Carbohydrates are the major source of energy to the body. An enzyme called amylase breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar), which is then used for energy in the body.
There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex on the basis of sugar molecules in their chemical structure.
Types of Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrate refers to monosaccharides and disaccharides. They are made up of one or two sugar molecules. These are naturally occurring sugars in the food. Simple carbs are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. They cause a rapid increase in the blood sugar level. Examples of simple carbohydrates are:
Simple carbohydrates or sugars are also found in a variety of processed foods. Unlike simple sugars in fruit, milk, and vegetables, the simple sugars in processed foods are added. For example, desserts, baked goods, pastries, candies, and sugary beverages are often loaded with simple sugar sucrose, also known as granulated table sugar. High-sugar processed foods are filled with empty calories, as they contain little or no nutritional value. These foods should be avoided as they lead to weight gain.
Complex carbohydrate refers to polysaccharides. Complex carbohydrates are formed from three or more sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are starchy foods that are rich in fiber. Complex carbs are broken down slowly by the body and lead to more steady levels of blood glucose. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cooked dry beans and peas are among foods that are naturally rich in fiber.
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they also provide many important nutrients. Still, not all carbs are created equal. Guidelines suggest using fiber-rich carbohydrates and avoid added sugars.
Some foods, such as jelly beans, are all carbohydrates. Others, such as meat and fish, have no carbohydrates.
Packaged foods have labels that tell you how many carbohydrates a food has. They will be measured in grams. You can use food labels to count the carbohydrates you should have.
The food label will say what the serving size is. It will also tell you how many grams of carbohydrates are in a serving. Total carbohydrates on the nutrition label refer to sugar; starch and fiber together. Sometimes the label will list sugar, starch, and fiber separately. The carbohydrate count for a food is the total of these. Multiply the number of servings you eat by the number of grams of carbohydrates.
You have to measure how many carbohydrates are in foods that are not packaged. Then you have to calculate the total carbohydrates in what you eat.
You can calculate carbohydrate with the help of the carb counter calculator link.
Carb Counter Calculator
For example, cooked long grain rice has 15 grams of carbohydrate per 1/3 cup. If you eat a cup of cooked long grain rice, you will eat 45 grams of carbohydrates.
Sugar: Check the Nutrition Facts label to determine the amount of sugar per serving. The amount listed includes sugars that are naturally present in foods (such as fructose in fruit or lactose in milk) and sugars added to the food during processing or preparation.
Look at the % DV column—5% DV or less is low in sugar, and 20% DV or more is high. Use these conversion factors to visualize the total amount of sugar (natural and added) in one serving of a food item:
4 grams of sugar = ~1 teaspoon = ~16 calories. For example, one can (12 fluid ounces) of a sweetened carbonated beverage has 40 grams of sugar or 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Added sugars can appear on the ingredient list as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, and syrup.
Net Carbs: Terms such as “low carb” or “net carbs” often appear on product labels, but the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate these terms, so there’s no standard meaning. Typically net carbs are used to mean the number of carbohydrates in a product excluding fiber or excluding both fiber and sugar alcohols.
About 45 to 65 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates. This equates to about 900 to 1,300 calories from carbohydrates or about 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates each day if you normally consume around 2,000 calories.
Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram and are the primary source of calories in most of us. Most of these carb calories should come from healthy carbs like naturally occurring simple carbs in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products and from complex carbs that are rich in dietary fiber and from whole grains, beans and legumes.
Avoid refined grains or added starch in the food as these foods will add calories from the carbs but little nutrients leading to empty calories and weight gain.
Avoid adding calories from carbs that come from added sugars in candy, cookies, cakes, desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
|Daily Total Calories||Calories from Carbohydrates (45% to 65% cals)||Daily Total Carbohydrate Grams (45% to 65% cals)|
|1200 cals||540 to 780 cals||135 to 195g|
|1500 cals||675 to 975 cals||169 to 244g|
|1800 cals||810 to 1170 cals||203 to 293g|
|2000 cals||900 to 1300 cals||225 to 325g|
|2500 cals||1125 to 1625 cals||281 to 406g|
|3000 cals||1350 to 1950 cals||338 to 488g|
There are three main types of carbohydrates:
It is generally recommended that most of the carbohydrates you eat should be complex carbohydrates that are rich in dietary fiber and simple carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and dairy products that are rich in nutrients. Simple sugars, such as candy and sugary drinks, are generally not recommended as they lack nutrients and lead to empty calories and weight gain.
About 45 to 65 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.