Macronutrients: Carbohydrates

Last week we talked a little bit about macronutrients, and specifically protein.  The second of the three macronutrients is carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates are very important to our body.  They are the primary source of immediate energy for all of your body's cells.  There are two main types of carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Both types of carbohydrates are digested into the most simple form of sugar before being absorbed by our body.  However, complex carbohydrates, or healthier carbs, are digested and absorbed much slower than the less healthy simple carbs.  Once they are broken down and absorbed, these sugars are used by our liver to fill energy stores, including powering our brain. 

Recently, many people think that carbs are considered bad for you and try to avoid them.  This is generally not a good strategy for most people, regardless of their goals.  In fact, many of the foods classified as carbohydrates are some of the healthiest foods we can eat!  The healthy carbs, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can actually help control your energy levels and body composition.  By eating these “smart carbs”, you can increase your fiber intake, stay fuller longer, increase your vitamin and mineral intake, and improve your workouts and recovery.

The average person needs about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day, with the majority coming from vegetables and fruits.  Adding in whole grains or starchy roots like potatoes can help you get to the level of carbs that you need during the day, and higher amounts may be needed with increased muscle and more physical activity.

Overall, consuming healthy carbs is a very important part of everyone’s diet, and having the right amount of these good carbs will improve your health and help you meet your goals!