So, what is a carbohydrate?
A carbohydrate is a food that is derived from plants and is an essential part of our diet because they provide fuel for our bodies. They include ‘simple’ carbs such as sugar and fruit and ‘complex’ carbs such as starch and vegetables.
Why do we need carbohydrates?
CARBOHYDRATES = FUEL. We need carbohydrates as fuel for our brain, muscles and nervous system. Your body will convert digestable carbs into glucose which your cells will use as fuel – ‘complex’ carbs will do this slowly and ‘simple’ carbs will do this quickly – this is when they will enter your bloodstream. Some will be stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles for future use! If there is any extra – your body will store it as fat!
What are processed carbohydrates?
As a generation we consume large amounts of processed carbs such as sugar, crisps, chips, some cereals and bleached white flour. Extensive processing strips away any nutritional value and removes a lot of fibre. This means that when we eat processed carbs we are given a sugar overload because they will enter your bloodstream quickly giving you a burst of energy, then you will by hungry again so you end up consuming more calories!
Are there any ‘good’ carbohydrates?
YES! The best carbohydrates are raw or lightly steamed vegetables, whole or raw fresh fruit, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, anything high in fibre or 100% wholegrain. Steer clear of pastries, white bread or rice and sugary drinks such as coke.
Are there any health risks with eating the ‘wrong’ carbohydrates?
YES! If you continue to eat lots of the wrong carbs you are more likely to have health problems such as high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, liver and kidney illness and even various cancers.
By Kirsty Kemp
Fitness Professional at Rainham
Photographs from freedigitalphotos.net