How many carbohydrates does the body need?
In popular dietetics, there is an ambiguous attitude towards carbohydrates. Supporters of low-carb diets see them as the main cause of obesity, and advocates of dividing foods by the glycemic index are convinced that carbohydrates are "bad" and "good." This does not change the fact that carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. They give vigor and strength for training, ensure the functioning of the brain, heart, liver, participate in the regulation of the metabolism of fats and proteins, and are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous and muscular system.
What carbohydrates are
There are three types of carbohydrates: simple (mono- and disaccharides), complex (starch), fiber (dietary fiber).
Simple carbohydrates are so named because of their simple structure, in which there are only 1-2 elements (glucose, fructose, lactose). They are sweet in taste and can dissolve in water. Simple carbohydrates are quickly absorbed in the intestines and sharply increase blood sugar levels, which leads to the same sharp release of the hormone insulin by the pancreas. Main sources: sugar, honey, jam, white flour, baked goods, confectionery. Simple carbohydrates are also found in dried fruits, fruits, berries, dairy products.
- Complex carbohydrates are so named because of the long sugar chain that allows them to be digested and absorbed slowly, cause a moderate rise in sugar levels, provide a feeling of fullness and be used for energy rather than being stored in fat. Main sources: All grains except polished rice and semolina, bread and whole grain flours, legumes, baked potatoes, crispbread and pasta made from durum flour.
- Fiber is a coarse part of plant products - cellulose and hemicellulose, pectin, lingin, gums. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar and fat, reduces the release of insulin in response to carbohydrate foods, improves bowel movements, and helps keep you feeling full. Main sources: non-starchy vegetables, unpeeled cereals and legumes, bran, fresh fruits and berries.
How many carbohydrates does the body need?
A healthy person who does not lose weight with a normal weight and an moderately active lifestyle needs to consume 3.5-4.5 g of carbohydrates for each kilogram of his weight. People who lead an active lifestyle or are engaged in hard physical labor need more carbohydrates, and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle need less.
For those who are losing weight, the daily amount of carbohydrates is calculated by subtracting the norm of proteins and the norm of fat from the total calorie intake. For example, a moderately active 80kg girl follows a 1,500 calorie diet. She knows that there are 4 calories in one gram of carbohydrates and proteins, and 9 calories in one gram of fat.
There is no concept of "carbohydrate rate". The amount of carbohydrates is selected individually after the rate of fat and the rate of protein has already been calculated, and then it is adjusted based on activity, weight and insulin sensitivity. With increased insulin secretion, less carbohydrates are needed, and with normal secretion, more.
The total amount of carbohydrates in a balanced diet should not be less than 100 g per day. Complex sources should account for 70-80%, and simple 20-30% (including fruits, dried fruits, dairy products). The daily rate of fiber is 25 g. It is not difficult to collect it if you consume a large amount of non-starchy vegetables and herbs, choose unpeeled cereals, whole grain or bran bread instead of white.
What threatens a lack and excess of carbohydrates
An excess of carbohydrates in the diet leads to an increase in its calorie content and weight gain, and this leads to obesity and other diseases. With increased insulin secretion and a large amount of carbohydrates, the state of health worsens, drowsiness, loss of strength, and apathy are often felt.
With a lack of carbohydrates, mental activity and performance deteriorate, the work of the hormonal system is disrupted - the level of leptin decreases, the level of cortisol rises, the production of neurotransmitters is disrupted, which can cause insomnia or depression. If the decrease in carbohydrates is accompanied by a strong and prolonged restriction of calories, then the production of thyroid hormones and sex hormones is disrupted. A lack of carbohydrates is always accompanied by a lack of fiber, and this disturbs stool and leads to gastrointestinal problems.
Carbohydrate requirements are individual. Active and regularly exercising people who are of normal weight and normal insulin secretion have higher rates than office workers who are overweight and have high insulin levels. When choosing your rate, start from the calorie content of the diet, the daily intake of proteins and fats. Maintain a balance in the diet between complex and simple carbohydrates, and also do not lower their total amount below 100 g per day.
Author: Ekaterina G., nutritionist, fitness blogger (specially for Calorizator.ru)
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