champions on the right are apples, plum, peach, blueberry and gooseberry.
Be that as it may, the degree of both good and harm determines the quantity. How many carbohydrates a day does our body need to get enough energy and feel great? The daily rate on average should be 50-60% of the total diet, while only a third part is given to simple carbohydrates. Those who are not accustomed to limit themselves to food, nutritionists are allowed to consume no more than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. For those who meticulously count calories, this rate is limited to 30-50 g. Adhere to a lower bar for a long period is dangerous to health.
But for those who are intensively improving themselves in the gym, on the contrary, they need to increase their carbohydrate intake. It is well known that with such a lifestyle one should lean primarily on proteins, so why does an athlete need carbohydrates? Exercise burns a tremendous amount of energy.
If the losses are not replenished, this will negatively affect the muscle tone, the state of the nervous system, the heart and the brain, which can entail serious disruptions in the work of the whole organism. Of course, preference should be given not to fast carbohydrates, the harm of which we have already discussed, but slow. Therefore, a couple of hours before a workout, it does not interfere with refreshment, for example, with a modest portion of pasta or buckwheat cereal.
Obviously, the benefits and harm of carbohydrates largely depend on the ability to select them correctly and calculate the quantity. And of course, do not forget about the balance with other useful substances.
Functions and benefits of carbohydrates in the body
The source of carbohydrates for the human body is food of plant origin. Carbohydrates, being a necessary part of nutrition, have an important energy value. These are the functions of carbohydrates in the body – energy. Carbohydrates bring the body about 56% of the necessary energy, the rest is provided by the intake of fats and proteins. Carbohydrates can be simple and complex. This is determined by their structure.
Simple carbohydrates include monosaccharides known to everyone – fructose, glucose and milk sugar – galactose. Well soluble in water, simple carbohydrates have a pronounced sweet taste and are easily absorbed by the body. However, not all monosaccharides are the same. For example, consumption of sweeter fructose can reduce the total amount of carbohydrates consumed. This is due to the achievement of a certain sweetness of food with a smaller amount of carbohydrates in foods.
Glucose is used by the body as a source of energy for muscle contractions, including the work of the heart muscle, to power the brain. Carbohydrates – the starting material for the process of glycogen synthesis.
Fructose and glucose in different proportions are contained in the garden “products” – fruits and berries. A significant amount of carbohydrates is consumed by man in the form of so-called beet sugar, which is included in the composition of sweet dishes, confectionery and various beverages. Especially brightly the use of carbohydrates is manifested if you eat foods rich in them at the very end of the meal, for dessert. There is a feeling of fullness and gastric juice is not so quickly released.
The second type – complex carbohydrates are represented by fiber, starch and pectin substances. Cellulose in the human body is practically not digested. These carbohydrates stimulate the functioning of the intestines and create conditions for reproduction in the intestines of beneficial microorganisms. In food, fiber must be present.
Especially a lot of fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and also in wheat bran. The share of another carbohydrate – starch – more than 80% of all carbohydrates in the human diet. Sources of starch – cereals, flour and pasta, legumes and potatoes. Starch is digested relatively slowly, being broken down by digestion to glucose. Starch that comes with semolina and rice is quickly and easily digested.
Here’s the starch, if you can call it that, wheat, buckwheat, barley and barley, and the starch from bread and potatoes is not so easily and quickly digested. The third type of carbohydrates – pectins perfectly stimulate the processes of digestion and effectively remove harmful substances. A lot of pectin is found in all varieties of apples, plums, cranberries and gooseberries.