If there’s one macronutrient I feel sorry for it’s carbs. Seriously! These poor little things get such a bad rep when in reality they’re a vital nutrient in any wholesome diet.
Carbohydrates, more commonly known as “carbs,” are a primary source of fuel for our brain and blood cells. Additionally, they act as an energy source for our muscles during physical activity. Unfortunately, they tend to be the first thing to get cut from a dieter’s “meal plan.” Fun fact: Carbs will not make you fat however, the type of carbs you choose to consume could be making you fat.
Let me explain…
Carbohydrates contain three elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They can be thought of as an umbrella term that can be broken down further into sugars, fibers and starches – all derived from molecules of sugar. Complex carbs (starch + fiber) consist of just one or two sugar molecules whereas simple carbs (sugar) contain THOUSANDS of sugar molecules.
When sugars and starches are consumed, the digestion process in the body causes enzymes to break them down until only a single molecule of sugar, known as a monosaccharide, is left. Monosaccharides are the only form of sugar that can be absorbed by the digestive system  which in turn ends up being entered into your cells, which converts the sugar into energy.
Let’s look briefly into these three categories:
Some of the most recognized sugars include glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose. The first three are natural sugars found in vegetables and fruits; lactose is the natural sugar found in milk. Those who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest this sugar fully, which causes symptoms of bloating, cramps and abdominal pain.
When you are consuming sugars derived from whole foods, your body uses them in conjunction with other nutrients to give you energy. However, when you add other sugars from processed (junk) food, it can cause spikes in blood sugar and contributes to weight gain, impaired immune system and diabetes 
Your body cannot absorb or break down fiber, so it stays mostly intact as it is being digested. It can help normalize sugar which in turn helps aid in hunger and blood sugar regulation. Fiber also encourages healthy bacteria to grow in our gut.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble, which can be dissolved in water, helps slow this absorption of carbs in your system which helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble, you guessed it, does not dissolve in water. This helps move food through the digestive system which promotes regularity and averts constipation.
Since fiber does not affect the body’s sugar levels or the release of insulin, it’s common for those who are counting carbohydrates to not count fiber towards their intake.
Different starches have various effects on the body. But on average, starches tend to be large molecules. Therefore, it takes a while to break these down into monosaccharides. Because of this, they provide a sustained source of energy and do not cause an immediate blood sugar spike. Instead, they offer a steadier elevation which is contributed to better health and energy as well as helping satiety levels.
One type of starch called resistant starches, aren’t digested but are fermented in the large intestine. This contributes to a healthy gut, weight control and insulin + glucose level regulation.
Aside from aiding in digestion and helping to keep you full, healthy carbs have a number of proven benefits on those trying to lose inches and tone up including:
Contributing to Heart Health 
Since complex carbs are high in fiber, minerals and antioxidants – they have a significant role in disease prevention. Foods containing complex carbs have also shown to lower LDL, the “bad cholesterol” 
When you cut carbs completely from your diet – your brain stops regulating serotonin, the “feel good chemical” that helps suppress appetite and improve mood.  Studies also show that those who followed a carb deficient diet for a year experiences more depression, anxiety and irritability than those who were on a regular carb intake. 
Helping Keep Your Memory Strong + Brain Healthy
Carbohydrates are brain food, literally. When carbs are broken down into glucose, they are used as fuel for the brain. The brain is 2% of our body weight, consumes about 20% of our total energy at rest and uses up to 50% of our body’s glucose.  It was found that when on a low-carb diet, there is slower reaction time, visual-spatial memory decline and a gradual decrease on various memory tasks. 
Promoting Fat Loss
If you choose to significantly decrease your carbohydrate intake, you’re putting your body at risk of reduced thyroid hormone, which lowers the number of calories burned at rest which can lead to fat gain or reduced fat loss. It also elevates cortisol levels which leads to adrenal fatigue, inflammation, anxiety and metabolic issues. 
Here are a few examples of healthy vs. unhealthy carbs:
Healthy Complex Carbs to Incorporate:
Unhealthy Carbs to Avoid:
Let’s stop blaming our unhealthy habits on the food and begin taking responsibility. It’s like that saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” — “carbs don’t make people fat, people make people fat.” When we begin recognizing the ability we have to control over what goes into our body, the better we feel and the happier we are. Remember, you only get one body + soul, let’s nourish them, not harm them.
❥ As always, I am here to help in any way I can.
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