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Carbohydrates play an important role in fuelling the body and providing it with energy. Carbs help us during exercise and can be broken down into vitamins, minerals and fiber. They can also be useful in staving off fatigue. When it comes to carb intake, it is important to choose the right type, and also to consume them in moderation.

Types of Carbohydrate

Simple carbs are those contained in candy, soda and juice. This type of carb can be quickly digested, and may provide us with an instant energy boost. On the other hand, this kind of carb can also spike glucose levels in the blood. This can result in a crash after sugar level drops.

Complex carbs require a longer digestion process than simple carbs. This type of carb is contained in foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Complex carbs provide the so-called “slow-release” energy boost, and are usually low in fat and high in fiber. These are normally the best choice when it comes to carbohydrates.

Low Carb Diet

The common theory behind low carb diets is that over-consummation of carbs can lead to overeating, obesity and insulin resistance as a result of increased insulin production. Those who propose low carb diets point out that high carb diets cause a rise in sugar levels, thus decreasing the efficiency of insulin production and usage. This will lead to increased fat gain, it is theorized. Scientific opinion does, however, vary on this matter. There is no official proof that high carbohydrate diets cause obesity or excess weight gain.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends a carb intake of less than 120 grams per day. Some studies have also shown that those on low carb diets will lose more weight than those on low fat diets. Questions do exist as to the safety of this approach, however.

Moderate Eating and Complex Carb Foods

There are no definitive answers as to the correct approach to take with regard to carbs. However, one should use ones common sense when considering a diet. Whatever you eat, do so in moderation. A balanced diet is best - one needs fat, carbohydrate and protein, so don’t avoid the consumption of any.

If you are thinking about cutting down on carbs, be aware that one can do so without completely eliminating them from your diet. Instead, choose to eat complex carbs such as fruit and vegetables. And, most importantly, make sure to diet safely.

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