Last updated on March 9th, 2023
The human body needs energy to perform daily tasks and to function. The body receives this energy from carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are termed as fuel for your body. When you eat something, it breaks into glucose which is used by the cells for energy.
Carbohydrate is an essential part of your healthy diet if it is managed properly. Excess carbohydrates can cause various health conditions like being overweight, risk of diabetes, fat accumulation, liver problems, cardiovascular diseases, etc. So It is important to keep a count of your daily carbohydrate intake to stay healthy.
Some people think that limiting carbohydrates is important for better health. But it is not like that. Carbs are essential for your body to function. Instead of removing or cutting carbs from your food, it is better to consume an adequate amount and healthy carbs.
In this blog, we will read about carbohydrates and how much carbs you should consume every day.
What is Carbohydrate?
Sugar molecules make up carbohydrates or carbs. Carbohydrates are one of the three primary nutrients present in foods and beverages, along with proteins and fats.
Glucose is created by your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates. The primary source of energy for the cells, tissues, and organs in your body is glucose, also known as blood sugar. It is possible to use glucose right away or to store it for later use in the muscles and liver.
However, carbohydrates are essential for the body to function, and their quality is also an important factor to focus on. There are many healthy carbs available that help to create a healthy body environment whereas some unhealthy carbs can be bad for health.
Healthy carbs are vegetables, whole grains, fruits, fiber-rich food, unprocessed foods, beans, etc. whereas unhealthy carbs are refined and processed foods like junk food, bread, pastries, pizzas, sugary drinks, soda, etc.
So it is important to add healthy carbs into your diet and avoid unhealthy carbs.
Also Read: Noni-Morinda Citrifolia Juice For Diabetes
How Carbohydrates Affect Your Body?
It is really important to know about the quality of carbs. Although your diet should contain a high-carb diet, the quality of this carbohydrate should be good. Carbohydrates are the source of your energy but they can be equally unhealthy if it is not consumed healthily.
Carbohydrates are of three types: sugar, fiber, and starch. If your food is high-fiber and high-starch carbs then it is a healthy way as it will not increase sugar levels in the body. Similarly, high-sugar carbs are easily digestible and release sugar into the bloodstream rapidly which can spike blood glucose levels.
These increased sugar levels invite many health hazards like diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, liver problems, high blood pressure, kidney diseases, etc. So being aware of your carb quality can save you from many diseases.
There are two types of food that we eat. One in which carbohydrates are easily digested and release glucose into the bloodstream, these foods are considered as high glycemic foods whereas foods that are digested slowly and release sugar gradually are low glycemic index foods. A healthy carb diet should have low glycemic foods.
Depending on the chemical structure of the food and how quickly the sugar is metabolized and absorbed, carbohydrates are either referred to as simple or complex. Such high-sugar food lacks various nutrients like vitamins, minerals, or fibers.
Food high in simple sugars increases triglycerides and sugar levels that increase the risk of diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that causes various life-threatening health conditions and affects various organs. So it is really important to keep your sugar levels in control.
Similarly, obesity is caused by a simple-carb diet that is easily digestible. Since simple carbs are easily digestible, it increases appetite which leads to being overweight. Excess fat in the liver and other organs results in many diseases like fatty liver and kidney conditions.
Simple sugars can also be found in foods that are more nourishing, like milk and fruit. These sugars are “naturally occurring” and, in contrast to refined sugars, frequently contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our bodies require.
So a healthy carb diet should have carbs with a low glycemic index, complex carbs, and unrefined and unprocessed carbs. If you want to add some high glycemic index carbs into your diet then try to add more fibers and low GI food with it to balance its effects.
Also Read: Best Fruit Juices For Diabetic Patients
- High-carb food increases sugar levels and is associated with the risk of diabetes
- It increases triglyceride and cholesterol levels which can lead to various heart diseases, diabetes, and fatty liver conditions.
- High sugar levels obtained by simple carbohydrates can cause damage to various organs including the kidney, liver, heart, eyes, and nerves.
- It also promotes obesity which is home to multiple health conditions.
So, keeping a healthy carb diet with a perfect carb count for your body is the best way to use this energy-producing nutrient. Try to switch to a complex carbohydrate diet like starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, etc.
Carbohydrates and Diabetes
Carbohydrates and diabetes are closely related. Diabetes is a condition with high blood sugar levels. In a healthy person, sugar or glucose is used by the cells with the help of insulin hormone secreted by the pancreas.
This glucose is used for energy by the cells and the remaining glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen. But in diabetes, body cells become insulin resistant and stop using this glucose.
This leads to excess blood glucose or sugar in the bloodstream. This metabolic disorder is known as diabetes.
Carbohydrates are a component that breaks during digestion and converts into glucose. When a diabetic eats a lot of carbohydrates, it gets difficult to digest them and manage glucose levels. This leads to high sugar levels in the blood. It is important for a diabetic to eat an adequate amount of carbs.
A diabetic diet should have a limited carb count as per the need of a person so always go for a healthy diabetic diet.
There are two types of carbs as per digestibility. They are simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are easily digestible and increase blood sugar levels rapidly whereas complex carbs are difficult to digest.
Complex carbs are advisable to consume because they slowly release sugar into the blood thus maintaining sugar levels.
If a diabetic person wants to go for a high-carb diet then it should be consumed with a portion of high-fiber and low-carb food. It balances the high-carb food.
Fiber slows the digestion process so eating fiber with a high-carb diet can slow down the digestion of carbs and help in managing sugar levels. If you are eating some carb food then eat salads, fruits, or fibrous portions with it.
A healthy diabetic diet should contain whole grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, unprocessed food, and low-fat oil like flaxseeds, olive oil, etc.
Also, they should avoid foods like refined and processed food, packed food, soda, sugary drinks, pastries, pasta, cookies, cakes, etc.
So always keep a tab on your carb count if you are diabetic. A high-carb diet can cause hyperglycemia and various diabetes complications.
How Many Carbs Do You Need?
There isn’t a set amount of carbohydrates that everyone should consume. Depending on your age, sex, health, and whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight, this amount may change. People should typically obtain 45 to 65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates.
The Daily Value for total carbohydrates is listed as 275 g per day on the Nutrition Facts labels. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet per day. Depending on your calorie requirements and general health, your Daily Value may be higher or lower.
Also Read: Diabetic Friendly Desserts
How to Reduce Carbohydrate Intake?
Carbohydrate is a major part of 3 essential nutrients with protein and fats. For every individual, carbohydrates should account for 45-65% of their daily required carb count. You can’t completely avoid this important food as it provides you energy to function.
When someone says reduce carbohydrate intake, it means the reduction of simple carbs that are not good for health. Also, keep your carb count between 45-65% of your daily diet.
More carbs than required will cause various harm to health than benefits. Let’s know how to control or reduce carbohydrate intake from your diet:
- Grains are the staple food for daily diet. It is difficult to remove it from the diet. So instead of processed or refined grains, switch to a whole grain diet. A whole grain diet has fiber which slows digestion and does not increase sugar levels. Eat whole grain bread, cereals, etc.
- Fruit juices are high in sugar which is a carbohydrate so prefer whole fruit over juices. Whole fruits are rich in fiber.
- Legumes and beans are good sources of protein and do not increase weight so add them into your diet instead of carbs like potatoes.
- For tea-time snacks, go for low-carb foods like salad, nuts, seeds, etc.
- Say no to soda and sugary drinks. They are high in carbohydrates which is unhealthy.
- Eat more and more veggies. Vegetables are full of nutrients and do not increase carbs.
- Go for starchy vegetables as they are difficult to digest. Thus, it releases glucose slowly in the body.
- Drink water and stay hydrated. It controls glucose and also promotes digestion.
- Add yogurt to your diet as it is a good source of protein and also aids digestion.
- Fats are also a carb so including healthy fat in the diets can help. Healthy fats are flaxseeds, olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts. They are a healthy option as fats.
- Add eggs to your breakfast. Eggs are low in carbs and high in protein. It also keeps you satiated for a long time.
- Protein is an important part of your diet so include a high-protein diet in your routine. This protein can be obtained either from plants or animals. You can enjoy your protein component from eggs, legumes, yogurt, low-fat milk, beans, lean meat, soya, nuts, etc.
- Keep a carb count of your daily food. You can take help from a healthcare expert or from any app that is available to access. It keeps you updated about your carb intake.
- If you crave non-veg then go for lean meat.
- Choose complex carbohydrates like legumes, whole grains, fiber-rich food, and starchy veggies over simple carbohydrates like processed food, grains, sugary drinks, etc.
- Planning a low-carb diet is important but not everyone can do that on their own. So always ask for an expert or nutritionist to plan a low-carb and healthy diet for you.
Also Read: How Obesity and Diabetes are Linked?
Qualities of Good Carbohydrates
Good carbs should have the following qualities to add to your daily diet:
- High-fiber content
- Low Glycemic Index
- High in nutrition
- Less processed and refined
- Complex carbs
- Monitor Carb count
Carbohydrate is a very essential food that helps you to function. As mentioned above, carbohydrates are fuel for various body parts and organs. It helps the kidney, brain, heart, nervous system, and digestive system to work properly.
If you lack a required carb-diet to your body it can lead to various health conditions like tiredness, nausea, weakness, constipation, deficiency of nutrients like vitamins and minerals, headaches, body aches, etc.
So, always choose complex, low GI, fiber-rich carbohydrates to maintain carb quality. Also, focus on your carb count as per your daily required calories.
Also Read: Where and How to Inject Insulin?
I eat a lot of junk food but I never feel satiated, why?
Junk foods like pasta, pizza, pastries, fries, cakes, sugar, white bread, etc. are examples of simple carbs and high-carb foods. Simple carbs are bad carbohydrates that impact health negatively. Simple carbs are easy to digest and increase the sugar level in the body. Since simple carbs are easily digestible, it increases hunger pangs. This insatiety leads to weight gain or obesity.
What happens if I eat a high-carb diet?
An excessive intake of carbohydrates puts a heavy metabolic burden on the body. Over time, having high blood sugar levels (the result of digesting food sugar and starch) causes obesity, poor metabolic health, and an elevated risk of heart disease. As a secondary risk, high sugar levels can cause diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of various diseases like heart problems, neuropathy, blurry vision, high blood pressure, stroke, etc.
What if I don’t eat carbs at all?
Carbohydrate is an important part of the diet so totally giving up carb can cause many side effects. In absence of carbs, your body may convert fat into ketones. This is called ketosis. Side effects of ketosis include bad breath, headaches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, constipation, lack of concentration, nutrient deficiencies, etc. It’s unclear what sort of long-term health risks a low-carb diet might bring about.
What is the difference between good and bad carbohydrates?
Carbs can be divided into bad and good carbohydrates. Highly processed foods like enriched or refined pasta or dough, white bread, sugary drinks, soda, white rice, or cakes are examples of bad or simple carbs. Because they digest quickly and don’t make you feel as full, these carbohydrates can cause overeating and weight gain.
Complex or good carbohydrates have layers of nutrition and fiber that are rich in vitamins and minerals. One should consume between 50% and 65% of good carbs each day.
Carbohydrates break into molecules further that are known as monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides are the simplest carbs that consist of sugars like glucose and fructose. Whereas disaccharides are the amalgamation of lactose and sucrose. Polysaccharides are complex carbs and are considered healthy ones. They are formed when two monosaccharides like fiber and starch come together. That is why polysaccharides are good carbs and difficult to digest easily.
What are healthy carbs?
Foods that are least processed. Healthy carbs are rich in fiber and low in GI. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals. Healthy carbs are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Contrarily, processed or refined carbohydrates like white pasta, sugary drinks, cakes, and pastries have little to no nutritional value and ought to be avoided altogether. Healthy carbs are Whole grain, starchy vegetables, Beans, Lentils, Milk, oats, brown rice, whole wheat snacks, berries, seeds, beans, etc.
How many carbohydrates should I eat every day?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 45% to 65% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Therefore, if you consume 2,000 calories per day, 900 to 1,300 of those calories should come from carbohydrates. That translates to 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.
What are the major types of carbs?
Carbohydrates are of three types. Sugar, starch, and fat. Depending upon the digestibility, they are of two types: Simple carbohydrates and Complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs are easily digestible and can increase glucose levels. It also increases weight. Whereas complex carbs are slow in digestion and that’s why they are considered healthy carbs. Simple carbs like sugary drinks and soda, and refined and processed foods are unhealthy options like pastries, white bread, juices, pasta, cakes, etc. Complex carbs are rich in fiber and have positive impacts on the body. They are unrefined food, whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, etc.
https://www.webmd.com/diet/whats-the-difference-between-good-and-bad-carbsLast Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.