What Are Carbs?

In recent years, low carbohydrate (or carbs) diets have gained plenty of fanfare, but the debate over whether or not they are healthy rages on. So, what are carbs exactly, and how do they work? For that matter, why has there been so much concern about carbs in recent years? To truly understand carbohydrates, it is important to have a basic understanding of chemistry.

Carbohydrates provide the primary source of energy for the body. Your body has the option of using the carbs immediately or converting them into fat to store for later use. Carbohydrates or saccharides are sugars and starches that are responsible for providing energy to humans and animals. There are two types of carbohydrates, monosaccharides and polysaccharides.

blueberries imageMonosaccharides, also referred to as simple carbs, are the easiest for the body to digest and are commonly found in dairy products and fruits. As the result of food processing today, they can also be found in white bread, white sugar, and pastas.

Polysaccharides, or complex carbs, are typically found in brown rice, legumes, whole grain breads and pastas, and vegetables. The refining process used today eliminates a portion of the grain’s nutrients and fiber. As a result, eating a whole grain cereal, such as oatmeal, even though it is relatively high in carbohydrates, provides you with longer lasting energy and fills you up longer than sugary cereal because of the way the body uses and processes carbohydrates.

After carbs have been eaten, the liver becomes responsible for their digestion by breaking them down into simple sugars or glucose. This causes the stimulation of insulin production in the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for converting sugar into energy by infiltrating the blood cells of the body. Simple and complex carbs impact insulin production in different ways.

Insulin levels rise more quickly and “spike” faster when simple carbs are being digested. In addition, they are used up more quickly for energy. This is why eating a sugary snack when you need a quick burst of energy results in your energy levels crashing quickly after the “sugar high” ends. However, it takes longer to digest complex carbs, which results in longer lasting energy and a decreased reaction of insulin in the body. That’s why it’s generally better to choose low carbohydrate desserts.

When the body produces excess glucose it is stored within the muscle cells and liver as glycogen. It is, then, stored until the body is in need of an energy burst. Glycogen that is not stored within the cells and liver is stored as fat within the body. Immediate stores of glycogen are used by the body to meet short term energy needs. This is where the problems associated with being overweight, such as the development of diabetes, begin. When excessive amounts of fat are stored and not used for energy, health problems typically result. The only way the fat reserves will begin being used as energy is through the start of an exercise program.

For adults, the recommended carbohydrate intake varies slightly from one organization to another. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adults should get 55 to 75% of their dietary energy from carbs, with only 10% coming from simple carbs. However, the Institute of Medicine recommends 45 to 65%.

It is important to understand that no one should have a diet that is completely free of carbohydrates because the body requires a certain amount to properly function. When an insufficient amount of carbs are consumed, it can result in numerous health issues, including poor mental capacity, fatigue, and muscle cramps. While carbs are an essential part of our diet, the body can use fat and proteins to produce energy on a very short term basis. This is why there have been such as increase in low carb and no carb diets. Keep in mind that low carb and no carb diets are not the same thing. For healthy weight loss, you must eat the right types of carbs.

Tasty Low Carbohydrate Desserts

Low carb dessert image

Upon starting on a low carb routine, putting low carbohydrate desserts in the plan seem to be the hardest part. If you are used to having desserts in your meals such as mousses, snacks like cakes and sweet donuts, or even fruit and sweetened yoghurt, then you might feel something missing at the end of your every meal if you can’t have your regular dessert. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! You can still have desserts but you just have to find the right low carbohydrate desserts suitable for you.

The very first thing that you have to make sure is to be careful when choosing desserts. Read ingredient lists on packs or in recipes carefully, since most of these foods are known to be very high in sugar – and sugar, of course, is one of the highest carb foods known on the planet.

Most people who follow low carb routines usually replace sugar with another sweetener. A popular one is sucralose and one brand that uses this type of artificial sweetener is Splenda (TM). Another great choice is stevia, which is marketed as SweetLeaf (TM) in the USA and Truvia (TM) in the UK.

One of the best things when it comes to sucralose and stevia is that they can be used for cooking. However you should keep in mind they don’t behave like sugar does. One good example for this is the meringues which will not caramelize with the use of sucralose or stevia.

The important thing to remember is that a low carbohydrate diet should always satisfy your appetite. You should be able to lose weight without feeling hungry. If you’re wondering how much you might lose, see the results of the Metabolic Factor diet program here.

One good idea for a chocolate mousse dessert is putting whipped cream, little cocoa powder and sweetener together to add a fantastic taste.

There are several dessert recipes that you can make to become low carb desserts just by using a low carb sweetener instead of using sugar such as a low carbohydrate cheesecake – although you’ll probably have to cut out the cookie base.

When you follow a low carbohydrate diet plan, you need to think about the total level of sweeteners that you are having. You shouldn’t drink too many diet sodas if you want to eat more amount low carb desserts.

If you are eating many low carbohydrate desserts and you have found out that your weight loss progress has stopped, then you should consider cutting down the use of sweeteners or stop eating those desserts for a week. It will be difficult for a sweet tooth but it will almost certainly provide huge benefits.

Some research studies have suggested that even those natural artificial sweeteners such as stevia may cause insulin and blood sugar spikes in some of the population. It’s hard to know exactly why. Maybe it could be because of the sweet taste that the body reacts to and produces more insulin the same way as eating sugar. If this happens, this is definitely not good because you will be low in energy at some time of the day.

If you feel tired after eating low carb desserts, or if you are having trouble losing weight, then you should consider cutting down on your intake of the sweeteners or even cutting them out completely. These low carb desserts can mess with your blood sugar levels and can even cause for you to crave for those bad foods that you are trying to replace.