Periodic Table -> Complex Carbohydrates

Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a basic kind of molecule containing carbon and water (hence the name) that are essential for all life on earth. The cells of your body break carbohydrates down to harvest the energy that is locked inside. Carbs come in two forms: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates, like sugar and corn syrup, are small clumps of half-a-dozen carbon atoms attached to a dozen more water molecules; complex carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, and starches, are long strings of simple carbs stuck together. Think of them as links on a chain, or pearls on a necklace. Our bodies can also harvest energy from proteins and fats found in meat and dairy, but there are good reasons to make carbs our main source of fuel, especially the more complex variety.

Whenever we eat carbohydrates of any sort, they enter our bodies and get broken down into glucose, which is the simple sugar that our bodies know how to use. The glucose is then carried in our blood to our cells, where it is processed in a series of cycles until it yields the energy that we need to function. Simple carbs don't take very long to break down into glucose, so our bodies digest them quickly and we get big bursts of energy. The more complex the carb, the longer it takes to digest, so the body gets its fuel slow and steady. This means it can process the energy more efficiently.

When our bodies have more energy than they need at any given point, glucose is built up into a complex carbohydrate called glycogen that is stored in our muscles and liver. When the body decides it has enough glycogen, and it still has too much energy, it begins converting the glucose to fat. Proteins and fats are converted to body fat much more quickly than carbs, so getting most of your energy from carbs is the healthier option.

As was mentioned before, the body processes energy from complex carbs more efficiently than simple sugars. If you're trying to cut down on the amount of body fat you already have, complex carbs don't overload your body with energy it doesn't have a place for. And since this slow burn is easier for the body to handle, diabetics and others who have to watch their blood sugar find their bodies have a much easier time metabolizing complex carbs than simple ones. Finally, foods rich in complex carbs, like fruits and grains, also come with fiber and other nutrients that keep your body running and fill you up faster. Overall, the best plan is to make complex carbs account for at least half of the calories you eat every day.

© 2015 | Privacy | About | Contact