There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates require little digestion and thus are a quick energy source.
Fruits, fruit juices and milk contain simple sugars (carbohydrates) that provide valuable nutrients in addition to an energy boost. Candies, table sugar, alcoholic beverages and sweetened soft drinks are simple sugar sources that provide calories, but usually no nutrients.
Complex carbohydrates are found in grains, some vegetables and legumes. They are starches and require more digestion than simple carbohydrates. Rich in B-vitamins, fiber and iron, complex carbohydrates from grains are the body’s best source of energy because they are burned in a constant, time-released manner. They provide sustained energy for athletic events and can help manage blood sugar irregularities. The fiber found in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables can help lower blood cholesterol in some people when eaten as part of a low-fat diet.
Although there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates, most nutrition authorities recommend that carbohydrates comprise at least 45 percent—and up to 70 percent—of a person’s daily calories. In contrast, most Americans average only 50 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates.
Americans can meet their carbohydrate goals by eating five to ten ounces of bread, cereal, rice or pasta (depending on age, gender and activity level), with half of them coming from whole grains, daily as recommended by the sixth edition of the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
Athletes should eat 60 to 70 percent of their total calories in the form of carbohydrates, which are stored as glycogen in the muscles and then used as a source of energy. High glycogen stores are essential for endurance sports. Regular inclusion of complex carbohydrates foods such as bread, cereals, pasta, corn and potatoes will supply sustained energy for most athletic events.
Foods high in carbohydrates include breads, pastas, beans, potatoes, bran, rice, and cereals. Most such foods are high in starch. Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy in living organisms. Proteins and fat are necessary building components for body tissue and cells, and are also a source of energy for most organisms.
Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients in humans: the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats]. The brain and neurons generally cannot burn fat for energy, but can use glucose or ketones; the body can also synthesize some glucose from a few of the amino acids in protein and also from the glycerol backbone in triglycerides. Carbohydrate contains 15.8 kilojoules (3.75 kilocalories) and proteins 16.8 kilojoules (4 kilocalories) per gram, while fats contain 37.8 kilojoules (9 kilocalories) per gram. In the case of protein, this is somewhat misleading as only some amino acids are usable for fuel. Likewise, in humans, only some carbohydrates are usable for fuel, as in many monosaccharides and some disaccharides. Other carbohydrate types can be used, but only with the assistance of gut bacteria. Ruminants and termites can even process cellulose, which is indigestible to humans.
FOOD GRAINS % of Calories from Carbohydrates
All-bran cereal 80
Angel food cake 89
Banana nut bread 55
Cheese pizza 53
Cheerios cereal 70
Corn flakes 91
Cream of Wheat 85
English muffin 79
French bread 78
Graham cracker 72
Pita bread 80
Raisin bread pudding 56
Rice, white 89
Saltine cracker 67
Shredded wheat cereal 83
Wheaties cereal 86
Wheat tortilla 69
White bread 76
Whole wheat bread 73
Apple – 1 medium 94
Banana – 1 small 92
Bing Cherries – ½ cup 83
Cantaloupe – ½ of medium size 92
Orange – 1 medium 91
Peach – 1 medium 92
Strawberries – sliced ½ cup 83
Broccoli – ½ cup 57
Carrots – ½ cup sliced 87
Green Beans – ½ cup 78
New Potatoes – ½ cup 93
Squash – ½ cup 73
Sweet Peas – ½ cup 75
Sweet Potatoes – ½ cup mashed 91
Based on the effects on risk of heart disease and obesity, the Institute of Medicine recommends that American and Canadian adults getbetween 45–65% of dietary energy from carbohydrates. The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization jointly recommend that national dietary guidelines set a goal of 55–75% of total energy from carbohydrates, but only 10% directly from sugars (their term for simple carbohydrates).
Carbohydrates are crucial to managing diabetes and high blood sugar. Under medical supervision, persons with diabetes who follow a diet high in complex carbohydrates and fiber often have better blood sugar control. Many are able to reduce or eliminate their need for drugs or insulin for non-insulin dependent diabetes.
A diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates may be beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol. The soluble fiber in oats, legumes, fruits, vegetables and some grains is effective in lowering blood cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
Complex carbohydrates foods play an important role in weight control because they are usually low in calories and fat and high in dietary fiber which creates a full feeling, and may help discourage over-consumption of higher caloric foods.
Contrary to the recent resurgence of high-protein-diet claims, both controlled, peer-reviewed studies & epidemiological data show that high carbohydrate diets are best for weight control. High protein diets promise that “magic bullet” that dieters are always looking for. Unfortunately, these diets have not been shown to be either safe or effective long term.
Disclaimer: This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regime, it is advisible to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.