In the recent years the nutrient carbohydrate has gained a bad reputation believing it to be unhealthy. Many people avoid them completely because they think that carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. But the truth is carbohydrates are actually your body’s main source of fuel. Therefore, they should not be eliminated from your diet completely. Carbs are sugar molecules which the body breaks down into energy. The most important sugar molecule is glucose which provides the body’s cells with energy. The human brain relies on glucose and if it does not get enough, you start feeling low, inactive and confused. Also, one has to be careful in distinguishing between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates.
Delhi-based nutritionist Monisha Ashokan said, “Let’s break the biggest myth that carbohydrates are bad. Carbohydrates are essential for the body. In case of lack of carbohydrates protein is broken down for the energy requirements of the body rather than for their main purpose of body building and repair. To maintain good health 60% of our energy needs to come from carbohydrates. However, we need to make sure that we eat complex carbohydrates like whole wheat cereals, whole pulses, high fiber fruits and vegetables and legumes. Simple carbohydrates like refined flour in the form of biscuits, breads, cakes, pastries, burgers, pizzas and pastas need to be avoided. They raise the blood glucose level rapidly; hence the fat content in the body.”
Complex carbohydrates are an essential part of healthy balanced diet. The more complex the carbohydrate is, the better it is. They help in boosting the mood, losing weight and also help in managing the cholesterol levels. Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down by the body and then used as energy. Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrates that generally come from whole grains. Brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa and oats are some of the examples of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are not fattening; therefore can be included in your diet. They are full of dietary fiber, vitamin B and minerals. Human body needs complex carbs for energy and fiber. Also, they help in managing the blood sugar levels.
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A diet high in simple carbohydrates can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Portion control is extremely important for reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are essential for the proper functioning of the body, one has to be careful about the portion size. Excess intake of refined carbohydrates and sweetened beverages is what puts you at a higher risk.
Eating foods loaded with simple carbohydrates, such as white rice or white bread, causes blood glucose to suddenly spike. This causes your pancreas to release extra insulin to help cells absorb the glucose. Your body uses glucose it needs right away and then stores the rest as glycogen in your liver and muscles. Insulin helps store any extra glucose that is not used in the right away and cannot be stored. Excess glucose is stored as fat, and this extra fat storage can lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Eating too many refined carbs or high glycemic carbs like baked stuff, pasta, breads, pizza dough, white rice, white flour can also lead to weight gain or obesity. Overweight or obesity could further lead to a number of health concerns like stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Also, refined carbs remove all the fiber content from the grains.