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The Macronutrient Mess- Part III- Carbohydrates!

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Last week, we talked about the critical role that protein has in our diet. It is the macronutrient that we recommend focusing on the most to optimize your health and longevity. Today we will push into learning about one of our two energy sources- carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are nature’s quick fuel, mostly found in plant foods that grow with the sun. We generally take them in relatively quickly and reserve a small amount of them for use in times of stress. That is a critical point that we will discuss at length. Carbohydrates are a less efficient fuel than fat is, which is another energy source. And since you can only store such a small amount of carbohydrates in your body, the storage tends to fill up quickly.

We like to divide carbohydrates into two categories- sugar and starch (fiber is also a carbohydrate, but since it remains mostly in the digestive system, we do not absorb it well.). Sugar is a simple form of carbohydrate that breaks down quickly and gets into the blood quickly. Starch is more complicated (it is why we call them “complex”). It is more bound up, and the body must work harder to break it down, a process which is much slower. We like to use analogies when we explain this to people, so we will use an analogy between a hybrid car and a race car (Yes, we know that Formula 1 race cars are electric now, we’ve watched that series on Netflix almost four hundred times, but you know what we mean...). For most of your day-to-day activities, efficiency would be desired over inefficiency. We do not necessarily need a race car to the store to stock up on toilet paper. We can use a hybrid car, which will use less fuel, put out less pollution, and use less gas than the race car would. This is what it’s like to burn fat as fuel.