Just wanted to spend a few minutes stalking about the Keto Lifestyle and carbs. What are they, how the body processes them, their importance, and how to get the carbs you need.
Let’s get started.
Carbs – What are they?
Simply stated, carbs are molecules. They are innocent enough in and of themselves, as they are simply made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. There are three types of carbs, simple, complex, and fibre.
Simple carbs are made up of just one or two sugar molecules and are easily broken down and absorbed into the blood. Simple carbs will raise your blood sugar very quickly, but won’t last very long. You will get a burst of energy, but then crash from that energy boost quite quickly. Simple carbs are substances such as fructose, galactose, lactose, and maltose.
Simple carbs lack any other substance but the sugar molecules, and can be referred to as empty calories. Any products with the “ose” ingredients, should be avoided if at all possible.
Complex carbs are starches. They are made up of longer chains of sugar molecules and take much longer to digest, therefore not raising the blood sugar as quickly.
The healthiest complex carbs are the ones that are the least processed or refined.
Fibre can also be categorized as a carb since it is a starch. Dietary fibers can be found in non-starchy vegetables and whole grains.
The bottom line is, there are carbs in just about everything we eat. Some are good carbs and some are not so good carbs. It is nearly impossible to avoid carbs.
Carbs – What does your body do with them?
When we eat anything, our bodies get to work breaking the food down into its molecules, using what it can, storing what it can, and eliminating the rest.
Carbs are no different. When we eat foods that contain carbs (almost all foods), our body knows what to do. It takes the carbs and turns them into energy. We need energy, so this is not a bad thing. Our bodies break down the carbs into sugar, and this sugar is used for energy.
The easiest sugars for the body to turn into energy are glucose, fructose, sucrose, and lactose. That is why when we eat foods with these substances in them, we get a burst of energy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long.
Foods that contain better carbs, like oatmeal, also contain a lot of fibre, so your body breaks the carbs down more slowly, making you feel fuller for a longer period of time and also stabilizes your blood sugar.
The problem is, that is we have too many carbs, our bodies will convert the excess sugar, the sugar we don’t need for energy, into fat and store it in our body for use later. Unfortunately, when we have more carbs the next day (and the next) our body makes more sugar for energy and doesn’t use the stored fat for energy.
We have become sugar burners and sugar burners store fat every day.
If we want to lose weight )fat) we need to stop using sugar for energy and start using fat for energy. The only way to do that is to limit the intake of sugar (read carbs) in our daily eating habits. Notice I said limit, not eliminate. We still need carbs, just the good ones!
Carbs – They are important!
Let’s be clear. Carbs are not essential to the body, and in fact, we could be completely fine without a single gram of carb intake. Our bodies would continue to function perfectly fine without carbs.
When we don’t eat carbs, our body switches into a ketone producing state and uses these ketones for energy. These ketones are made of fat. Our body will use the stored fat for fuel when we become a fat burner. This is, as you can imagine, a great way to burn stored fat and lose weight.
Remember, we don’t need to eliminate carbs, we just need to reduce the intake and make sure they are a good source of carbs, because the carbs we do eat can be beneficial, especially if they come from fruits and vegetables, since they contain many vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.
Carbs – The best sources of good carbs!
As a general rule, carbs in their most natural, fiber filled form, will be the best ones to have. If it is a whole, single ingredient food, then it is probably healthy, no matter what the carb content.
We can categorize carbs as “good” or “bad” based on the above idea. No categorization is perfect, just a guideline.
The Good Carbs
- vegetables – all of them, a variety of them, every day
- whole fruits – the closer they grow to the ground the better (same for veggies)
- legumes – peas, kidney beans, lentils, etc
- nuts – almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts
- seeds – chia, pumpkin
- whole grains – oats, quinoa, brown rice (limited quantities)
- tubers – potatoes, sweet potatoes (again, limited quantities)
The Bad Carbs
- sugary drinks – colas of any kind, energy drinks of any kind
- french fries and potato chips
- fruit juices – same amount of sugar as cola
- candies and chocolates – perhaps dark chocolate once in a while
- pastries, cookies, and cakes – high in sugar and refined ingredients
- ice cream – again, high in sugar
The number of grams of carbs that you will want to have is a personal choice. I try to keep my carb intake between 15 – 30 grams a day. That works for me. You need to find what works for you.
Let’s remember that making blanket statements, like “Carbs make you fat,” is not helpful or any more true than “Eating fat makes you fat.”
The truth is that restricting our carb intake can assist in losing body fat and therefore weight. The type of carb we need to restrict is the added sugar and refined carbs that are so popular in low calorie foods that are produced today.
We need to remember to stick to one ingredient whole foods as often as we can. As long as we are eating a combination of the three macros (fat 75%, protein 20%, carbs 5%), we should be able to keep our bodies burning fat for energy and continue on our path to health.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day.