Carbs are not the enemy. Carbs are not evil. Carbs will not kill you.
Simply put, carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. You couldn’t live or work without them.
Carbohydrates are built up of simple sugars linked together including glucose. The body requires a continual intake of carbohydrates to feed the brain, which uses glucose (a form of sugar) as its primary energy source.
Not all carbs are created equal:
To properly appreciate why carbohydrates are important, you have to know the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs.
Simple carbs like white bread, processed foods, and pastries are absorbed quickly in the body—leading to blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes— and are often found in not-so-great-for-you foods and drinks like cake and soda.
Complex carbs, meanwhile, are found in foods like whole grains, sweet potatoes, beans, and fruits and veggies. They’re absorbed by the body more slowly and thus have less of a hit on your blood sugar, all while providing those above-mentioned nutrients your body needs.
However, even simple carbs have a place in a healthy diet. Knowing the timing (when to eat them) and portion (how much to eat) is the key. For example, one cup or fist sized portion of white rice or pasta is healthy.
Instead of eating two or three cups of cooked spaghetti, stick to one cup and round of the rest of your “carbs” with vegetables.
Carbs fuel your workouts:
When it comes to exercise fuel, you might think protein is your BFF. But you shouldn’t forget about carbs either. Unlike protein and healthy fats that are stored in the body, carbohydrates are more readily available—aka they digest quickly and work their way into the blood stream faster for an immediate surge of energy.
Post-workout, carbs help you recover the energy you lost. Getting carbs into your bloodstream will energize you faster after an intense sweat session than a meal with just fats and protein, because again, they digest more quickly than those other macronutrients. If you skip the carbs, your body is going to depend solely on the protein that’s stored in your body for energy, taking it away from the important work of repairing and building tired muscles.
But here’s where good portion control comes in again. A serving the size of your fist, balanced with protein and healthy fats, will give your body what it needs to recover. Give your body too many carbs (yes, even the “good” complex kind) and you’ll venture into “undoing” your workout
Carbs literally make you happy:
Is there any feeling quite as magical as digging into a bowl full of mac and cheese, or eating a slice of pizza? Thank carbohydrates for that. Carbs make us happier—and not just because they’re delicious, but they actually have a chemical reaction because they boost your brain’s release of serotonin – chemical in the brain that helps you feel calm and satisfied.
And while no one can argue with the happiness-boosting powers of a chocolate chip cookie, it’s important to balance out the rest of your day and pick complex carbs low on the glycemic index, otherwise the whole mood- lifting effect they bring will backfire. Processed foods will cause a blood sugar spike, so your mood will be elevated, but then you’ll crash later, which will lead to feeling cranky, tired, and craving more of these foods,” Carbs that are low on the glycemic index—like fruit, beans, legumes, and even pasta—are a slower burn and actually help balance your mood.
Also, balance out the simple- and low-glycemic carbs with protein and healthy fats so they are absorbed into the body slower, which helps stabilize blood sugar and mood. You’ll feel great, sans that pesky crash (and subsequent mood flop) later on.
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