It will not be a big exaggeration to say that carbohydrates play a vital role in human metabolism. There are many reasons to that.

Firstly, carbohydrates represent a large and diverse group of products. These include sugar and sweets, all vegetables and fruits, as well as a variety of foods like grains and beans.

Secondly, it is the most important source of energy our body uses for life. The combustion of 1 gram of carbohydrate gives 4 calories, the same as proteins and less than fats.

If we receive too much carbohydrates and they are not fully utilized for physical activities, they may be deposited as glycogen in the liver and muscles. If this excess is significant, the carbohydrates are converted into fats, which are accumulated in the appropriate places.

Like fats carbohydrates can be good and bad.

Let’s start with the bad or simple ones. They are: sugar, and any (I insist – any!) sweets. Note that they are on top of the Food Pyramid, which indicates their last place in our diet. Giving up these products altogether will activate your metabolism, and will result in the accelerated burning of stored fat.

It is worth mentioning the so-called glycemic index (GI). This indicator reflects the rate of blood glucose (sugar) rise in the blood after eating carbohydrate products.

Sugar and sweets certainly relate to products with high GI (more than 70 units.). This group also includes products made of refined flour (white bread, pasta), and white rice.

The products with moderate or even low GI (less than 55 units.) are: whole grains, bran, bulgur, lentils, quinoa, vegetables, fruits, etc. All these carbohydrates, also called complex, are good and should make an essential part of our daily food consumption. I will take the courage to say that these products we should use to satisfy hunger, only satisfy, and not to overeat! They are located in the bottom of theFood Pyramid as the least necessary for us.

Carbohydrates with low glycemic index are slowly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. It does not cause peaks in blood glucose levels. Insulin is produced gradually and slowly digested in cells. In the result the sense of fullness is more pronounced and lasts longer, and on the other hand, sensitivity of cells to insulin increases, i.e, insulin resistance is getting lower!

How does carbohydrates metabolism look like for gluttons?

Just imagine that you have had a good breakfast with fresh white bread, muffins, coffee or tea with a few spoons of sugar or honey. All the above are the products with a high glycemic index causing brisk glucose landing in blood. For its processing the pancreatic starts insulin secretion. The latter dramatically reduces the level of glucose, facilitating transition of its excess into fat. Sharp drop of glucose level in blood is immediately recognized by our brain as a signal of hunger. Thus, shortly you are hungry again, feeling like eating a chocolate bar, drinking a soda or a cup of sweet coffee.

And the process starts all over again – rapid absorption of glucose, quick response by insulin and the circle is closed! You are always feeling hungry, while snacks provide only short-term effect. The excess carbohydrates are deposited in fat depots, and the sensitivity of cells to insulin gradually decreases. This is a vicious circle! It must be broken.

To do this, simply replace carbohydrates with high glycemic index by those with low GI. The latter are slowly absorbed, which leads to a gradual rise of glucose level in blood, and respectively, insulin is released less vigorously. In the result lipolysis (i.e fat burning) is not blocked, you don’t feel hungry for much longer time.

To summarize the above, we should receive more than half of required calories from carbohydrates, choosing only good ones. Eat whole grains every day, as they are tasty, rich, provide a lot of energy and boost your metabolic rate.

By: Jan Filler

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