nutrition means meeting your daily calorie needs and providing your
body with nutrients needed to stay healthy and active. That may sound
simple, but nutrition can be a confusing maze of scientific jargon
and theory. To help you better understand the link between eating and
good health, let take a closer look at one of the key building blocks
of good nutrition—carbohydrates.
a shroud of mystery attached to carbohydrates and how food is
converted to energy. And lately, some diets have even given
carbohydrates a bad name. Here are just a few facts about
carbohydrates that may clear things up.
carbohydrates are best: Carbohydrates
are an important part of a healthy diet and provide the body with the
fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function.
are two types of carbohydrates—complex and simple.
Complex carbohydrates come naturally from fruits, vegetables, legumes
(beans, lentils, peas) and whole grains. Simple carbohydrates come
from sugars, which are typically processed and contain no significant
are the best form of energy: The
energy from food comes in three forms: carbohydrates, protein, and
fat. Some of these fuels are stored in your body so that muscles and
organs can use them as an immediate source of energy. Out of these
three fuels, carbohydrates are the most important, yet least abundant
nutrient for daily energy needs. Carbohydrates are the primary energy
source for most activity and are burned more efficiently than protein
or fat. For example, research has shown that the energy from
carbohydrates can be released up to three times as fast as the energy
are other important functions and facts you should know about
are the most effective fuel for a healthy brain and nervous system.
carbohydrate stores may diminish your concentration.
amounts of carbohydrates help spare protein reserves needed for
muscle growth, maintenance and repair.
help the body burn fat more efficiently than protein.
foods high in complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, fruits,
and vegetables) are also high in dietary fiber for better digestion,
and prevention of certain types of cancer.
Stores are limited: The
primary function of carbohydrates is to provide energy, but the body
can only store a limited amount of carbohydrate (about half a day’s
supply of energy). For this reason, it is best not to limit or
eliminate all carbohydrates as some popular diets lead us to believe.
Eating some complex carbohydrates throughout the day will provide you
with an adequate amount of energy for day to day needs.
in Your Diet
probably heard of “carbo-loading,” but that’s a term used for
endurance athletes that pile on carbohydrates to have enough energy
and fuel for long events. For the average person, it’s simple to
include complex carbohydrates in your diet.
to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the average person’s diet should
be comprised of 45 to 65 percent of daily caloric intake from
example, a moderately active adult who needs 2,000 calories per day
to sustain their body weight should eat nearly 900-1300 calories
from carbohydrates (or 225-325 grams of carbohydrates) per day.
healthy complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grain pastas,
breads, and cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Eating these
foods is an excellent way to ensure adequate carbohydrate stores in
the body for daily needs.
please consult with your medical professional for heart disease
screening and a registered dietician for specific dietary