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To Carb Or Not To Carb? — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 15, 2008 at 3:27 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

To Carb Or Not To Carb?


That is the question. All jokes aside, we are hearing a mass of contradictory information involving the consumption of carbohydrates. As it stands, our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, it's just a matter of what kind, and how many.

Not All Carbs Are Equal

Carbohydrates can be broken down into two categories: simple and complex. From there, we can classify grains as whole or refined. Simple carbohydrates are made of one or two sugars, called saccharides or disaccharides. These sugars are what we call fructose or sucrose and are found in a huge amount of foods include bread, soda, fruit juice, jam and jelly and syrup. Check the labels; you'll find sugar in just about everything. Simple carbohydrates are also found in much more healthier items such as raw fruits, some vegetables, dairy and honey.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are made of a string of sugars and therefore take much longer to be digested. These supply you with long lasting energy that won't cause a sugar buzz. Complex carbohydrates are in grains, starchy vegetables, legumes and beans. They are also rich in protein and fiber, which fill you up and keep you satiated longer. Most people prefer to choose complex over simple carbohydrates.

Refined and Whole Grains

It's necessary to know the difference between refined and whole grains. Whole grains are what their name says: the entire, intact grain. Any grain can be a whole grain; the important part is that the entire grain is ground into flour, not just part of it. A grain includes three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran and germ contain the vast majority of all nutrients, fiber and protein while the endosperm contains much less. The process of refinement separates the endosperm from the germ and bran, and processes only the nutrient poor endosperm. Refinement was developed because it increased the shelf life of flour dramatically. Most companies put some nutrients back into the white flour, but not nearly as many nutrients as are in the whole grain itself.

Benefits of Whole Grains

Nutritionists recommend using whole grains as an important part of any diet, including a weight loss diet. Whole grains contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as plenty of protein and fiber. Protein and fiber are essential for our bodies and great for dieters because they fill us up and keep us fuller for longer periods of time.

Choose Your Carbohydrates Wisely

It's all about making smart choices. Carbohydrates can be good for your body. It's your responsibility to choose the ones that are best for you. Skip the soda, white bread, sweets and other sources of empty, useless calories. Stick to the foods that will pack the most nutritional punch like fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grain carbohydrates. As with any diet, the most important aspect is to use more calories that you consume. So instead of focusing on carbohydrates, turn that focus towards making the most of the meals you eat.


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