In this article, I provide the information you need for understanding the types of carbohydrates and their pros and cons.
Types of Carbs:
No matter what type of carbohydrate you consume, they will end up as glucose in your bloodstream. However, the process of getting to that point varies depending on the type.
We have sugar/simple carbs, and we have starches.
Sugar/simple carbs are made of only one or two sugar molecules (types of sugar).
Starches are made of 2 or more sugar molecules. This means when we consume starches, our body spends more time breaking them down to turn them into glucose.
What does this mean?
Sugar/simple carbs are digested and used up much quicker than starches. Starches require more time to breakdown into the single sugar form that our body can actually use, whereas sugar is already or just about already in the state that our body needs it to be in for use.
Sugars provide high amounts of energy in a short time span, whereas starches provide slower releasing and more sustained energy.
Both types have their place. Sugar is great to get some quick energy, but be careful, because if you don’t eat something else with it like protein or fat, you may feel a crash. Starches are great for sustained and long-lasting energy.
Here is an example, you have a workout in 2 hours. You eat a starch and protein-packed meal to give your body the energy and protein it needs to fuel and recover for and from your workout. During your workout, you drink a Gatorade to keep energy levels topped up. As you can tell, both types of carbohydrates were used effectively based on their characteristics.
What To Focus On?
Different types of carbohydrates have different roles. Only eating simple carbs/sugars is likely not the most optimal. Just the same as only eating complex carbs/starches likely isn’t the most optimal.
Having the majority of your nutrition come from starchy carbs is likely best. This is because starches will release energy slower due to the makeup of the carbohydrates, thus providing more balanced energy throughout the day. Starches are also generally higher in fibre and micronutrients. Higher fibre and more micronutrients in starchy carbs promotes better overall digestion and health.
While simple carbs may not release energy slowly or be high in fibre and micronutrients, they certainly have their place. Got a workout in 30 minutes? That’s not enough time for a potato to digest for energy. However, it is enough time for the sugar in Gatorade to provide some energy, or for a couple of pieces of white toast to digest.
Bottom line, consume complex carbs most of the time, but don’t be afraid to eat some simple carbs when the time is right. Make sure you’re taking in adequate fibre and micronutrients throughout the day and you will be just fine!
How Many Carbs:
The precise number of carbohydrates is largely preference-based. Once you have your daily calorie and protein goals set, dividing the remaining calories between fats and carbs in a way that works best for you is likely a good idea. Try to keep fat above 15% of total daily calories for hormonal reasons, but other than that, it is largely preference-based and what is sustainable for you!
In general, between 2 and 7 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight, (2.2 pounds), is a good guide.
These are suggestions for the average healthy individual. I have no knowledge of your specific medical circumstances which is why speaking with a doctor when it comes to lifestyle choices is good practice!
That’s The Gist!
Those are the basics on what carbohydrates do for our body and the types of carbohydrates available to us, along with their pros and cons. Did you enjoy this article? If so, let me know in the comments, and be sure to ask any questions you may have!
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Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for the use of this information after reading.