Carbohydrates energy is what usually keeps us going, but it is often spoken of in a bad light or forbidden in popular diet fads. Should you still eat carbs? What carbs should you eat? What do carbs even do? We take a look at those questions and more.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body. Carbs are the sugars, starches, and fibers often found in foods such as fruits, grains, vegetables, and dairy products.
What are the main functions of carbohydrates?
- Provide energy- this is the primary function of carbs. Through a process called cellular respiration, the cells in your body will convert carbs into ATP, which is a fuel molecule, thus providing you with the energy you need.
- Provide stored energy- If your body currently has enough carbohydrates to fulfill its needs, your body can transform the extra carbs into stored energy in the form of glycogen. This can result in hundreds of grams that can be stored in your muscles and liver.
- Help preserve muscles- When your body is lacking glucose from carbohydrates during a period of starvation, your body can transform amino acids stored in your muscles into glucose in order to provide your brain with energy.
- Promote digestive health- Fiber, a type of carbohydrate, is known for promoting healthy digestion by reducing constipation and decreasing the chance of digestive tract diseases.
What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are classified as either simple or complex. Their classification depends on the types of food you eat, the food's chemical structure, and how quickly the sugar in the food can be digested and absorbed.
Simple carbohydrates: Simple carbs are also known as simple sugars. Simple sugars are generally digested quickly and will provide you with immediate bursts of energy through your bloodstream; often known as a "sugar rush." Many processed foods and some artificial sweeteners are simple sugars. Simple sugars can provide plenty of calories but are lacking in beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibers, which can lead to weight gain.
Many athletes use products such as Gatorade and Powerade to help them in their training. While those drinks are packed with electrolytes, they are also packed with simple sugars that will give you an initial boost of energy, but that sudden burst will quickly fade.
Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbs are starches. They are a part of a longer digestive process because they are made up of long chains of sugar molecules. Due to the long digestive process, most sources of complex carbs will not quickly raise your blood sugars, unlike simple carbs. Examples of complex carbs are legumes, potatoes, grains, and peas. Healthier examples of complex carbs are whole grains and vegetables.
What foods are the best source of carbohydrate energy?
Though you'll be able to find carbs in many different types of foods, the following list contains the healthiest sources of carbohydrates and will provide you with plenty of good energy:
- Whole grain foods
- Whole-wheat foods
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Beans, lentils, and dried peas
Carbohydrates are also in sugars such as sucrose (table sugar), glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose.
Can you get healthy carbs from a drink?
Yes! Kill Cliff ENDURE is an endurance
With ENDURE, you will get sustained energy without the crash. ENDURE is made with an endurance blend including essential electrolytes (470 mg of potassium) and Palatinose (learn more here), a low glycemic, slow release carbohydrate derived from non GMO sugar beets. This carb fuel supports a sustained glucose supply and promotes fat oxidation for energy during exercise. It does not spike blood sugar like sucrose, fructose, or agave. Contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors. Gluten free and dairy free.