Last week on Instagram I had a quiz on carbohydrates. I decided to follow up with a blog post on carbohydrates. There is so much confusing talk about carbohydrates on the internet. I want to help you to truly understand what foods have carbohydrates, what their functions are, and how much should you get in a day.
What foods have carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are very simple they are sugar, starches, and fiber. There are two categories of carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, which break down quickly do their single bond (monosaccharides) and their double bond (disaccharides). These are ingredients like glucose, fructose, galactose, lactose, sucrose, maltose. Complex carbohydrates break down slowly due to their multiple bonds (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides).
- Simple Carbohydrates: soda, candy, packaged cookies, pies, pastry, fruit juice concentrate, sugary breakfast cereals, sports drink, sugary drinks (lemonade, sweet tea, etc.), milk
- Complex Carbohydrates: fiber rich fruits, fiber rich vegetables, whole grains, beans
What are the functions of carbohydrates in the body?
- Energy: The number one function of carbohydrates is to provide the body with energy. The body breaks down carbohydrates to form glucose. Glucose is used to fuel your cells, tissues, and organs. If you do not have adequate carbohydrates in the body, they body looks else where to find energy. However, note that the brain can easily use glucose for energy, not the other sources (protein and fats). The brain uses 200g of glucose a day!
- Digestion: Fiber helps in aiding the digestion process in the body. Insoluble fiber helps to increase fecal volume by increasing water-holding capacity. Soluble fiber helps slow GI transit time and help bind nutrients like cholesterol to decrease cholesterol’s absorption,
What is the recommended amount of Carbohydrates in a day?
The RDI’s (recommended daily intake) for carbohydrates is 45-65% of your daily calorie intake. Let’s break this down, someone on a 2000kcal diet 900-1300kcal from carbohydrates or 225-325g per day. The percent carbohydrates your body needs per day depends on a variety of factors. For example, if you are a marathon runner your carbohydrate intake will be greater than someone who is sedentary.
Overall, carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy. We need carbohydrates to function throughout life. We went to strive to consume more complex carbohydrates to help promote overall health.