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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Carbohydrates Revisited

Chemically, carbohydrates consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. As such, one of the byproducts of their digestion in our bodies is water ( H2O).

Carbohydrates are classified in various forms of saccharides. The smallest carbohydrates are mono-saccharides such as glucose, a simple form of sugar! Other larger forms are known as polysaccharides. These polysaccharides include starch, cellulose and glycogen, all part of our food intake. Now, if we understand that carbohydrates are converted to sugar during digestion, we might better understand why a low carb diet could be a good approach to weight control.

Carbohydrates, including sugars and starches are they main nutrients used as energy sources (calories) by the body. Sugars are simple forms of carbohydrates whereas starches and fiber are more complex. During digestion our body breaks down most complex sugars and starches into glucose which is a simple form of sugar that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and thereby feed our cells. We get the complex carbohydrates from plants (our vegetables) and these complex carbohydrates can help lower blood cholesterol. So, you see, mom was right. You need to eat your vegetables. Yes, moms truly are great people. Unfortunately for those of us who have weight control issues, moms didn't typically know about low carb diets.

By the way, the fiber we consume does not contribute to weight gain! It normally passes through the digestive track absorbing water, stimulating the intestine and otherwise aiding in the normal elimination process. Adequate fiber is important to a healthy diet so be sure to substitute high-fiber foods whenever they are available

During the course of normal activity our bodies need energy and we find most of that energy in the carbohydrates we consume. Carbohydrates, both simple and complex, provide the necessary energy for our body to function. If we haven't consumed adequate amounts of carbohydrates then the body has to look for other energy sources such as protein which is found in our muscles, and fat which is stored in fat cells in our body. Unfortunately our body first chooses the protein over the fat. And, often, one of the first places it looks for protein is that wonderful muscle we call our heart!

So, with all this in mind, perhaps we can begin to understand why a low carbohydrate diet can help us. Our job now becomes one of eating in such a way that our body demands more energy than it is getting from the carbohydrates we consume but, at the same time, supplying your body with adequate protein so that it doesn't resort to extracting the needed energy from the protein in our muscle tissue.

One of the side effects of a low-carb diet is that our body enters into a state of ketosis. As a result, our body burns more fat. And this is a good thing. Of course, ketosis is not a normal condition and it is not something that can be (or should be) maintained indefinitely. By learning to monitor and adjust our food intake we can regulate ketosis and lose fat consistently. One way of doing this is by using "ketosticks", test strips available in any drugstore or even from When exposed to urine, they indicate the presence of ketones and change color as a measure of the ketone level.

The amount of carbohydrates we consume each day is a critical factor for our dieting success. It also depends on our level of activity. So, the more active we are (exercise), the more energy we need and this in turn is directly related to our carbohydrate consumption. Typical diet guidelines suggest between 20 and 70 grams of carbohydrates per day. Hopefully you see that 70 grams is far too much. Our goal should be to stay at the low end of the spectrum, preferably no more than 20 grams per day. For most people, staying within the 20 gram allowance will induce ketosis and thereby accelerate fat loss. Each individual is different so you have to watch your carbohydrate intake to see what your maximum consumption can be and still maintain ketosis. It seems logical that, if you increase your activity level without increasing your carbohydrate intake, you will burn fat faster.

Consuming too many carbohydrates causes our body to store the excess as fat and that is very undesirable.

In future articles will have more to say about complex carbohydrates as a source of energy, where we find them and which forms we should be concentrating on. The forms or types of carbohydrates we consume makes an enormous difference in our dieting success.

Want to learn more about low carb dieting? Visit, a website dealing with low carb dieting and weight loss. Visitors are invited to share their thoughts and experiences.

JQ Adams has been dealing with his weight for his entire adult life. After much trial and error, he finally found a means of getting a handle on his problem using a low carb diet approach.

Because of his interest in low carb dieting as well his own struggles with weight, JQ has researched and read widely on the topic and shares his findings as well as his experiences with his readers. If you are interested in finding out more about the effectiveness of a low carb diet then be sure to visit, and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep abreast of the latest articles and comments.

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