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Carbohydrate SourcesCarbohydrates

Carbohydrates yield about 4 calories per gram and are the main fuel source for the brain, nervous system, kidneys, and red blood cells. These use an average of about 130 to 150 grams per day of which most goes to feed the brain. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and in the muscles. However, the glycogen stored in a particular muscle is only usable within that muscle while the glycogen stored in the liver can be used anywhere in the body that needs it. If the body is deprived of carbohydrates for long enough, it will start breaking down protein to make carbohydrates for these functions. Many people believe that this can be offset by eating more protein. However, there is a limit to how much dietary protein each person’s body can process and this limit is almost always less than the amount required to make the extra carbohydrates. This will almost certainly cause a loss in lean mass. Also, whenever protein is broken down to make carbohydrates or to use as energy in any other form, it creates ammonia as a byproduct which the liver turns into uric acid. The kidneys are then forced to work overtime while low on fuel (carbohydrates) in order to flush the uric acid out of the body. The resulting loss in lean mass and water accounts for much of the weight loss on low carb diets. If there is any fat loss, it is because of a reduction in total calories.

The risks of being on low carb diets include:
• Hypoglycemia of which the beginning symptoms can include severe lack of energy, dizziness, headaches, trembling, extreme hunger, and even fainting.
• Extreme stress on the kidneys from excessive work while short on fuel.
• Gout from uric acid buildup.
• Dehydration and electrolyte depletion from fluid loss.
• Dehydration induced constipation which is aggravated by the inherently low fiber intake associated with these diets.

Also, carbohydrates are the only fuel that can generate usable energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) at the rates needed for high energy activities. For this reason, strength and endurance athletes need much more carbohydrates than sedentary people and there is not likely to be any such athlete who thrives on any kind of low carb diet.
As with any other calorie source, if we inundate our bloodstream with carbohydrates, then much of it will become empty calories. The way to avoid inundating the body is to eat relatively small portions (about three quarters of the size of a fist) of carbohydrates along with fiber and protein. The fiber slows the absorption of nutrients while the protein delays gastric emptying. Both of these combine to reduce the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream. The best sources of carbohydrates are whole food sources that come with their own source of fiber. These sources include brown rice, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, bananas, and other sources such as those found on the Healthy Foods List. We need to avoid sources such as doughnuts, candy, soda, and other highly processed foods.

Find carbohydrates with reasonable amounts of fiber.


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