Your carbohydrates should mainly be made up of unrefined complex starchy and fibrous carbohydrates. Limit you simple carbohydrates as much as you can (sugar, sweets, etc.) and eliminate refined carbs completely from your diet. Unrefined complex carbohydrates should makeup most of your diet. Carbohydrates can be divided into 3 groups:
Simple Carbohydrates e.g. sugar, honey, fruit, fruit juice
Simple carbohydrates have a ‘simple’ molecular structure and are made up of 1-2 sugar molecules. The simplest form of carbohydrate is glucose. Simple sugars that are found in foods include sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruit), and lactose (found in milk). Not all simple carbs are bad. Natural simple carbs in fruit and milk are perfectly healthy. Low-fat or non-fat dairy such as yoghurt, milk and cottage cheese are healthy food choices and rich sources of calcium. Although fruits and (fresh) fruit juices are healthy and packed with minerals and vitamins, it is probably best to eat it them in moderation and consume 2 x pieces of fruit per day. So, if not all simple carbohydrates are ‘bad’, which ones are? Sugar (sucrose)! If you wanna lose weight, stay away from sugar.
Complex Carbohydrates eg. rice, wholemeal, pasta, wholegrains
Complex carbohydrates are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Complex starchy carbohydrates include whole grains, peas and beans, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. These complex carbohydrates, when kept in their natural form, have a low GI meaning for long-lasting energy and satiety. The problem with complex starch carbs is that they can be refined.
Refined carbohydrates are foods where machinery has been used to remove the high fibre parts from the grain. When a complex carb is refined it loses it complex structure and thus all the properties that made it a healthy choice. Instead it takes on the properties of a simple carbohydrate and is processed by the body in the same way. White rice, white flour, white bread, sugary cereals, and pasta, noodles and pretty much anything made from white flour are all examples of refined carbohydrates. You should stay away from refined carbs, as much as you should stay away from sugar. Refined carbohydrates also have a high glycemic index causing our blood sugar to rise and drop quickly after ingestion.
Complex fibrous carbohydrates eg. most vegetables
Fibrous carbs are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients and tend to be green vegetables. These are full of fibre, which is the indigestible portion of plant material. This means that much of the food passes straight through the gut and is not absorbed, thus they are great ‘colon cleansers’ and are essential for keeping the digestive process running clean and healthily!
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