What Are Carbohydrates & How Do They Affect Your Body
If you are a regular reader, then you know my blog is based on teaching people about the keto way of life and if you are a newcomer, then you are most likely here to learn more about the ketogenic diet. So why in the hell am I writing a post about carbs, when keto is about eating as few carbs as possible? Well thats a simple question to answer. I have come to realize that most people do things with out really understanding why they do these things. Take the keto diet for example, most people follow a keto diet without truly understanding why and how it works. To honestly understand keto , I think you first need to understand carbohydrates and why we “ketoers” try to avoid them like the black plague.
Now that I have explained the purpose of this post, let’s get down to business. We need to start at the beginning and answer a simple question.
Why do we need to consume food?
We eat food to give our body the energy needed to perform everything we do on a daily basis, whether that is internally such as keeping our heart pumping or externally such as walking. Imagine your body is a car and food is the fuel that powers your car to drive. The food we eat gives us energy through macronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients our body needs in large amounts. There are 3 macronutrients including, protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
There are 2 forms of carbohydrates, simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs (sugar) breakdown into 3 categories, glucose which is the basic form of sugar, fructose which is the sugar found in fruit, and lactose which is the sugar found in milk. The other type of carb is complex carbs (starches) which are found in vegetables, grains, rice, breads, and cereals.
The major difference in simple and complex carbs is the amount of time needed to turn them in to glucose, with simple carbs being converted to glucose quicker. Some of you are screaming at your screen “WHAT ABOUT FIBER!”. Calm down young grasshopper, you are right, fiber is the third kind of carb. But, Fiber is not digested by the body, so it does not play a big part in explaining what carbs to in the body.
The body can use each of the macronutrients to provide it with energy, but carbohydrates are the number one source of energy for the body.
It is important to understand your body hates to work hard, it wants to properly function with the least amount of effort possible. It is easier and quicker for the body to turn carbohydrates into energy then it is to the the same with protein or fat. The small intestine breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars (glucose) which then enters your blood stream. Once the pancreas detects a rise in blood sugar, it rereleases a hormone called “insulin”, which allows the glucose in your blood to enter your cells to be used for energy.
So overall the main job of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy.
Energy is not the only thing that carbs provide to your body, but before we can discuss that, I should help you figure out how to tell if a carb is complex or simple.
A system was put in place to rate carbohydrates and the time it takes to spike and lower a persons blood level. This system is known as the Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Index is a number system to rate foods with carbohydrates, the system goes up to 100. the value 100 represents pure glucose, the higher the number assigned to a food, the quicker it spikes your blood sugar.
Now you may be wondering what is the big deal with spiking your blood sugar. Well, remember the pancreas, the guy who pumps insulin to get the sugar in your blood to your cells? If you continually spike your blood sugar, you can do damage to how good insulin reacts to glucose. This is one major reason for type II diabetes, which is where the pancreas can not produce enough insulin or the insulin does not do it’s job, causing high blood sugar.
Of course spiking your blood sugar repeatedly over time is not the only factor in developing diabetes, but it plays a major role.
So, how do you know which carbs spike your blood and which carbs slowly enter into your blood? Foods including potatoes, white flour, white rice, candy, sugary drinks, and processed foods all have an index of 70 or higher. Now most fruits and vegetables have a glycemic index of 55 or less. On the keto diet I do believe in eating carbs, but the type of carbs matter the most. I stick to carbs with an low glycemic index. Complex carbs that will not spike my blood sugar and will provide me with nutrients. Usually the carbs that have a low score on the glycemic index are also rich in micro nutrients. But, we will talk about micronutrients in another article. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and learned something new.