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Your Body on Carbs

Carbs are your friend! They are your bodies preferred fuel source. Most foods contain carbohydrates and once consumed, the body then breaks them down into simple sugars. These simple sugars are the major source of energy for the body!

Let's briefly get a better understanding of carbohydrates. They consist of starch, sugar and fiber. There are two major types of carbohydrates (or carbs) in foods: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates are also called simple sugars. They're found in refined sugars, such as white processed sugar. If you drink a soda (pop) or eat candy, you're taking in simple carbs. Simple sugars are also found in more nutritious foods, such as fruit and milk. Soda (pop) and candy have a lot of added sugar and don't contain important nutrients like those found in fruit and milk.

Complex carbohydrates are also known as starches. Starches are bread, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, root vegetables, breakfast cereals, oats and other grains like rye and barley. Some complex carbohydrate foods are better choices than others. Refined grains, such as white flour, cereals and white rice, have been processed, which removes nutrients and fiber. But unrefined grains like oats, brown rice and quinoa still contain these vitamins and minerals. They're also rich in fiber, which helps with digestion. Fiber helps you feel full, so you're less likely to overeat. For example, a bowl of oatmeal fills you up better than sugary candy with the same amount of calories! Plus it is absorbed more slowly.

How Does Your Body Breakdown Carbs? When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into simple sugars. This could be a strawberry or a cookie. The simple sugar is then absorbed into the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises in your body, insulin (a hormone in your body) is released from the pancreas. Insulin's job is to "put the sugar away" from your blood into the cells. Where it is stored and used as your energy source.

When you eat more simple sugars and refined carb's — you're more likely to feel hungry again soon. When you eat more whole-grain and unrefined carb's, you'll be satisfied longer. These types of complex carbs give you energy over a longer period of time. So, the carbs in some foods (mostly those with a lot of simple sugars) make the blood sugar level rise more quickly than others.

You're on the right track if you're limiting simple sugars (such as candy) and eating more complex carbs (like vegetables, oatmeal, and whole-grain wheat bread). Make sure you enjoy the high-quality foods you love, and adjust your intake to match your goals, unique needs and food preferences! For example, do you need more carbs to support your athletic performance? Then add another few servings of carbs and see how you feel. It's all about biofeedback and what works for you! It must me enjoyable and effective for you to stick with a plan!

Note: "Diets high in refined starches are linked to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. In addition, they can cause blood sugar to spike rapidly and then fall sharply." (Healthline)

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