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Changing Shape

Carbohydrates, the Bodies Preferred Source of Energy



Are carbohydrates the bodies preferred source of energy?  By the time you finish reading this article you will understand the bodies need, function and the roles carbohydrates play in our nutrition.  We start our discussion by comparing complex and simple carbohydrates.


Brown RiceComplex carbohydrates include bread, pasta and cereals.  They are digested at a slower rate than simple carbohydrates.  This slower digestion offers a more continual and stable flow of energy. Simple carbohydrates deliver the same amount of energy, four calories per gram, but at a far more rapid pace. Therefore, simple carbohydrates provide an immediate boost in blood sugar.  But the boost comes with a price -- it wears off quickly and more is needed to sustain blood sugar levels. As a result, excess food cravings are experienced and may cause individuals to increase their calorie consumption. Thus, simple carbohydrates should be avoided within your diet. They include sugar, honey, soda and candy. 


Sugar and Carbohydrates are broken down into smaller versions called glucose. All cells in the human body depend on glucose.  This makes carbohydrates the body's number one energy source.  The brain and nervous system run directly off glucose.  The human body will convert protein to glucose without enough carbohydrates in the diet.  Carbohydrates spare other nutrients (protein), and allow these nutrients to carry out their intended functions. 


Carbohydrates offer a thermogenic effect that will increase calorie burning.  This will cause your body to burn more calories every time you eat.  If your diet is high in fat, the fat is put faster into storage.  To top if off, fat is much harder to take out of lipid (fat) stores and used as energy.  Carbohydrates on the other hand, use 23 percent of consumed calories to store carbohydrates.  In contrast, fat uses only 3 percent of consumed calories. 


Carbohydrates should make up 50% to 60% of your calories.  The majority of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates.  Less then ten percent of your calories should come from refined sugars.  This will decrease low blood sugar, increase energy expenditure, increase satiety and satisfaction.  Carbohydrates are glucose, glycogen, sugar, starches, fiber, cellulose and various saccharides. In plain English, complex carbohydrates are the most desirable because they burn more slowly.  Foods such as breads made from whole grains, fruit in its natural state (raw), and raw vegetables are examples of excellent carbohydrates.


References


Nutrition Concepts and Controversies. West Publishing Company: New York, 1978.


Mattfeldt-Beman, Mildred. Corrigan, Sheila A. Stevens, Victor J. Sugars, Carolyn


P. Dalcin, Arlene T. Givi, M. John. Copeland, Karen C. Journal of the American Dietetic Association Jan. 1999: v99 il p66(6).


"The Secret of High-protein diets; what you need to know before you give up pasta (includes evaluations of popular high-protein diets)." Prevention June 1997: v49 n6 p85(7).


Whitney, Eleanor Noss., III, et al, Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition. New York: West Publishing Company 1991.




Matthew Johnson (Google+) is a certified personal trainer, nutrition expert and an on-line fitness consultant that started ChangingShape.com back in 2001.






























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