Carbohydrates comprise the largest part of our food and provide our bodies with rapid energy. They consist of sugar molecules and are the fuel for muscles and the brain. Choosing the right carbohydrates is crucial for a slim body.
Carbohydrates are our most important energy source and are among the most complex nutrients. From a chemical standpoint, carbohydrates are a combination of carbon, oxygen and water – hence, sugar. For a long time they were demonized as fatteners in low carb diets, but not all carbohydrates are the same: They have a different number of sugar molecules and are processed very differently by our bodies. Three groups are distinguished depending on the number of their sugar building blocks: Monosaccharides (dextrose and fructose), disaccharides (household sugar and lactose) and polysaccharides (fiber and starch)
All types of carbohydrates have about 4 calories per gram – except fiber. They have no nutritional value because our bodies cannot digest or utilize them.
Dietary fiber and starch are the highest quality and most important carbohydrates for us. They prevent our blood sugar levels from rising after a meal because they have
to be broken down into monosaccharides before they can be absorbed into the blood. They slow down our digestion and keep us full longer. They also contain many vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances and have a very low fat content. Carbohydrates that are good for our bodies are therefore ideally rich in fiber and starch and which have been subjected to only minimal or at best no industrial processing, such as brown rice, potatoes, vegetables, legumes, but also wholemeal products.
Disaccharides are found mainly in sweets, chocolate, bakery products and all highly processed foods such as convenience and fast food. They rapidly enter the bloodstream, and are thus quickly usable for our bodies, but do not have a lasting effect on our sense of satiety despite a whole lot of calories. Disaccharides cause blood sugar levels to rise considerably, resulting in a high insulin release. This in turn causes a rapid drop in blood sugar, so that we are hungry again after only a short time. Now let’s go back to convenience food or processed foods with a high proportion of disaccharides, this roller coaster ride repeats itself and we quickly consume plenty of calories.
Monosaccharides are the simplest form of sugar, because they have only one sugar molecule. They include glucose and fructose.
Our bodies can burn glucose rapidly to produce energy, which is why extreme athletes like to use it to provide energy quickly. However, glucose also causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. The situation is different with fructose, which is found in almost all fruits, many vegetables and honey: This source of sugar is better for the body when combined with the dietary fibers in fruit and vegetables. Fructose is also metabolized by the liver, and this has no significant effect on blood sugar levels.
Too much glucose leads to a faster weight gain than fructose. Minerals and trace elements are mainly found in fresh vegetables.