Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The main source of carbohydrates is the food you eat. When carbohydrates come the human body, they are broken down into molecules (simple or complex). Which are further carried through the cells of the body by the transport hormone called insulin. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin your body will produce. And the more insulin in the body is, the more likely it is to accumulate excess fat.
Any carbohydrates that you eat can be used as energy only after they have been broken down into the simplest carbohydrate called glucose. Under any load on the body (running, swimming, exercising in the gym, etc.), glucose will be used as fuel. The level of glucose in the human body is on average 1 gram per 1 liter of blood. This indicator can either increase or decrease depending on the amount and quality of carbohydrates that you ate.
Variesties of carbohydrates
1) Simple carbohydrates. Mono- and disaccharides such as glucose (found in sugar), fructose (found in fruits), lactose (found in milk). These carbohydrates taste sweet.
2) Complex carbohydrates. Oligo- and polysaccharides such as starch, cellulose, glycogen (which is accumulated in the muscles and liver). These carbohydrates taste less sweet than simple carbohydrates. They are found in cereals, legumes.
3) Fiber carbohydrates. Fibrous carbohydrates include fiber that is dietary fiber found in vegetables and fruits.
Whether the carbohydrate is simple or complex depends on the structure of the molecule. The more structural elements in a molecule are, the more complex it is. Accordingly, the fewer these elements are, the more simple it is. The complexity of the structure of the carbohydrate does not affect the rate of its conversion into glucose, and hence the rate of absorption by the body. Any carbohydrate, regardless of complexity, will reach its peak blood glucose concentration at the same time, after about 30 minutes.
Carbohydrates and glycemic index
Different carbohydrates have a different glycemic index. Simple carbohydrates tend to have a high glycemic index, while complex and fibrous carbohydrates have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index shows how much the blood glucose level will rise after consuming a particular carbohydrate. The higher this index is, the higher the glucose level will be, and therefore the more insulin there will be in the body. Accordingly, preference in the choice of carbohydrates should be given to those that do not raise blood glucose levels much – that is, complex or fibrous.
But there are times when simple carbohydrates are necessary for the body, for example, immediately after training. When you’ve gotten a good workout and spent a lot of energy as a result, you open up an anabolic window. At this time, the energy reserves that you spent during training are actively filled in. And since simple carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels more, they are better at filling in these energy reserves.
In addition, you can take simple carbs right during your workout to keep you energized throughout your workout. But this recommendation is only suitable for those athletes who gain mass, since glucose during training stops the fat burning process. The second best time for simple carbs is in the morning, right after bed. During sleep, your energy decreases and fast carbohydrates are best suited for its rapid refill.
Carbohydrate absorption rate
What you eat carbohydrates with can affect the body’s absorption rate of carbohydrates. Fats, and especially proteins, slow down the absorption of carbohydrates by the body. Protein, when consumed with carbohydrates, forms protein-starch connections that slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and thereby slow down the time for raising blood glucose. If, when consuming carbohydrates without protein, the peak in blood glucose was about 30 minutes, then with protein this period increases and is postponed to a later stage of time.
The amount of eaten carbohydrates
How much carbs you eat also affects your blood glucose levels. For example, eating 50 grams of simple carbohydrates will raise your glucose levels to the same peak as eating 100 grams of complex carbohydrates.
But after eating 50 grams of simple carbohydrates, you are unlikely to be full, you will not feel the satisfaction of your meal. But after eating 100 grams of complex carbohydrates, and also with a lot of fiber, you will get a feeling of satisfaction and fullness in the stomach, and you will want to eat much later than from simple carbohydrates. Therefore, when making up your diet, give preference to complex carbohydrates rich in fiber.
Correct intake of carbohydrates
1) Eat high-fiber, low-glycemic complex carbohydrates.
2) Simple carbohydrates are best used immediately after exercise or right after waking up.
3) Eat carbohydrates together with protein to slow down their absorption rate by the body.
4) The amount of carbohydrates eaten will depend on your goals (mass, maintenance of shape or losing weight).