2013 is FAST approaching! That means the end of the year holidays are upon us, starting with Thanksgiving. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, casseroles, pumpkin pie, soft drinks…a lot of tempting carbohydrates, a.k.a “carbs” are on the way! So before you pile those tasty side dishes on your plate for Thanksgiving dinner, I want to tell you what kinds of carbohydrates are best to eat and which ones you should minimize.
First, let me explain what carbs really are and why they are important to the body. The most common source of energy people eat, a carbohydrate is an organic trio or chain of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. An enzyme called amylase helps break it down into glucose which is blood sugar.
Not only do carbs fuel the body, they also support brain function, contain important vitamins, and supply needed fiber. That said, a diet without some carbs is NOT good for you. In fact, most people should receive between 40% and 60% of total calories from carbohydrates.
There are 2 distinctive types of carbs: simple and complex. The distinction depends on the chemical makeup of the food item and how fast it’s digested and absorbed into the body.
These contain a single or double sugar molecule and provide quick energy, but leave you feeling hungry again in a short period of time. This causes many people to overeat. When reading labels they are generally the ingredients that end with “ose”, such as such sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit), and lactose (milk). They are usually the sugar extracted from foods, not the food itself like in the case of apple and carrot juices.
Simple carbs or “sugars” are also used in candy, soda, syrup, and in low-fat foods to give them flavor. Generally, they lack any nutritional value. Also, related to this category are “refined” carbs or sugars. These include foods like white rice, white four, white bread, and pastas, that have had the nutritional fibrous elements stripped out during processing.
Contain more than two sugar molecules and are absorbed gradually into the body giving the body energy longer. These carbs can be found in fibrous foods including whole grains cereal and braid, beans, and starchy vegetables like potatoes. Read my previous post on getting the right amount of fiber in your diet.
Related to this category is “unrefined” or “unprocessed” sugars meaning the source has not been broken down and made into another food source. As mentioned whole grains, brown rice, nuts, and whole fruit (not fruit juice) generally can be eaten in their natural forms.
Don’t Curb it, Properly Carb it!
So when choosing what to eat this holiday season, you don’t have to curb your your appetite, but “carb it” properly instead with more complex carbohydrates and less simple ones. You’ll feel fuller longer, receive more nutritional value, and may have energy after your meal to get in some exercise other than stretching out on the couch after your meal.