Today I'm going to give you a very basic explanation of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are a macro-nutrient and are our bodies preferred source of fuel. Your digestive system changes carbs into glucose, which is blood sugar. Your body then uses that sugar for energy in your cells, tissues and organs. The Institute of Medicine recommends a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates per person per day. If you're dieting and feel like you have no energy, you can try to increase your carb intake.
There are 2 kinds of carbs - simple and complex.
- Simple carbs are found naturally in food like candy, fruit, milk, sugar and vegetables.
- Complex carbs have sugars that are chemically linked and your body breaks them down after you eat them. They can be found in items like cereal, beans, bread, pasta, starchy vegetables and rice.
There are no carbs in meat, cheese, eggs, poultry, fish, butter, oil or fats.
Carbs are measured in grams. There are 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate.
1 gram of carb = 4 calories.
Try to choose whole grains, brightly colored fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy foods to eat your recommended carbs each day. Most packaged foods will have carb grams listed in the nutrient section.
If you're trying to lose weight, it's usually a good idea to eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. The reason for this is because:
1) it helps to keep your blood sugar stable
2) it helps to keep you from being so hungry at your next meal that you end up over eating. You can actually do breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Really?? Yes - as long as you're watching how much you eat. Make snacks a piece of fruit or a plate of veggies.
You also don't want to eat all your carbs at one sitting. You want to space them out over all your meals and snacks throughout the day. Think of it as constantly fueling your engine. And, you want to be sure to eat good carbs, and by that I mean to try to get carbs that contain some kind of fiber - like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Try to stay away from white breads and sugar sweetened drinks.
Some people prefer to follow a low carb diet, and that may be fine for them. There are several different schools of thought on carbohydrate intake. However, if you're doing any kind of strenuous exercise during the day like running, weight lifting or anything that significantly raises your heart rate and you're not eating enough carbs, then you won't have enough energy.
For more information on carbohydrates please look at this link, this link and this link. It's good to get an understanding of the nutrients that make up our foods. Learn more about what you're eating and how it can best benefit you. Remember that every body is different and you have to find what works best for you. Aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week - that's generally a healthy rate of loss.
See you on Monday for your Diet Progress weigh in - Have a great week!
Tony isn't a licensed nutritionist yet, so he can't give anyone advice on what to do. Please consult your doctor for his professional opinion on a diet/nutrition program that will work for you.
Tony's blog is a journal of his experiences and what has worked for him. He lists general guidelines and suggestions only. He is NOT a professional.