Carbohydrates are nutrients that your body breaks down to create sugar. Like other nutrients, carbohydrates also provide vitamins and minerals. But what does this have to do with losing weight?
Why Does The Body Need Sugar?
The cells in our body use sugar to make energy and your brain runs off of it exclusively for fuel. So, just like gas for your car, carbohydrates keeping the motor running. And while it is also true your body can run off fat and protein for a while, it will eventually need to switch back to carbohydrates, otherwise it will start eating its own muscle for fuel – not a good idea when dieting since it lowers your overall rate at which your body burns calories.
Two Kinds of Fuel
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates are easily absorbed and provide quick energy to the body. Have you ever reached for a candy bar when you were feeling tired? That’s you feeding your body simple carbohydrates to get the boost you needed. More examples of simple carbohydrates are honey, breakfast cereals, breads and biscuits made with white flour, fruit juice, and most crackers.
Complex carbohydrates aren’t as quickly digested as your body since they usually contain fiber and as a result, don’t cause the spikes in blood sugar. They also carry a lot more nutrients than simple sugars. Some examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
There has been a lot of talk about carbohydrates and how they hinder weight loss. To a certain extent that is true – if you eat too many carbs, then your body will end up storing them as fat. In addition, when you continue to go overboard on carbs, you become sluggish, overweight and retain water. But here’s the thing: you body needs carbohydrates to fuel your brain, to create red blood cells (a key component of blood) and to repair wounds. So how much is too much?
Recent scientific studies show that daily carbohydrate intake between 100 grams and 150 grams per day is right where you want to be; enough carbs to run your body in a healthy, efficient manner but not get in the way of weight loss.
Of course, if you are exercising strenuously on a daily basis, are recovering from illness or surgery, or have other health issues like diabetes, your optimum carbohydrate intake level may be different – and in some case, dramatically different. It’s best to check with your doctor to be sure.
More about the author
Shane Stewart is a full time fitness instructor living in Maryland USA. He writes articles for many online publications on the subject of health, diet supplements, weight loss and fitness.