Nutrition Series: Carbohydrates


All carbohydrates we ingest come from plants except for some found in milk sugars and minimal amounts in meat.

There are complex carbohydrates consisting of longer chains called polysaccharides found in vegetables and grains. There are also simple carbs consisting of monosaccharides and disaccharides–found in fruits, sugar, milk, etc.

(SOURCE: This image came from here!)

Two types provide fiber:

  1. Cellulose in plants provides insoluble fiber–the kind we cannot digest and gets passed as the “bulk” of our stool.
  2. There is also pectin that provides soluble fiber–the kind that reduces blood cholesterol.
  • Fiber is good because it helps us move waste out of the body and helps us to feel full when eating. Fiber is fermented in the colon where bacteria feed on the waste products and help synthesize vitamin K and B12. Good gut bacteria is essential! That’s why too many antibiotics can be harmful. The antibiotics can kill your good bacteria that help synthesize certain vitamins.

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However, the big guy on campus is GLUCOSE.

Glucose is used in all cells to produce ATP. Our body can also use fat to provide energy but glucose is particularly essential to neurons and red blood cells for their energy needs. **Even a temporary shortage of glucose to the neurons can depress brain function and lead to neuron death! –So our bodies have many mechanisms to cautiously monitor glucose levels. **

Excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles to be used in times of need, or it is stored as fat.

(SOURCE: This image came from here!)

Dietary guidelines suggest  45-65% of your total caloric intake should be made up of carbohydrates. However, there are populations like the Inuit who mainly eat fats and proteins, and there area populations that eat high amounts of carbohydrates.

Without carbohydrates our central nervous system can continue to survive through gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is creating glucose from non-carbohydrate sources and ketogenesis refers to ketone bodies that are by products from breaking down fats for fuel.

My personal opinion on carbohydrates: Do NOT fear them. Carbohydrates are like fuel for a car. If you fuel the car properly at the required times (when you’re running out of gas), the car will continue to run. If you over fuel the car, it won’t make the car go any faster or any better (you’ll just get fat). If you do not fuel the car, the car won’t be going anywhere on its own, but you’ll be able to push the car around/tow the car (if you don’t eat carbohydrates you can function–but not at optimal capacity to endure any type of demanding activity).

Activity to try: Limit your carbohydrates for a few days. Maybe lower them to around 100 grams for a few days. Continue to go to the gym and workout and see how you feel. Most likely you’ll feel tired and lethargic. Your muscles won’t work as efficiently as before. After those few days, slowly add more carbohydrates back into your diet each day. As you go to the gym, take note on how you feel. Are you energized and lifting well? –That’s a good number of carbohydrates. Do you feel like superman or woman and could continue to workout all day? –That could mean you’re eating too many carbohydrates for your activity level and can lead to weight gain. 

(SOURCE: This image came from here!)


It’s all about trial and error! Every one is an individual! Find what works for YOU and YOUR body and activity level!!!


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(SOURCE: This image came from here!)

Next time we’ll talk about fats in this 3 part series!

God bless!  ❤

Fitgirlfab 🙂

** All of this information came from my anatomy and physiology textbook, “Anatomy and Physiology 4th edition” by Elaine N. Marieb and Katja Hoehn **

Published by Danielle

28-year-old, Christian, family nurse practitioner with a love for health, fitness, wellness, medicine, and the human body.

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