Carbohydrates

Give me all the carbs!

In our third and final instalment on macronutrients we are covering Carbohydrates, the food we all love to hate. Just like our other macronutrients, carbohydrates contain carbon + hydrogen + oxygen. The arrangement of these atoms is how we get simple and complex carbohydrates, which are often referred to as high GI or low GI carbs.

Simple carbohydrates include those that are made up of one or two units of sugar – one unit sugar carbohydrates are called monosaccharide (glucose, fructose and galactose). These can combine to form two unit sugars, disaccharides (lactose, sucrose, maltose). Complex carbohydrates are more than two unit sugars (starch, glycogen and cellulose).

On digestion all carbohydrates are broken down into their simplest form, so even our complex carbohydrates get broken down back into monosaccharides- one sugar units. The length of this breakdown process is how carbohydrates are classified on the glycaemic index.  Low GI carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato) are slower to break down and therefore release the simple one unit sugars back into the bloodstream at a slower, more gradual rate. This contributes to the feeling of fullness and the maintenance of stable blood sugar levels and is consequently why low GI carbs are the recommended source for a healthy diet.

The role carbohydrates play in the body is quiet significant just like all the other macronutrients. Carbohydrates are all broken down into single unit sugars, one of them being glucose which is the body’s main source of energy. This source of energy is used to fuel your brain as well as life sustaining processes such as breathing and transporting blood throughout your body. When you consume carbohydrates your body will first use the energy they provide to fuel these basic life sustaining functions + any extra it needs to get you through that run or Pilates session. Any excess will then be stored by the body. So yes carbohydrates can make you put on weight but only when you are eating them in abundance – just like EVERY other food.

We hope this first few blogs have been a good introduction into the macronutrients and helped shape a more holistic understanding of why they are all important to your wellbeing. From here on in, we are going to get a bit more nitty gritty and explore some of the information mentioned in these posts more comprehensively.

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