Vinny Russo

Carbohydrate – General Information

(Posted on Jun 18, 2012)

All carbohydrates form glucose, which is the fundamental fuel for all of the body’s functions. Glucose is transported by means of blood and taken into cells to be converted into energy. Insulin, produced by the pancreas gland, plays has an important task as it controls the uptake of glucose by your cells. After replenishing through insulin, if you have any surplus glucose, it will be converted into glycogen. When glucose is converted into glycogen, it’s stored in the liver or in the form of fat around the body. If your body needs more energy, glucagon is then released by the pancreas. Glucagon is used to convert the glycogen stored (either in the liver or as fat) back into glucose, which will then be released into your bloodstream for your cells to use. It is important to understand that the slower the release of glucose and hormones, the more stable and sustainable the energy levels of the body.

Everyone, including myself, has been subjected to the idea that carbohydrates are evil and will slap on the body fat. This can be true, but it all depends on when you consume your carbohydrates, and which type of carbohydrates you choose consume. Carbohydrates can be broken down into two categories; Simple carbohydrates which are your Monosaccharides and Disaccharides, and Complex carbohydrates which are your polysaccharides, glycogen and fiber. Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy found in food. Let’s take a look at some science before we go into how to eat your carbohydrates.

Monosaccharides are most likely to be consumed in processed foods that have been sweetened with added sugars like white, granulated table sugar (sucrose). This table sugar is one of the primary disaccharides by combining a molecule of glucose with a molecule of fructose. Other primary disaccharides include milk sugar (lactose) which combines a molecule of glucose with a molecule of galactose, and malt sugar (maltose) which combines two molecules of glucose. Like monosaccharides, disaccharides don’t ordinarily become a problem in the diet until they are consumed in excess. When consumed, these monosaccharides (Disaccharides when thrown together) provide you with a quick burst of energy. The simpler the carbohydrate, the faster the glucose is released into your blood. This can cause peaks and drops in your blood sugar level, and less stable energy levels in the body. Although these simple carbohydrates have a bad reputation, there are certain times of the day where it is important to consume them.

Complex carbohydrates provide a slower and more sustained release of energy than simple carbohydrates. In their natural form they contribute to long-term good health, appetite control, and sustained energy levels. Complex carbohydrates also provide a great deal of calories with a great deal of nutrient value. When compared to complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates give you a quick rise and fall in your energy levels and have a great deal of calories with little to no nutrient value. So now that you have your general understanding of carbohydrates, I will explain to you the best times to consume the different types of carbohydrates.

For one, a good percentage (the majority) of your diet should consist of calories provided by carbohydrates. It is important for overall health and hypertrophy to have a consistent supply of healthy carbohydrates throughout your day.One of the most important times to have your carbohydrates is after a workout. This is critical because it starts the whole recovery/muscle growth process. After an intense workout, you body becomes depleted of glycogen and glucose. This happens because the working muscles use glucose and glycogen for energy. Soon enough, those levels of glycogen and glucose get to a point where there isn’t enough available energy for your muscles to use.  So what happens next is your body goes into “stress mode” and releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol will use gluconeogenesis to provide the body with energy. This gluconeogenesis produces glucose from amino acids, basically meaning cortisol breaks down your protein and converts it to glucose (energy). These carbohydrates allow insulin to be released which will help shuttle all essential nutrients into your glycogen depleted muscles.

Now, when you do consume carbohydrates throughout your day, you will want to use complex carbohydrates.  This is important for the simple reason that these low-glycemic carbohydrates, like oatmeal, whole-grain/wheat bread, and vegetables are less likely to increase the storage of body fat.

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About the Author Vinny Russo

I have a Bachelors in Science, I am PN.1 certified, NFPT certified, and in the process of obtaining my CN.L (Clinical Nutritional License) and my MSCN (Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition). My mission is help you reach your health-related goals while educating throughout our journey together. The goal is to have you become a master of your own health by teaching you how nutrition works and what works best for your individual body.

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