Every day we read or see different information on carbohydrates that contradict each other. One article might tell us that they are good to have and the body requires them, the other might tell us that they are terrible and we should avoid them at all cost. So what's the deal, should we have carbohydrates or not?
Our bodies need carbohydrates, however what many people don't realise is that not all carbohydrates are the same, and don't provide us with the same nutritional benefit.
In short, there are 2 types of carbohydrates, Simple and Complex. The idea is to have as little simple carbs as possible, and as many complex carbs as possible (relative to our overall recommended carbohydrate amount in alignment with our goals). The difference between the 2 types is their chemical structure and how quickly they are broken down in our bodies. Simple carbs have a higher GI (Glycemic Index) level and are therefore broken down and absorbed much faster. This means the sugar that is in that food is released into our bloodstreams much faster causing a significant spike in our blood sugar levels. This gives us a very short energy burst before returning to regular energy levels. These are the types of carbohydrates we want to avoid as much as possible. Foods such as soft drinks, confectionaries, white breads, crackers, etc.
Complex carbs are foods such as vegetables, beans, grains and any food classed as a 'whole food'. Due to their more complex chemical structure, these carbs take a longer time break down in the body. This means the blood sugar levels don't spike as high as with simple carbs, but last for a much longer time. Complex carbs provide us with longer more consistent energy levels. These are the carbs we want to be consuming as much as we can. Ideally, our daily carbohydrate requirement is filled purely by complex carbs.
The other benefit with consuming complex carbs that they are a lot more nutritious to our bodies. Most complex carb sources will be high in either vitamins or minerals, or both. These are the micronutrients that allow all our bodily functions to keep on working at an efficient level.
By having mainly complex carbs, we can provide our body with ongoing energy throughout the day, meaning we don't get tired around the classic mid-afternoon slump when we normally crave something sweet. The aim is to have consumed ¾ of your daily requirement by this point as our bodies generally don't require as much energy in the afternoon/night as we did in the morning.
A big misconception in the general public is that we shouldn't have too many carbs for breakfast as it isn't good for us. This is completely false. For most of us mornings are some of the busiest times of the day and we need to make sure that we have the required energy to get through all of our tasks. By having a healthy, balanced breakfast loaded with complex carbs, a good source of protein and a little bit of quality fat, we are setting ourselves up for the day and making sure our bodies can run at 100%.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.