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Carbohydrate Basics

By September 17, 2016 No Comments

Carbohydrate consumption is one aspect of your diet that can make or break your quest to get you’re your desired shape. Carbohydrates provide your body a source of immediate energy, but realize not all carbohydrates are created equal.

There are essentially two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are comprised of one or two sugar groups and are processed more quickly by the body whereas complex are comprised of multiple sugar groups linked together which take longer to be broken down by the body. Regardless of which type you consume they are all broken down into simple sugars before being absorbed by the body.

So why does it matter? Carbohydrates cause a release of insulin to handle this new sugar load you’ve just introduced to your body. How big of an insulin release depends on what type of carbs you are consuming. Constantly consuming simple carbohydrates throughout the day will result in large insulin spikes which we do not want. This can lead to becoming insulin resistant and eventually lead to diabetes down the road. So let’s take a look at some of the best carbohydrate sources to include in your diet.

Brown Rice – High in fiber, anti-oxidants and selenium, gluten free

Quinoa – Great source of fiber, complete protein source, gluten free

Oatmeal – Great source of fiber and protein, could be cross-contaminated during processing so may or may not be gluten free

Sweet Potatoes – High in vitamin B6 and beta carotene, great source of fiber, gluten free

White Potatoes – High in vitamin B6, gluten free

Black Beans – Good source of protein, high in fiber

Whole grains – Great source of fiber

Vegetables – All varieties: broccoli, spinach, kale, peppers, asparagus, etc., High in vitamins, minerals and fiber which slows digestion and controls insulin response

Fruit – Best sources are from berries: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries which are loaded with antioxidants

If you are not already lean and you are trying to lose weight as well as improve your body composition then I suggest getting most of your carbs from fruits and vegetables. If you are already lean then you can benefit more from the starchy carbs listed above. If you must consume some simple carbs the best time to do this is after your workout when your body is primed for nutrient absorption and can benefit from a large insulin spike.

Keep in mind that carbs are stored by the body as glycogen. You will burn through some during your workouts. However, there is an upper limit to how much your liver and muscles can store. Anything extra will be stored by the body as fat. So do not neglect carbs in your diet, just be smart about your carb sources.

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