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Understanding Carbohydrates and the Low Carbohydrate Diet - Part 1

From Global Health Fitness

For your low carbohydrate diet ("low carb diet") to be a success, it’s absolutely critical that you understand carbohydrates ("carbs") and their roles, how to select the right kind of carbohydrates and the carbs to avoid, and several low carbohydrate diet techniques that can help you achieve excellent results.

In addition to this helpful article on low carbohydrate diets, be sure to take our FREE Fitness Analysis! Once you've completed the brief questionnaire, you'll receive specific weight loss recommendations based on your responses, as well as information on your very own customized low carbohydrate diet program. As a special thank you, you'll also receive the new e-book, Big Fat Lies, absolutely FREE of charge. Click here to get started!

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The primary role of carbohydrates in a low carbohydrate diet is to supply energy for the body. Carbohydrates are important not only for physical activities but also for maintaining high levels of energy. Carbohydrates are the best choice for fueling your system and promoting a healthy heart.

There are two kinds of carbohydrates in a low carbohydrate diet, simple and complex. Carbohydrates are found in a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and dairy products.

Regardless of their source, all carbohydrates in a low carbohydrate diet get broken down to a simple molecule of sugar called glucose, which is the form of energy most preferred by the body. Three types of carbohydrates are converted to glucose in low carb diets: monosacharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. The monosaccharides and disaccharides are known as the "simple" carbohydrates, and the polysaccharides are known as the "complex" carbohydrates.

After these different forms of carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, it enters the bloodstream where it is made available to all cells of the body. When glucose levels rise, the body responds to the low carbohydrate diet by releasing a hormone called insulin into the blood. Phillips and Johnston, authors of Think Light! Breaking Free from the Diet Prison (Speaking of Fitness, Inc., 1999) do a great job of explaining insulin and its role in the body. They describe insulin as a "glucose doorman" that travels around the body opening cell doors so glucose can enter and do its job, which is maintaining proper blood-sugar levels. Without the help of insulin to open the cell doors, the glucose molecule is just too big to enter the various cells of the body. Inadequate amounts of insulin cause improper metabolism of both glucose and fats, leading to decreases in energy production and, too often, diabetes.

Carbohydrates and Proteins Together in a low carb diet

As mentioned, the body needs carbohydrates that can be converted to glucose to provide energy; otherwise your low carbohydrate diet will not be a success. Protein's primary role in a low carb diet is to build and repair tissues, hormones, and enzymes. Protein also helps to sustain the energy provided by the carbohydrates. When on a low carbohydrate diet it is important to balance meals and snacks with carbohydrate-rich and protein-rich foods together.

A meal with carbohydrates alone often results in one becoming hungry sooner because glucose levels shoot up and then crash down afterwards. This can leave you feeling tired, hungry, and weak. When protein is included, you will not only stay full longer, but glucose levels will stay more consistent and you will feel energized for a longer period. All meals within The GHF Customized Diet Plan (a very safe, effective, healthy, personalized low carbohydrate diet) include a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates.

It is important to understand how protein and carbohydrates interact with each other in a low carbohydrate diet. Each food nutrient is broken down at different times. Carbohydrates are digested in about two hours. Proteins take longer to digest, and when the two are combined or eaten together, protein slows down digestion of carbohydrates, and energy from carbohydrates is released more slowly. Protein actually slows down the release of glucose from carbohydrates into the bloodstream making your low carbohydrate diet a lot more realistic and effective.

Thus, eating protein-rich foods with carbohydrate-rich foods stabilizes the glucose, which could otherwise lead to hunger. This keeps us feeling energetic and satisfied until the next meal. In addition, when carbohydrates are used as energy in a low carbohydrate diet, they spare proteins from being used as energy so they can be used to build and repair tissues. For example, a meal only rich in carbohydrates, such as soup, bread, and salad would result in a period of hunger soon after the meal.

On the other hand, a balanced lunch that includes a protein source such as a chicken breast with salad, such as the meal plans in our low carbohydrate diet, will provide and sustain energy. In other words, a meal is not a "meal" if it doesn't contain a lean complete protein and a complex carb together at the same time; this is very important to your success and low carbohydrate diets, such as the GHF Customized Diet Plan Meal Plan, follow this guideline closely.

>> Click here for the Global Health and Fitness Program – our low carbohydrate diet program that is chock full of very effective low carb diet strategies designed to turn your body into a 24-hour fat-burning machine. It's literally a low carbohydrate diet blueprint for achieving the very best results in the shortest period of time by eating the perfect foods combined at the right times in the right amounts - all customized specifically for you.

Understanding Low Carb Diets - 1
Understanding Low Carb Diets - 2