What are carbohydrates? Although we often talk about them the idea seems to be quite vague. Are these sugars? Should we eat less chocolate (assuming we should reduce the intake)? What are they?
Simply speaking a carbohydrate is a biological molecule consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Well, it doesn’t say a lot, at least to me. More important is that carbohydrates can be found in both healthy and unhealthy foods: bread, milk, popcorn, cookies, potatoes, soft drinks, beans. As abundant as they are they also come in a variety of forms, the most common are sugars, fibers and starches. It’s probably the first important piece of information you need to remember.
The second one is that foods with high level of carbs are important part of healthy diet as they provide the body with glucose that in turn converts into energy necessary to support bodily functions and both physical and mental activities.
The third piece of information to remember is that the amount of absorbed carbohydrates is not as important as the type of carbohydrate. As it usually is, some sources of carbohydrates are better, meaning healthier, than others. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that whole bread or rye will be more suitable for your healthy diet than fried chips… however tasty they are. So, remember, it’s more important to eat carbohydrates from healthier sources than to count the amount of carbohydrates!
So, what are the “healthy” sources of carbohydrates? As always, vegetables are the safety bet… maybe with the exception of potatoes. French fries, especially with mayo, is never a good (healthy) choice, whatever your empty stomach says! Fruits will constitute another healthy source. The same with beans. The “unhealthy” sources will include white bread, pastries and all sorts of highly processed or refined foods. It’s important to remember that processed and refined foods contain easily digested carbohydrates that are the usual suspect when it comes to gaining weight. They may also contribute to hearth diseases and diabetes.
Now, as carbohydrates are important, their quality is even more important. This is where so called carb blockers come into play. Carb blocker is essentially a food supplement that blocks the absorption of unwanted carbohydrates. They work through blocking enzymes needed to digest certain carbs. They are usually extracted from natural sources like white kidney beans and commonly sold as weight loss supplements. Do they work? Well, I’m going to get to this shortly… For now you should remember that not all carbohydrates are bad and not all of them are good for you. So try to eat healthier food before anything else…