Why are carbohydrates important? The advantages of carbohydrates include that they are our body’s main source of fuel for energy. They are utilized in performing quick, intense effort exercises. They are very important at fueling our immediate and short-term energy systems. An immediate energy system is the intramuscular, anaerobic energy system, which is made up of high-energy phosphates. These high-energy phosphates are ATP, ADP combined to form ATP, and/or the breakdown of Phosphocreatine.
This energy system provides power for all-out physical efforts in bouts of around 6-8 seconds. A short-term energy system is the anaerobic energy system that utilizes either stored ATP, ATP in combination with creatine phosphate and muscle glycogen, or muscle glycogen for energy. These processes are utilized only when exercise is performed in short bursts.
Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbs would be sugar, complex carbs would be starches. Starches take a longer period of time to digest, which means that your blood sugar levels and energy levels would stay more stable. Complex carbs also tend to be high in fiber. Simple carbs can be beneficial post workout, in order to spike insulin levels and promote muscle growth. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas, which regulates the amount of glucose within the blood.
Simple carbs ingested after a workout will digest fast and help bring blood sugar and glycogen levels back up. Glucose is also very important to consume because the nervous cells, brain, and red blood cells all use it as an energy source. Sugars, a portion of carbohydrates, are important for fueling the tissues of the body. Sugars play a part in protein molecules and compose the shape and even function of certain proteins in the body. Sugars from carbohydrates also help with cell communication and function.
Can You Have Too Many Carbs?
Is it possible to consume too many carbohydrates? Can carbohydrates turn into fat? Are there disadvantages to carbohydrates? The short answer is yes. The disadvantages of carbohydrates include that if taken too soon before a workout, one may feel fatigued. This is due to the fact that eating causes high insulin levels, and high glucose levels. Once someone eats, they are burning carbs. Once someone begins to exercise, their insulin shuts off.
Types of sugars found in carbohydrates such as glucose, galactose, and fructose can lead to potential health problems, including the accumulation of fat. When excess amounts of these carbohydrates, or sugars is prevalent in the body, the body tries to burn more of the glucose in the body instead of fat. This leads to more fat being left in the body to circulate, until fatty tissues store this fat.
Cells can also convert extra glucose into toxic alcohols, or the excess glucose can alter proteins causing many problems. Some health related problems include type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is due to the body abnormally handling excess amounts of glucose. In many cases, type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity. These people will experience problems with insulin levels and resistance. Proper diet and exercise, as well as monitoring glucose intake and levels can help keep blood glucose levels at a healthy range.
Paying attention to glucose levels can also keep someone aware of abnormally low blood glucose levels, such as when experiencing hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia typically occurs when someone does not properly address their diabetes. Not enough food, too much insulin, and sickness can all lead to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can also be prevented by replacing refined carbohydrate food sources with whole food sources that are plentiful in fiber. Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day can also help.
So Should You Fear Carbs?
Does this mean you need to fear carbohydrates? Of course not! Think back to how many advantages carbohydrates provide for our bodies. They are our number one energy source. Carbohydrates should be consumed in a healthy diet by incorporating energy rich foods that your body needs for proper functioning.
Fruits, grains, and vegetables are all excellent sources of energy and carbohydrates. A healthy diet should have a variety of each of these along with an established eating pattern. A more accurate way of determining how many carbohydrates a person needs is to find out their DRI energy requirement. 45%-65% of a person’s total calories should be carbohydrates.
Some example foods that a person should consume from unrefined sources of carbohydrates include breads, bran, oats, starchy vegetables, fruits, and milk. Refined sugars and sweets should not make up the majority of anyone’s carbohydrate intake.