There are carbohydrates in every product, they are in every nutritional table. Yet not everyone knows exactly what they are and what they do in your body. Nowadays there are many low- carbohydrate diets and challenges, but how do they work? And what is best for your body?
In this article, we look at what carbohydrates are, what functions they have, and what is best for your body.
What are carbohydrates?
- sugars. These carbohydrates give us a high, but short-term, energy boost. They occur in the form of glucose, fructose, sucrose, and galactose.
- Starch. These are carbohydrates that are converted to glucose in your gut. It takes your body more time to process these, giving you a long, gradual source of energy. In other words, carbohydrates are related to your personal energy needs.
- fiber. Although we cannot digest fiber ourselves, they serve as food for the bacteria in our intestines. They keep our bowel movements and the rest of our bodies healthy.
The Difference Between “Good” and “Bad” Carbs
Although everything is labeled as “carbohydrates” these days, there are several types of carbohydrates that we need to keep in mind. For example, you have full carbohydrates (also called whole grains) and refined carbohydrates (also called processed carbohydrates). Whole carbohydrates are found in legumes, potatoes, whole grains, and vegetables, while refined carbohydrates are found in processed products such as cookies, white bread, candy, and other products made with white flour.
Processed carbohydrates are often labeled as “bad” while full carbohydrates are “good”, but is this true?
From research has shown that refined carbohydrates are often associated with a higher risk of obesity and diabetes type 2. In addition, faster give processed foods a spike in your blood sugar level which is followed by a big crash where you feel tired, get hungry and go more snacking.
Full carbohydrates, on the other hand, are said to be good for your body's health and release sugar gradually, so you don't experience major spikes and dips in your blood sugar level. Eating whole products is even linked to a lower risk of diseases.
How does low-carb eating work?
With a low-carbohydrate diet, you ensure that your body consumes a lot fewer carbohydrates every day than what you would normally eat. There are several variations within the low-carbohydrate diets:
- Low carbohydrate: between 50 and 130 grams of carbohydrates per day.
- Strictly low carbohydrate: between 50 and 70 grams of carbohydrates per day.
- Keto: up to 50 grams per day.
On a medical level, these diets focus on reducing obesity and type 2 diabetes, and with success. However, some people use this diet as a way to lose fat and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The results of that are mixed.
On the one hand, a low-carbohydrate diet can help you lose fat and improve your cholesterol levels, but often these effects only last up to 11 months. After 2 years, there is little difference in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Can I eat carbohydrates or not?
Whole products, such as vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, are very healthy for your body and can protect you against these diseases in the long run. So it's not bad at all to eat these, as long as you do it in moderation. Your body can survive without these substances, but it is not recommended, especially for your health.
If your doctor advises you to eat fewer carbohydrates, that is certainly good advice. However, make sure that you still eat enough vegetables and fruit, and that you consume fewer processed products.