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Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates



Cspruce grains can be eaten in the afternoon, carbohydrate-free diets are bad, and 20 more things to know about “great and not terrible”. Trainer, sports nutritionist Polina Vysotskaya debunks “carbohydrate” myths.

Polina Vysotskaya

Trainer, sports nutritionist

“Fast” carbohydrates begin to break down in the mouth

The difference between “fast” and “slow” carbohydrates is the rate of absorption. The group of “simple” includes monosaccharides – they consist of one molecule (glucose, fructose, galactose), disaccharides – consist of two molecules (sucrose, lactose, maltose). They are sweet, dissolve well in water, begin to break down in the mouth and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. A few minutes after taking them, the blood glucose level will increase, but after 30-40 minutes it drops again – the person wants to eat again. “Slow” carbohydrates are made up of three or more molecules. They break down for a long time, begin to be absorbed in the intestines, provide a slow increase in blood glucose levels and a long-term feeling of fullness.

When losing weight, the amount of carbohydrates should be reduced, but not excluded from the diet.

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

Normally, the daily volume of carbohydrates is 50% of the diet. How much it is in grams depends on many factors: type of activity, daily activity, presence / absence of training, diseases, and others. But there are also generally accepted numbers. When losing weight, the norm of carbohydrates is 2 g per 1 kg of weight, while maintenance is from 4 to 6 g per 1 kg.

“Fast” carbohydrates are not harmful

“Fast” carbohydrates are macronutrients. We cannot consider them harmful.

For “fast” carbohydrates, you just need to find the right place in the diet. First, there should be much less of them than “slow” ones – from 20 to 30% of the daily requirement. Secondly, it is ideal when the intake of “fast” carbohydrates falls on the time before training.

A banana eaten 30 minutes before going to the gym will only do good and provide energy for intense physical activity.

Carbohydrates can be eaten at night

On the topic of whether it is possible to eat carbohydrates at night, the debate does not stop. And if earlier everyone was inclined to “prohibit”, today most experts do not see anything wrong with their use. My opinion: if during the day you did not get carbohydrates, porridge or, for example, whole grain pasta will only help you sleep better and will not harm your figure in any way. Only without fanaticism! When you consume exclusively protein during the day, you do not need to eat your daily carbohydrate intake before bed.

Lack of carbohydrates in the diet leads to apathy

The first signs of an insufficient amount of carbohydrates in the diet: lethargy, lethargy, irritability, drowsiness. This condition can be accompanied by nausea, halitosis, headaches, and muscle cramps. A rational diet should consist of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Honey is a “fast” carbohydrate, but much healthier than sugar

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

Sugar is an “empty” product that does not contain any useful micro- and macroelements. Honey contains folic acid, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B2 and B6, iodine. It has excellent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. But from a nutritional point of view, this is the same “simple” carbohydrate as sugar – its use should be limited when losing weight and maintaining weight.

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Not all dairy products are high in carbohydrates

All dairy products are high in carbohydrates – this is a myth! They contain lactose – milk sugar, but not much of it. For example, in cheese, cottage cheese, its content is minimized. But in milk, yoghurts with additives, carbohydrates are enough. In baked milk, 2.5% fat contains 3.2 grams of protein, but 4.5 grams of carbohydrates.

With active training, the rate of carbohydrates is higher

With intense sports and great physical activity, the rate of carbohydrates is higher than that of those who lead a passive lifestyle. In this case, it is calculated individually, in proportion to energy consumption – there is no single figure and cannot be.

Low-carb diets are temporary

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

We can talk about the dangers of low-carb diets forever! By giving up carbohydrates, you deprive yourself of fiber necessary for normal digestion, dietary fiber contained in cereals, micro and macro elements. It is the main “fuel” for the body, which provides energy and ensures the normal functioning of internal systems and organs. With a lack of carbohydrates, the body starts the process of breaking down proteins, and this can cause the formation of ketone bodies in the liver. Long-term failure can lead to irreversible processes – remember this.

The glycemic index and the percentage of carbohydrates in the product are different numbers

Anyone who adheres to proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle needs to “make friends” with this concept. The glycemic index is the rate at which blood sugar levels rise after consuming carbohydrate foods. You cannot calculate it yourself. There are tables on the Internet with the glycemic index of popular foods – use them. We talked more about the glycemic index here.

A high GI is considered to be from 70, low – up to 35.

I want to draw your attention to the fact that apart from buns and chips, I also have a high GI of some fruits and vegetables: potatoes, boiled carrots, melon. You do not need to exclude them from the diet. To make the right menu, look at the percentage of carbohydrates. For example, the GI of potatoes is 95 and the percentage of carbohydrates is 11.5. When calculating KBZHU, take the second digit.

Morning is the wrong time for sweets

The rule “eat sweet for breakfast if you really want to” has nothing to do with PP. Morning is not the best time for fast carbs. Your blood sugar drops overnight, and raising it with a bar of chocolate sets the pace for the day. Having eaten sweet at breakfast, you will want it until the evening. If there is nothing without dessert, leave it for lunch, or in the afternoon, when there is a decrease in activity and glucose will be good for the brain.

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Carbohydrates help your brain function

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

This is true, but with some amendments. The brain does not need carbohydrates, but glucose. You can stimulate brain activity not only with candy, but also with buckwheat, “correct” pasta, bulgur and other whole grain products. Any carbohydrate sooner or later breaks down to glucose. In some cases, when there is only a couple of minutes to “turn on” the brain, you can eat a chocolate bar – there is nothing wrong with that.

Carbohydrate addiction exists

Carbohydrate dependence is psychological and physiological. In the first case, this is due to a lack of joy hormones (endorphins, serotonin). When “emotional” hunger occurs, a person compensates for it with sweet. Dealing with addiction is quite simple: increase the amount of whole grains in the diet and the problem will be solved.

Physiologically, things are a little more complicated. Having eaten something sweet, sugar in the blood rises sharply, and insulin is produced in the liver, which is necessary for the transport of glucose to the tissues that need it. After that, the sugar level goes down. The brain again receives a signal about its lack, and the process starts again. It turns out a vicious circle. Partially “excess” glucose is deposited in the form of glycogen, most of it is transformed into subcutaneous fatty tissue. To eliminate physiological dependence, you need to involve specialists. Blood glucose levels normalize chromium. It is found in large quantities in broccoli, liver, legumes. Try adding them to your diet if sugar cravings are becoming the rule, not the exception.

High-carb foods really make you sleepy

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

After eating, blood rushes to the digestive tract. Because of this, blood circulation in the muscles decreases – the body begins to relax. This is the reason why you want to take a nap after a hearty meal.

Food with protein-carbohydrate alternation

BUCH (protein-carbohydrate alternation) is a nutritional system implying the alternation of days when it is necessary to eat exclusively protein foods with days during which the menu consists mainly of carbohydrate products. The diet looks something like this: the first day is mixed, the second and third you rely on cottage cheese, fish, eggs, lean meat. The diet of the fourth and fifth days should consist of non-starchy vegetables and fruits, various cereals, and whole grain bread. Then again you need to return to protein foods for two days. This type of diet for weight loss is not suitable for everyone and works if there is a calorie deficit. You can’t eat like that all the time – there should be no more than 4 cycles.

Lack of carbohydrates negatively affects immunity

This is true. For the normal functioning of the immune cell, proteins, water, electrolytes and glucose are needed. With its lack, immunity decreases.

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There are foods in which the carbohydrate content is reduced to zero.

There are a lot of them. These are fish, beef, chicken, turkey, rabbit meat, all types of seafood, mushrooms and cheese.

“Good” carbohydrates are found in legumes, whole grain bread, bulgur, buckwheat, and bread. Look for “fast” but healthy carbohydrates in fruits.

The concept of “carbohydrate window”

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

After any physical activity, the metabolism becomes faster. During exercise, the body increases the level of adrenaline and cortisol. It remains high for 20 to 40 minutes, after which it begins to decline. During this period, the body needs to replenish glycogen stores. This requires glucose, which can be obtained from “fast” carbohydrates. In simple words, the “carbohydrate window” is a period when the body can instantly process carbohydrates without transforming them into subcutaneous fatty tissue.

Carbohydrates do not gain weight

We do not gain weight from any macronutrient, be it fat or carbohydrate. Body weight is directly proportional to the daily calorie intake (if we are talking about an absolutely healthy person). This surplus can be taken up by proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The reason that carbohydrates are blamed for being overweight is as follows: a modern person consumes too many “empty” calories obtained from baked goods, bread, white flour, milk chocolate, and pastries. They are high in calories and are not able to satisfy hunger for a long time. And after eating 500 kcal, in an hour you will eat the same amount. And as a result – a regular bust of the daily calorie intake and excess weight.

Protein and carbohydrates go together

The myth that proteins and carbohydrates are not combined has migrated from the adherents of separate nutrition. Our body perfectly assimilates this “couple”. There is no need to be a biochemist: there are practically no products containing only proteins or only carbohydrates. In most cases, they contain all the macronutrients. Buckwheat, for example, contains both carbohydrates and proteins. At the same time, it is perfectly digested and gives a burst of energy. Even meat contains glycogen. Calmly combine protein and carbohydrate foods.

Fiber and carbohydrates are different things

Great and not terrible: 22 facts you need to know about carbohydrates

Unlike carbohydrates, fiber does not provide any nutritional value – it does not provide energy. But you cannot exclude it from the diet. Fiber contributes to normal digestion with a large amount of protein foods, does not allow blood glucose to rise sharply, and contains many useful minerals.

You can not limit yourself in carbohydrates if you exceeded their norm the day before

If you went too far with carbohydrates during the day, in no case do not limit yourself in calories for the next. Failure to comply with the balance of KBZHU is stress for the body. Food restriction is even more stressful. Just normalize your carbohydrate content – that’s all it takes. You cannot gain weight from a one-time overeating – maximum water, which will quickly go away when the diet is normalized.

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