Carbohydrates have taken a beating in the dietary world for several years. So just what is a carbohydrate and why does it have such a bad reputation?
Food is composed of three main components: carbohydrate, protein and fat. Carbohydrates contain various levels of starch, sugar and fiber. Bread, pasta and rice have high levels of starch, fruits have high levels of sugar and vegetables have high levels of fiber.
Further, a carbohydrate can be classified as simple or complex.
A simple carbohydrate is sugar and can be used by the body immediately for energy.
Healthy simple carbohydrates:
bananas, berries, dates, figs, mangoes, papayas and pineapples
A complex carbohydrate contains mostly starch which is made up of sugars that are coiled together and are rich in essential amino acids, essential fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Because of the fiber content, these carbs take longer to digest which result in feeling fuller sooner and longer.
Healthy complex carbohydrates:
Whole grains (such as buckwheat, brown rice, corn, oats and quinoa), starchy vegetables (such as corn, potato and sweet potatoes), green vegetables, beans, lentils and peas (chick, split)
Carbohydrates are one of the main sources of energy for the body. Consuming carbs ensures that your body has what it needs to perform at peak levels throughout the day, aids in digestion (fiber), and promotes healthy weight loss (feeling fuller sooner, longer).
SADLY, the Standard American Diet contains very few calories from healthy forms of carbohydrates and that is what gives this essential power house its bad name. More often than not we obtain carbohydrates from foods that have empty calories or from those that have been refined. Refined foods are stripped of their fiber resulting in an increase of sugar.
Empty Calorie carbohydrates:
candy, corn syrup, fructose, fruit drinks, table sugar, soda
snack food (chips, most crackers, cookies, cake, pie) sweetened cereal, white bread, white pasta, white rice.
According to the Dietary Guidelines For Americans (health.gov), 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Many people have embraced a low carb diet as a method to lose weight. The Atkins diet is the most well-known of these weight-reduction plans where emphasis is placed on foods that are high in protein and fat. I am not a fan of these types of diets but that doesn’t mean I am not open to learning more about them. If you have chosen or are thinking of participating in one of these plans, please feel free to leave a comment below on your results or what you think you may derive from them.
Signs and symptoms of a diet containing too few carbohydrates include high fatigue, mental lethargy, headaches, bad breath, moodiness, insatiable appetite and weight gain (a loss of lean muscle mass and an increase in body fat).
I have recently refocused my efforts on incorporating more complex carbohydrates in my diet. In particular, I have made strides to include more whole grains and starchy vegetables on a daily basis, something I was lax on in the past.
Below are links to two super delicious recipes that provide the body with the necessary complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals that allow the body to thrive.
Of course, if you have followed this blog you will know that I eliminated the oil which is listed in both recipes!!
I embrace the starch! Are you a low carber or high carber? Please leave a comment…