Coming to carbohydrates, they are called saccharides in scientific lingo. Saccharides are further divided into three major types: mono-, oligo-, and poly-.
Know that I don’t bother getting into scientific terminology unless there is a point to be made so bear with me. Single sugar molecules like glucose (only found in human blood), fructose (found in fruits and plants) & galactose(in milk) are monosaccharides. They are the most fundamental units readily absorbed directly into Bloodstream without any further processing.
Oligo:- These are 2-10 molecule long sugar polymers consisting of mono- sugars joined in various configurations. Sucrose (table sugar) is glucose + Fructose. Lactose (milk) is Glucose + Galactose. Maltose (malt liquor) is Glucose + Glucose. Since they’re complex polymers our bloodstreams can’t absorb them directly, they need processing first, to be broken down into single sugar molecules aka Mono-. Breaking them down into mono- sugars for absorption is done by enzymes in the liver.
Poly:- are very long chains of mono-s’ spanning 100 molecules and beyond. We consume polysaccharides in the form of starches and they need the most processing to be broken down into mono- and oligo- molecules. And those oligo- molecules are processed further to obtain 100+ mono sugar molecules in totality.
The fate of all types of carbohydrates is hydrolysis (breaking down) into glucose and then either oxidation as the primary fuel for every tissue in our bodies or storage as Glycogen into muscles and liver as long as both insulin and glucose remain plentiful. Glycogen is a polysaccharide very similar to starch acting as the primary fuel source for anaerobic/high-intensity activity and as a reservoir of glucose for maintaining our blood-sugar levels.
What you can take away from this quick science lesson is that more complex (longer chain) a carbohydrate is more processing it needs resulting into a linear and prolonged delivery of glucose into our bloodstreams, doctors approve such non-spiky insulin release. (Pancreas secrete insulin in direct proportion to blood glucose/sugar levels). Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables. These pictures have complex carbs only.
Any carb that isn't downright sweet is a complex Carb. Plus natural complex carb sources are full of vitamins, minerals and Fiber. Fruits somewhat fall in the middle, they have fructose (simple mono-sugar) but fiber (poly-) as well, which controls the glucose release. I would do an article about salad and fruits seperately. There is a lot of misinformation floating around which needs to be addressed.
Reason behind carbs getting a bad reputation is, first the overwhelming abundance of processed simple carbs into our fast food/convenience store diets. Highly refined (starches and micronutrients removed) and loaded with sugar and fat. So, essentially they're double whammy of Fat storage, spikes your insulin like an injection and provides energy dense cargo (fats) to be shoved right into adipose tissue aka fat cells.
Second, our modern sitting-on-our-fat asses all day lifestyle coupled with high carb intake can lead to various health ailments like Insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, diabetes and Fatty liver disease. Chronically elevated insulin leads to insulin resistance and high blood-lipid levels as a byproduct. Insulin is a storage hormone, an anabolic. As long as it's concentration is high enough in the bloodstream not a single triglyceride molecule can be oxidised. Here comes Diabetes and Heart diseases in susceptible individuals. Filling the liver with more glucose than it can metabolise kicks starts a metabolic process named de-novo-lipogenesis, which is basically a fancy term for conversion of glucose into lipids triglycerides(fats). Fat is everywhere, in your blood making it thick, jamming your heart valves, in your liver making it inflamed, in your gut and skin making you unsightly. Did I manage to paint a horrendous picture?
To be honest, most of this can be avoided with daily exercise. Get your juices flowing, empty your glycogen stores, burn that glucose and lipid just sitting there in your bloodstream. Our liver holds about 50 grams of Glycogen and muscles about 350-450 grams of it. An endurance athlete training near his lactate threshold will use all of that 400 to 500 grams of glycogen in 3 to 5 hours. That’s 2000 Calorie worth of Carb Binge free ticket just to fill the stores again. That’s the impact of well-structured training for you. check this out for judging training intensity levels . Since most of us don’t train like that on a regular basis we should check our daily carb intake and try to fill our Carb quota with as much natural complex carbs as possible. Things change during a "bulk" though. When you're overeating intentionally to gain weight, simple carbs and carb-loading have pivotal roles. It gets even better when you consider intentional Glycogen depletion and supercompensation but that’s a topic for another section and another day.
Don’t fall for such bullshit! Avoid such “charts” like plague.
update someone asked about my "recommendations" on carb intake. well, i like to let people figure it out themsleves with the data and facts provided herein. Anyone who read the part 1 of this MACROs series knows that for sedentry fellas 100 gram of carb daily is the bare minimum. For impeccable reasons read the articles. Also, as long as your carb intake is low sources doesn't matter much but i've discussed the ideal scenarios in this article at length anyway. we’ll talk about Fats in part 3 and hopefully conclude the ratios there.
Check out Part 1 | Part 3 & Part 4 of this Series!
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