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Carbohydrates: How many do we need, and for what?

Eat plenty of carbohydrates, but less protein and fat, that was the recommendation for many years. Then came the low fashion, carbohydrates gained notoriety. Until today, opinions are divided on the question, how many carbs are useful. Reason enough to take a closer look: What are really considered carbohydrates? What food it is? Do we need carbohydrates at all? What do they mean for diabetics, in sports or in weight loss? Here are some answers.Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates: not only sweet sugar

The carbs are a large family of substances which are predominantly composed of sugar units. Chemically, they are made of carbon (hence the name), hydrogen and oxygen. There are the carbohydrates mainly by number of sugar units.

The Simple sugars (monosaccharides) consist of individual sugar components.

By linking two sugar units formed the Disugar (disaccharide). Known representative of the table sugar (sucrose), which is composed of fructose and glucose. This group also includes milk sugar (lactose), which consists of dextrose and phlegm sugar (galactose). Both the single and the double sugar taste more or less sweet.

Polysugar (polysaccharides) are called carbohydrates with at least ten sugar units. Starch is a polysaccharide and one of the most important carbohydrates in our diet. Another representative is glycogen, a form of glucose, which is used in our body to store sugar. These multiple sugar taste neutral. Chewing, foods with high starch can feel the sweet taste. The reason is that the long starch chains are broken down into its sugar components.

Fiber, the complex carbohydrates

In the group of polysaccharides, there are numerous highly complex structured carbohydrates that consist of sugar building blocks and other materials. This also includes the fiber. These fibrous materials we can not break down and recycle, but they fill the bowel and thus keep our digestive busy. The plants they serve mainly as construction and support substances such. As cellulose or pectins. Therefore, can be found in grains, fruits and vegetables or legumes especially a lot of fiber. Some are water-soluble dietary fiber such as pectin, carrageenan or agar. Others do not dissolve in water, such as cellulose or chitin.

Why do we need carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main fuel for our body engine because they provide very fast energy. Especially for the brain, they are indispensable. In the body, carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver, kidneys and muscles and are quickly available. It is true that fats and proteins can be converted into carbohydrates, but that is more expensive.Who, for example, wants to bring an athlete optimal performance, should have sufficient carbohydrate reserves.

What is the role of carbohydrates for diabetics?

Diabetics can utilize carbohydrates worse. They lack insulin, the hormone that remove sugar components from the blood to the body. If diabetics eat too many simple carbohydrates, blood sugar levels rise sharply. For people with diabetes, it is therefore recommended that sugary drinks, sweets or white flour products to consume is distributed only in small amounts throughout the day. Best in the context of complex meals, then the sugar units arrive more slowly into the bloodstream. Ideal are high-fiber foods such as whole grains, legumes and vegetables. They saturate well and put the sugar units also only gradually free.

Low-carb diets: slimming without carbohydrates

Do carbohydrates make you fat? No, because a gram of carbohydrate has only 4 kcal. Each gram of fat provides 9 kcal contrast with more than twice as much energy. In this respect, one can effectively lose weight if you eat less fat. However, the reduction of carbohydrates (low carb) can help you lose weight. Because by fewer carbohydrates to promote fat burning. In addition, protein and fats saturate longer than simple carbohydrates. In low carb diets should be saved, especially in isolated carbohydrates such as sweet drinks, sweets and white flour products. In vegetables, legumes and whole grains you can not refuse it.

Carbohydrates during exercise

Who wants to bring optimal athletic performance, is well advised to pay attention to enough carbohydrates, as these provide energy quickly and efficiently. Operates one sport but mainly for losing weight, it is advisable to eat as few carbs in the hours before exercise. This increases the body fat burning. Although athletic performance suffers slightly, but the pounds are falling faster.

Caries by carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the favorite food of caries bacteria – whether the sugar components of sweets, pasta or light rolls originate. This means that the bacteria do not multiply without restraint and attack the enamel, you should brush your teeth thoroughly after meals. Caution should be exercised especially with sticky carbohydrates. However, acid-rich foods and drinks are harmful to the enamel.

Which foods contain carbohydrates?


  • Cereals, muesli
  • Bread, cakes and pastries
  • Pasta, rice, potatoes
  • Sugar, sweets
  • Fruits: in particular dried fruits, bananas, grapes

Low Carb:

  • Fats + oils
  • Meat, fish, eggs
  • Cheese, cottage cheese, plain yogurt
  • Lettuce + spinach
  • Vegetables: for example, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus

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