The majority of the most popular books for weight loss don’t seem to bother that much to fully explain the difference betweens simple and complex carbs, which leaves a lot of people clueless and frustrated because of the lack of results. Carbs represent of one of the three macronutrients, the other two being protein and fat, which provide calories (energy) to our bodies and are categorized into two main groups, simple and complex, depending on their molecular structure.
Both simple and complex carbs provide 4 calories per gram and they are both absorbed in the form of glucose, a blood sugar which can be used as an energy source for our bodies for basic sustenance or work.
You might ask what impact simple and complex carbs have on weight loss or even gain. Many nutrition experts have said that the wrong usage of carbs can have a very negative impact on weight management. You’d also be right to deduce that carbs are the main reason you’re fat, but for entirely different reasons. Many diet experts are firm in their belief that calories coming from complex carbohydrates provide the bulk of the average person’s diet, despite the bad publicity it gets from the media.
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Everything you need to know about carbs
The most common definition of carbohydrates is chemical compounds which act as the main biological means of storing and consuming energy, the other two compounds being protein and fat. To put this in the simplest terms, it basically means that carbs are naturally occurring sugars which the body transforms into usable energy. They are the perfect source of energy for the body. Simple carbs include naturally occurring sugars like lactose and fructose, plus refined sugars such as sucrose.
Simple carbs are easily transformed into glucose and enter the bloodstream pretty quickly after ingesting them. Potatoes, various grains, and foods made from grains are the main sources of complex carbs. In addition to the fact that they are the main suppliers of energy, foods that have carbs in them are also high in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals.
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All carbohydrates are comprised of three basic elements: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The complex type usually has more fiber in them and have a more complex chemical structure which makes their digestion process longer. In general, we need a higher quantity of complex than simple carbs in our diet.
There is one thing that all carbs have in common and that’s they are made up of one of three monosaccharides, ‘mono’ meaning one and ‘saccharide’ meaning sugar:
1.Glucose, whose molecular structure is comprised of 6 carbon, 12 hydrogen, and 6 oxygen atoms.
2.Fructose, which has an identical molecular structure as glucose, but is shaped differently. Once it enters the bloodstream, fructose is delivered to the liver, where it’s broken down and transformed into a glucose molecule.
3.Galactose, which also has the exact same molecular structure as glucose, but it’s only found in milk.
Disaccharides are made up of two simple sugar molecules bonded together. There are three types of disaccharides:
Sucrose, made up of fructose and glucose.
Lactose, made up of galactose and glucose.
Maltose, made up of glucose and glucose.
All carbs which have a larger molecular structure than a disaccharide, but smaller than six monosaccharides, are known as oligosaccharides. Polysaccharides belong to the starches group.
The majority of foods produced in the US have a tendency to be filled with simple carbs. During processing, they lose all of the fiber, and in accordance with our obsession for fat-free foods, they are laden with high fructose corn syrup, making them extremely sweet and unable to spoil. They possess a high glycemic index, which is the measure of the speed a specific carb enters the bloodstream with an arbitrary standard as the reference point. You can hear a lot of heated debates about the perfect diet involving carbs.
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