Muscles and the brain need carbohydrates to use as energy. Present in bread, rice, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and sweets, carbohydrates are converted to sugar during digestion. A lot of dieters believe it is healthy to remove carbohydrates from the diet in order to lose weight. The fact is that the body needs carbohydrates for fuel. Instead of eliminating carbs altogether, it is a better idea to choose the healthiest carbohydrates possible, so that the body can use most of what it takes in.
Simple sugars are one type of carbohydrate. These refined carbohydrates have very little nutritional value. Some examples of simple sugars are table sugar, corn syrup, candy and soda. These items taste very sweet, are usually high in calories and contribute to weight gain if not consumed in moderation.
Complex carbohydrates are more likely to provide nutrients and minerals that the body needs. Athletes usually prefer complex carbs, which do not turn into sugar as quickly as simple carbs. Complex units are burned to help fuel the body or are “stored in the liver and skeletal muscles for future use,” according to a Georgia State University website. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are potatoes, white rice and bread made with white flour.
There are ways to improve a diet by increasing the amount of complex carbohydrates consumed. Try eating brown foods instead of white ones. Brown rice is better than white rice, and whole grain bread is better than white bread. Similarly, sweet potatoes can be substituted for white potatoes when making fries or baked potatoes.
Dietary fiber, or roughage, comes from the parts of plants that human bodies cannot digest. According to an Iowa State University website, “It is a complex carbohydrate, and can be classified as soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber can be broken down and provides energy. Soluble fiber is found in many fruits and vegetables including green leafy vegetables, celery, carrots, apples, pears, among others. Insoluble fiber cannot be digested in our digestive system, and does not provide energy. Insoluble fiber is commonly found in whole grain cereal, bread, and rice.”
To increase the amount of fiber in your diet, try starting each day with a high-fiber cereal or substitute a sugary snack with the dry cereal.
Carbohydrates should not be completely eliminated from the diet. Choosing the best foods possible is the better option. Candy bars and soda are not necessary, but vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products actually help the body function.