The Primary Function of Carbohydrates in Your Diet

With the rise of low-carb diet trends in the past few decades, carbohydrates have developed a bad reputation. While it’s true that overloading on white bread and other simple carbs can cause high blood sugar and tax your metabolism, carbs are still an essential part of your diet. The human body needs them to support a variety of functions, and it’s not healthy to cut them completely. Learn more about how carbs benefit you and how you can incorporate them into your diet.

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are sugar molecules. The function of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy. Your body converts carbohydrates into glucose, which it then uses when you need immediate energy or stores in the liver and muscles. 

Carbohydrates come in three types: sugar, starch, and fiber. Sugars, like those added to candy and other processed foods, are simple carbohydrates while starches and fibers are complex carbohydrates. Fruits contain simple carbohydrates, but also serve as a good source of fiber and other vitamins, so you don’t have to cut them from your diet when you’re trying to incorporate carbs in a healthier way. 

The Functions of Carbohydrates in Your Diet

Your body needs carbs to generate energy for physical activity and other bodily functions. Here are some major functions and health benefits of carbs. 

Source of Energy for the Body and Brain

Glucose is your brain’s desired source of energy, and carbohydrates supply the body with glucose. When you incorporate the right types of carbs into your diet, they help stabilize your blood sugar, keeping your brain fueled all day. 

Some complex carbohydrates including whole grains also offer antioxidant properties, which protect your brain cells from free radicals. These are airborne atoms that cause damage to your cells. You’re exposed to them through air pollutants like secondhand smoke, among other vectors. 

Support Digestive Health

Complex carbohydrates also help improve your digestion, particularly those that are high in dietary fibers. These foods are harder for your body to digest and take longer to break down, providing steady energy and helping you feel full for longer. 

Dietary fiber also helps your overall digestion because your colon uses it to stay healthy. High-fiber diets can help you keep your gut intact and lower your risk of colorectal cancer. They also help lower your cholesterol, which helps improve your heart health. 

How To Incorporate Carbohydrates Into Your Diet

Learning how to incorporate carbs into your diet in a healthy way using the principles of clinical nutrition can help you reap their benefits without experiencing sugar crashes and other unhealthy side effects of eating too many simple carbs. Balance your diet with these foods.

Fiber-Rich Fruits and Vegetables

Fiber-rich fruits are a great source of carbohydrates that satisfy your sweet tooth. Although they are considered simple carbohydrates, which generally cause a sugar crash, fiber from fruits helps slow digestion, giving you a steady stream of energy. High-fiber fruits include pears, raspberries, bananas, and apples.

Vegetables serve as an excellent source of fiber and they’re high in many of the nutrients your body needs to function. High-fiber vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, beets, collard greens, and Swiss chard, among others. 

Women should eat between 21-25 grams of fiber per day, and men should eat between 30-35 grams. Look at nutrition facts before writing your shopping list to find the fruits and vegetables you like that are high in fiber and offer other nutritional benefits. 

You can easily add these to your diet. making smoothies with multiple ingredients or packing fruits and veggies into small cups you can take out later and snack on. 

Whole Grains

Whole grains include more fiber than their refined counterparts, and they are harder for your body to digest. If you’re trying to be smart about your carbs, you don’t have to cut bread and pasta entirely. Instead opt for those made of whole grains, including bran, oatmeal, quinoa, and barley. You can even try air-popped popcorn!

Whole grains pack multiple nutrients into one food, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They also have antioxidant properties, which protect your cells from damage due to pollution, stress, and other environmental factors. 

Unless you’re making bread and cereal from scratch, consult the nutrition information and choose those that have higher levels of dietary fiber and lower levels of sugar. Read through the ingredients to make sure these foods aren’t made from a mix of whole grains and refined grains. Look for foods in which whole grain is among the first ingredients. Keep an eye out for added sugars. 

Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils are packed with nutrients, dietary fiber, and other compounds that give you cellular energy and fuel your body’s main functions. They supply you with folate, iron, potassium, and magnesium, all of which can help prevent anemia and keep your body functioning at its best. 

They come in multiple varieties and are easy to add to multiple dishes and snacks. Chickpeas, peas, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, and more can add a creamy texture to soups and other dishes. You can even make a healthy take on chocolate cake with black beans!

Dip your veggies or whole-wheat crackers into hummus for an ultra-healthy snack that will keep you energized all afternoon. 

Not All Carbs Are the Same

The overabundance of added sugar and simple carbs in modern diets has given carbohydrates a bad reputation. However, not all carbs are created equal. While simple carbs such as candy, refined sugar, and soda offer a quick energy boost and leave you with a crash, complex carbohydrates help keep your body fueled all day. 

If you’re ready to add complex carbs to your diet without sacrificing comfort food, try Muscle Mac. This mac and cheese is made with pea protein and real cheese, providing you with complex carbs and amino acids for energy. 

It lets you indulge in the pasta you love without the sugar crash. Get some Muscle Mac today and add some complex carbs to your balanced diet.