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Information On Carbohydrates
by Justin Leonard
Written on October 29, 2000

What are the different types of carbohydrates (carbs) and how does the body utilize them?

Technically, there are five families of carbs, but for this article I'll keep it to three: the complex, the simple, and the fibrous carb. Complex carbohydrates are "slowly" released into the system (body). Examples of complex carbs are potatoes and pasta. Complex carbs make up the bulk of most diets. They stay in the body longer than any other type of carb and are utilized over extended periods of time.

Complex carbs are required for any activity involving endurance or stamina. High carb consumption is the best way to store and build up energy. Complex carbs ideal when taken after a workout because they help to replenish lost energy as a result of exercise.

Complex carbs can have an undesired effect on someone wanting to lose weight if they're taken in excess. They can actually cause you to gain weight and produce fat. Be careful not to take this nutrient in excess if you're trying to lose weight!

Ever wonder how sumo wrestlers become so fat? Trust me, they don't get that way by eating fat. Their primary source of food is rice (complex carbs) eaten in extremely large quantities. Their weight gain is caused due to the slow release of complex carbs over an extended period of time (even during sleep).

Simple carbs are considered "instant use" carbs due to the fact that they are quickly used (burned up) by the body. Examples of simple carbs are refined sugar and honey. Simple carbs are ideal when there's a need for quick energy. For example, sprinters and short distance swimmers can benefit by consuming simple carbs before their event.

The fibrous carb is needed to breakdown complex carbs and protein. This type of carb is found most abundant in vegetables and grains. Indicated is a chart which shows additional examples of the different types of carbohydrates.

Simple

Complex

Fibrous

Candy

 

Bread

 

Spinach

Refined Sugar

Rice

Lettuce

Honey

Potatoes

Broccoli

Fruit

Pasta

Greens

Juices

Oatmeal

Cauliflower

Soda

Cereal

Green Beans

The recommended consumption ratio for carbohydrates is 1 - 1.5 grams per gram of protein, and 2 - 3 grams in post workout meals. My realistic translation: It's basically what the average person already consumes . . . You may require more or less carbohydrates if you're an athlete or on a special diet.

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