Natural Sources of Carbohydrates
By far, the best place to get the carbohydrates that your body needs is from natural sources. While carbohydrate supplements can be valuable for individuals that have severe deficiencies, consuming as many carbohydrates as possible from natural whole food sources is the most healthy approach for the human body.
Provided in this article are good natural sources of carbohydrates that you can enjoy every day. Please use this article as a reference if you are having a difficult time deciding on which foods to eat to get your daily requirement of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body. The human body will breakdown carbohydrates before any other nutrient type to utilize as energy to fuel the body so that it can perform the various processes required to sustain life. Consuming enough carbohydrates is important as your body will turn to protein if it depletes it's sources of carbohydrates.
Individuals should consume a diet that consists of around 3.6 grams of carbohydrates for each pound of body weight every day. This requirement makes up the majority of your caloric intake.
Some important things to keep in mind:
Types of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can be divided into two primary groups: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates (i.e. simple sugars) are comprised one or two sugar molecules (mono- or di- saccharides) and are digested within a short period of time by the human body. For instance, fructose is a simple carbohydrate and is commonly found in a variety of fruit juices. Since fructose is a simple carbohydrate, the energy it provides to the body is short in duration.
Complex carbohydrates are composed of more than two sugar molecules (polysaccharides) and are digested fairly slowly by the human body. For example, starches are a more complex carbohydrate (i.e. potatoes, whole grains...). Complex carbohydrates require a longer period of time to be "broken down" and hence, provide long-term fuel for your body and are healthier than simple carbohydrates. For this reason, whenever possible, replacing simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates is a healthier dietary approach that also better supports weight loss and weight stabilization.
Carbohydrates are the human body’s preferred source of energy. In fact, the human body stores approximately 400 grams of carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, in its liver and muscle tissue.
Glycogen is then used to provide the human body with energy. In addition, carbohydrates are the sole source of energy for the brain and for red blood cells. This fact explains why individuals that consume a low carbohydrate diet typically feel tired and have difficulty concentrating and/or performing complex mental tasks.
Carbohydrates are primarily found in plant foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables and grain based products), however, at lower levels, carbohydrates can also be found in dairy products as well. The number of carbohydrates present in a food is measured in grams and 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories.