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Good carbs for energy: Carbohydrates: Your Body’s Most Important Source of Fuel


Carbohydrates: Your Body’s Most Important Source of Fuel

Afraid of carbs? Don’t be. Not only do you need carbohydrates to perform at your best, new research confirms that eating the right ones can help keep you out of the doctor’s office — and even help prevent weight gain. So instead of looking at a bowl of hearty whole-wheat pasta or brown rice as a big diet no-no, consider it a source of healthy fuel.

Not convinced? Take a close look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which states that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 900 to 1,300 calories should come from eating carbohydrates. So rather than being the enemy, carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet, and not banned by any means.

What Exactly Is a Carbohydrate?

There are two types of carbohydrates. Carbs with a simple chemical structure (one or two sugar molecules linked together) are called sugars, according to the National Institutes of Health. Complex carbs consist of starches and fiber. Fiber is unique in that it cannot be digested by the human body.

Both simple and complex carbs break down into glucose (blood sugar) in the body. But because simple carbs are shorter, they generally break down faster, leading to quicker release in the body.

What Role Do Carbohydrates Play in a Healthy Diet?

“Carbohydrate is one of the macronutrients that we need, primarily for energy,” explains Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s your body’s first source of energy — that’s what it likes to use.”

Why Does the Body Like Carbs So Much?

The glucose from carbs is converted into the energy your brain and muscles need to function, Meyerowitz explains. Fats and protein are also necessary for energy, but they’re more of a long-term fuel source, while carbohydrates fulfill the body’s most immediate energy needs.

How Many Servings of Carbs Do I Need?

Between 50 and 60 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, according to Meyerowitz, most of which should be whole grains and other complex carbohydrates.

Is There a Problem With Cutting Back on Carbs?

If you don’t get enough carbohydrates, you run the risk of depriving your body of the calories and nutrients it needs, or of replacing healthy carbs with unhealthy fats, Meyerowitz explains. Whole grains, complex carbs, dairy foods, and fruit contain valuable vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs to function at its best. If you cut these foods out of your diet, you may develop a nutrient deficiency or constipation as a result.

Are All Carbs Created Equal?

No. Complex carbohydrates digest slowly. They require more work and take longer for your body to break down, so they deliver energy more steadily and help keep your blood sugar levels more stable, Meyerowitz explains.

Complex carbs are a top source of dietary fiber, and eating a fiber-rich diet cuts the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer by 16 to 24 percent, and is linked with a lower body weight, according to a review published January 10, 2019, in the journal The Lancet. which investigated 40 years of studies.

Simple carbohydrates, or refined carbohydrates, are broken down faster, which can trigger spikes in your blood sugar, and they don’t contain as many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important phytonutrients as complex carbohydrates do. However, there’s an exception: Simple carbohydrates, including fructose and lactose, are also found naturally in nutritious whole fruits and dairy products. Fruit also contains good-for-you dietary fiber.

Overdoing simple carbs can also pack on pounds, according to a review published in August 2012 in the journal Food and Nutrition Research. The authors looked at 50 studies on diet and weight gain and found that, on average, the more simple carbs a person ate, the more weight they tended to gain.

Which Foods Contain Complex Carbs? 

According to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, top dietary sources of complex carbs include:

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, like barley, bulgur, buckwheat, quinoa, and oats
  • Whole-wheat and other whole-grain breads
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Vegetables
  • Beans, lentils, and dried peas
  • Whole-grain cereals, like 100-percent bran

What Are Some Sources of Simple Carbs?

Simple carbs are found in fruit and dairy products, as well as highly processed or refined foods that have been stripped of fiber, including:

  • White bread
  • Pastries
  • Sugary soda and other drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Candy bars

So Is Dessert Forbidden?

Not at all. Occasionally indulging in a sweet treat, like apple pie, ice cream, or other foods containing lots of simple carbohydrates, isn’t a problem. It just that those foods should be the exceptions instead of your everyday carbohydrate selections, Meyerowitz says.

At the same time, you should avoid overloading on complex carbohydrates or making them your primary source of calories. A diet too rich in even complex carbohydrates — or in any food — packs more calories into your body, which eventually leads to weight gain and other health problems.

In other words, as with many good things, moderation is the key to maintaining a strong and healthy body. This was borne out in another study, published August 16, 2018, in The Lancet, which found that the average life expectancy of moderate-carb eaters (someone who got 50 to 55 percent of their calories from carbs) was four years longer than low-carb eaters (those who got less than 40 percent of their calories from carbs). Moderate-carb eaters also lived one year longer than the average high-carb eater.

Carbohydrates: Types & Health Benefits

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates (also called carbs) are a type of macronutrient found in certain foods and drinks. Sugars, starches and fiber are carbohydrates.

Other macronutrients include fat and protein. Your body needs these macronutrients to stay healthy.

How does the body process carbohydrates?

Your digestive system breaks down carbs into glucose or blood sugar. Your bloodstream absorbs glucose and uses it as energy to fuel your body.

The amount of carbs you consume affects blood sugar. Taking in a lot of carbs can raise blood sugar levels. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can put you at risk for diabetes. Some people who don’t consume enough carbs have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

What are total carbohydrates?

Foods and drinks can have three types of carbohydrates: starches, sugars and fiber. The words “total carbohydrates” on a food’s nutrient label refers to a combination of all three types.

What’s the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?

A food’s chemical structure, and how quickly your body digests it, determine whether the food is a complex or simple carb. Complex carbs are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar. They also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs. (You may be familiar with the term “good carbohydrates,” but it may be best to think of them as healthy carbohydrates. )

Too many simple carbs can contribute to weight gain. They can also increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.

What are starches?

Starches are complex carbohydrates. Many starches (but not all) fit this category. They provide vitamins and minerals. It takes your body longer to break down complex carbohydrates. As a result, blood sugar levels remain stable and fullness lasts longer.

You can find starchy carbohydrates in:

  • Beans and legumes, such as black beans, chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans.
  • Fruits, such as apples, berries and melons.
  • Whole-grain products, such as brown rice, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread and pasta.
  • Vegetables, such as corn, lima beans, peas and potatoes.

What is fiber?

Plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products, contain fiber. Animal products, including dairy products and meats, have no fiber.

Fiber is a complex healthy carbohydrate. Your body can’t break down fiber. Most of it passes through the intestines, stimulating and aiding digestion. Fiber also regulates blood sugar, lowers cholesterol and keeps you feeling full longer.

Experts recommend that adults consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day. Most of us get half that amount.

High-fiber foods include:

  • Beans and legumes, such as black beans, chickpeas, lentils and pinto beans.
  • Fruits, especially those with edible skins (apples and peaches) or seeds (berries).
  • Nuts and seeds, including almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  • Whole-grain products, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, cereal and whole-wheat bread and pasta.
  • Vegetables, such as corn, lima beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts and squash.

What are sugars?

Sugars are a type of simple carbohydrate. Your body breaks down simple carbohydrates quickly. As a result, blood sugar levels rise — and then drop — quickly. After consuming sugary foods, you may notice a burst of energy, followed by feeling tired.

There are two types of sugars:

  • Naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in milk and fresh fruits.
  • Added sugars, such as those found in sweets, canned fruit, juice and soda. Sweets include things like bakery, candy bars and ice cream. Choose fruit canned in juice over other varieties. Note that sugar-free soda is available.

Your body processes all sugars the same. It can’t tell the difference between natural and added sugars. But along with energy, foods with natural sugars provide vitamins, minerals and sometimes fiber.

Sugar goes by many names. On food labels, you may see sugar listed as:

  • Agave nectar.
  • Cane syrup or corn syrup.
  • Dextrose, fructose or sucrose.
  • Honey.
  • Molasses.
  • Sugar.

Limiting sugar is essential to keep blood sugar levels in the healthy range. Plus, sugary foods and drinks are often higher in calories that can contribute to weight gain. Limit refined foods and foods that contain added sugar, such as white flour, desserts, candy, juices, fruit drinks, soda pop and sweetened beverages. The American Heart Association recommends:

  • No more than 25g (6 teaspoons or 100 calories) per day of added sugar for most women.
  • No more than 36g (9 teaspoons or 150 calories) per day of added sugar for most men.

What is the recommended daily amount (RDA) for carbohydrates?

There isn’t a set amount of recommended daily carbs. Your age, gender, medical conditions, activity level and weight goals all affect the amount that’s right for you. Counting carbs helps some people with diabetes manage their blood sugar.

For most people, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a healthy plate or MyPlate approach. You should fill:

  • Half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • One-quarter of your plate with whole grains.
  • One-quarter of your plate with protein (meat, fish, beans, eggs or dairy).

Is a low- or no-carb diet healthy?

Some people cut their carb intake to promote weight loss. Popular low-carb diets include the Atkins diet and the ketogenic (keto) diet. Some healthcare providers recommend the keto diet for epilepsy and other medical conditions.

Strict dietary restrictions can be hard to follow over a long time. Some carb-restrictive diets include large amounts of animal fat and oils. These foods can increase your risk of heart disease. Experts still aren’t sure if a low- or no-carb diet is healthy. Talk to your healthcare provider before trying a low- or no-carb diet.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

You may have been thinking of carbohydrates as either “good” or “bad.” As with all foods, the secret with carbohydrates is to make smart decisions and limit the ones that aren’t as healthy for you. Your best bet is to choose nutrient-dense carbs that have fiber, vitamins and minerals. Eat foods that have added sugars in moderation. Your healthcare provider can help determine the right amount of carbs for your needs.

The 24 Best Healthy Carbs For Weight Loss

Imagine this: you can lose weight, get healthier and stronger, and feel better—all while still eating carbs. Yes, it’s true. You absolutely can slim down by eating carbs, but that’s only if you eat the right healthy carbs.

What makes carbs the healthiest carbs?

There are three main groups of carbs:

  • Simple carbohydrates are basically sugars. You’ll find these naturally in fruits and vegetables but also in refined grains and processed foods through “added sugar.” Because they are simple and refined, simple carbs burn up fast, spiking your blood sugar and causing it to crash. This can leave you with a craving for more carbs and can also lead to weight gain long term.
  • Complex carbohydrates are made up of long chains of sugar molecules. These carbohydrates keep you full for longer because they take more time for your body to digest and break down for energy.
  • Dietary fiber is a long chain of sugar molecules, just like complex carbs, but it’s indigestible—meaning, your body can’t break it down to use for energy. Instead, dietary fiber helps provide bulk to keep your digestion system running as well as help you to feel full. You’ll often find fiber in the same foods that contain complex carbs.

Healthy carbs—complex carbs and dietary fiber—will take longer for your body to break down compared to simple carbs. This means you’ll spend more energy to burn these than simple sugars, which results in weight loss rather than weight gain.

The best healthy carbs for weight loss.

We put together this list of complex carbohydrates that are high in dietary fiber and low in simple sugars. Add these essential Eat This, Not That! healthiest carbs into your daily diet and stay fueled and fat-burning all day long—without sacrifice.

For even more healthy eating tips, check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.


It’s not only good for your health, but also a killer appetite suppressant that can help keep your six-pack diet on track all day. “Barley contains a whopping 6 grams of belly-filling, mostly soluble fiber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugars and increased satiety,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN. It also has tons of health benefits like decreased inflammation and stabilized blood sugar levels. And: you’ll immediately feel lighter. Barley acts as a bulking agent, which can help push waste through the digestive tract.


You know brown is better, but do you know why? It’s because whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient-rich and fiber-filling. Besides for whole-grain pasta, try varieties with lentils, chickpeas, black beans or quinoa.


Besides serving up a third of the day’s fiber, a one-cup serving of this highly nutritious, naturally sweet veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. The body uses the nutrient to form muscle and blood vessels, and it can even boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers.


Lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans — they’re all magic bullets for belly-fat loss. In one four-week Free Radical Research study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that includes four weekly servings of legumes aids weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet that doesn’t include them. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. To reap the benefits at home, work them into your diet throughout the week. Salad is an easy way.


If you’re going for abs, you’re already sending the restaurant bread basket back. But don’t shirk from whole-wheat bread completely. As with whole-wheat pasta, you’re getting all three parts of the grain, with fiber to increase satiety and prevent overeating. Just be careful—most breads in the sandwich aisle are filled with high fructose corn syrup or a blend of whole and enriched wheats. It’s worth splurging on the pricier stuff, often found in the freezer section.


The simple bean is actually an advanced fat-burning, muscle-building machine. “Beans are a great source of protein that includes fiber,” says Leah Kaufman, a New York City based registered dietitian. “That’s going to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t spike and will give you energy to build the muscle you want.” One cup of black beans has 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber; they’re also rich in folate, a B vitamin that stokes muscle growth, and copper, which strengthens tendons. On top of that, the Free Radical Research study showed that consuming four weekly servings of beans or legumes accelerates weight loss.


Yes, oats are loaded with complex carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady, ab-muscle-friendly energy. And that fiber is soluble, which lowers the risk of heart disease. The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval.


Quinoa is higher in protein than any other grain, and it packs a hefty dose of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats. “Quinoa is also a great source of fiber and B vitamins,” says Christopher Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. a professor of nutrition at the University of Louisville. Try quinoa in the morning. It has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs.


Now quinoa, make some space at the table—there’s a new ancient grain on the block. Kamut is a grain native to the Middle East. Rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also high in protein while low in calories. A half-cup serving has 30% more protein than regular wheat (six grams), with only 140 calories. Eating kamut reduces cholesterol, blood sugar and cytokines, which cause inflammation throughout the body, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Toss it into salads or eat it as a side dish on its own.


Want to know the secret to staying slim? You need more muscle. That’s because muscle burns more calories than fat, so for every new muscle fiber you create, your resting metabolism receives another surge of fat-torching energy. And chocolate milk can help you do that with an optimal mix of good carbs and protein. Researchers have determined that the ideal protein load for building muscle is 10 to 20 grams, half before and half after your workout. How much protein will you find in low-fat chocolate milk? Eight grams per cup. (That means one serving before your workout and one serving after will give you a total of 16 grams of highly effective whey protein—a perfect serving.) Add that to the extra cup you drank first thing in the morning and you’re looking at a turbocharged metabolism that keeps you burning calories all day long.


A bloated belly can make even the most toned stomach look a bit paunchy. Fight back against the gas and water retention with bananas. One Anaerobe journal study found that women who ate a banana twice daily as a pre-meal snack for 60 days reduced their belly-bloat by 50 percent! Not only does the fruit increase bloat-fighting bacteria in the stomach, it’s also a good source of potassium, which can help diminish water retention. Bananas are rich in glucose, a highly digestible sugar, which provides quick energy, and their high potassium content helps prevent muscle cramping during your workout. Each medium banana contains about 36 grams of good carbs: Their low glycemic index means carbs are slowly released into your body, preventing sugar crashes and spurring the process of muscle recovery.


Cherries are a delicious, phytonutrient-rich snack. But the true cherry bomb is the tart cherry—not the sort you’re used to seeing each summer in bunches at the supermarket. In most of the country you’ll find them dried, frozen, or canned. But they’re worth seeking out because they are a true superpower fruit. A study at the University of Michigan found that rats fed tart cherries showed a 9 percent belly fat reduction over rats fed a standard diet. Moreover, researchers noted that the cherries alter the expression of fat genes!


Apples are one of the very best sources of fiber, which means you should eat them at every opportunity. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. And a study at the University of Western Australia found that the Pink Lady variety had the highest level of antioxidant flavonoids — a fat-burning compound — of any apple.


The king of slow carbs (meaning they’re digested slowly and keep you feeling fuller and energized longer), sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, nutrients and can help you burn fat. The magic ingredient here are carotenoids, antioxidants which stabilize blood-sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, which prevents calories from being converted into fat. And their high vitamin profile (including A, C and B6) give you more energy to burn at the gym.


In addition to warding off prostate, breast, lung, and skin cancers, this flowery vegetable can also help you whittle your middle. According to experts, broccoli contains a phytonutrient called sulforaphane that increases testosterone and fights off body fat storage. It’s also rich in vitamin C ( a mere cup of the stuff can help you hit your daily mark), a nutrient that can lower levels of cortisol during stressful situations, helping your abs take center stage. Its cousins in the cruciferous-vegetable family are also excellent carbs for your abs: Chinese cabbage, kale, cauliflower, arugula, and more.


A cup of blueberries has 21 grams of carbs, but they couldn’t be healthier for you. Not only are these healthy carbs loaded with polyphenols—chemical compounds that prevent fat from forming—they actively burn belly fat, spot-reducing it! A University of Michigan study found that rats that ate blueberry powder as part of their meals lost belly fat and had lower cholesterol, even when they ate a high-fat diet. It’s theorized that the catechins in blueberries activate the fat-burning gene in belly-fat cells. Additionally, blueberries may be muscle builders. Their skins are rich in ursolic acid, a chemical which researchers at the University of Iowa found prevents muscle breakdown in lab animals.


Like quinoa, buckwheat is gluten-free and a complete source of protein, meaning it supplies all nine essential muscle-building amino acids the body cannot produce on its own, says registered dietitian Isabel Smith. But what makes this relative of the rhubarb such a nutritional rock star is its magnesium and fiber content. “Fiber slows digestion, which wards off blood sugar spikes and hunger and helps maintain blood sugar control—all important keys to weight loss and management,” explains Smith. Studies have also shown that buckwheat may improve circulation and lower cholesterol.


This nutrient-dense bread is loaded with folate-filled lentils and good-for-you sprouted grains and seeds like barley and millet. Like quinoa, sprouted bread has been shown to increase the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals. It has this effect on important nutrients like vitamin C, a nutrient that counteracts stress hormones that trigger abdominal fat storage, essential amino acids that aid muscle growth and belly-filling fiber. Translation: Abs for you.


If you typically eat your potatoes warm out of the oven, you’re missing out on the spud’s belly-fat-fighting superpowers. When you throw potatoes in the refrigerator and eat them cold, their digestible starches turn into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation. As the name implies, resistant starch, well, resists digestion, which promotes fat oxidation and reduces abdominal fat. Since eating cold baked potatoes doesn’t sound too appetizing, use the cooled spuds to make a potato salad instead.


This mild, nutty whole grain is a complete protein that’s rich in vitamins and fiber, just like quinoa, says Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, a Pennsylvania-based corporate dietitian. What makes it nutritionally superior is its calcium and ab-building iron content. “Teff provides nearly four times as much calcium and two times as much iron as quinoa,” says Miller. Don’t underestimate these nutrients; their impact on your body is bigger than you would expect. “Diets rich in calcium have been associated with lower body weight and reduced weight gain over time. Calcium also helps keep our bones and teeth strong and may reduce the risk of colon cancer,” she explains. Teff can be cooked and added to vegetables, salads, soups, and casseroles, or you can enjoy a bowl of it for breakfast.


Quinoa and amaranth are the ab-carving Wonder Twins of grains. Both are gluten-free sources of complete proteins and have nearly the same amount of fiber and protein. But amaranth has superpowers of its own: It has more anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats than quinoa, four times the calcium (an electrolyte that promotes satiety) and 20 percent more magnesium, a nutrient that may aid weight loss thanks to its ability to control blood sugar and ward off hunger,” says registered dietitian Isabel Smith. Amaranth makes a perfect substitute for your morning oatmeal. Alternatively, it can be used like quinoa in salads and side dishes.


It looks unassuming, but Popeye’s favorite veggie can help take your calorie-burning potential to the next level. The green is overflowing with protein (just one cup of the steamed variety has as much protein as a medium hard-boiled egg), a nutrient that aids post-pump muscle recovery and growth. And remember: The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest! What’s more, the leafy green is also rich in thylakoids, a compound that’s been shown to significantly reduce cravings and promote weight loss.


Packed with bloat-banishing fiber, low in calories, high in muscle-building protein, wheat bran is definitely a nutritional champion. Made from the dense, outer hull of wheat grains, it adds a sweet, nutty flavor to homemade muffins, waffles, pancakes and breads. It also makes a good addition to hot and cold cereals. If you’re really trying to boost your dietary fiber, consume it solo, porridge-style, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.


This wheat-rye hybrid is one of the most underrated healthy carbs. An able stand-in for rice or quinoa, triticale packs twice as much protein as an egg in one 1/2 cup serving! It’s also rich in brain-boosting iron, muscle-mending potassium and magnesium, and heart-healthy fiber. Use triticale in place of rice and mix it with soy sauce, fresh ginger, cloves, shiitake mushrooms and edamame to make a healthy, Asian-inspired dish. You can also use triticale flour in place of traditional flour in your baking.

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The Carbohydrate Advantage

Carbohydrates are essential for good health, as they are the main fuel for the brain and muscles. Studies show that those who eat the most carbohydrates—especially those found in whole, natural foods like beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables—have a lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are made of one or two sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are polysaccharides and include starch and fiber.

For optimal health, choose complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, found mostly in whole plant foods, maintain their natural fiber and fuel your body with the energy it needs. Examples include beans, oatmeal, 100% whole-wheat bread, quinoa, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and many other plant foods. These foods are also naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. About three-quarters of daily calories should come from healthful carbohydrates.

Limit simple carbs, such as added sugars, syrups (even agave), and white flour. These provide quick energy but have been stripped of nutrients and fiber. The exception is fruit. Sugar in fruit comes with health-boosting fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Be sure to include plenty of colorful fruits in your diet.

Can carbohydrates lead to weight gain?

The idea that carbohydrates will lead to weight gain is a common misconception, but gram for gram, fat contains more than twice the calories of carbs. One gram of fat—from beef, fish, or oil—has 9 calories. Compare that to 1 gram of carbohydrate from potatoes, bread, or beans, which has only 4 calories. You may also notice that carbs become less healthy based on what we add to them: Potatoes are often deep-fried in oil to make french fries—and pizza, bread, and pasta are often just vehicles for butter and cheese. It’s the high-fat oils, butters, and cheeses that really pack in the calories.

Do carbohydrates cause diabetes?

A diet emphasizing healthful carbohydrates—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes—and avoiding animal products helps prevent diabetes and improves its management when it has been diagnosed. One study of more than 200,000 participants found that consuming large amounts of animal protein increased diabetes risk by 13%. But by simply replacing 5% of animal protein with vegetable protein—including carbohydrates like potatoes and grains—participants decreased diabetes risk by 23%. In 2006, the Physicians Committee’s research team partnered with the George Washington University and the University of Toronto to test a low-fat, plant-based diet against a standard diabetes diet that limited carbohydrates recommended by the American Diabetes Association at the time. Participants in the plant-based group lowered hemoglobin A1C by 1.2 points, which was three times greater than the ADA group. Learn more about healthful plant-based diets for diabetes.

Although glucose is an important fuel for the body, there is no physiological need for added sugars, which can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. Avoiding added sugars and heavily processed carbohydrates is a helpful step, and it should be taken in addition to a healthful plant-based diet.

What are the health effects of eating a low-carb diet? 

Studies show that avoiding carbohydrates can harm your health. Many low-carb diets, including the keto diet, severely limit or eliminate most fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans, lentils, and split peas)—foods that are packed with nutrition. As a result, low-carbohydrate diets are often low in nutrients found in these foods, such as thiamine, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Without vitamin supplements, those on low-carb diets are at risk of multiple deficiencies. Low-carb diets are often low in fiber and are also typically high in saturated fat and cholesterol, known to cause further health problems. Studies link low-carb diets to an increased risk for heart disease and early death.

5 Healthy Carbs You Should Be Eating More Often

If nutrition were like high school, healthy carbs would be that misunderstood kid with a bad reputation and a heart of gold. “People think they’ll gain excess weight by eating carbs,” Nancy Z. Farrell, M.S., R.D.N., founder of Farrell Dietitian Services, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF. “There is a tendency to group foods either into a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ column…but food and nutrition are much more complex than people realize.”

In addition to being delicious, carbohydrates are essential for proper functioning. “Carbohydrates supply our cells with glucose, which gives us energy for both brain power and to fuel our muscles,” Farrell says.

With that said, there’s a difference between refined carbohydrates—white breads and pastas, cookies, and candy—and unrefined carbs that you’re consuming in their healthiest, most whole forms. “Carbs can’t all be lumped together,” Abby Langer, R.D. and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto, tells SELF. “Complex carbs are released much more slowly into the bloodstream and will give you lasting, sustainable energy.” Point being, they’re very much worth eating.

Here, five types of healthy carbs registered dietitians don’t want you to fear.

1. Potatoes

Many people have come around to the beauty of sweet potatoes as a lower-carb substitute for things like toast. But regular ol’ potatoes are still demonized for no good reason. “Potatoes get such a bad rap,” Farrell says. In reality, they’re loaded with vitamin C and potassium and are even an unlikely source of protein, she explains. Plus, if you chow down on a spud with its skin on, you get some fiber, which helps you feel satisfied and keeps your digestion moving smoothly along.

“I refuse to say anything bad about the potato,” Langer says. Like a lot of foods, the healthiness of this pick comes down to preparation. “If you leave them in their most whole state—I’m not saying to eat a raw potato, but bake or roast them, and don’t pour things like cheese sauce all over them—they’re still healthy,” Langer says.

Obviously, sometimes a cheese-soaked potato is just what you need, and that’s cool, too. But isn’t it nice to know you don’t have to always think of a potato as an indulgence?

2. Whole grains

Refined grains have gone through processing to remove components, like bran, that house healthy benefits such as fiber, Farrell explains. “It’s throwing out the good stuff and making a quickly digested carbohydrate that’s going to spike your blood sugar,” Langer adds.

That’s why if you have health in mind, whole grains are the better pick. “There’s no reason why people should be avoiding these,” Langer says. From oatmeal to wheat berries to barley to farro to millet to air-popped popcorn and beyond, the potential picks are endless.

“If you don’t eat grains, it’s not like you’re going to be unhealthy. But it’s one thing to avoid them because you don’t like them and another to avoid them because you think they’re going to make you gain weight,” Langer says, going on to reiterate that “there’s nothing inherently bad about healthy carbohydrates.”

3. Super sweet fruits like bananas, melons, and grapes

Their sugar content is what makes them taste so good—but that doesn’t in turn mean they’re not good for you.

“Why would I ever discriminate against some types of fruit when most people don’t eat enough of it to begin with?” Langer says. “Yes, these are sweet—all fruit has fructose in it. But drilling it down to which fruits are too sugary is useless.”

The Carbohydrates That Provide the Body With Long-Lasting Energy | Healthy Eating

By Jessica Bruso Updated December 17, 2018

Despite the plethora of low-carbohydrate diets, you don’t want to limit your carbohydrate consumption too much. If you want long-lasting energy, you’ll need to consume carbohydrates. Between 40 percent and 60 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates, with the type of carbohydrates you consume affecting how long lasting the resulting energy boost will be.

Energy From Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide the same amount of energy in the form of calories as protein, with 4 calories per gram, but less than fat, with 9 calories per gram. Both starches and sugars provide you with energy, but fiber, the third type of carbohydrate, passes through the digestive system mostly unchanged and doesn’t provide the same amount of energy. Fiber does provide a small amount of energy, when bacteria break down some types of fiber in the large intestines.

Carbohydrates for Long-Lasting Energy

While both sugars and starches provide the same amount of calories, not all types of carbohydrates will give you long-lasting energy. Complex carbohydrates, such as starches, are digested more slowly and thus give you longer-lasting energy than simple carbohydrates, like sugars. Starchy foods usually contain more nutrients, which can increase your energy levels and leave you feeling full longer than do simple sugars.

Examples of Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are made up of lots of sugars combined together. Sources of complex carbohydrates that will give you long-lasting energy include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Popcorn, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, bulgur and buckwheat are examples of whole grains. Starchy vegetables include corn, potatoes, peas and dried beans.

Other Considerations

While sugary foods may give you a quick burst of energy, it won’t last. These sugar rushes are usually followed by crashes as insulin moves the sugar out of your bloodstream, which leave you feeling more tired than before you ate the sugary food. Choose foods high in fiber instead, because even though fiber itself doesn’t provide much energy, it slows down the emptying of the stomach to help provide longer-lasting energy.

Important Nutrients to Know: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats


Proteins are often called the body’s building blocks. They are used to build and repair tissues. They help you fight infection. Your body uses extra protein for energy. The protein foods group includes seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Protein is also found in the dairy group. Protein from plant sources tends to be lower in saturated fat, contains no cholesterol, and provides fiber and other health-promoting nutrients.


Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The fruit, vegetables, dairy, and grain food groups all contain carbohydrates. Sweeteners like sugar, honey, and syrup and foods with added sugars like candy, soft drinks, and cookies also contain carbohydrates. Try to get most of your carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, fat-free and low-fat dairy, and whole grains rather than added sugars or refined grains.

Many foods with carbohydrates also supply fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. It is found in many foods that come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Eating food with fiber can help prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. It might also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

It’s better to get fiber from food than dietary supplements. Start adding fiber slowly. This will help avoid gas. To add fiber:

  • Eat cooked dry beans, peas, and lentils.
  • Leave skins on your fruit and vegetables but wash them before eating.
  • Choose whole fruit over fruit juice.
  • Eat whole grain breads and cereals that contain fiber.


Fats give you energy, and they help the body absorb certain vitamins. Essential fatty acids help the body function, but they aren’t made by your body—you have to consume them. Many foods naturally contain fats, including dairy products; meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs; and seeds, nuts, avocados, and coconuts.

Certain kinds of fat can be bad for your health—saturated fats and trans fats:

  • Saturated fats are found in the greatest amounts in butter, beef fat, and coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils. Higher-fat meats and dairy and cakes, cookies, and some snack foods are higher in saturated fats. Dishes with many ingredients are common sources of saturated fat, including pizza, casseroles, burgers, tacos, and sandwiches.
  • Trans fats, which is short for trans fatty acids, occur naturally in some foods but are also artificially produced. Because trans fats are not healthy, food manufacturers are phasing them out. But trans fats can still be found in some processed foods, such as some desserts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, margarine, and coffee creamer.

Fats that contain mostly trans fats and saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Limit your intake of saturated fats to less than 10 percent of your calories each day, and keep trans fat intake as low as possible.

Replace saturated and trans fats with these two types of healthier fats while keeping total fat intake within the recommended range:

  • Monounsaturated fats. These are found in the greatest amounts in canola, olive, peanut, sunflower, and safflower oils and in avocados, peanut butter, and most nuts.
  • Polyunsaturated fats. These are found in the greatest amounts in sunflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils and in fatty fish, walnuts, and some seeds.

Oils contain mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and are liquid at room temperature. These types of fat seem to lower your chance of heart disease when they replace saturated fats. But that doesn’t mean you can eat more than the Dietary Guidelines suggests.

To lower the saturated fat in your diet:

  • Choose cuts of meat with less fat and remove the skin from chicken
  • Use low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Choose oils, such as olive or canola, for cooking
  • Replace ingredients higher in saturated fats with vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, or lean cuts of meats and poultry
  • Read the Nutrition Facts label and choose products lower in saturated fats

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information on Nutrition and Aging

National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

Content reviewed:
April 29, 2019

90,000 Carbohydrates in foods and their importance for the body

The list of foods containing carbohydrates is very wide. These are fruits, vegetables, milk, sweets, cereals, pasta, legumes, sugar. The difference between them in terms of the degree of benefit to the body is colossal.

What carbohydrates are useful, and which should be avoided or restricted? The age-old question that worries consumers, and is the subject of discussion by nutritionists.

What are carbohydrates for?

It should be remembered that all carbohydrates in foods are broken down in the body to glucose, which is a source of energy, stimulates thinking and mental activity, nourishes nerve cells, starts the processes of digestion, respiration, and is used for physiological needs.

Therefore, it is by no means recommended to give up carbohydrates. You just need to determine which carbohydrates are useful and which are harmful.

Deficiency of carbohydrate-containing foods in the diet leads to diseases of the heart and blood vessels, impairs memory, provokes headaches, muscle cramps, reduces concentration and mental stress. Therefore, it is important to know the optimal carbohydrate intake.

The benefits and harms of carbohydrates

The structural unit of all carbohydrates are saccharides.Useful carbohydrates differ from harmful ones in chemical composition and number of structural units. In this regard, a distinction is made between:

  • Monosaccharides – consist of one structural unit (fructose or glucose) and are absorbed in the body instantly.
  • Disaccharides – are a combination of two structural units and belong, like monosaccharides, to simple carbohydrates.
  • Polysaccharides – contain three or more units, and due to a complex molecular formula, they are broken down slowly in the body, which is why they are called slow carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are harmful to the body. They are instantly found in the bloodstream and increase sugar levels. These include glucose, fructose, and their various compounds. Foods containing fast-digesting carbohydrates are:

  • Sugar – is a union of glucose and fructose (sucrose).
  • Fruits, sweets, milk (it contains lactose – milk sugar), some vegetables.

Among vegetables, potatoes are considered a conditionally harmful product, since when starch-containing substances are broken down, maltose is formed – it contains two glucose molecules, which are fast carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates include: fiber, dietary fiber, glycogen, pure starch. Their advantage is slow absorption. The body receives the energy it needs and has time to spend it, so fat is not stored.

Sources of slow digesting carbohydrates are:

  • Cereals, durum pasta.
  • Coarse flour baked goods.
  • Legumes (excluding soybeans).
  • Vegetables (cabbage, herbs, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes).
  • Unsweetened fruits, berries.

Useful carbohydrates are absorbed slowly, do not provoke surges in blood sugar. The assimilation of a well-thought-out carbohydrate breakfast takes 3.5-4 hours – the whole period a person feels full.

Assimilation of useful carbohydrates

Due to the fact that complex carbohydrates are absorbed gradually, they participate in the weight loss program and contribute to weight loss.To assess the usefulness of products, the glycemic index (GI) is used, which characterizes the rate of absorption of substances by the body. The amount of carbohydrates consumed per day is also important.

Potatoes are included in the list of complex carbohydrates, however, their glycemic index is high, they are quickly absorbed. In addition, potatoes are high in sugar. This must be taken into account when drawing up a carbohydrate menu when dieting.

Useful carbohydrates for weight loss

Foods containing carbohydrates that are beneficial for health and weight loss are:

  • Bran, oats, peas, lentils, beans.
  • Apples, citrus fruits, berries.
  • Barley, buckwheat, brown rice.
  • White and all other types of cabbage.

Unlike fast carbohydrates, the substances in these products contain dietary and plant fibers that improve intestinal motility, normalize metabolic processes, and create a beneficial microflora in the intestines.

The norm of carbohydrates per day

In order to create a healthy menu, it is important to adhere not only to the correct list of foods, but also to take into account the amount of food consumed.It is necessary to develop a weight loss program taking into account the norm of carbohydrates.

If you do not take this indicator into account and consume too much slow carbohydrates, body weight will inevitably increase. Strict consumption accounting is required.

Effective in matters of weight normalization is interaction with a nutritionist-endocrinologist, who, based on the patient’s current state of health, develops a personal scheme and table of carbohydrate consumption in foods.

In Zelenograd, such assistance is provided at the Axis Medical Center. Consultation with a dietitian will help determine the sources of carbohydrates and their amount.

Foods essential for the body

When developing a diet, it is important to take into account the amount of carbohydrates, while not missing out on the consumption of other healthy foods. For example, dark chocolate or nuts are high in calories, but they bring great benefits to the body. Dairy products are rich in calcium. Protein is involved in the construction and repair of cells.Therefore, the diet must be balanced. There should be a place in it for meat, and cottage cheese, and fish, and eggs.

90,000 Seven carbohydrates to help you lose weight quickly

They are considered a key source of energy: 1 g – 4 calories. And their lack provokes metabolic disruptions.

The body will signal this with weakness and dizziness, headache and nausea, drowsiness and hunger.

Carbohydrates provide energy for full functioning. Therefore, they should make up half of the diet, according to the portal Zdorovye-nutrition.rf.

Simple carbohydrates are avoided due to their effect on the formation of excess body fat. From them, the level of glucose in the blood rises sharply. The pancreas reacts to this by producing insulin. High insulin levels inhibit the absorption of fat, making us want to eat something else, and we put on those extra pounds.

What carbohydrates to eat to lose weight


These are essential amino acids, high protein content and plant fiber. For active weight loss, nutritionists recommend replacing foods with saturated fat.

Corn with beans

They contain resistant starch, a carbohydrate that improves digestion and speeds up metabolism.

Pasta al dente

If they are from durum wheat, feel free to include them in the “dietary list”. They give a feeling of fullness for a long time and help cleanse the body of toxins.


Raw mushrooms have 27 calories, oyster mushrooms have 38 calories. And they have enough amino acids, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, vitamins C, D and group B.

Wild rice

Rice mixes contain seeds of the moisture-loving North American grass Zizania aquatica, which are low in calories, high in fiber and protein, and the amino acid tryptophan, a natural sedative.


Its starch content is lower than in pasta and some cereals. The main thing is not to cook it with animal fats or eat it with meat. Boiled potatoes or baked with vegetables and olive oil will help to lose weight.

Bad and good carbohydrates. Glycemic index

Good and bad carbohydrates, like fats, are at the heart of dietary science. The extreme popularity of the Atkins diet and other low-carb diets has led to the notion that “carbohydrates are bad,” and that they are the source of flab and the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the world.This is a dangerous oversimplification, similar to another: that “fats are bad.”

In fact, there are questions about the easily digestible carbohydrates found in white bread, white rice, confectionery, sweetened soda and other highly processed foods. They actually promote weight gain and prevent weight loss.

As for whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and other sources of intact carbohydrates, these products are not only not harmful, but on the contrary – necessary for health.This means that it is necessary to clarify what carbohydrates we are talking about, and to distinguish them: there are bad carbohydrates, and there are good carbohydrates.

But what are carbohydrates? What is their role?

Carbohydrates are an important part of our nutrition:

  • They provide the body with the fuel it needs for physical activity and normal functioning
  • found in a wide variety of foods: breads, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, biscuits, pasta, soft drinks, pies and cakes
  • are presented in various forms, the main of which are sugars, starch and fiber

Carbohydrates were once grouped into two main categories – simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates – Sugars such as fruit sugar (fructose), corn or grape sugar (dextrose or glucose) and sugar itself (sucrose). Complex carbohydrates is a chain of several linked sugars. Complex carbohydrates were considered healthy, while simple carbohydrates were considered unhealthy. It turns out the picture is much more complicated.

Why is this important? Insulin, Diabetes and Healthy Weight

When processing carbohydrates, the digestive system tries to break them down into individual sugar molecules, since they can only enter the bloodstream when they are small enough.It also converts easily digestible carbohydrates into glucose, allowing cells to use it as a versatile energy source.

Fiber is an exception. It is designed in such a way that it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and therefore passes through the body undigested. Fiber comes in two flavors: soluble (and soluble in water) and insoluble. Although neither feeds the body, they are essential for the body to function properly.Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances in the intestines and excretes them as waste, thereby lowering low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol). The mechanism also helps regulate the body’s use of sugar, helping to keep blood sugar levels and hunger in check. Finally, insoluble fiber promotes the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation.

How does it work?

When you eat a food containing carbohydrates, blood sugar rises and special cells in the pancreas produce more insulin, a hormone that “tells” other cells to metabolize sugar from the blood for energy or storage.

Insulin does two things:

  • Transport one part of blood sugar to cells to meet their immediate needs
  • Converts the rest of the sugar into fat and stores it as body fat

Once sugar is absorbed, blood levels begin to drop. And then other cells of the pancreas begin to produce hormone glucagon , which “orders” the liver to release energy from fat accumulations.Thus, glucagon is a fat burner that has the opposite function of insulin.

  • Insulin creates and stores fat from excess carbohydrates
  • Glucagon opens up fat stores and releases them for conversion into energy

This cycle does not work as expected for some people. People with type 1 diabetes mellitus (insulin dependent) do not make enough insulin because their cells cannot absorb sugar. People with type 2 diabetes mellitus (non-insulin dependent) have another problem: their cells do not respond to insulin’s “orders” to “open for sugar.”This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes insulin and blood sugar levels to remain high long after a meal. Over time, insulin production slows down and then stops altogether.

Did you know that …

Moderate alcohol consumption increases insulin sensitivity and improves factors affecting blood clotting, preventing small blood clots from forming that can block arteries in the heart, neck and brain, and ultimately lead to strokes and heart attacks.Learn more about the paradoxical effects of alcohol on the heart .

Metabolic syndrome

Insulin resistance is associated not only with blood sugar problems, but a whole bunch of others, including high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) levels and being overweight. The combination of all these problems has been given the name Metabolic Syndrome . This syndrome can lead to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and possibly some types of cancer.

Genes, sedentary lifestyles, being overweight and high-carbohydrate foods are a set that is very risky to health. Fortunately, it is not at all a mandatory scenario of life, and if we cannot change our genetics yet, then choosing a healthier lifestyle is quite achievable.

Carbohydrates and glycemic index. Glycemic load

It makes sense to divide carbohydrates into simple and complex only when the chemistry of the question is meant.But that doesn’t explain anything if we want to understand what happens to the different types of carbohydrates in the body. For example, the starch in potatoes and white bread would qualify as a complex carbohydrate. However, the body converts this complex carbohydrate into sugar as quickly as pure glucose. In contrast, fructose (fruit sugar) is a simple carbohydrate, but it has minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly and how high the blood sugar level is raised by a particular carbohydrate.

Blood sugar is measured against pure glucose, which is taken as 100%.

Foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, cause a real spike in blood sugar.

Foods with a low glycemic index, such as oatmeal, are digested more slowly, resulting in softer and lower sugar levels.

What are the high and low glycemic index values? High Glycemic Index – foods with a value of 70 or more Low glycemic index – foods with a value of 55 or below.

→› One of the most important factors in determining the glycemic index is the degree of processing: the higher it is, the higher the index value.

What is glycemic load?

Another thing is that the glycemic index of a food does not tell us how many carbohydrates a food supplies. Take watermelon as an example. This sweet fruit has a very high GI. But a slice, a serving, 100 g of watermelon is just a small amount of carbohydrates (watermelon is mostly water).This is why researchers have developed a more sophisticated way of classifying foods, taking into account both the amount of carbohydrates and their effect on blood sugar. This measure is called the glycemic load (or GI per unit of bread).

So, the glycemic load of 100 g of watermelon is modest 6.6, while the GI is 75. What follows from this? Eaten in moderation, watermelon can be consumed alongside foods with a low glycemic index. However, large amounts of watermelon will dramatically increase blood sugar levels.

Low carb diets. Choose good carbohydrates, don’t skip them!

When talking about the need to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, it is necessary to take into account several circumstances.

1. Very few people who are losing weight really radically limit themselves in the use of carbohydrates . As a rule, they take three times more carbohydrates than they declare or even notice. (It is a known fact: we often eat almost automatically, without attaching importance to it).

2. We are not aware of the long-term effects of “clean” protein diets on human health. Unlike, for example, the traditional, well-balanced and calculated Mediterranean diet, which over the longer term leads to the same results.

3. Protein diets, especially strict ones, have contraindications and are not useful for all people.

4. It is absolutely impossible to do without some types of carbohydrates – without fiber, in particular.

Add good carbohydrates to your diet

Start your day with whole grains. For cereals, try whole oats, whole wheat, or other whole grains.

Use whole grain bread . Dine with it and add it to snacks.

Limit potatoes . Try brown rice instead.

Cook whole wheat pasta. If whole grains are too rough for you, choose one that is half white flour.

Include beans on your menu. Beans are a great source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and a great source of protein at the same time.

In preparing this article, materials from the Harvard School of Public Health were used.

90,000 Products containing carbohydrates – a complete list of useful and harmful

Carbohydrate products are not only bread, pasta and potatoes. A significant amount of carbohydrates is found in fruits, vegetables and even nuts.At the same time, some of these contain useful fiber, others – sugar and fructose, which are harmful to metabolism.

Chemically, carbohydrates are molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In nature, carbohydrates are synthesized by green plants from carbon dioxide and water during photosynthesis – in fact, they are formed when plants grow under the influence of sunlight.

// Carbohydrates in Food

Carbohydrates are a key ingredient in most foods.Depending on the structure, carbohydrates are divided into simple and complex. Simple (“fast”) carbohydrates are easily absorbed by the body and have a high glycemic index, while complex (“complex”) give up their calories gradually, providing long satiety.

Sources of fast carbohydrates are sucrose, fructose and glucose – the list of foods containing these carbohydrates includes both regular table sugar and most sweet fruits. When eaten, they increase blood insulin levels.Such foods are prohibited for diabetics.

Complex carbohydrates are primarily starch and fiber. Starch is composed of linked saccharides, including tens to hundreds of structural elements – the body needs both time and energy to digest foods containing starch. In turn, fiber is also a carbohydrate.

// Read more:

The norm of carbohydrates per day

Recommendations for proper nutrition mean that carbohydrates should account for about 50% of the total caloric intake.However, the role is played by what kind of carbohydrate foods are eaten. A serving of buckwheat contains the same amount of carbohydrates as a glass of cola or other sugary soda.

150 g

Norm with weight 50 kg Norm with weight 60 kg Norm with weight 70 kg Norm with weight 80 kg
Men For weight loss

160 g 165 g 175 g 185 g
For weight maintenance 215 g 230 g 250 g 260 g
For muscle recruitment

1 903

290 g 300 g 320 g
90 Slimming 150 g
For weight support 150 g 190 g 200 220 g
For a set of muscles 200 g 245 g 260 g 240 g

// read more:

List of foods with carbohydrates2

in almost all food products – with the exception of food of animal origin.Complex carbohydrates are predominantly found in natural plant foods, while fast carbohydrate foods are most often manufactured industrially.

The harm of a specific carbohydrate product is determined not by calories, but by the glycemic index. The higher the GI, the faster the blood sugar level rises – and the faster the “false” feeling of hunger sets in, provoking a person to look again and again in sweets.

// Harmful products with carbohydrates:

  • sugar in all variations (including honey)
  • sweet drinks (juices, fruit drinks, soda)
  • bread and other baked goods made from white flour
  • corn flakes and sweet breakfast cereals
  • instant sweet cereals
  • preserves, jams, marmalades
  • cakes and most desserts
  • biscuits, waffles
  • white rice

// Read more:

Complex carbohydrates

The more complex the structure of the carbohydrate, the more time and effort is needed for the body to digest it.The energy of foods with complex carbohydrates is distributed gradually, providing saturation without bursts of insulin in the blood – in contrast to the energy of fast carbohydrates, the excess of which is sent to fat depots.

The more fiber (plant fiber) in a food product, the lower its glycemic index and the more difficult it is for the body to digest it. Among other things, the presence of fiber and other correct carbohydrates in the diet helps digestion and maintains normal cholesterol levels.

// Read more:

Carbohydrates in dairy products

Lactose found in milk and dairy products (kefir, cottage cheese, cheese) is also a simple carbohydrate – sometimes called “milk sugar”.

It is also interesting that the consumption of other carbohydrates at the same time as lactose leads to increased insulin secretion in the human body. For example, the insulin index of yogurt is higher than the glycemic index.

Nutrition for weight loss

If you want to lose weight, you must first of all give up simple carbohydrates with a high glycemic index – sugar, sugary drinks, desserts, baked goods and white bread.The harm of their regular use is that they break down the metabolism and provoke a chronic feeling of hunger.

// List of useful carbohydrates:

Foods that do not contain carbohydrates

Avoiding carbohydrates builds many effective diets for weight loss – a carbohydrate-free diet and a keto diet. In this case, not only processed cereal products (bread, pastries, pasta), but also potatoes and all kinds of cereals are completely excluded from the diet.Allowed to eat meat, eggs, green vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds in moderation.

Foods marked “sugar free” may not always be considered dietary. In some cases, manufacturers use other sugary carbohydrates instead of sugar, such as maltodextrin. Despite a different name and a more complex chemical formula, this substance has a high glycemic index – in fact, the body reacts to it in the same way as to regular sugar.

// Products without carbohydrates:

  • any kind of meat and fish
  • whey protein
  • eggs
  • oil and various fats


🍒 New materials on Fitseven – 5 times a week! Stay tuned!

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the human diet. They are found in almost all foods, with the exception of meat. Proper nutrition or adherence to a diet for weight loss implies the maximum rejection of simple carbohydrates – primarily from sugar and white flour products.In turn, complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index and are beneficial to health.

Continuing the topic

Date of the last update of the material – 8 February 2021

Carbohydrates for energy recovery |

If you keep an eye on what ends up on your plate, this approach will no doubt increase your body’s internal reserves and prevent digestive problems and fatigue.

After consulting with specialists, it was found out what is required to maintain your well-being at altitude.

Charging with energy

If during morning runs you often run out of breath, having covered only half the distance, it is time to pay attention to what was eaten the day before. Keith Butler, a British nutritionist for health food chain Holland & Barrett, says: “Studies have shown that moderate to high-intensity workouts were better in subjects who ate a high-carb, low-fat meal three hours prior to exercise. …

For a long period of time, there has been a debate over whether to eat high-glycemic or low-glycemic foods before exercise. Despite this, experts recommend giving preference to foods with a low glycemic index to provide your body with a long supply of energy and recover faster after intense physical activity.

Such foods include wholemeal pasta with cheese and vegetables, chicken with brown rice and salad, or whole grain cereals with milk or yogurt. “

Protein charge

While carbohydrates are an important source of energy, protein is essential when it comes to maintaining muscle tone. The body needs proteins to build and maintain muscle, which will be more beneficial if consumed with food before physical activity.

Choosing “good” carbohydrates

Everyone knows that carbohydrates provide our body with the necessary supply of energy, and the use of “good” carbohydrates will also save you from stomach pain and discomfort.A portion of “good” carbohydrates eaten before exercise is digested in the small intestine, while regular carbohydrates and fats are processed in the stomach, where they linger for some time. If during exercise you suddenly feel cramps in the stomach, this means that simple carbohydrates and fats are not completely digested. In this case, it will be enough to eat a small handful of nuts or a piece of some kind of fruit.

Life-giving moisture

If you cannot give up caffeine, then try to drink a double espresso instead of regular coffee and give preference to milkshakes or a glass of milk.English Institute of Sport nutritionist Dan Kings advises not to drink coffee or tea before starting workouts , as these drinks interfere with the process of rehydration (restoration of water content) in the body, but only aggravate it. Best of all is a glass of milk in the morning before exercising – a good source of carbohydrates and protein. And at the end of the workout, it is useful to replenish the energy supply with a protein shake.

Before and After

It is very difficult to run when the stomach is full of food, so choose food that is small in size but rich in carbohydrates.

While carbohydrates and proteins eaten prior to training help you achieve the best results, the same combination helps the body recuperate. Several studies have shown that eating a serving of carbohydrates and protein immediately after physical activity improves muscle recovery and growth. This is because the carbohydrate-protein combination stimulates a significant release of insulin, which accelerates the absorption of glucose and amino acids by muscle cells from the bloodstream, stimulating the synthesis of glycogen and protein.

Sometimes it happens that after strenuous physical work people refuse to eat, depriving their body of the necessary energy for the recovery process. Try something light, like dried fruit and nut porridge or a peanut butter sandwich. And for dinner, a portion of pasta with chicken and vegetables is well suited.

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90,000 Sugar – “white death”? And if he is not guilty of anything?

  • Jessica Brown
  • BBC Future

Photo Credit, Getty Images

People who eat a lot of sweets are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer … But perhaps sugar is not to blame for this.What does the latest scientific research say?

Now it’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when people had access to sugar for only a few months of the year when the fruit was ripe.

For example, 80 thousand years ago, our distant ancestors, hunters and gatherers, rarely ate fruit – they were seriously rivaled by birds.

Nowadays, access to sugar is unlimited and year-round – just drink a soda drink or open a box of cornflakes.

You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that our current heavy sugar consumption is far less beneficial.

And it seems that today sugar has become the main enemy of public health: governments are trying to impose a tax on it, sweets are not sold in schools and hospitals, and all kinds of experts advise to completely eliminate it from the diet.

So far, however, experts are experiencing serious difficulties when trying to prove the harmful effects of sugar on our health apart from cases of excessive high-calorie diet.

A review of similar studies over the past five years has shown that a diet containing more than 150 grams of fructose per day lowers insulin sensitivity and therefore increases the risk of health problems such as high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

However, as the researchers concluded, most often this happens only when high sugar intake is combined with an excessively high-calorie diet, so sugar is “most likely” not alone to blame.

Meanwhile, in the scientific community, arguments are growing louder that demonization of a single product is dangerous – it confuses people and leads to the risk of excluding vital food from the diet.

Sugar (or, as it is often said, “added sugar” that makes different foods taste sweet) is found in a variety of foods, from the regular sugar we put in tea to sweeteners, honey and fruit juices.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

Sugar (more precisely, carbohydrates) can be found in a huge number of foods

Both complex and simple carbohydrates are composed of sucrose molecules that are broken down in the digestive tract into glucose and fructose.

It is the obtained glucose that is the main source of energy for our body, cells and brain.

Complex carbohydrates are, for example, vegetables and whole grains.

Simple (fast) carbohydrates are easier to digest and deliver glucose into the blood faster.They are found not only in, say, cherries, raspberries or grapes, but also in many human-made products (cakes, sweets, etc.), and it is their use that leads to weight gain.

Until the 16th century, only wealthy people could afford sugar. But with the beginning of colonial trade, everything began to change.

In the 1960s, the development of industrial production of fructose led to the creation of caramel syrup, a concentrate of glucose and fructose.

It is this powerful combination that many health advocates regard as the most deadly for humans, and it is this combination that is implied when they say that sugar is the white death.

Sugar Rush

Between 1970 and 1990, consumption of caramel syrup in the United States increased 10 times – more than any other food group.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

Some researchers believe that it was the consumption of caramel molasses that led to an increase in obesity in the US population

A meta-analysis of 88 studies showed that there is a link between the consumption of sugary drinks and the increase in body weight.

In other words, when people get extra energy from these drinks, people do not compensate by consuming less other foods – perhaps because the drinks actually increase the feeling of hunger and reduce the feeling of fullness.

However, the scientists concluded, such conclusions represent a fairly loose statistical relationship. Not everyone agrees that it is caramel syrup that is the decisive factor in the massive weight gain of Americans.

Epidemics of obesity and diabetes are also breaking out in regions of the world where caramel syrup is used little or not at all – for example, in Australia or Europe.

So this molasses is not the only culprit. Added sugar (especially fructose) is responsible for a variety of problems.

Cardiovascular diseases are said to be among these problems. When the liver breaks down fructose, one of the end products is triglycerides, neutral fats that can accumulate in liver cells.

Once in the blood, they contribute to the formation of cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries.

Photo Credit, Getty Images

Photo Caption,

Fructose may contribute to the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries

One study that lasted 15 years seems to confirm this: it was found that people consuming 25% or more of their daily calories in the form of added sugar, there is more than twice the risk of dying from heart disease than those who consume less than 10%.

The incidence of type 2 diabetes is also associated with the consumption of foods with added sugar.

Two large studies in the 1990s found that women who drank more than one serving of sugary drinks or fruit juice a day were twice as likely to earn diabetes as those who rarely drank such drinks.

Anything sweet?

But again, it is not clear if this means that sugar is the cause of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Luc Tuppy, professor of physiology at the University of Lausanne, is one of those scientists who are convinced that the main cause of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure is excessive calorie intake, and sugar is only one of its components.

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Many scientists believe that sugar alone is not the cause of obesity

“Consuming more energy than the body requires in the long term leads to fat deposits, insulin resistance and obesity liver, whatever the diet consists of, he says.“For the same people who spend a lot of energy, even a diet high in sugar / fructose does not affect health.”

Their high levels of fructose are simply converted into the energy they need through training and competition.

In general Overall, there is very little evidence that added sugar is directly responsible for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

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Athletes often consume much more sugar. than other people, but they need it

Yes, a lot of its use is usually present in such patients.But clinical studies have not yet established exactly what caused these diseases.

Is there an addiction to sugar? A 2017 review of research on the topic, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, provides an example: mice suffer when they are deprived of sugar, and the effect is similar to that experienced by drug addicts who are deprived of cocaine.

However, that study was widely criticized for misinterpreting the results.

One of the main points of criticism: the animals were given sugar for only two hours a day.If they are allowed to eat it when they want (that is, exactly as we ourselves do), then the mice do not demonstrate any sugar dependence.

However, studies have shown that there are other ways sugar affects our brains.

Matthew Peise, a scientist at the Swinburne Center for Psychopharmacology, tested the link between consumption of sugary drinks and markers of brain health on MRI.

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Surprisingly, the brains of those who drank two fruit drinks a day looked two years older than those who did not drink them at all

Those who drank such drinks and fruit juices more often showed decreased memory function and smaller brain size.

Those who consumed two sugary drinks a day looked two years older than those who did not drink them at all.

However, according to Pease, he only measured the consumption of fruit drinks, so I’m not sure if sugar itself has such an effect on brain health.

“People who drink more fruit juices or sugary drinks may have other unhealthy food components or bad habits in their diet. For example, they may never exercise their body,” Peise emphasizes.

A recent study found that sugar may even help improve the memory and well-being of aging adults.

Scientists gave participants a drink containing a small amount of glucose and asked them to perform various memory tasks. The other participants were given an artificial sweetener drink.

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For older people, sugary drinks are energizing and comfortable when completing difficult tasks

Raising blood sugar increases their satisfaction with what they are doing.

Younger adults also showed an increase in energy levels after drinking a glucose drink, but this did not affect their memory or mood.

Sweet Deadly Sin

While current medical guidelines state that added sugar should not account for more than 5% of our daily calorie intake, nutritionist Renee McGregor says it’s important to understand that a healthy, balanced diet is different for everyone.

“I work with athletes who need more sugar during strenuous workouts because it is easily absorbed,” she says.

It is true for the rest of the people that added sugar is not needed as part of our diet. But a number of experts warn: do not talk about it as a poison.

McGregor, among whose patients there are also those who suffer from orthorexia nervosa (an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating), says that it is wrong to distinguish between good and bad foods.

Making sugar a taboo can make it even more attractive.

“As soon as they tell you that you shouldn’t eat something, you will want to eat it,” she emphasizes.- Therefore, I never say that any product should never be eaten. I just point out that this product has no nutritional value. But sometimes foods have different values. ”

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Even if sweet foods have no nutritional value, they may have different values.

James Madison University Assistant Professor Alan Levinowitz studies the relationship of religion and He says that there is a simple reason why we think sugar is evil: throughout history, it has been common for mankind to blame all sins on those things that are very difficult to refuse (for example, sexual pleasures).

Today we do it with sugar to somehow curb our appetite.

“Sweet tastes very good, so we are forced to consider sugar consumption as a mortal sin. When we perceive the world in black and white, in terms of” either good or bad “, it is impossible to accept the fact that there are moderately harmful things. happened to sugar, “says Levinowitz.

According to him, if you approach food with such extreme standards and look for some kind of morality in the simple process of eating, then you can fall into a deep and constant anxiety about everything we eat.

Deciding what to eat can be very difficult.

It can be counterproductive to completely remove sugar from the diet, because it means that it will have to be replaced with something – perhaps something even more nutritious.

When we get caught up in controversy about the dangers of sugar, we run the risk of putting in the same basket foods with added sugar (such as sugary drinks) and healthy foods that contain sugar (such as fruits).

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We tend to blame for all sins those things that are very difficult to refuse.Including sugar

This happened with 28-year-old Swede Tina Grundin, who, as she admits, believed that any sugar is harmful.

As such, she ate a high-protein, fat-rich vegan diet, which she said led to an undiagnosed eating disorder.

“When I started to vomit after eating, I realized that I couldn’t do this anymore. I grew up being wary of sugar in all its forms,” ​​she admits.

“But then I realized that there is a huge difference between added sugar and carbohydrates.And I switched to a diet rich in fructose and starch with natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals. “

” And from the very first day, it was as if some kind of veil fell from my eyes. Finally, I began to provide my cells with the energy contained in glucose. “

Scientists are still arguing about how different types of sugars affect our health. But the irony of the situation is that we will get better if we think less

“We are over-complicating everything related to nutrition, because everyone strives for excellence, everyone wants to appear perfect and successful.But that doesn’t happen, “says McGregor.

To read the original of this article in English, visit BBC Future .

Ketosis and Ketone Products: Power Yourself!

Where do we get energy from molecular level?

As you know, our cells and tissues extract energy for their life from food. And to be more specific, from its carbohydrate and fat components. Moreover, the use of carbohydrates (in particular, glucose and other simple sugars) is a simpler and faster process, but “at the output” it gives less energy than the breakdown of fats.In addition, if you try to improve the energy balance of the body by increasing the amount of carbohydrates in food, then nothing good will come of it. Without increasing physical activity at the same time, you will only get an increase in body weight, since the “extra” carbohydrates will be stored “for a rainy day.”

The second way to get energy is to break down fats and convert them into ketones, from which our cells extract energy [6]. Ketones are a specific class of substances (also called ketone bodies), represented in the human body mainly by β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB).The condition in which cells begin to receive energy mainly from fats is called ketosis in medicine. Ketosis starts only in a situation where carbohydrate reserves are depleted, but more energy is produced in this case. The breakdown of fats and the synthesis of ketones occurs in the liver, and then the formed ketone bodies are released into the blood and, with its current, are transferred to those organs that most need energy support [17].

Why do we need the ability to enter a state of ketosis?

Evolutionary physiologists believe that the body’s ability to extract energy from fat originated as insurance against starvation [23].After all, simple sugars (and these are mainly sweets) have been a fairly rare component of the diet for almost the entire duration of human history. In addition, carbohydrates are “fast” fuel, which is suitable for any organs and tissues, but does not have a very high energy output and is consumed very intensively. But ketone bodies, although it is more difficult to metabolize, but they supply a very large amount of energy. Moreover, first of all, they supply them with the main systems, those on which the work of the whole organism depends: the central nervous system, including the brain, endocrine organs that regulate our vital activity, etc.[22] In addition, in a state of ketosis, the consumption of protein and remaining carbohydrate reserves is significantly reduced [20, 21].

Another common cause of ketosis is prolonged physical or psychological stress. It is often found in athletes, as well as in those who need a long and focused, as they say, “head work”. Both muscle and nerve cells actively absorb carbohydrates, and when their reserves are exhausted, they signal the liver that it is time to produce ketone bodies [24].

What are ketosis?

It is necessary to distinguish between physiological and pathological ketosis. The pathological variant, also called ketoacidosis, is a serious complication of endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus [1]. The main feature of ketoacidosis is that the body produces ketone bodies in unlimited quantities. And this leads to a violation of the acid-base balance in the blood and a decrease in its pH. Ketoacidosis is an acute metabolic catastrophe that threatens human health and life, requiring immediate medical attention.Without this, the risk of coma and even death is high. The symptoms of ketoacidosis are:

  • nausea and vomiting;
  • lethargy, drowsiness;
  • decreased appetite;
  • mild but persistent abdominal pain;
  • breath with the smell of acetone (the patient’s body tries to remove excess ketone bodies through the lungs) [2]

But what we talked about above is physiological ketosis. And it fundamentally differs from the pathological one in that in this case the liver synthesizes exactly the amount of ketone bodies that is necessary to maintain the vital activity of the body.And all these ketone bodies are successfully utilized to obtain energy [19]. For this reason, physiological ketosis is also called manageable.

And of course, if you specifically enter the body into a state of ketosis for therapeutic or restorative purposes, then it is very important not to lose such control. To do this, you must comply with a number of conditions:

  1. Urinalysis should be done periodically. Ketone bodies should not appear in it.
  2. It is impossible to induce ketosis in those who have any diseases associated with metabolic disorders [7].
  3. Also ketone products should not be used for kidney and liver diseases, during pregnancy and during breastfeeding [4].
  4. Blood glucose should also be monitored to prevent its concentration from falling to less than 3.58 mmol / l, that is, preventing the development of hypoglycemia [13, 25]. If physiological ketosis is caused by a low-carbohydrate diet in which simple sugars cannot be consumed, then you need to compensate for them with coarse vegetable fiber.At the same time, it will also help maintain normal digestion.

So what is the usefulness of ketone bodies?

Physiological controlled ketosis as a therapeutic and restorative remedy has long attracted the attention of scientists. Research is being actively carried out now, and of those beneficial medical effects that have already been reliably confirmed, one can list:

  • Reducing the frequency of seizures in childhood epilepsy, which is difficult to respond to traditional treatment [26, 8, 9, 10, 5];
  • decrease in blood sugar in type 2 diabetes mellitus [27];
  • normalization of body weight [3];
  • anorexigenic effect, ie decreased appetite [28];
  • stimulation of the central nervous system and improvement of the condition of patients with depressive mental disorders [16];
  • protection of cells of the nervous system in neurodegenerative diseases [29], with toxic lesions of the brain, with discirculatory encephalopathy, as well as with changes in the CNS associated with aging [14, 15].

There are even isolated, scientifically proven cases of the effective use of ketone bodies in the complex treatment of oncological diseases [30]. In addition, guided ketosis can improve mental and physical stamina in healthy people. That is, it can be used as a kind of physiological stimulant. Taking ketone bodies also speeds up recovery from stress and exercise. That is why exogenous (that is, coming from outside) ketones are widely used in professional and amateur sports [31, 32, 33, 34].At the same time, the most important advantage of products with ketone bodies is their excellent tolerance.

In addition, using ketone body products will help you switch to a low-carb diet quickly, smoothly and safely for weight loss. They will also be useful to those who lead an active lifestyle and want to provide their body with a sufficient amount of energy without consuming carbohydrates [18]. Another beneficial effect for athletes is that taking exoketones (especially in the form of β-hydroxybutyrate salts) inhibits the consumption of internal reserves of the body.Instead of receiving the raw materials for ketosis by destroying its own cells (for example, muscle cells), it will use ketone bodies from outside [35, 36, 25].

Are exogenous ketones released in our country?

Yes, the domestic company VILAVI INT LTD is engaged in the production of the highest quality food products with a high content of ketone bodies. The most popular member of this line is the T8 ERA EXO. In this source of exoketones, β-hydroxybutyrate is contained in a bound form – just in the form of salts, which we talked about above.In particular, these are sodium, calcium and magnesium salts of β-hydroxybutyrate. They are absorbed as quickly as possible in the intestines and go directly into the bloodstream, where they are immediately used to supply energy to critical organs. T8 ERA EXO will be useful primarily for those who need to increase their resistance to stress, physical and psycho-emotional stress, as well as gain additional energy in order to maintain vigor, concentration and productivity throughout the day.


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