The Basics Of Carbohydrates

ARGUABLY THE CRIMINAL AMONGST THE GENERAL POPULATION WHEN IT COMES TO WEIGHT/FAT GAIN AND FOR THIS REASON THE CARBOHYDRATES TEND TO BE EXCLUDED OR DRASTICALLY REDUCED FROM MOST PEOPLE'S DIETS.


Are carbohydrates at all important? Do we need them?


Carbohydrates role within the body is to provide fuel for essential function.


Carbohydrates are NON essential for survival, meaning the body can survive without carbohydrates, however if we intend on doing anything else beyond just surviving, carbohydrates become a fundamental macronutrient.

Wait what? If they are not essential why do we need them?

Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy, they fuel day to day activities, workouts, etc.


Carbohydrates also allows the highly anabolic hormone, insulin to come into play. The action of insulin helps protein synthesis and ensure that the catabolic actions of protein breakdown are kept to a minimum.


For those people who are leaner this is key to limit the breakdown and usage of protein as a fuel source.


What does insulin do???

Before we touch on insulin let's talk about some fundamental basics.


First we need to be aware of the building blocks of carbohydrates, they are:


MONOSACCHARIDES

(One sugar molecule)


DISACCHARIDES

(Two sugar molecules)

OLIGOSACCHARIDES

(Two to ten sugar molecules)


POLYSACCHARIDES

(Ten or more sugar molecules)


For more information you can just Google each one of them.


I know you are still wondering about insulin, you probably heard your family member talking about it, it's coming but for now we need to talk about glucose.

Glucose a simple monosaccharide sugar and is used as a source of energy in animals and plants.


Glucose comes from the Greek word for "sweet." It's a type of sugar we get from foods we eat, and our body uses it for energy. As it travels through our bloodstream to our cells, it's called blood glucose or blood sugar.

To transport the glucose to cells for energy we need a carrier, a little like a bus, the name of the bus is INSULIN.


Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose from our blood into the cells for energy and storage. People with diabetes have higher-than-normal levels of glucose in their blood. Either they don't have enough insulin to move it through or their cells don't respond to insulin as well as they should.

On average for every 10-15 g of carbs we consume, the body will use around 1 unit (iu) of insulin to manage and act as the substrate carrier into cellular tissue.


Ok ok Helder but every time I try to lose weight I stop eating carbs and this ALWAYS works, so carbs do put on fat, don't they?

Erm.....


The vast majority of weight loss most people will see from low carbohydrate diets will mean a drop in weight on the scales because of water within the cells, (this is not fat).


Alongside this when carbohydrates are dropped, inherently this will reduce calories, as these calories are not replaced by other macronutrients fat loss will occur, but most of the time this is an approach most people can't sustain and inherently they will put that fat back as soon as they introduce those carbs back in.


Reduction in carbs does not equal fat loss, a reduction in calories does!


Take away points:

Carbs are essential for energy, they are the body's primary source of energy.


Carbs are not blame for weight gain, consuming too many calories is.


People who suffer with insulin resistance such as type 2 diabetes and PCOS may do well on a low carb diet for a short period of time until the body has a fully functional glucose sensitivity insulin secretion.

When the goal is fat loss for body composition, a slow reduction in carbohydrates over time will help reduce calories, however this has to be managed in a way that is sustainable long term.


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