All of the food that we eat is composed of basic building blocks called macronutrients. There are four basic macronutrients carbohydrates, fats, protein, and alcohol.
Carbohydrates comprise a major portion of our diet in America. Despite conventional knowledge such as the food pyramid, carbohydrates in excess are not part of a healthy balanced diet. I mean really, 6-11 servings of bread!?!
Most sources of carbohydrates in America include grains, which today are cultivated to last on the shelf and not grant nutrition to our bodies. On the other hand, recent dietary trends have demonized carbohydrates (we are not knocking keto OK), but like most things, the key is in MODERATION!
Most carbs are made of galactose, glucose, and/or fructose which make up most foods that we consume. They exist in their simplest form when found in most sugar-based beverages, white-flour based carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, and white potatoes. When paired with fiber they exist in fruits and vegetables.
Lactose and galactose are simple sugars present in dairy products. These are simple sugars as well. Some of us lack the ability to breakdown foods made of these sugars, termed lactose intolerance. The end result is sugars remaining in the gut and bacteria fermenting these foods by producing gas, leading to bloating and diarrhea.
A similar process occurs with gluten-based carbohydrates such as rye, barley, and wheat, commonly found in our baked goods, but hidden in many foods here in America. Though you may not have celiac disease, which has scientific testing to prove, I believe in the concept of gluten sensitivity.
Gluten sensitivity has gotten a bad rap, by making it a trendy condition to have. But, as I stated above, the wheat, rye, and barley that we cultivate is a mutant strain termed “dwarf wheat” which is completely different than the wheat that our ancestors grew. This wheat is almost always combined with chemicals, often bleached and combined with high fructose corn syrup. No wonder why our bodies recognize this as foreign and attack it and our own guts.
Lastly, the addition of fiber as a carbohydrate to these compounds or on its own is what makes up the majority of vegetables. Our bodies do not have the ability to breakdown fiber which makes breakdown by the human body more difficult. As a result, fibers remain within our gut, acting as a scrub brush for bad bugs, and holding onto the water to normalize the consistency of our waste.
Break it down
Breaking down foods made of simple building blocks is a fast effort and gives a fast benefit. You get 4 energy units (kilocalories or kCal) per unit of carb breakdown. The breakdown is performed in several steps starting with your saliva (amylase – a Pac man enzyme), stomach juice and intestinal Pac men. But like all immediate gratification, the long-lasting effects are minimal as well, like when you get that sugar high and crash. Or, when you eat the bowl of pasta for lunch and feel groggy the rest of the day…yeah, that’s kind of why.
Once broken down they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream and shuttled to the brain (in order to read a lengthy blog post) and muscle (for that work-out you are about to do). Your body then uses sensors: glucagon (a hormone produced largely by the pancreas) to gauge the need for higher glucose levels when low, and insulin to lower the levels when high.
Your body then creates a budget of glucose. It first uses the glucose to pay the bills (make energy for your work-out). The leftover is stored in the liver and muscle in the form of glycogen (an easily usable back-up source of energy, if you decide to get off the couch and do some burpees). Your main glucose bank is guessed where??? Your love handles and belly!
Then, Calculate Your Macros, and Action Your Macros!