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What is a carbohydrate?

In common terms you can think of carbohydrates as sugar. Carbohydrates are either simple sugars, or else they become simple sugars in your body after you eat them.

Why are they called carbohydrates? The word carbohydrate has two parts: The "carbo" part means that they have carbon in them. The "hydrate" part comes from a Greek word that means water.

So when you combine carbon containing compounds with water you get sugars. That's how it works chemically.

Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are single -- meaning one molecule of sugar. Or they are double -- meaning two molecules of sugar joined together.

For example, fruit sugar is fructose, and that is a single sugar. Blood sugar is glucose, and that is another single sugar.

On the other hand some sugars are joined together. Table sugar -- which is also known as sucrose -- is a double sugar. Another double sugar is lactose which is found in dairy products.

Complex carbohydrates

So what's a complex carbohydrate? It's just three or more sugars joined together.

One example of this is starch. Starch -- like you find in potatoes -- is a complex carbohydrate. It is just sugar after sugar after sugar linked together in long chains.

Starch breaks down quickly in the blood stream. Therefore if you eat too many starches it is like eating too much pure sugar.

Dietary fiber

What is dietary fiber? Fiber refers to any of the carbohydrates that humans are unable to digest.

Because fiber is not digested it passes through the digestive system largely unchanged. Therefore even though it is a carbohydrate, the calories in fiber are not used by your body. So fiber does not cause weight gain.

In fact study after study has shown that the more fiber you eat, the less hungry you will be and the more weight you will lose.

Insulin and carbohydrates

When you eat carbohydrates insulin is released from the pancreas. This is necessary for entry of blood sugar into the cells.

But insulin also causes storage of energy as fat. And when too much fat is stored the cells tend to have a hard time sensing the insulin. This is called insulin resistance and can lead to frank diabetes.

Limiting simple sugars and increasing complex carbohydrates and fiber can do a lot to help you lose weight and stay healthy.

Where to start:

There is a lot of information on this site. The links below will get you off to a good start.

Most popular pages:

These are some of our most popular pages. They are also some of the most helpful if you are finally ready to lose weight.

You can always reach us:

  • 28960 US Highway 19 North, Suite 115
  • Clearwater, FL 33761
  • (727) 771-8282

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