What’s so Macro About the Macronutrient “Carbohydrate”

What comes first in your mind on hearing the word “Carbohydrates”? It is one of the potent macronutrients as well as the major source of energy for a human body. Hard to digest the fact? Declared as one of the controversial foods of the world, people with little or no knowledge about nutrition often consider eliminating carbs from their diet thinking they will some day or the other require going under the knife. To explain a layman, just like a car requires fuel to get going, the human body demands sufficient energy to carry out his daily chores. And the highest amount of energy in the form of calories can only be received from carbohydrates, 45 - 65% to be precise. Whether an athlete, a gym goer or a sedentary, adding the nutrient is a must based on his lifestyle.

What makes Carbohydrates the Favourite Nutrient?

Like mentioned above, carbohydrates are the major source to provide energy to the body. Carbohydrate rich foods consumed by an individual are further broken down into glucose to convert into energy in the form of ATP. Carbohydrates also play an important role in fat metabolism. Without the mediator oxaloacetic acid, fats tend to get converted into ketones which are toxic to the body. The minimum daily requirement of this macronutrient for an average person is 130 g, which can be increased to a maximum of 300 g based on lifestyle and exercise intensity. However, when carbs are consumed in excess amounts, it tends to get stored as fats, resulting to gaining unwanted body weight. 

Are all Carbohydrates okay to add in a diet?

Carbohydrates are classified into two types:

Simple Carbohydrates: “Sugar” should be the first word to hit you on hearing this term. The refreshing packaged juices and sodas, the pretty pieces of pastries and even your daily cereals that have become a crucial part of your life are all examples of simple carbs. Also referred to as ‘Bad Carbs’, almost half the population today have been cursed with the diet leading them to never-ending health issues and most commonly, weight management problem.

Complex Carbohydrates: The foods that your mother has been insisting you to eat all these years come under this category and are termed as ‘Good Carbs’. Good healthy carbs are your whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, oats, corn, beans as well as rice. They work magically to help maintain weight as well as aid in controlling numerous health issues including cholesterol.

How healthy and beneficial are Carbohydrates for the body?

When a person starts to add a proportionate amount of carbohydrates in his diet, he will be gifted with a plethora of benefits with the major ones being:

  1. It acts as a protein sparing nutrient, meaning it allows protein to focus on muscle recovery rather than providing energy to the body
  2. Contributes to satiety and delayed gastric emptying to help lower cholesterol levels and keep the gut healthy
  3. Acts as a preferred fuel for the nervous tissue and the Red Blood Cells (RBC)
  4. Helps in regulating blood sugar levels that can be either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia
  5. Helps the liver know when to degrade antibodies by being cleaved off the proteins making up the immunoglobulin

It is a myth and common misconception that carbohydrates tend to only gain weight and lead a person to the gates of several diseases. Like the saying goes, “Excess of everything is bad”. So, ensure adding adequate amount of every nutrient to your diet and bestow yourself to a healthy, wealthy and wise life.

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