On episode 16 of RX Fit Tips, we started a series on macronutrients. Macronutrients may be somewhat of an unfamiliar term, but its substrates are most definitely not. Things like carbohydrates, protein and fat. The highly debated big 3 that lead to very controversial approaches to diets and even fitness routines.
My goal is not to tell you how much to consume, or how, or when. It is simply to help clear the air of mystique surrounding these terms and give you a better idea of how to help impact your fitness/health journey based on your unique biology and lifestyle.
What are carbohydrates?
What makes up this highly talked about nutrient? On our podcast we get into the weeds of the specifics of what constructs each carb. For your time (and ours) we will stick to the absolute basics. Well they come in 3 forms (I'm only covering the compounds that we will be referencing for practicality):1. Monosaccharides - sucrose (table sugar) glucose (the form the body uses for energy)2. Disaccharides - Lactose (the sugar that causes issues in many adults) Maltose, Fructose3. Polysaccharides - Cellulose (Fiber) Glycogen (stored glucose)
Saccharide - sugarsMono - one Di - two sPoly - 3 or more
* Keep in mind that the only form that the body uses for energy is glucose. Everything else has to converted into glucose in order to be used by cells.* Cellulose (Fiber) cannot be digested by humans. This is why it does not count towards your carbohydrate intake and helps a lot with digestion to clear everything out. It also slows the spike of insulin and blood sugar (more on that in a minute).
Why Structure Matters:
In its raw form, (apples, bread, avocado) you want as many structures (bigger is better) as possible to benefit your energy levels and metabolic processes. Meaning, if you eat carbs in its glycogen form, your metabolism has to work harder to break it down into glucose. That requires energy, and that means you are burning energy in order to make energy. Also, fiber plays a huge role in weight management because of this metabolic inefficiencies.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates how the body uses and stores glucose and fat. Not all carbs are created equal. As you can see in the graph below, different foods have different effects on the spike of insulin. You do not want a massive spike when eating carbs, or a low injection of insulin either. It's a balance, because you want insulin to use up glucose in the blood but not store the glucose as fat. You want a slow steady stream of insulin so the transport can be managed before it has to be transported into fats.