Carbohydrates: Uses, health benefits, nutrition, and risks
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body and are found in all foods. Sugars, starches, and dietary fiber are all types of carbohydrates that may be found in plant foods and dairy products. Carbohydrates can be found in large quantities in plant foods. They can also be found in dairy products in the form of lactose, which is a kind of milk sugar. Bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, rice, and cereals are examples of foods that are high in carbs. Carbohydrates have a variety of functions in living organisms, one of which is to provide energy.
This article examines the many forms of carbohydrates, their nutritional value, and their impact on health.
Known as saccharides or carbs, carbohydrates are a kind of sugar that provides energy to the body.
Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose, which serves as the major source of energy for the brain and muscles.
- Protein and fats are the other two macronutrients.
- Individuals should take between 45 and 65 percent of their total daily calories in the form of carbs, according to conventional recommendations.
- In order to maintain a 2,000-calorie diet, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that persons consume 275 grams of carbohydrates each day.
- Carbohydrates may be found in a variety of forms in foods, including the following:
- A form of carbohydrate that is difficult for the body to digest is known as dietary fiber. It may be found in a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Total sugars, which comprise sugars that exist naturally in foods, such as dairy products, as well as added sugars, which are prominent in baked goods, sweets, and desserts, are the most common kind of sugar consumed. Sugars are very readily digested and absorbed by the body. Sugar alcohols are a form of carbohydrate that the body is unable to properly digest and use. These sweeteners have a mild flavor and have less calories than sugar. Candy, chewing gum, baked products, and sweets all include sugar alcohols, which are low-calorie sweeteners that are used to lower calorie intake.
Dietary fiber aids in the promotion of regular bowel movements, the reduction of blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and the reduction of a person’s calorie consumption. In order to maintain a 2,000-calorie diet, the FDA recommends that persons consume 28 grams (g) of dietary fiber each day. The majority of individuals in the United States consume more added sugar than is suggested on a daily basis. Cardiovascular disease and dental cavities are two conditions that might result as a result of this behavior.
However, it is ideal for general health to keep added sugar to a minimum as much as feasible.
Among the atoms found in the chemical structures of carbohydrates are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Carbs may unite to form polymers, or chains, which can then be used to make a variety of other carbohydrates. Carbohydrates may be divided into three types: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.
Monosaccharides are sugar molecules that contain only one unit of sugar. Examples include the following:
- Glucose, the body’s primary source of energy
- Galactose, which is most readily accessible in milk and dairy products
- Fructose, which is found mostly in fruits and vegetables
- And sucrose, which is found primarily in grains and legumes.
Disaccharides are made up of two sugar molecules that have been linked together. Examples include the following:
- Lactose, which is found in milk and is composed of glucose and galactose
- Sucrose, which is found in table sugar and is composed of glucose and fructose
Polysaccharides are sugar chains that contain a variety of sugars. They can include hundreds or thousands of monosaccharides in a single molecule. Polysaccharides are sugars that serve as food storage for both plants and animals. Examples include the following:
- Energy-storing glycogen (found in the liver and muscles)
- Carbohydrates (found in abundance in potatoes, rice, and wheat)
- Cellulose (found in plants as one of the primary structural components)
- And other substances.
Simple carbohydrates, such as monosaccharides and disaccharides, are distinguished from complex carbohydrates, which include polysaccharides. Sugars are a type of simple carbohydrate. They are made up of only one or two molecules at the most. They give a quick burst of energy, but the user quickly finds themselves craving something else to eat. White bread, sugar, and candy are all examples of processed foods. Complex carbohydrates are made up of a lengthy chain of sugar molecules linked together.
- Fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grain pasta are just a few examples.
- Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body while following a regular diet.
- For its potential health advantages and weight loss, low-carbohydrate diets such as the keto diet have gained popularity among dieters.
- For example, research conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that those who consume the most carbs – particularly from natural sources such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables – have a decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
- Added sugars are a form of carbohydrate that has been shown to have negative health consequences.
- Whenever you make dietary adjustments, it is critical to strive for a nutritious diet that provides a variety of nutrients that the body need.
Carbohydrates and obesity
Some believe that a high diet of carbohydrates is responsible for the global rise in obesity. However, a variety of variables, including the following, are contributing to the rise in obesity rates:
- Inactivity, increased availability of ultraprocessed food or “junk food,” a lack of access to inexpensive fresh vegetables, and bigger quantities all contribute to an individual’s caloric consumption. hereditary variables, stress, and other emotional causes
- Less hours of sleep
What about diet foods?
In order to market weight loss goods such as nutritional bars and powders, several firms encourage low-carbohydrate eating regimens. They are not always healthy since they include colorings, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additives, and they are often deficient in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As a result, they are comparable to junk food in terms of nutritional value. Following a meal, the body converts carbs into glucose, resulting in a rise in blood sugar levels in the bloodstream.
- Repeated rises in blood sugar levels over time can cause harm to the cells that produce insulin, eventually wearing them out.
- Insulin resistance is the term used to describe this condition.
- A significant source of nutrients in most diets are carbohydrate-based foods.
- insulin resistance raises the chance of developing metabolic syndrome, which is a collection of risk factors that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other medical disorders, including diabetes and obesity.
Increased blood sugar levels are associated with increased insulin resistance. Reducing a person’s diet of added sugar and refined carbs can help them lower their blood sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, and promote healthy weight reduction, if necessary.
Reducing the risk
People can lower their chance of developing insulin resistance by consuming nutritious carbs, keeping healthy sleeping patterns, and engaging in frequent physical activity. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and certain cereals are all good sources of healthy carbs. These foods are rich in important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, among other things. The Mediterranean diet has a reasonable quantity of carbohydrates from natural sources, as well as a little amount of protein from animal or fish sources.
On a scale from 0 to 100, the glycemic index (GI) of a meal indicates how rapidly it elevates blood sugar levels.
Dietary carbohydrates with a low GI take longer for the body to digest, resulting in more stable blood glucose levels.
A diet consisting mostly of low-GI foods, along with regular exercise and sleep, can aid in the maintenance of good health and the reduction of excess weight.
Low GI diet
One element that contributes to an increase in the GI score of a food is the milling and grinding process, which leaves nothing more than the starchy endosperm, or the inner component, of the seed or grain after it has been ground. This is mostly composed of starch. Other elements, like as minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibers, are also removed during this process. People who adopt a low GI diet can consume more unprocessed foods, such as the ones listed below.
- Oats, barley, or bran
- Whole-grain bread
- Brown rice
- Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Fresh, whole fruit instead of juice
- Whole-grain pasta
- Salads and raw veggies
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
Carbohydrates are a significant source of energy for the body and are found in many foods. Some varieties are more beneficial to your health than others. For example, dietary fiber is a carbohydrate that is beneficial to heart and gut health, but additional sugars can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight. The consumption of unprocessed carbohydrates as part of a well-balanced diet, in addition to receiving adequate sleep and physical activity, is more likely to result in excellent health and a healthy body weight than concentrating on or removing one nutrient in particular.
Added Sugar in the Diet
Your body does not require any carbohydrate from added sugar to function properly. As a result, the Healthy Eating Pyramid recommends that sugary beverages and desserts be consumed in moderation, if at all, and the Healthy Eating Plate does not contain items that have been processed with added sugars. The following is an essential point to remember when reading nutrition labels: 1 teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams of sugar. In the United States, the average person eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which equals an additional 350 calories.
Sugar-sweetened drinks and morning cereals are two of the worst offenders when it comes to calorie intake. As part of its effort to stem the obesity and heart disease epidemics, the American Heart Association (AHA) has urged that Americans reduce their intake of added sugar by half. (27)
- As recommended by the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar), while men should consume no more than 150 calories per day (approximately 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar). The use of added sugar does not fulfill any dietary requirements or provide any nutritional benefits. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from items that contain a lot of added sugar, which includes foods that have “sugar” as the first or second component on the ingredient list. However, because there are various sources of sugar with different names, it can be difficult to discern which elements are sugar due to the increasing usage of alternative sweeteners.
The grams of sugar in each food must be listed on the Nutrition Facts Label, as required by law. However, certain foods naturally contain sugar, and others obtain their sugar through the addition of sweeteners.
The use of soft drinks is a significant source of additional calories that might contribute to weight gain while providing no nutritional advantages. Studies have found that liquid carbohydrates, such as sugar-sweetened drinks, are less satisfying than solid carbs (28)– leading people to remain hungry for longer after consuming them, despite the fact that they contain a high caloric content. A growing body of evidence suggests that they are contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
- It takes around 150 calories to consume an ordinary can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch, with virtually all of those calories coming from sugar — often high-fructose corn syrup. Those calories are the equal of ten tablespoons of regular table sugar. It is possible to gain up to 15 pounds over three years by drinking only one can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day without making any other dietary changes. (31)
Cereals and other foods
Choose full, unprocessed breakfast items that don’t have extensive ingredient labels, such as an apple or a bowl of steel-cut or old-fashioned oats, to avoid consuming additional sugars. A large number of commonly consumed morning items, such as prepared breakfast cereals, cereal bars, instant oatmeal with flavorings, and pastries, can have high levels of added sugars, which is a concern. Some product component listings conceal the presence of sugar in the product. Food makers may utilize various types of sugar – each with a different name – and list each one separately on the nutrient label in order to avoid having “sugar” as the first component on the nutrition label.
- So don’t be deceived: your body metabolizes all additional sugars in the same manner
- It makes no distinction between “brown sugar” and “honey,” for example. Inspect the label carefully to identify all sources of added sugars, even if they aren’t included among the first few ingredients.
Sweet snacks can be enjoyed in moderation, but you should be mindful of the added sugars in other foods and beverages, such as breads, beverages, and cereals, to avoid overindulging. Industry-sponsored labeling systems might be difficult to understand. An example of one such program, Smart Choices, came under fire from the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2009 for referring to one popular cereal that had 41 percent sugar as a “Smart Choice.” (Since then, the Smart Choices initiative has been discontinued.)
How to spot added sugar on food labels
It might take some detective effort to figure out where sugar has been added to product labels. The Nutrition Facts Panel of a product has traditionally required food and beverage makers in the United States to show the total amount of sugar included in a serving, but they were not obliged to reveal how much of that sugar was added rather than naturally occurring. This is expected to change with the implementation of the updated Panel, which will include a line indicating “added sugars,” as well as a corresponding 10 percent-Daily Value—representing a limit of 50 grams (roughly 12 teaspoons) of added sugar toward the daily 2,000 calories recommended for most adults (by 2020 or 2021).
- Ingredients are presented in decreasing order by weight (30), thus the placement of sugar in relation to other ingredients might reveal how much sugar is present in a specific dish. However, although added sugars go by a variety of different labels, they are always a source of additional calories.
It is also possible for food manufacturers to employ sweeteners that aren’t technically sugar—a word that is solely given to table sugar, or sucrose—but in practice these other sweeteners are still considered forms of added sugar.
Some additional names for sugar that you may come across on food labels are as follows:
|Agave nectar||Evaporated cane juice||Malt syrup|
|Brown sugar||Fructose||Maple syrup|
|Cane crystals||Fruit juice concentrates||Molasses|
|Cane sugar||Glucose||Raw sugar|
|Corn sweetener||High-fructose corn syrup||Sucrose|
|Crystalline fructose||Invert sugar|
Theodore K. Johnson, Leonard J. Appel Jr., Mark Brands et al. The American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement on the relationship between dietary sugar consumption and cardiovascular health. Circulation (New York, NY) 2009;120:1011-20. The effects of carbohydrates on satiety: variations between liquid and solid meals (Pan A, Hu FB). 2011;14:385-90. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. Department of Health and Human Services of the United States USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
- Carbohydrates are covered in Chapter 7.
- An Introduction to Food Labeling: Chapter 4: Ingredient Lists On the 10th of April, 2009, I found this.
- Malik VS, Hu FB.
- 2015 Oct 6;66(14):1615-24.
- 2015 Oct 6;66(14):1615-24.
The information on this website is provided solely for educational reasons and is not meant to be a source of personal medical advice. If you have any questions about a medical problem, you should seek the counsel of your physician or another trained health care practitioner as soon as possible. Because of whatever you’ve read on this website, you should never dismiss competent medical advice or put off obtaining it altogether. Nutrition Source does not suggest or support any particular product or service.
The Recommended Intake of Grams of Carbohydrates per Day for Women
In order for a woman to ingest the recommended quantity of carbs per day, she must first calculate her total daily calorie consumption. Despite the fact that carbs have a negative image in many commercial weight reduction programs, carbohydrates remain the primary fuel source for your body. When you consume too few carbs, you put yourself at risk for undesirable side effects such as dizziness, mental weariness, headaches, weakness, and nausea, among others.
Every woman is encouraged to take at least 130 grams of carbs each day, according to the Institute of Medicine. A woman’s unique carbohydrate requirements are determined by her suggested calorie requirements, weight control objectives, and amount of physical activity, among other factors. Because carbs are the major source of energy for athletes during exercises, active women require more carbohydrates than women who are inactive in their lifestyle.
Carbs as a Percentage of Calories
According to the Institute of Medicine, adult women should consume between 45 and 65 percent of their daily calories from carbs in order to maintain a healthy weight. This means that women on 1,200-calorie weight-loss diets require approximately 135 to 195 grams of carbohydrates per day, while women on 1,600-calorie diets require 180 to 260 grams, women on 2,000-calorie diets require 225 to 325 grams, and women on 2,400-calorie diets require 270 to 390 grams of carbohydrates per day.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, women athletes may require 60 to 70% of their calories to come from carbohydrates, which is comparable to 360 to 420 grams of carbohydrates for a 2,400-calorie meal plan, depending on their activity level.
“Good” Carbs to Choose
Carbohydrates that are deemed “good” are often those that come in the form of whole meals that are abundant in nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, among other things. Protein and fiber, for example, help to delay the absorption of carbs by your body, reducing their immediate influence on your blood sugar levels in the process. Fiber also assists in digestion, and proteins, vitamins, and minerals are all essential for the normal functioning of your body’s organs. Legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, milk, yogurt, and whole grains such as brown rice, whole-grain bread, quinoa, whole-grain cereal, and whole-wheat pasta are examples of nutritious carbohydrates.
“Bad” Carbs to Avoid
“Bad” carbs are those that are heavy in sugar and contain few nutrients that are useful. Because they induce fast variations in your blood sugar levels, they are regarded as harmful because they have been linked to a variety of serious medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Candy, baked goods, sugary drinks, and refined grains or items produced from them, such as white bread, white rice, and standard pasta are examples of carbs that should be limited or avoided in moderation or altogether.
Blood Sugar & Carbohydrates
The truth is that persons with diabetes may consume reasonable amounts of carbs in their diets, in contrast to widespread belief. Rather than emphasizing carbohydrate restriction, the emphasis is on carbohydrate regulation. As a matter of fact, carbs are the body’s preferred energy source, and carbohydrates should account for around half of your daily calorie consumption. Carbon dioxide is produced through the digestion of carbohydrates. Grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, milk, and sweets are all sources of these toxins.
What is carbohydrate counting?
When it comes to meal planning, carbohydrate counting is a method of distributing carbohydrate calories throughout the day by figuring out the appropriate number of carbohydrate items for each meal and snack. When it comes to carbohydrate counting, the emphasis is on how much carbohydrate you consume at a given moment rather than on the sort of carbohydrate you consume. Stay clear from fad diets that restrict the quantity of carbs you may eat on a consistent basis.
What about sugar?
In fact, sugar does not elevate blood sugar levels any more than carbs do, according to recent research. Sugary items (cookies, cakes, pies, and candies) are allowed as long as they are included in your total carbohydrate consumption, which means you can consume them in moderation. Take note that foods high in sugar are frequently high in fat and calories as well, and that eating too much of them can cause blood sugar and triglyceride levels to rise, as well as lead to weight gain.
What about sugar substitutes?
A sugar replacement is a sweetener that is used in lieu of sugar to make baked goods taste better. Aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame are some of the sugar substitutes that have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). All of these foods are safe to take in moderation. Sugar alternatives are not required to be included in your meal planning. If they are employed as a sweetener in a product that has few calories and no additional carbohydrate (such as sugar-free soft drinks or sugar-free gelatin), such item is referred to as a “free food” under the federal nutrition standards.
It is necessary to calculate the overall carbohydrate content of a product if the sugar replacement is used in conjunction with other carbohydrate sources (for example, sugar-free pudding or sugar-free cookies). That particular food item is not regarded to be “free food.”
What about sugar alcohols?
Sugar alcohols, such as mannitol and sorbitol, are carbohydrates that are absorbed extremely slowly and, as a result, have a substantially lower impact on your blood sugar levels than sugars and starches have. As a result, they are frequently utilized as sweeteners in meals that are low in sugar. Sugar alcohols are not “free,” and they must still be included in the overall carbohydrate content of any food item in order to be considered. Diarrhea might result from consuming an excessive amount of sugar alcohols.
How do you count carbohydrates?
carbohydrate grams or carbohydrate options are two ways to count carbs. If you consume 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving from one of the carbohydrate food groups (grains/starches, fruits, milk, and sweets), you have made a “carbohydrate choice.” Approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate are contained in one carbohydrate selection. Example: A carbohydrate option is defined as one piece of bread from the starch group, one tiny apple from the fruit group, one cup of milk from the milk group, and one and a half cups of ice cream from the sweets group.
By referring to a food label’s total carbohydrate amount, it is possible to compute carbohydrate options.
How do you use the food label to count carbohydrates?
Locate the serving size and total carbohydrate content of a food item by reading the label on the package or packaging. Please keep in mind that total carbohydrate comprises sugar, starch, and dietary fiber. When carbohydrate counting, the grams of total carbohydrate should be used. To get the number of carbohydrate options available in a certain serving, just divide the total carbohydrate content by 15 to arrive at the answer. Please refer to the following information to aid you in estimating your carbohydrate options:
What can I eat that won’t raise my blood sugar?
Locate the serving size and total carbohydrate content of a food item by reading the label on the package. The total carbohydrate consists of three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fiber. When carbohydrate counting, remember to use the grams of total carbohydrate. To figure out how many carbohydrate options are available in a certain dish, divide the total carbohydrate by 15 to get the number of options. Make use of the following information to aid you in determining your carbohydrate intake:
Dietary fiber is the portion of plant foods that is not digested. Fiber may be divided into two categories: insoluble and soluble. These two forms of fiber, when combined, can help to avoid constipation, reduce blood cholesterol levels, and make you feel fuller after meals. They may also have a beneficial effect on your blood sugar. The recommended fiber consumption for those with diabetes is the same as for the general population — 20 to 35 grams per day, with whole grain meals being the best sources (one-half of grain intake).
When trying to avoid gas and bloating, it’s necessary to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet. It is also critical to consume enough amounts of fluids. To improve your fiber intake, do the following:
- Choose whole grain meals wherever possible. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables should not be peeled. We should incorporate dry beans and peas into our diets.
How much carbohydrate do I need?
Carbohydrate requirements vary from person to person and are determined by our individual metabolic rates. As previously stated, carbs should account for around half of the calories you consume. It is possible that this quantity will change from day to day based on your activity level and other variables. Most women require three to four carbohydrate options (45-60 grams) at each meal, with three to four servings each meal. Carbohydrates (60-75 grams) are required at each meal for men in the range of four to five selections.
Consult with a trained nutritionist to determine your carbohydrate requirements.
The carbohydrate options are shown in bold.
- 3 ingredients: 1 poached egg
- 2 pieces whole wheat bread with margarine
- 1 cup grits
- 2 strips turkey bacon
- 12 cup orange juice or 1 small orange
- 3 ingredients Whether it’s coffee or tea,
- 1 whole wheat bagel with 1 12 tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 small banana
- 1 cup of coffee or tea
- A peanut butter and jelly sandwich cooked with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 tablespoons jelly on 2 pieces whole wheat bread, 1 kiwi fruit, 1 cup raw carrots, and sugar-free iced tea are also included.
- 3-ounce grilled chicken sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato
- 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 17 tiny grapes
- 3 ginger snaps
- Sugar-free iced tea
- 1-cup soup
- 3-ounce roasted chicken breast
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 cup green beans
- 2 tiny cornbread muffins
- 12-cup sugar-free banana pudding
- Sugar-free lemonade
- Grilled 3 ounces of lean steak
- 1 small baked potato
- 1 ear of corn
- Salad with 2 tablespoons low-fat dressing
- 1 small whole wheat dinner bun
- 1 cup melon cubes
Example of a four-carbohydrate choice per meal on a sample menu The carbohydrate options are shown in bold.
- 1 big bagel
- 1 12 tablespoons light cream cheese
- 1 cup coffee or tea
- A small banana, 1 small cup of oat cereal, 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk Whether it’s coffee or tea,
- 12-cup sauce for the pasta
- Tossed salad with 2 tablespoons light dressing
- 12-cup low-fat cottage cheese
- Sugar-free iced tea (optional).
- Tomato salad with 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise served on whole grain baguette
- Carrot and celery sticks
- 12 cup light peaches
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
- 12 cup carrots
- 1 slice healthy wheat bread with mild margarine
- 12 cup assorted fresh fruit Whether it’s coffee or tea,
- 1 small baked potato
- 1 cup boiled broccoli
- 1 dinner bun
- 12 cup low-fat ice cream
- Sugar-free soda
Menus include three carbohydrate options per meal, as an example. Breakfast
- Coffee or tea
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- 1 tablespoon nut butter
- 1 cup melon cubes
- 12 cup oats
- 1 slice whole wheat toast with margarine
- 1 little banana
- Coffee or tea
- 12 cup oatmeal
- 6 soda crackers
- 17 tiny grapes
- 2-3 ounces low-fat cheese
- Sugar-free lemonade
- 1 cup soup
- 3-ounce turkey breast on two slices of rye bread with lettuce and tomato
- 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 1 tiny orange
- Sugar-free iced tea
- 3-ounce grilled fish, 1 cup sweet potato, 12-cup green beans, 12-cup pineapple chunks, sugar-free lemonade
- 3-ounce stir-fried chicken breast
- 1-cup cooked, non-starchy veggies
- 1-cup rice
- Tossed salad with 2 tablespoons light dressing
- Sugar-free lemonade
Snack suggestions that have only ONE carbohydrate source
- One-ounce chips (approximately 17), one-cup berries, six-ounce sugar-free yogurt, one medium cookie, twelve-cup sugar-free pudding, twelve-cup ice cream, three ginger snaps
Snack suggestions that include TWO carbohydrate options
- 1 medium granola bar, 25 tiny crackers, 1 small bagel (2 ounces), 1 medium banana (8 ounces), 12 cup normal pudding, 34 cup low-carb cereal (15 grams of carbohydrates), and 1 cup milk are all you need for this meal.
Know Your Food Groups
On this page you will find: A healthy eating pattern comprises a range of nutrient-dense foods from all of the food categories, including vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, dairy products, and oils, as well as meals from all of the food groups together. It also allows for the occasional indulgence, or what the Dietary Guidelines refer to as “calories for other purposes.” Each of the food categories is detailed in detail below, along with corresponding examples. The USDA Food Patterns Guidelines give three USDA Food Patterns with suggested quantities for how much you should take from each food category on a daily basis, based on three USDA Food Patterns.
Vegetables are available in a broad range of colors, tastes, and textures to suit every palate. They’re also a good source of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and kale are some of the dark green veggies available. Acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, and sweet potato are just a few of the red and orange veggies available. Starchy veggies include items such as maize, green peas, and white potatoes, to name a few examples. Other vegetables include eggplant, beets, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, artichokes, green beans, and onions, to name a few examples.
Legumes can also be included in the category of protein-rich foods.
Older Americans, on the whole, do not consume enough fruit. In spite of this, there are several options, including citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, various types of berries, fruits that grow on trees such as apricots, cherries, plums, and mangoes, and more exotic options such as figs, raisins, and pineapples. Many fruits have additional fiber, which aids in the movement of your digestive system. Just make sure to properly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Although whole fruits are preferable, 100 percent fruit juice can also be considered fruit. Pick fruit that has the least amount of added sugars when purchasing frozen, canned, or dried fruit. 1/2 cup-equivalent of fruit is equal to the following: More fruit substitutes may be found here.
A grain product is defined as any food that is manufactured from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain. In addition to bread and spaghetti, morning cereal, grits, tortillas, and even popcorn are considered to be acceptable substitutes. Look for grain options that are low in saturated fat and added sugar, as well as those that do not include trans fat. However, be cautious since low-fat baked products might include a significant amount of added sugar. At least half of all grains consumed should be whole grains, which are grains that include the complete grain kernel in its entirety.
- Whole grains include products such as whole wheat, whole oats, whole bulgur (also known as cracked wheat), and whole cornmeal, to name a few.
- While refined grain products have a finer texture and a longer shelf life, they lack the fiber and minerals that whole grain goods have.
- Among the refined grain products available are white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice, among other things.
- 1 ounce-equivalent of grain equals:
Make an effort to include a range of protein sources that are high in nutrients in your diet. Choose meats and poultry that are lean (low in fat). Remember that you may receive protein from a variety of sources, including seafood, eggs, beans and peas, as well as nuts, seeds, and soy products. It is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines to consume 8 ounces of seafood each week from a variety of sources, not just for the protein, but also because seafood includes omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are beneficial to your heart health.
The mercury content of these seafoods is also lower than that of other forms of seafood, which can be dangerous.
The majority of individuals do not consume enough dairy products in their diet. Choose from the various low-fat or fat-free options available in the dairy category to improve your heart health. Choosing fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, as well as lower-fat cheese, allows you to get the essential vitamins and minerals you need while eating fewer fat and calories. 1 cup-equivalent of dairy equals:
Despite the fact that oils are heavy in calories, they are also a good source of nutrients such as vitamin E. Women over the age of 51 should consume no more than 5 teaspoons of oil per day, while males should consume no more than 6 teaspoons. In order to save time and money, try to cook with oils rather than solid fats like butter.
Knowing how much oil to use on a daily basis can be difficult; knowing how much oil to use while cooking or baking is one thing. Oil, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring component of several meals. Teaspoons of oil: See additional oil equivalents for more information.
Calories for Other Uses
The USDA Food Patternsallow you to consume more calories than the recommended number of nutrient-dense foods if you fall into the “calories for other uses” category. Some calories from meals and beverages that are not nutrient-dense, such as sweetened cereals, sodas, and alcoholic beverages, are also permitted under this system. Check the ingredient list to check if the meal you’re eating has been sweetened with additional sugar. Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup are just a few of the crucial phrases to keep an eye out for.
- “Calories for other purposes” is a phrase that applies to saturated fats in your diet as well.
- As a result, you should strive to keep your consumption of saturated fats to a minimum.
- Transfats are hazardous and are being phased out of the food supply to protect consumers.
- When used in moderation, three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee per day can contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle.
- Additionally, it contains calories that can be used for “calories for other purposes.” Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, with women being allowed up to one drink per day and males being allowed up to two drinks per day.
- Pay close attention to how many calories you consume from these meal components since the calories may build up fast.
- Learn more about this topic in Spanish.
For More Information on Healthy Eating
Contact the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at 800-860-8747 (toll-free)866-569-1162 (TTY/toll-free) or [email protected], or send an email to [email protected] www.niddk.nih.gov This information is given by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIA). Scientists and other professionals from the National Institutes of Health examine this information to verify that it is correct and up to date. The content was last reviewed on April 29, 2019.
Should you be carb-loading for endurance?
Increasing the amount of fuel stored in your muscles with a carbohydrate-loading diet, also known as a carbohydrate-rich diet, is a technique for improving your athletic performance during endurance sports.
Carbohydrate loading happens when you consume a high-carbohydrate “training diet” at the same time as you reduce your physical activity level in the days leading up to a performance event.
Carbohydrates are required for any physical activity as a fuel source. The majority of leisure activities need your body to utilise its current energy reserves as fuel. However, when you participate in long, intensive physical events, your body need additional energy in order to keep going. Carbohydrate loading is intended to provide you with the energy you need to complete an endurance exercise with less tiredness, hence boosting your athletic performance. The practice of carbohydrate loading may be particularly advantageous for endurance athletes training for events that may last 90 minutes or more.
Other athletes, on the other hand, do not require carbohydrate loading.
Carbohydrates, often known as starches and sugars, are the primary source of energy for your body’s functions. Complex carbohydrates are found in legumes, grains, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and maize, among other things. Fruits and milk, as well as meals sweetened with sugar, such as candy and other sweets, are the most abundant sources of simple carbohydrate sources. Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into sugar throughout the digestive process. After entering your circulation, sugar is transported to particular cells, where it provides energy for those cells.
Increase your energy storage
Your muscles generally store just little quantities of glycogen — just enough to keep you going during light leisure exercise activities like walking or running. If you engage in vigorous activity for more than 90 minutes, your muscles may begin to deplete their glycogen stores. At that time, weariness may set in, and your ability to perform may be compromised. Carbohydrate loading, on the other hand, may allow you to store more energy in your muscles during exercise. This may provide you with the endurance need to complete longer endurance competitions.
In the week before a high-intensity activity, carbohydrate loading is performed. To prepare for the event, increase your carbohydrate intake to around 8 to 12 grams per kilogram of body weight one to three days before it takes place. Reduce your intake of high-fat foods to make up for the increased intake of carbohydrate-rich meals. Reduce your training as well for the last three to four days before the competition. The combination of increasing carbohydrate intake and decreasing physical activity appears to increase muscle glycogen reserves.
For the majority of athletes, 5 to 7 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per day is sufficient for general training purposes. (It should be noted that 1 kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds.) Endurance athletes may require as much as 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.
Sample carbohydrate-loading meal plan
An example carbohydrate-loading meal plan for an athlete weighing 170 pounds is provided below. (77 kilograms). It is based on a carbohydrate intake of 4.5 grams per pound of body weight (10 grams per kilogram) of body fat. You may customize this carbohydrate-loading meal plan to meet your specific dietary requirements and personal preferences.
|Sample carbohydrate-loading meal plan|
|Item (amount)||Carbohydrates (grams)||Total calories|
|Milk, fat-free (12 ounces)||18||125|
|1 plain bagel (4.2 ounces)||52||260|
|Peanut butter, smooth (2 tablespoons)||7||191|
|Honey (2 tablespoons)||35||128|
|Banana (1 medium)||27||105|
|Crunchy raisin and almond cereal (1 cup)||74||360|
|Grape juice (12 ounces)||55||225|
|Milk, chocolate, reduced fat (12 ounces)||46||285|
|4 slices white bread (1 ounce per slice)||49||266|
|Chicken breast, roasted without skin (4 ounces or 1/2 breast)||187|
|Romaine lettuce, shredded (1/4 cup)||0.5||2|
|Red tomato slices (1/2 cup)||2||11|
|Mayonnaise, light (2 tablespoons)||3||71|
|Tortilla chips, low-fat, baked (1 ounce)||23||118|
|Baby carrots (12)||10||42|
|Low-fat fruit yogurt (8 ounces)||47||250|
|Low-fat fruit granola (1/2 cup)||33||157|
|Blueberries (1 cup)||21||83|
|Cranberry juice, unsweetened (12 ounces)||42||156|
|Wild Atlantic salmon, baked (3 ounces)||155|
|Dinner roll, whole wheat (2 rolls, 1 ounce each)||29||151|
|Milk, fat-free (12 ounces)||18||125|
|Salad, combine:-Romaine lettuce, shredded (2 cups)||3||16|
|-Bell or sweet green pepper (1/4 cup)||2||7|
|-Green apple, chopped (1 medium)||25||95|
|-Dried cranberries (1/3 cup)||33||130|
|-English walnuts, chopped (1/4 cup)||4||191|
|-Asiago cheese, shredded (1 ounce)||1||134|
|-Reduced-fat Ranch salad dressing (2 tablespoons)||6||55|
|Strawberries (1 cup)||11||46|
|Sherbet, any flavor (1 1/2 cups)||78||416|
Nutritionist Pro published a report in 2018 stating that
Carrying extra carbohydrate during an endurance exercise may provide you with greater energy. Following carbohydrate loading, you may notice that you are less exhausted and that your performance has improved. Carbohydrate loading, on the other hand, is not beneficial for everyone. Other factors, such as how fit you are, how well you hydrate, and how vigorously you exercise, might have an impact on your athletic performance or interfere with the success of your carbohydrate-loading technique. Muscle tiredness can occur even when glucose loading is done properly, though.
When carbohydrate loading, women may need to take more calories than they would normally ingest in order to get the same advantages that men do.
You can do this by ingesting 30 to 60 grams of sports drinks, gels, or bars, fruit, or hard or chewy sweets every hour or two throughout your event, or by consuming 30 to 60 grams every two hours or so.
Every endurance athlete is different, and carbohydrate loading is not always the best option. When starting a carbohydrate loading program, it is recommended that you first check with your doctor or with a trained nutritionist. This is especially important if you have diabetes. It is possible that you may need to experiment with different amounts of carbs to discover the one that is most effective for you. A carbohydrate-heavy diet may result in some pain or adverse effects, such as the following:
- Discomfort in the stomach. It is possible that you will need to avoid or limit certain high-fiber meals one or two days before to your event. Beans, bran, and broccoli can produce gassy cramps, bloating, and loose stools
- They can also cause blood sugar to fluctuate dramatically. Loading up on carbohydrates might have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, keep track of your blood sugar levels during training or sessions to figure out what works best for you and what doesn’t. In addition, consult with your nutritionist or doctor to ensure that your food plan is healthy for you to follow.
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- The fundamentals of glucose loading for athletic performance. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). Kerksick CM, et al. (accessed July 5, 2018)
- Kerksick CM, et al. The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s view on nutrient timing is: Nutrient timing is important. Accessed at 14:33 on 2017-11-05. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. TD Thomas and colleagues Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine on the relationship between nutrition and athletic performance is available here. 2016, vol. 116, no. 501, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Duyff RL is a football club based in the Netherlands. When it comes to sports nutrition, moderation is key. In the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kenney WL, et al., Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Kenney WL, et al., Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 5th ed. Body composition and nutrition for athletes are important considerations. The Nutritionist’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Physiology (6th ed.). Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics
- Dietary analysis in favor of (computer program). Axxya Systems, Stafford, Texas, published in 2008. Deldique, L., et al., eds., accessed September 27, 2018. Women’s endurance runners should have a balanced diet, according to the most recent recommendations. Molecular Nutrition and Food Science, 2015
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Calories may be obtained from a variety of sources, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol. Every one of these macronutrients may be found in a balanced diet. Maintaining a healthy weight by balancing the calories we consume with the calories we expend on a daily basis can help us maintain, increase, or shed weight. Find out how to include more carbohydrates into your diet.
Not All Carbs Are Created Equal
Carbohydrates are found in three different forms in food: sugar, starches, and fiber. According to the chemical composition of the meal and the pace at which sugar is digested and absorbed, carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex carbohydrate sources. – Foods containing large amounts of simple sugars, particularly fructose, have been shown to elevate triglyceride levels in the blood stream. Triglycerides (also known as blood fats) are an essential barometer of metabolic health; excessive levels have been linked to coronary heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver, among other conditions.
- Simple carbs are digested fast and release bursts of glucose (energy) into the bloodstream immediately after consumption. That’s why you could experience a surge of energy after eating a dessert, followed by a crash of exhaustion once that rapid burst of energy has been exhausted. Simple sugars are present in refined sugars, such as the white sugar you’d find in a sugar bowl, and they’re also found in fruit juices. Added sugars (particularly refined sugars) give calories, but they are deficient in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and as a result, they can contribute to obesity. However, not all simple sugars are created equal. Simple sugars can also be found in meals that are higher in nutritional value, such as fruit and milk. These are “naturally occurring” sugars, and, in contrast to processed sugars, these sugars frequently contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our systems require. Complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly than simple carbs, resulting in a lower and more consistent release of glucose into the bloodstream. Some complex carbohydrate foods are better choices than others, just as some simple sugar foods are better choices than others. Several minerals and fiber have been removed from refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, due to the processing process. The B vitamins and other essential elements are often lacking in many foods made from refined grains such as white flour, white sugar, and white rice, unless the product is labeled as “enriched.” Unrefined whole grains, on the other hand, retain many of these essential nutrients and are high in fiber, which aids in the proper functioning of your digestive system. Because fiber makes you feel fuller longer, you are less inclined to overindulge in these meals. The reason why you will feel fuller for a longer period of time after eating a bowl of oats as opposed to the same amount of calories from sugary candies is explained here.
Why do I need carbohydrates?
As a result of consuming carbohydrates, your body converts them into simple sugars, which are then absorbed into the circulation. As your blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases a hormone known as insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin is required for the transport of sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, where the sugar may be used as an energy source. When this process is accelerated, as is the case with simple sweets such as sugar-sweetened beverages and high-calorie desserts, you are more likely to experience hunger again shortly thereafter.
As a result, you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Carbohydrates in some foods (mostly those that contain a high concentration of simple sugars) cause blood sugar levels to increase more quickly than carbohydrates in other foods.
Generally speaking, if you’re in good health, carbs are converted to glucose (blood sugar), which your body needs for energy.
Simple carbohydrates found in processed, refined or added sugars that do not contain any nutritional value include:
- Regular (non-diet) carbonated beverages, such as soda
- Table sugar
- Supplemental sugar
Complex carbohydrates, often referred to as “starchy” foods, include:
- Legumes, starchy vegetables, whole grains, and fiber are all good choices.
Make every effort to obtain carbs, vitamins, and other nutrients in their most natural state. For example, choose fruit instead of a soft drink and whole grains instead of processed flours when making food choices.
So when it comes to carbohydrates follow these recommendations:
- Reduce your intake of foods that are heavy in processed, refined simple sugars, which give calories but very little nutritional value. Increase your intake of complex carbs and healthful nutrients by increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Put an emphasis on whole-grain products such as rice, bread and cereals, and don’t forget about legumes such as beans, lentils, and dried peas.
Written by the editorial team of the American Heart Association and evaluated by scientific and medicine advisors.
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