We have already told you about proteins and fats, and now we’re presenting you the last article of the series which will tell you about…
Carbohydrates, the main source of energy in human body, and, besides, one of the main cause of problems with overweight.
Functions of carbohydrates are the following:
- They are the direct energy source.
- They participate in plastic process of metabolism.
- They are a part of protoplasma, subcell and cell structures, carring out the support function for cells.
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex, depending on their composition (single molecules or molecular chains). Simple carbohydrates are used mostly for direct energy supply, but also they can be saved in the form of complex polysaccharides: for plants it is starch, for animals and humans – glycogen, which is stored in liver and muscles.
It should be noted that glycogen reserved in our muscles is utilized during strength training exercises for their energy supply. Therefore it is highly important to monitor your diet for enough amount of carbohydrates. Otherwise, if you have chronic deficit of carbohydrates, glycogen reserves will lower down little-by-little (rather to say they will not fully recover), which can would lead to the accumulation of tiredness and occurrence of overtraining.
Simple carbohydrates are quickly assimilated, because our body doesn’t need to digest them, and they are rapidly injecting into the blood (that’s why they are also called carbohydrates with high glycemic index, detailed about that info will be in tomorrow’s post). Complex carbohydrates are slowly digested, gradually injecting into the blood and smoothly keep glucose level in it, providing the organism with energy for a long time.
Here’s an example: carbohydrates from pasta can be assimilated for at least 12 hours. Accordingly to this if you choose to eat mainly complex carbohydrates, they will give you longer feeling of satiety, less quantity of jumps in appetite and sugar feeling caused by energy shortage.
Carbohydrates are needed for energy supply of all cells and tissues, however our central nervous system need them most. Each day human brain consumes about 100 g (380 kcal) of pure glucose. It is an approximate minimum amount of carbohydrates, which is required per day for energy supply of tissues using glucose and for minimization of protein breakdown (so called protein-saving function of carbohydrates).
I‘d like to make the following comparisons for better visualization:
Proteins are the building bricks of our body.
Fats are like wood, which could be used straightly for building (it is possible to make walls from them for example), as well as for energy production, i.e. they could be burned. It is also important that the wood can be stored and stocked.
Carbohydrates are like electricity. You cannot keep it much, although you can store some of it in batteries. But in all cases when you need energy the body uses carbohydrates, they are best suited to these needs.
Vitamins and Minerals are like precious stones, which are also used in some sort of industries. Like diamonds which are required for making extreme durable tools. We don’t need a lot of these diamonds, but without them our body will not cope.
It should be noted that our body can transform one type of nutrient in another. From carbohydrates it can synthesize any other type of carbohydrates and some fats, from fats – another fats and carbohydrates etc.
However its transforming capabilities are limited.
Our body can produce proteins only using other proteins, but not from fats and carbohydrates. Besides there are some amino acids (part of proteins), some fatty-acids (part of fats), and also some vitamins, which human body cannot synthesize at all. They’re called indispensable, and they can only be obtained from food. By the way, there are no indispensable carbohydrates – our body can get them from any other type of nutrients.
Continuing the comparisons I've given above, our body needs stones and wood and a small amount of diamonds. They should be of high quality and worthy origin. In order to process and transform them you need enough energy. The most important thing is to keep balance and also regular coming in of some quantity of indispensable resources.