Some call carbohydrates the main culprits hated excess centimeters at the waist and a variety of diseases. Others claim that carbohydrates are the foundation of a healthy diet. Who is right in the old dispute? Let's try to understand objectively what the benefits and harms of carbohydrates.
The very first question that arises is why does the body need carbohydrates? Their main function is to meet our energy needs. Indeed, it is carbohydrates that supply up to 60% of all energy to 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, which is a vital store of energy for us.
However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. They are usually divided into simple (fast) and complex carbohydrates. The first group includes the well-known monosaccharides: glucose, fructose, galactose. Once in our body, they break down almost instantly, enriching it with energy. However, insulin quickly quenches surging blood sugar levels, and soon the brain insistently demands more 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 is 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 are different, although performing the same functions. These include cellulose, starch and pectins, which are digested by the body slowly and thoroughly, drowning out the hunger for a long time. This is the main use of carbohydrates to the body.
Fiber, among other things, supports the intestines in good shape, thus creating optimal conditions for reproduction of beneficial microorganisms. Its high content normalizes blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancers of the digestive tract. Most 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 cleaved to the required glucose. The main sources of starch are potatoes, various cereals, pasta, and legumes. Strict adherents of a healthy way of life categorically reject these products, considering them too high-calorie and harmful. Although most of the harmfulness they add fat sauces and spicy seasonings. In addition, a healthy diet should be balanced, so that periodically included in the diet of pasta or potatoes is very useful.
Stocks of complex carbohydrates you can always make up for the expense of pectin, which also give a pleasant feeling of satiety, stimulate the digestive organs and removed from the body of harmful substances. Pectin champions rightly are apples, plums, peaches, blueberries and gooseberries.
Be that as it may, the degree of both benefit and harm determines the quantity. How many carbohydrates per day does our body need to get enough energy and feel great? The daily allowance should, on average, be 50-60% of the total diet, while only a third of it is given to simple carbohydrates. For those who are not used to restricting themselves in food, nutritionists are allowed to consume no more than 100 g of carbohydrates per day. For those who scrupulously count calories, this norm is limited to 30-50 g. Sticking 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 intake of carbohydrates. 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 muscle tone, the state of the nervous system, the heart and the brain, which can lead to serious malfunctions 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 eating, for example, with a modest portion of pasta or buckwheat cereal.
Obviously, the benefits and harms of carbohydrates depends on their ability to correctly select and calculate the amount. And of course, do not forget about the balance with other nutrients.