The true energy generators of the human body are carbohydrates, or “carbs.” Carbs get their name from their chemical makeup of just carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O). The most familiar carbs are sugars, starches, and cellulose. The most common sugar molecule in the human body is glucose. In fact, the liver converts most other simple sugars into glucose.
There are two major types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
1) Simple Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates are also called simple sugars and occur in foods such as candies, cookies and cakes. In fact, just about any food that contains refined sugars (such as the white sugar you find in a sugar dish) can be considered a simple sugar food. Simple sugars also occur in more nutritious foods such as milk, fruit and some vegetables. Hopefully, most readers are aware that it makes far more sense to obtain simple sugars from fruits and vegetables than from sodas and candy! Fruits and vegetables provide you with more than sugar – they’ll be giving you vitamins, minerals and fiber. That extra-large slice of cake does not provide these nutrients.
Complex carbohydrates take longer than simple sugars for the body to break down. Unrefined grains are loaded with valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber (which helps your digestive system work better, as well as help you feel full, making you less likely to overeat). Have you ever noticed that a bowl of hearty oatmeal makes you feel full, while a sugary cereal with the same number of calories leaves you wanting more? Most vegetables are also good sources of complex carbs.
As soon as you eat carbohydrates, the body starts breaking them down into simple sugars. These sugars are then absorbed into the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises in your body, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin transports the sugar from the blood into the cells, where it’s used as a source of energy. If this process moves quickly – as it usually does with simple sugars – you’re more likely to feel hungry that much sooner. Complex carbs (i.e. whole grains), however, take much longer to break down and you won’t experience those hunger cravings as quickly. Complex carbohydrates give you energy over a longer period of time.
Besides their relationship to energy, complex carbs are healthier. As you just read, simple sugars cause a rapid rise in insulin (called an insulin spike). Over time, this extra stress on the pancreas can lead to diabetes. Diabetes is caused by an insufficient production of insulin or an inability of the body’s insulin receptors to interact with the hormone. In either case, the end result could be multiple medical problems including obesity, cardiovascular disease, reduced circulation in the extremities (often leading to amputation), and blindness. Although the primary focus of this chapter is on eating for bodybuilding purposes, you’re also improving your overall health by restricting your intake of simple sugars. Eating complex carbohydrates – whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, oats, barley; whole wheat breads and pastas; and most vegetables, including potatoes and sweet potatoes – is guaranteed to have you looking and feeling great.
The Importance Of Carbs
If you are serious about having a hardcore physique you must learn about nutrition. Carbs are the body’s primary source of energy. Without enough carbs you can forget going heavy and you’ll never have a rock-hard body. The glycogen your body produces from carbs is stored in your muscles. If your carb level is too low, your body must turn to protein as an energy source. Without adequate protein you can’t grow. End of story. Carbs also provide glucose to fuel your brain with energy. Carbohydrate intake affects your brain’s performance, your mood and personality. You may find it helpful to obtain a chart that lists the glycemic index of foods and then eat carbs that rate very low.