Carbohydrates, fat, and protein are the three macronutrients found in foods. Macronutrients are those nutrients that form the majority of our diet.
Carbohydrates come in three different types: sugar, starch, and fiber.
Sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables is digested slower compared to those foods with refined sugars. The fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables helps in slowing things down. This is only the case when you eat the whole fruit or vegetable. When it comes to fruit juices, the fiber is now removed and when consumed in large amounts has an effect on how quickly it gets to the blood stream. Fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar, also have more calories.
Foods (and sugary drinks) with refined sugars have little or no fiber and the sugar travels quickly through the bloodstream resulting in spikes. This is why you feel that sugar rush and then crash once that spike goes back down. Refined sugar not only causes these roller coaster blood sugar levels, but typically lacks nutritional value while being high calorie. You may have heard the term “empty calories” and that’s not what we want.
Starch is found in breads, rice, potatoes and pasta. These foods are a slow and steady energy source throughout the day. Best prior to time when energy is needed for long periods of intense exercise and also for recovery.
Fiber is our favorite of the 3 types of carbs as it provides bulk to our food making us feel satiated and also keeps our gut healthy. Fiber is found in the cell walls of plant-based foods like whole grains, bean, lentils, and vegetables with skins on them. These foods also provide a variety of nutrients and vitamins.
Not all carbs are created equal and carbs from whole food sources are an important component of your diet!