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Why you should eat more complex carbohydrates

Updated on September 19, 2016

When many people first start to work out, watch their weight or just try to improve their diet, the issue of carbohydrates often comes up quite quickly. Some people go way overboard on the subject, cutting out carbs almost completely – a practice which can quite easily damage a person’s health and natural metabolism. Others go on a carbohydrate feast as they try to carbo-load for strenuous physical activity or as they look to gain mass. With all of these different practices flying around it can sometimes be difficult to figure out how you should handle carbohydrate consumption.

There is one carbohydrate principle however that the vast majority of the nutritional world actually agrees on, a principle that will almost certainly help you to improve physical performance, control weight issues and also increase overall energy levels, and it concerns the type of carbohydrates that you should consume. You may already know that there are two different types of carbohydrate, simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, but what is the difference between these two types of carbohydrate and how can you improve your diet once you know the answer to this question?

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?

Without delving too deeply into the science, the main difference between simple and complex carbohydrate lies in how quickly the human body and digestive system is able to break these carbohydrates down and convert them into glucose or energy, a process which then affects how quickly that glucose then enters into the human bloodstream. Take sugar for example.

Sugar is an extremely simple form of carbohydrate. When you consume sugar your body’s digestive system doesn’t have to work very hard at all to break it down. As a result, the glucose created from this digested sugar then rushes straight into the bloodstream, causing your blood sugar levels to spike. In the short term this feels great as you get a quick burst of energy. Although it may feel good at the time however, too many of these blood sugar spikes can start to cause long term issues for both your health and your weight, causing problems for your pancreas as it desperately tries to control the surges by telling the body to turn any excess unused sugar into fat before it overloads your system. It’s not just sugar though. Other simple carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and basically any product that has been refined can have the same effect. Why?

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Bring back the fibre!

When food producers started to refine food stuffs, they did it not only to increase shelf life but also to make the food more appealing to both the eyes and the taste buds – I know many of you will probably disagree with their taste buds! To achieve this refining process they had to strip out a key nutrient that is needed to slow down or moderate the digestive process, fibre. Fibre gives the digestive system a much needed daily workout and it has many other health and digestive benefits too. By stripping the fibre out during the refining process, food producers turned what should be a healthy wholegrain which digests and releases glucose into the bloodstream at a steady rate, into a threadbare refined grain which digests far too quickly and as we’ve mentioned causes your blood sugar to spike. So to all of those food producers out there, who may be reading this post, please give me back my fibre!

They won’t change so we will have to

As it is unlikely that food producers are going to stop refining foods anytime soon, it is up to us to make the right buying decisions instead. When doing your weekly food shop, if you are used to naturally picking up the white pasta, white bread and white rice, even if it’s just by force of habit, why not spare a thought for your poor old pancreas and opt for the wholegrain option instead. Not only will whole grains help to maintain steady blood sugar levels and help the digestive process, but this will also help with your overall mood and feelings of health and positivity.

And remember that it doesn’t just stop with whole grains. When trying to maintain stable blood sugar levels – something which has been shown to help control weight gain – complex carbs should be chosen over simple ones at any occasion possible. This includes cutting back on sugary soda’s and chocolate and other snack foods that send sugar rushing into the bloodstream.

I really hope this short article has given you enough conviction to make the switch from refined to whole grains!

Have you been won over to whole grains or are you still in the hands of the refiners?

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