Carbohydrate Fuel

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  • The three main energy producing nutrient foods for the body are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
  • Generally speaking, all carbohydrates are made of sugar, simple (honey, fruit, etc.) and complex (vegetables, whole wheat breads, etc) and contain 4 calories per gram.
  • Our first source of energy comes from carbohydrates. Simple carbs release the quickest and convert to fat more easily than do complex carbs which release more slowly and are important fuel for exercise.
  • Sucrose or table sugar is the most widely used of the sugars with Americans using over 150 tons annually.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheaper than sugar, builds insulin resistance, increases chances of obesity, is a main causative effect in Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome and should be AVOIDED, though the average American consumes 70 lbs per year!
  • Avoid processed foods, foods that contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Instead choose fresh fruits, vegetables and grains as your source of carbohydrates and you will be fast on your way to a more healthy life!

The most important, practical designation for carbohydrates is simple versus complex.  Simple carbs are single sugar molecules or short chains of sugars linked together. Some examples of simple carbs are sugar, honey, fruit and fruit juices. Complex carbs or starches are longer chains of sugars bonded together.  Examples include vegetables, breads, cereals and pasta.

Carbohydrates are the body’s first source of fuel due to the fact that the energy that exists in carbohydrates (about 4 calories per gram) can be released easily to fuel the cells. Simple carbs convert to energy (glycogen) very quickly and since our cells do not need a huge amount of energy all at once, there is a great likelihood that simple sugars get converted and stored as fat. The more simple sugars that you eat, the higher likelihood that your calories become fat. Complex carbs convert to glycogen more slowly and therefore are more useful for fueling the body when needed, i.e. during exercise.