Updated: Dec 31, 2018
Understand what you need to know about carbohydrates.
Which of these food groups contains carbohydrates?
Pretty much all of them (besides meat and eggs). Surprised?
To understand why, you have to know what a carbohydrate is: 1. Carbohydrates molecules of sugar linked together. 2. Any food containing sugar, whether naturally occurring or added, contains carbs.
3. Complex carbs are like big logs of wood thrown into a fire, they burn slowly and last long.
4. Simple carbs burn like paper in a fire, they light fast and burn through quickly.
5. Refined carbs are sugars or starches that have been stripped away of most of their nutritious properties.
Complex carbs are foods that contain long chains of sugars classified as oligosaccharides and polysaccharids that are usually accompanied by minerals, fiber, fats, proteins, and micronutrients. Common Complex Carbohydrates make up:
- Starches (plant energy stores)
- Glycogen (Animal energy stores) - Fiber (indigestible)
- Cellulose (Plant cell walls)
Not all complex carbs are equal, and different complex carbs have different ratios of each of these essential nutrients. Due to having longer chains of sugar to break down and the accompaniment of other nutrients, it takes longer to digest these carbohydrates.
Having more of the essential nutrients your body needs to perform daily functions, as well as slowing down digestion, leaves you feeling more satiated than carbs void of nutrients.
Simple and Refined Carbohydrates
Simple carbs on the other hand are short chains containing one to two sugar molecules. Common simple sugars are:
- Lactose (Milk Sugar)
- Sucrose (Table Sugar)
- Fructose (Fruits and Veggies)
Simple sugars can be found in more nutrient dense items like fruit, milk, veggies. However, they are commonly in food items void of many nutrients like soda, candy, juices, baked goods, and processed foods.
Refined carbs are carbs that have been processed and stripped of much of their nutrients and minerals leaving you with mostly the simple sugar molecules. Due to being in its most simplest form, and lacking the fiber and nutrients accompanied in complex carbs, refined carbs are digested quickly in the body. This rapid digestion causes a spike in your blood sugar giving you the a short lived sugar high, followed by the inevitable crash leaving you tired and hungry.