What are carbohydrates? Everything you need to know

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What are carbohydrates? Everything you need to know

March 26, 2018

Carbohydrates are essential when it comes to energy. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the diet. In fact, it is where over half of our fuel source should come from. You can find them in anything from pasta and bread to fruits and vegetables. The types of carbohydrates you include in your diet can make the difference between feeling full for longer and causing your blood sugar levels to spike. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to get the right balance when it comes to your carbohydrate intake.

What Are Carbohydrates?

So, let’s get back to basics. What exactly is a carbohydrate? To put it simply, it is a combination of starch, sugars and fibre that when broken down provide energy for the body.

What Do Carbohydrates Do?

Carbohydrates are primarily used as a fuel source and they provide us with the energy our brains and bodies need to function.

What are Complex Carbohydrates?

There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Complex carbs provide more sustained energy and are found in wholegrain pasta and bread, while simple carbs can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and are found in sweets, cakes and biscuits. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends that while 50% of our food intake should come from carbohydrates, no more than 5% should come from sugar-laden drinks and snacks. 

Complex carbohydrates are often high in fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals. This type of carbohydrate is harder to break down and foods such as brown rice and oatmeal don’t turn into fat as easily as simple carbohydrates that are found in fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate. It is, therefore, better to opt for complex carbohydrates that help us hit the recommended amount of fibre which according to The Eatwell Guide is 30 grams per day.

wholegrain pasta carbohydrates

How are Carbohydrates Digested?

The digestion process begins in the mouth as saliva moistens the food, while the saliva glands release an enzyme called salivary amylase. The next stages of the digestion process take place in the stomach, the pancreas and the small intestine. By this time, the food has been chewed into smaller pieces and is broken down further by enzymes that break down starch into sugar. 

The Breakdown of Carbohydrates

There are many factors that affect how efficiently your body breaks down carbohydrates. If you have a slow metabolism, this can affect digestion which in turn can impact your weight.

Having an insight into your personal metabolic rate in relation to carbohydrates can provide a number of benefits and can help you to have more control over how you look and feel. You may find that genetics are to blame.

For example, your body might not metabolise carbs very quickly. So, people with that particular genotype might benefit from choosing foods with a lower glycaemic index and that means they can avoid developing conditions like Type 2 Diabetes.

Evergreen Life can help you understand your carbohydrate metabolism with DNA metabolic testing and give you more tailored recommendations.

Evergreen Life Metabolic DNA Test

By having a better insight into your metabolism with metabolic testing, you can understand how your body works and how you might be able to make changes to your lifestyle and diet, so you can feel better and healthier.

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