Everything You Need To Know About Carbohydrates
We get that you’re only trying to look like a supermodel, but avoiding carbs will not take you far.If I had a rupee for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I’m on a no-carb diet”, I’d be a millionaire by now. And if they had a rupee for every time I explained to them why that’s not a good thing, they’d be millionaires too.
Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet. Along with fats and proteins, they form what are known as macronutrients, each one of which has a role to play in the development and upkeep of our bodies. It is recommended that 45-65 per cent of your daily calorie intake should be through carbs.
- Fuel source – Carbs are used by the body to make glucose, which is the primary energy source for our bodies. The cells and tissues in the body require this glucose to be able to function optimally. This energy can be used right away, or can be stored for later use.
- Brain power – Our brains use the maximum amount of energy. It is required for all the thinking, rationalising, memory, concentration, and focus that we need on a daily basis. If enough carbs are not consumed, our brain cells will eventually start dying.
- Muscle protection – Lesser energy for the body due to less carb intake means that the body will have to look for energy elsewhere. It will then start using protein, which means it will start breaking down muscle. Eventually, the heart (another muscle) will be attacked. This is the reason that a lot of bulimic or anorexic people die of heart failure.
- Happy heart – Eating carbs that contain soluble fibre, found in beans, oatmeal, and whole grains such as quinoa, decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
5. Organ functioning – Apart from the brain and the heart, carbs are also essential for the working of the central nervous system and the kidneys.
6. Weight loss – Many carbs contain fibre, which is essential as part of a balanced diet, if you are looking to lose weight. They also provide a feeling of satiety, which helps with portion control. Choosing the right kind of carbs may help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.
7. Micronutrients – They are also a good source of micronutrients, i.e., vitamins and minerals.
8. Digestive health – Carbs provide nutrients for the good bacteria in our digestive system, enabling better digestion. Fibre from the carbs helps the body eliminate waste effectively.
9. Mood-booster – Carbs help in the production of serotonin, a mood-boosting chemical.
However, there are ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’.
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Good carbs are those that take time to get digested, and hence, release energy slowly into the body. Examples include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, milk and milk products etc.
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Bad carbs are those that are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing an immediate spike in the body’s blood sugar levels, which then crashes. This causes us to crave more of the same. Such foods are known as high GI (glycaemic index) foods. They include white bread, refined flour, and processed foods such as cereals, cookies, cakes etc.
To come back to me, I’m no millionaire. Still. I only hope that that’s because no one is going to say “I’m on a no-carb diet” to me again.