What is a Carb?

In our new blog series, we are going to be focusing on some key fundamental nutrition concepts. However, we must define a few key terms such as nutrition, calories, nutrients, macronutrients, and micronutrients. I mean come on, we have all heard these words or phrases before but let’s just all get on the same page. 

What is nutrition? Put simply, nutrition is the food or energy that you provide your body in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is all about what you are fueling your body with. 

What is a calorie? A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree celsius. Calories are a measure of energy. We eat calories that our body stores and uses as fuel to perform work such as muscle contractions and other bodily functions. 

What is a nutrient? Nutrients are substances the body requires to perform its basic functions. Some nutrients contain energy (calories) and some do not. There are 7 main nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. This blog series will go into each of these nutrients

What is a macronutrient? Macro means large, and we just learned what a nutrient is so if we put it together, a macronutrient refers to the nutrients we need in large amounts. These also are the nutrients that provide energy to the body which are protein, carbs, and fat.

What is a micronutrient? Micro means small, therefore micronutrients refer to nutrients we need in smaller amounts. These nutrients do not directly provide energy, rather they play a helping hand and therefore are extremely important. Vitamins and minerals are both micronutrients. 

Now we can talk about our first piece of our series on nutrition which is carbohydrates. What is a carbohydrate? Well as we learned above, carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients. They are the starches, sugars, and fiber that are contained in the food we eat. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. 

There are two types of carbs, complex and simple carbs. Complex carbs (remember starch and fiber) take time for the body to process and help with the prolonged release of energy because of the high amount of nutrients and vitamins. These come from foods like brown rice, wheat, oats, starchy vegetables, beans, peas, and lentils. Complex carbohydrates are a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber. This can help us feel more full for longer which in turn can lead to weight loss. Complex carbohydrates do not spike our blood sugar prior to eating which is very beneficial in prolonged energy release.

Simple carbohydrates are also referred to as simple sugars. These simple sugars get processed almost immediately and burn out as a fuel source much quicker. These carbohydrates are composed of refined sugars that contain very little vitamins or nutrients which can make them harmful to the body when consumed regularly. Some examples of simple carbohydrates include; candy, fruit juices, white bread, soda, and corn syrup. While some simple carbs are found naturally in food, a majority of simple sugars are added into food products. These food products can cause high spikes in our blood glucose level (how much sugar is in the blood) When striving for health, we want to limit our intake of simple carbohydrates.

Many people give carbs a bad rap, thinking they are evil! This is not entirely true because they are not defining which type of carbohydrates are evil. We like to stay away from absolutes because we believe in balance. We don’t want to restrict any-one food or food group. However, Complex carbohydrates are key in long term health. They can help with weight management and even serve as a defender of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. 

Over our next few blog posts, we will be diving into more nutritional concepts such as protein, fat, vitamins, and nutrients. If you have a question about ANYTHING, please send us an email at manager@gslfitness.com or leave a comment below!