Tips To Reduce The Consumption Of Carbohydrates And Sugars

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates? If you are curious to find out and are looking to get these nutrients in adequate quantities, read on.
Tips to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates and sugars

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates? If you are curious to find out and are looking to get these nutrients in adequate quantities, read on.

Carbohydrates are part of those often targeted nutrients. In fact it is common to hear, even through the mass media and social networks, phrases such as “carbohydrates make you fat” or “it is better to avoid taking carbohydrates in the evening”. However, it is important to point out that not all carbohydrates are the same and not all of them have the same effect on our body.

Consumption of carbohydrates: which foods contain them?

Carbohydrates, also known as carbohydrates, sugars or saccharides, are macronutrients whose origin can be both exogenous and endogenous. In the first case it is the carbohydrates taken in through food, in the second case it refers to the carbohydrates produced by the body.

The main sources of carbohydrates are the following:

  • Cereals
  • Vegetables and greens
  • Legumes
  • Tubers, such as potatoes
  • Fruit
  • Sweets, jams, jellies and marmalades
  • Milk and dairy products

Classification of carbohydrates

Based on their chemical composition and size, carbohydrates can be divided into three groups: simple sugars, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. However, this classification can be simplified. In fact, we usually just talk about simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

Simple sugars

This type of carbohydrates is present in foods with low nutritional value. In fact, we find them, for example, in industrial confectionery products, biscuits, commercial fruit juices and many so-called ‘superfluous’ foods.

Complex sugars

The sugars contained in foods such as potatoes, whole grains and legumes belong to this category. These foods are also excellent sources of fiber. Complex carbohydrates require a longer and more complex digestion, therefore the release and absorption of glucose is longer and more gradual, which allows for exaggerated spikes in blood glucose to occur.

To better understand this concept, imagine that glucose is the stone of a peach. In this example, the peach corresponds to a complex carbohydrate and the stone corresponds to a simple carbohydrate.

Girl eats ice cream with fruit

When you eat an apple, bite after bite you get to the core, slowly and gradually. The same happens with glucose in the digestion of complex carbohydrates. Conversely, consuming simple carbohydrates is like getting straight to the peach pit, as the release and absorption of glucose is direct and immediate.

In fact, when a person experiences a decrease in sugar, as happens in diabetics, there is a need to increase blood sugar as quickly as possible, so the first thing to do is to have the person in question ingest a source of carbohydrates. as simple as a candy or a lump of sugar.

Consumption of carbohydrates: functions of this nutrient

The main function of this nutrient is to provide energy. Glucose is the main energy source of our metabolism. However, this is not the only function of carbohydrates, in fact, carbohydrates:

  • They participate in the biosynthesis of fatty acids and some amino acids. Amino acids are like rings that are arranged in a chain to then form proteins.
  • They are present in other important complex molecules, such as nucleic acids. These acids are essential for the formation of new cells.
  • They are an important source of dietary fiber. In fact, fiber consists of those carbohydrates that are not digested and therefore give volume to the stool.
  • They form a molecule called peptidoglycan, which is present in the cell walls of bacteria.

Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (CG)

The glycemic index is a parameter that measures the ability of a certain food to increase the level of glucose in the blood by comparing it with the result that would be obtained by ingesting the same amount of pure glucose, to which a value of 100 is attributed.

Therefore, when we say that a food has a glycemic index of 30, it means that its ability to raise blood sugar is 70% less than what the same amount of glucose would have . There are many food tables in which the value of the glycemic index is indicated, such as those published by Harvard University. Generally the glycemic index is considered:

  • High: if it is greater than 70.
  • Medium: between 55 and 70.
  • Low: below 55.
Cereals with fruit

In addition to the glycemic index, it is important to know the concept of glycemic load, which relates the glycemic index with the carbohydrate content of the ingested food. For example, pineapple has a very high GI but has a low glycemic load. In fact, calculating the glycemic load is much more useful and practical when you want to evaluate the quality and impact on the body of a certain food.

Consumption of carbohydrates: nutritional recommendations

When carbohydrates are consumed in excess, these are stored by the cells in the form of glycogen. This molecule is used in the pause periods between meals or when exercising to obtain the necessary energy.

It is important to point out that the accumulation of body fat that in some cases leads to obesity is due to excessive consumption of food in general, and not just to the consumption of an excessive amount of carbohydrates. For this reason it is very important to understand how much and how to eat.

As far as carbohydrates are concerned, there is no specific requirement, but in general we can say that it would be advisable to prefer complex carbohydrates and limit the consumption of foods with a high glycemic load.

In short, the advice we can give you is to limit the consumption of simple carbohydrates, but to do so it is necessary to undertake a path of real nutritional education.



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